Welcome to Not Another Marketing Podcast where I’m talking to Daryl Cygler founder and creator of Smartphone Video Marketing. We’re talking smartphones, video and marketing! How can we do video better?

Episode 97

Creating video for social media or your website can be a faff. It’s time consuming and we don’t always know if it works plus video can be really hard to do. Don’t fear! Daryl Cygler is here to offer insight, tips and advice on how to do video better using just your smartphone.

Daryl is the founder of Smartphone Video Marketing which helps small medium businesses create their own video marketing content without the need for video production companies, or expensive film equipment and all through the power of their smartphone.

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Transcript (edited for clarity)

Does video production quality matter that much in the world of social media?

Its really in the context of the intention of the video in the first instance, I think we will always be driven by the need to try and produce something the best way we can.

I think inherently, if people want to do video, they always have this belief that it has to be perfect. In a way it has to be very polished and in some aspects that works for some brands.

But equally, I think the type of video that you may be producing and the intention of that video, no, high production values do not necessarily matter.

I mean, the classic example is just doing lives. You may be a company that is doing something like a live event, you’re doing a product reveal or something like that and for argument’s sake, you just maybe going out live and in that instance, it is very raw. It is simply as it happens. So in that context, no, it doesn’t have to be.

I’ve seen videos that have done very, very well from a viral and a social point of view that are just simply rough and raw and capture the moment as it happens.

It’s kind of like this authentic feeling, isn’t it? Which is pretty big at the moment, that things need to be authentic.

Yes, you’re absolutely right. I mean, there’s two trains of thought.

Yes, you can have high production value videos, films, commercials and everything is very polished and very slick and that’s just the way it is.

And that’s something that we instantly recognise as a commercial or being marketed to in the true sense of the word.

But then you have this raw authentic smartphone captured moment that just happens as and when and we’re immersed in that experience, we almost lose that sense of what it is because it’s capturing the moment.

We’re getting all the senses of the sights, the sounds, what’s occurring within that moment and to a certain extent we disregard the fact that it is a rather raw production just for the messages that comes through it.

And you’re still being marketed to just the same?

Well, exactly. I mean if you can do it you can do it well. You very much give this sense of a raw, natural experience. But equally it’s very strategic in the way that you position it.

Yes, and that is that that’s the holy grail.

Do you think the days of that giant corporate video where the drone flies over the headquarters and zooms down to the CEO and the board standing there looking like Victorian gentleman in front of their empire. Do you think all of that’s gone now? I hope so

Well, I think within the structure of corporate business, those videos and that sort of image will always exist because that’s the nature of corporate business. They answer to stockholders and shareholders and so on and so forth.

But equally, the modern day dictates that there’s a new way of doing things. There’s a fresh way of doing things. I don’t know if you saw the video of the Dollar Shave Club.

It was just very raw and natural, almost a comedy value, looking at what he does with his business and having a bit of fun with it and it was authentic in the way it came across.

And you know, that was a video that very much was structured in a very strategic way, but presented in a rather natural comedy way as well.

And it just went viral. So I think the more natural you can be within your company in terms of the way that you portray who you are, I think goes a long way because ultimately people do business with people, a personal experience and if you can portray who you are and what you do through video in a very personal way, I think there’s a connection that’s invaluable.

But I would imagine an awful lot of thought and planning actually went on behind the scenes. It may look as if somebody just picked up a camera and videoed something and stuck it on the Internet and it all took five minutes but I’ve got a funny feeling there was a lot of planning to make it look like that.

Most definitely. And I mean that’s people who are very good at what they do in terms of their skill set and they probably set out from a strategic point of view to try and achieve what was the end result and they got it by all means.

But you know, that that comes from years of experience and what they did worked.

But equally what we talked about was smartphone video marketing and capturing the moments within your business as and when they happen.

You can get very authentic and very real moments that if you know how to essentially capture that moment and edit it into a way that you can create a little bit of marketing magic for your business.

But equally you do it in a way that’s quite natural because you are literally capturing the moment as and when it happens, I mean, this is the thing people talk about video and the equipment and everything that goes with it, and they say, well, what’s the best camera to have?

You know, should I have a Panasonic or Sony or DSLR?

And I’m ultimately saying, look, the best camera to have is the one that you actually have on you when the moment occurs, the the camera that you are able to capture the moment with, and for most people, that is going to be a smartphone.

