We talked to pioneering content-creator Meagan Cignoli from Visual Country about telling meaningful stories with short form content as part of our brands guide to creating the winning recipe with social video.
How have you seen the effectiveness for short-form content change since you began creating stop-motion videos?
MC: Short video continues to grow in popularity, especially as promoted social continues to advance in terms of distribution channels and ability to target specific user demographics and interests. In many ways, it has become more efficient and effective, as platforms offer brands more choices to amplify content they create beyond their organic reach. It requires little time investment on the user side, while still being able to tell a compelling and meaningful story.
What advice would you offer to brands approaching creators like yourself with a short-form video project idea?
MC: Come with your ideas and your vision, but also look to the creators for their perspective because they understand the space well and they know their style best. It requires a little trust, but a successful campaign will have a good amount of collaboration and trust in the creative. If their work is good, and you like what you have seen in the past, don’t over art direct them or over produce the campaign — that can easily kill a good idea. Sometimes brands are just looking for execution and we follow their lead more, but if they are looking for our ideas and our visions, let the creators get creative and explore as much as possible within the bounds of the brand and brand identity. They shouldn’t be recreating the brand style, but adapting it to their voice and style.
What are two examples of your best work with brands and what were the main drivers for success?
MC: Malibu: everyone references it. It’s unexpected, and fun. It’s entertaining, which gets people interested in the brand. They connect with it more.
For the second, I’ll give you a video with a human in it. For Carolina Herrera we had only 5 minutes per outfit and location with the model because this was a shoot tagged onto a ‘lookbook’ shoot.
The entire video was shot in 3 hours but we only had about 25 minutes of editing tops. It’s a good example because we do work with a lot of celebrities and on top of other shoots that are already happening where the production budget is not always large enough to give us our own shoot. This video went viral and its really simple but a I think a good example of stop motion with a person.
You create video in both square and landscape formats for clients, which formats seem to work better at the moment?
MC: For most campaigns, we create a wide and square version, so the brands have versatility when posting across all different platforms and channels — from out of home, broadcast, and of course social.
For most screens and channels, wide and square is perfect. Vertical is also becoming more popular as Instastories and Snapchat ads become more of a focus for brands. In terms of what performs best, it depends on the platform and sometimes the story. You can show a larger area with wide, but on IG, it seems so small. It’s better for platforms like Facebook and preroll, tv, etc, where screens are larger or the platform is more designed for wide format.
Outside landscape and square formats you create content in, have you done much vertical video work for mobile with the popularity of Snapchat & now Instagram stories?
MC: Yes, it is becoming more and more popular. Sometimes we will create all three versions. It means more planning, shooting, prepping and editing, but if we know from the onset what is needed we can optimise for all three in most situations. Or we write with all three sizes in mind. We can go even further and create even more sizes (729x90, super verticals, etc), different weights of files size and various cut downs. We can get super creative with the number of final assets, depending on what the brand needs and budget.
What would you say to brands weighing up the cost of creating branded video content vs. a branded static image? Why does the cost and effort make it worthwhile in your opinion?
MC: Video, or moving images like GIFs and Cinemagraphs are great at captivating people and telling a longer more detailed narrative or message. There will always be a place for stills, but it does limit the story you can tell in one frame. If brands would like to do tests against video vs. stills, we can also pull stills or shoot specific images on the same set, which is more cost-effective than just shooting either on their own. Videos don’t need to be complicated or super long to be really engaging and stop you in your feed. But any movement to the eye I think will get more attention.
You can connect with Megan and her production company Visual Country on the following channels:
This article is taken from Evolve’s Brand Guide to Social Video.