Five low cost tips for creating compelling video content that thrives

Third Sector Promotion BT MyDonate

No matter what size your budget, there are some simple tips that can help keep costs down

Digital marketing and filming is often perceived as out of scope for many charities, viewed as too expensive, too difficult or too niche. At The Supporters Club we’re fortunate to have BT Sport’s fantastic film making capability to support our work, and to help us tell the stories of the amazing work being done by the charities we fund. We make short films that are played out on BT Sport’s channels during the build up to top flight sporting events, and full length documentaries staring some of sport’s biggest names. Take a look at our latest short film, with Harry Redknapp at the Homeless FA here.

No matter what size your budget, there are some simple tips that can help keep costs down - especially if you’re creating content yourselves. Take a look at our top five low cost tops for creating compelling video content that thrives:

1. Keep it simple

If you need to keep your costs down, you’re going to have to keep it simple. But simple doesn’t mean boring. This film from Mencap is beautifully done, and incredibly simple too. Its simplicity is what makes it work, giving the interviewees time to tell their stories. Similarly, the standard question and answer interview, which can be achieved with just one camera if you replicate the interview twice, is another way you can to make things feel more ‘produced’ than they actually are.

Location is important too – finding an interesting backdrop or unusual location will add a heap more production value than shooting in your windowless boardroom. Ensuring the individuals in your films are captivating, moving or engaging will help too. Ask yourselves who the best person to tell your story is: a beneficiary? Your CEO? An actor?

Similarly, keeping frames static, and having those in the frame keep relatively still, is also a good way to keep the aesthetic of the content up – wobbly pan shots are a sure fire way to make things feel like a homemade VHS tour of Disneyland.

2. Blag

Chances are you’ve blagged something during your time working for a charity. It might be a cheaper hotel rate, or some prizes for a raffle. Whatever you’ve blagged, get your hustle on for great video content too, particularly if you’re on a shoe string. Whether it’s asking a venue to open a bit earlier so you can get in to shoot, getting some free time with a celebrity for a quick piece to camera, or securing the rights to that music track that’s perfect for your content. Don’t be shy to ask.

Knowing what you can blag is useful when you’re a tight budget. Knowing what not to scrimp on is just as important too. Working with a professional production team is always best - if you can afford it. Ask around, and don’t be afraid to ask for a charity discount as these are often available.

3. Move

To give your video the best chance of being widely shared, it should move your audience. And move can mean different things – your video doesn’t have to follow the emotive genre expected as the norm for a charity appeal film.

The most successful recent examples have moved their audiences in different way – Save The Children’s ‘Most Shocking Second a Day Video’ surprises, Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ empowers and uplifts, and The Prince’s Trust’s ‘Thousands learn the hard way’ subverts and brings discomfort. Take a look at the videos going viral today – whether they are for a charity or not, and see how they move people, and consider how you want your audience to react.

4. Audience

Knowing your audience is key to maximising your content efforts, and this is especially true with video. Using the insights available from social listening tools, your marketing database, or from watching competitor activity can help inform what your video will look like, or how it will be structured.

For example, The Supporters Club videos are aimed at sports fans, and any budget that’s spent on promoting them specifically targets those fans of whichever sports star is fronting the piece. When we promote a video we often target those who are BT Sport customers who ‘like’ our sports star on Facebook. This means you know the audience you are reaching already have a connection to the content you are promoting. Twitter has recently expanded the insights you can glean from your ads and your audience, so you can target any content even more closely.

Whilst it might be tempting to follow a journey along a typical story narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end a ‘hook’ approach can have the best results and encourage viewers to watch more. We always ensure that the talent or eye catching moment is featured in the opening few seconds of the piece. This is especially important if you plan to promote your film on Facebook or through YouTube ads, where the first few seconds will determine whether a viewer scrolls past, skips or stays.

See how we do it in our films featuring Harry Redknapp, Roberto Martinez and Hugo Lloris.

5. Video placement

The correct placement of your video is just as important as what your video actually contains. The best way to maximise the placement is to create a map of every potential touchpoint where you can ‘place’ your video.

This will involve working with others across your organisation to determine where you can secure coverage for your film, to give it the biggest nudge online on launch. This could include working with your media team to get the film embedded on online media, through newspaper and magazine sites, blogs and new sites, working with partners and stakeholders to secure social sharing by influencers, reaching out to celebrities associated with your cause to share online, or securing budget to promote the film using targeted social ads.

It’s worth spending the time to brainstorm every single avenue of who may potentially share your content, and also consider what different versions of a film specific target groups may want. For example, if your content is longer than say, five minutes, blogs and news outlets often want a clip of the piece rather than the whole thing, so when you’re in the edit suite you can clip out a punchy thirty second clip to have ready should someone want it. ‘Viral’ films rarely go viral organically and this planning stage ensuring you’ve covered every touchpoint is key to helping your content thrive.

From raising awareness to raising funds, video content can serve a multitude of objectives, and doesn’t need to break the bank with some careful planning and considered placement.

The Supporters Club uses the power of sport to create a better future for young people facing incredibly tough challenges in their life, both in the UK and overseas. The Supporters Club uses BT MyDonate as its online fundraising and donation platform, because MyDonate don’t charge any commission or processing fees the Supporters Club receives up to 63p more per £10 donation.

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