The camera technology that exists within smartphones these days is amazing and it is really good quality and if you are able to understand how to do fundamental shots and how to structure the elements of storytelling in a way that’s sympathetic to your message you can quite easily capture that and package that up into a marketing moment.

You could give me the most expensive camera on the market, you could give me a 10 grand video camera and I can record you something really rubbish on that camera. It’s not necessarily the technology is it? It’s what you do with it.

Yes, exactly. I think it’s a classic 80:20 rule as well. You only look at it from a software perspective, all these people that use software, you only might use 20% of the features.

I think for the technology that goes into the cameras these days it is more than capable of being able to capture moments as and when they happen and the big thing at smartphone video marketing is we take a lot of our origins from what was the basis of mobile journalism.

It’s interesting because mobile journalism sort of found its origins around 2014 / 2015 and it was very much shunned upon by the mainstream media as this was just a couple of journalists having to play around with their little cameras on their phones. Isn’t that cute? But you will never be serious? It will never be serious journalism and as the phones improved, as the cameras improved within the phones, then quality apps were introduced into the ecosystem.

So they were then able to start editing actual video footage within the phones themselves. Everything was working towards an improvement in the workflow. And then before you know, you’re getting HD quality cameras.

So here were mobile journalists that were able to fundamentally on traditional cameras capture really good video stories. But they were just changing the mechanism in the way they were in the way they were doing it.

They were now using mobile phones. And the other thing that was quite crucial in this advancement of the principles of mobile journalism was they used to go out with three man crews, cameraman, sound person and journalists. And just from a economic point of view that was quite expensive.

As it evolved and as the mobile phone came into play and newsrooms started to accept what was mobile journalism through the phone, one individual could go out. They could go out and capture everything through the phone itself.

Film, edit, upload that into the cloud. And then the newsroom was fundamentally able to pull that into the news story. And I think people will be pleasantly surprised the amount of phone footage they actually see on the news these days and just accept it for being conventional camera footage.

Yeah, it’s funny you say about holding the microphone. That was my very, very first job ever. A very long time ago. It’s back in the 80s and I literally held a microphone for the reporter. I went out around Birmingham with a radio reporter and held a microphone for them. But, like you say back then, there was a lot of snobbery around the quality. If a bus went past, you would scrap the audio, no matter how good that audio was. That doesn’t tend to matter as much now, does it?

Exactly. I think it’s a combination of a few conditions.

Yes, the phones are giving us video footage, but also, a lot more footage has been seen through the medium of social.

You’ve only got to look back to probably last year, I think it was the start of the pandemic. That fast tracked a pretty fundamental shift because all these countries, all these economies went into lockdown and so did the news, the news platforms, they couldn’t effectively go out and talk to people.

I’m in a lot of mobile journalism communities because that’s where I take my inspiration from and you know, they were having to do their stories by talking to people that were in a lockdown situation, but actually telling them how to get the video footage for them, they were saying, look, can you set up your phones, can you do this, can you do this type of piece to camera so we can record everything.

And because of that a lot more user generated content within a mobile phone experience was being shown on TV a lot more.

I saw a live feed from Boris Johnson, I think in Number 10 on a mobile phone and you know, this is the prime minister of a G8 country.

So does all this video really work or is it just a bit of a social media vanity exercise because you get that impression from some folk, looking at some of the video on social media, it’s definitely a vanity exercise. But does it actually work? Can it generate leads? Can it generate sales?

I think it can Jon there’s a couple of ways of looking at it the first being the data lead perspective.

So if you have, let’s take a very simple sales page and that sales page is just purely text with calls to action.

I’ve seen tests done where they may introduce a video on that sales page and by the introduction of that video, sales through that page have actually increased because of the personal nature of the video, it brings value to that sales page.

So in those instances where you’re clearly able to measure something with a result before and after the introduction of video for instance, yes, I would say in that, in that case, by all means it does add value.

Then you have the other aspects of what we call loose metrics.

Is it really measurable? And you have this this term brand value? Is that really measurable in a sense of just getting a video out there?

Well, I take an optimistic view that a you are getting something out there that’s very personable. You’re getting something out there that shows what you do and how you do it in a very personal nature.

