Producing the Message for the Medium

We love that our clients at Magnify are getting in the groove of producing “extra” content specifically to engage viewers online. Some of the content we see, in the form of short scripted videos, boomerangs, images and text, is excellent, indistinguishable in quality from the “primary” content, that is their TV show or film.

We also notice that some producers think creating content for online distribution is simply a matter of producing short clips, using traditional film and TV production techniques. We are all about keeping the bar high when it come to quality, however, producing content to engage audiences online often requires a different touch.

If we want to go deep on this, we can delve into today’s application of McLuhan’s mantra — the medium is the message. To avoid unearthing my university text books, let’s apply superficial meaning to McLuhan’s profound statement and observe simply that the culture, characteristics, and conventions of the medium where the online content is being published, need to be carefully considered.

Just as film and television carry particular production requirements, digital channels (e.g. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, newsletters, websites) require different tactics to optimize content. For example, if you are creating original videos to drive awareness on Facebook, you’ll need to think about creating content that works with sound off. 80% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Similarly, if you are posting original content to YouTube think about developing the metadata needed to optimize your content for search. Avoid long establishing shots, the type that are often excellent for setting mood on the big screen, because online you have only a few seconds to catch the attention of the viewer who is deluged with content options.

The bottom line is that, after you identify the channels you are going to use to drive awareness for your project online, spend some time exploring the culture and characteristics of each channel so you create content that fits.

Next, the online content plan needs to be considered in the context of the whole production because it affects the shooting schedule, budget, etc. This is particularly so for scripted shows. If you are planning to shoot extra scripted videos or images that need to be in character and fully staged (lighting, wardrobe, hair, makeup), we recommend including it in the original production schedule. The additional content can affect cast and crew agreements, too, so best to contemplate and negotiate the entire scope of work at once (acknowledging that different union rates will often apply to digital material).

If you would like to learn more about building assets for Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, check out our upcoming webinars through our training arm – Magnify Discovery Lab (MDL). And we’d love to hear from you — how are you approaching the content plan for your audience engagement strategy?