Back to Top

5 Tips on How to Turn User-Generated Content into High-end Video Assets

We hear this all the time from our clients:
“We would love to be creating more engaging content – especially video – but we don’t have the budgets.”

The truth is, we in the agency business have even LESS budget than you do. Since our product is our thinking and creativity and, more specifically, the PEOPLE that DO that thinking and MAKE that creative, every moment we spend on any activity counts. Every minute we don’t spend on YOUR business comes at a cost. We often joke that we are “the cobbler’s children with no shoes.” We’re so busy amplifying YOUR brand that we have little time to focus on amplifying OUR brand. So we need to be super crafty. We recently got super crafty with our recap of SXSW 2016, utilizing user-generated content and the techniques shared below. The result: an engaging and shareable brand asset that’s fun, fast-paced, and undeniably true to our brand.

Here are 5 techniques that we used in the making of this piece:
–> 1. Animation: The most widely used type of video content is animation. It crosses all ages, genders, and education levels, even languages. Viewers experience animation passively or actively, either viewing the content with or without sound. To pull off successful animated content is to break down a specific topic and convey it for the widest possible audience. Many users looking for information would rather watch a short and appealing animated video with sound than read the equivalent text. Visual eye candy like lower thirds, transitions, and filters make the viewing experience better. These animated styles are perfect for explainers, reviews, advertising, and so much more. And now with the advancements to animation software, the social appetite for these types of videos has never been higher. Budget love: These techniques and core animations can be used again and again – or slightly tweaked and customized once your animation style is established.

2. Bookends: You have only a few seconds to capture the attention of the viewer; don’t waste time building up to a story line or message point. If you have something compelling to say, get it out there. Lead with a breakthrough visual. Grab their attention right from the start, but note that most social sites today will most likely play videos without audio until you click. When creating a video that is going through social, think through the visual content and try to make it not so reliant on sound. Budget love: Creating a set of bookends that you can use again and again with different user-generated content pieces provides a high-end punch to a low-end asset. It’s also an easy way to establish a visual identity that ties all of your pieces together in a differentiated way.

3. Music: The music you choose plays a vital role in your video. It’s the perfect way to drive your message and shape emotion to your video. But slow down there, DJ Pauly D. Deciding on the right track for your video can get complicated. Zero to 100 real quick. How do you want your viewers to feel when they watch? Should they be excited about your new product? Should it be fuzzy and feel-good from a customer testimonial? Or are they giggling from your office and employees’ culture video? These feelings have styles of music that will help elicit a fixed emotion. Budget love: Stock music is low-cost, making it an easy way to inject emotion into your video asset.

4. Pre-pro Planning: Sure, maybe your user-generated content is not Academy Award material, but a little bit of pre-production planning can ensure that your talent gets you the shots you need to tell the right story. In our piece, a selfie with President Obama was a must. So our talent didn’t exactly get past the Secret Service to the man himself, but a fun shot with a wall poster conveyed the information about the appearance and showed that we were there on the ground. We were also able to capture the frenetic pace and sheer volume of activity with time lapse (easy to set up and capture). Budget love: Pack your video with lots of shots, angles, and interesting content by giving your talent a shot list and letting them in on the story you want the final piece to tell.

5. Creative Trumps Length: The creative and content is key. If the video is compelling and the subject resonates, viewers WILL watch. If it’s short and sweet, then they’ll share. With the ten most popular YouTube videos, the shortest was 42 seconds, and the longest was 9 minutes and 15 seconds. The average length was 5 minutes and 20 seconds. Reports show the duration of successful online video content is less than 5 minutes. Also, to make it clear, viral is not a deliverable. Keep it compelling, short, and creative, and you’ll probably get some buzz. Bonus: shorter snippets using the same bookends can take a little bit of user-generated footage and stretch it into multiple posts and touch points, multiplying eyeballs and views on your brand. Budget love:

The shorter the edit, (generally) the lower the cost. As the old saying goes, your video should leave them wanting more. In closing… taking user-generated video and turning it into a brilliant asset (or set of assets) doesn’t have to break your budget. You’ll need to spend something, but you don’t need to hire professional talent and a film crew. But you will need to invest in some slick, creative editing. We implore you: FIND THE BUDGET. IT IS WORTH IT. Everyone wants to rank high in the search; video content can help with that. Matter of fact, sites with video are 50 times more likely to rank on the first page of Google search results. But creating video content doesn’t have to be posh. We help manage your costs; we look at a variety of creative approaches, each with pros and cons. Our advice is to consider all options and not cut corners. Simply put, not only is it worth it, it’s worth doing WELL.

We’d love to talk to you about how our creative approaches can help your brand. Drop us a line and let’s talk!