So people ultimately have a connection, they will either have a connection or they won’t have a connection with you on a very personal level.

So I think those are clearly not measurable in the true sense, but do they provide value long term in terms of other humanistic points of view? I think they do and that’s what people sometimes pull into what they call loosely this brand value because there’s so many other things that are coming into play there.

I think when you see someone and you hear someone, you instantly gain more trust and more authority, don’t you?

Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And I think I remember a really clear moment some time ago, and I was talking to a an engineering technician in Australia and he installed lubrication systems into mechanics garages and very mechanical orientated businesses and I just thought oh he’s a lubricant installer and I had no real concept of what that entailed and I just went okay yeah fair enough.

And then I think about two weeks later he was out on a job and he actually set up his smartphone, he put it onto hyperlapse which was just this sense of when you capture time in fast forward motion and I think he captured about two hours of his work installing all this pipe work but he did it in such a beautiful way, it sounds rather bizarre but through the nature of engineering and all these pipe work it was all it was all symmetrical, it was all very clean lines, you know, it was something like out of a Formula one garage, everything about, it was just really nice, symmetrical and straight away just shifted my perspective on what he does and how he did it and I was like, wow, okay, that is the power of video and I was like, yeah, I love it as a medium.

How long do our videos need to be or is it a little bit like how long is a piece of string? I mean is there kind of like a limit where we just need to just shut up and stop recording?

It’s interesting. I think it depends on the type of people you are talking to, you know, there will always be people within your business that are not necessarily problem aware and you know, people talk about this, top of the funnel, middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel, and I think for those different types of people, you have different types of videos and, you know, again, different types of time around those videos for someone that knows nothing about you.

It could be 15, 20 seconds at the most, You know, all they want to know, you’ve got to try and capture them with a hook, and if that hook can capture them, Yes, okay, that’s fine but, you know, you may not get more than a minute out of their time.

For someone that knows what you do and wants to know a little bit more about the way that you do it. They may give you anywhere up to, I don’t know, 5, 10 minutes of their time.

Just in terms of you talking to them about the way that you do certain things within your business and then equally you might have people, for instance, I’ve wanted to know more about the way that someone does something and I sat there and I’ve watched 45 minute video so I can understand about it in more detail, the complexity, the nitty gritty of how things work.

So I think it’s relative to the individuals that you’re trying to talk to and I think that is also why you try and create different types of videos of varying time-frames. So you were able to capture those individuals at every aspect of that journey comes back to planning again, just trying to think about answering those questions that customers have.

So you might want to split up your videos and have a mixture of things like a how-to, Q & A or a show and tell video. I suppose you can mix this up depending on the type of problems and questions you’re trying to answer for your clients.

Exactly. And I think we very much take a strategic point of view in terms of the type of videos that we do, we take the view in terms of new client acquisition.

So an element of that could be how-to, Q & A and breaking down objections. That could consist of short videos that just have short punchy hooks that straightaway break objections.

But equally, we have other types of videos that possibly work from a back end part of the business. So businesses fundamentally thrive on making money, but they also thrive on saving money through procedures and systems at the back end and equally video can be introduced into that part of the business as well.

So for instance, you can use on-boarding videos that can be both within a new client perspective, but you could also be within an employee perspective as well.

What if we’re really rubbish recording videos, if we’re literally rubbish at it? Like I am! Have you got any tips on how we can solve hand wobbles and is it just down to lighting, I suppose good light helps, doesn’t it?

Yeah, I mean if you want to look at the practical aspects of making video, you’re absolutely right, Good lighting is essential.

Natural light is very much our friend, we want to capture that natural light as and when we can, you want to make sure the subject is well lit.

The other, the other aspect I would say is stability. You want to ensure that you can get a nice stable shot and you can do that through the use of a tripod or equally, you can you can do it through the use of using a handheld video rig.

We have special ones that enable us to put our smartphones into them and it just just gives us more more handheld stability and just makes for a nicer shot.

The other thing that I would say is very important is shot variety and just to use the context of a real life situation here, imagine you go into a new environment, just say it’s it’s a party situation. What will happen is you will walk into that room and if you can imagine your eyes almost being the camera.

So the first thing you will do is take the context of the whole room, you will do a whole scan of the room and if you like that is our wide shot within the context of a cameras.

The next thing we do is start to focus on the individual elements so we might actually move forward with our feet as well as start to focus on say an individual.

We will move in for what may now be a medium type of shot and we will we will frame that individual safe from the waist up to get more detail about who they are and what they’re doing and then they may be doing something with their hands and equally that we may start to go in a little bit closer and start to frame in on those details around the hands and what they’re doing.

It is exactly the same context within filming. If you like, try and tell the story within the context of these variety of shots, we have wide shots, have medium shots, have really close up shots on details of hands and what they’re doing and facial movements and then it’s really just bringing that all together and it really adds a lot more interest to your videos as and when you do them.

But equally coming back to your first point, what happens if we’re just rubbish at video?

Look, it’s a journey we all have to start from somewhere and I think it’s yes, we are a bit rough and ready and raw when we first start out and it’s like anything, you know, you can’t go from nowhere to running a marathon overnight.

It takes a lot of exercise, a lot of pain, a lot of being uncomfortable to actually go on that journey and it’s exactly the same with video and I think you just have to accept that and the nature of being imperfect action is progressed and progress is moving towards getting better at what you do.

Absolutely. You mentioned about creating some sort of a story. Do you think even with small videos, like one minute social media videos we should be story boarding the video?

I think yes, I mean it’s essentially planning, right?

I talked about the shot variety before. I just need these three or four simple shots. That’s really going to help give context to what I’m trying to tell and yes, that’s definitely is a good way to approach making video.

I think editing is part of the game and and coming back to your point earlier about being rubbish at video this is where editing can hide a lot of our sins.

You know, there’s been days where things just won’t come out of my mouth for whatever reason I’m just tongue tied and I just can’t get the message out and you know it might take three or four or five different takes but just let it roll and then you can cut it out in the edit by all means.

But I think in the same way that learning to film is a skill, learning to edit in the same way as a skill as well and whilst you go on that filming journey, you will also go on an editing journey as well because it is part of the process.

And you know you can tell two different stories to different ways simply in the way that you edit.

I don’t really want to get too much into the editing process because that is a podcast in itself but I think just in terms of keeping it simple and we talked about that shot variety and the way you can all bring it together, you can do that in the editing process.

It just helps tighten up the way that you tell your story.

In terms of editing software we are very much mobile first in what we do because it makes us more agile and effectively if we go out and we do any sort of filming we can then cut and edit the actual process on our phones, be it wherever we are and that’s the way that we like to operate.

Are you editing on the phone or are you editing on a tablet with a larger screen?

Both. It just depends on what where we are and what we’re doing at the time.

Yes, we do have an iPad that we take with us now purely because it gives us a lot more screen space but you know, initially when I was starting out I was very much on the phones and it was just a matter of doing it and getting it done.

The reason I say that is because it makes us so much more agile in the way that we can actually get information out and again it comes back to this reference with mobile journalism.

You know, if you’re in the field and you’re capturing something there and then if you are able to pull it all together, you’re able to film it on your phone, you’re able to edit it on your phone, you’re able to capture the audio on your phone, bring it all together, package it up, produce it, get it out, your dynamic and you’re the first movement, which I think is a really positive aspect to it.

The really hard thing I think is coming up with the idea in the first place. How do we be creative? Where do we get ideas for a video from?

Yes, creative angles. That’s the thing. It’s challenging. I mean, information is all around us. We’ve probably got more exposure to information now than we have at any other time in history and I think that’s always the best place to look around for creative ideas.

One of the things uh I’ve always believed in is a process I call it a mind dump and I have a simple document that I know I’ve always got access to and it’s on my phone, it’s on my all my devices and just through the everyday moments of doing what you do, you follow people, you look at various news feeds and things will always come into your world that through cause and effect or just through a serendipitous moment they will appear.

But what it might do is prompt a response from you in terms of yeah, okay, maybe I could do this in conjunction with that or maybe I can introduce this and those moments might be very fleeting, but for me it’s almost like, right, get that moment down.

So straight away I go straight into my mind dump folder and I always just put these ideas down and it’s better you get them down and you can come back to them because all too often they go as soon as they come.

I think there’s so much creativity out there. It’s just understanding how it relates to what you do, how you do it, and understanding how you can possibly put your own twist on it.

We don’t want to copy, No way sure. We’ll need to be unique in what we do.