Why is digital content such a huge deal to businesses today? We could largely attribute that to the massive shift in media consumption and digitalization these days. And it has driven organizations to adopt new ways of generating product and service revenue, by producing digital content to engage customers on various media platforms (i.e. content marketing).
If your job consists of some need to create content, you might want to hear from these creative industry veterans whom e2i had the privilege of speaking with. They share valuable insights regarding factors that affect the success of digital content produced and published.
> Josiah Ng, Head of Film and Social Content at DDB Group Singapore
> Diogo Martins, an award-winning producer and lead of content and community Bloomr.sg team at Mediacorp
These award-winning mentors were in Singapore to equip content creators in ‘STOREYS’, an initiative piloted by CreativesAtWork and supported by iMDA. e2i supported the 15 trainees of whom the mentors are equipping, through an Attach and Train programme. We worked with CreativesAtWork to come up with a training and mentorship plan for them.
Here we go.
Agon: Firstly, will people care about the idea? As a content creator, I’ve observed some of the most well-made videos have nobody watch it. Especially on social media platforms where people scroll so fast, where people only stop for things that they care about.
“…people only stop for things that they care about.”
Diogo: Majority of film makers tend to stay in their creative world, that they forget to ask whether people even want to watch the content they are making. I see many of them dig themselves in a hole of story they think are interesting and other film makers think is interesting, but when shown to an audience – the audience doesn’t care about it. It happens a lot.
Social media can help with this, try going to normal people (not film makers) and ask whether this is going to be an interesting topic.
Josiah: Authenticity is crucial. If you are depicting a story – where did the story come from and what insights drove this story in the first place? If it’s going to be a content about single mothers, you’ve got to go on the ground and talk to single mothers, do your research, so that you can be authentic about it.
With a creative license, we cannot simply create our own interpretation of what these characters think or feel. We increasingly have audiences and consumers that can smell in-authenticity.
For the local audience, you need to go into familiar elements where people can relate to and identify with, so that they can connect with the content. At DDB Singapore / Tribal Worldwide, we try to do content about shared experiences. For example, a man pulling down a tin can in a “mama shop” (Singaporean telemovie under MCI – “The Provision Shop”).
Agon: Whether it is Facebook or YouTube, storytelling has always been the no. 1 factor that drives viewership.
Many companies use agencies to create content for them, but often even when those videos are beautifully shot, they may not get the eyeballs. That is because the agency may be great with cameras but doesn’t have enough experience in storytelling.
Josiah: We asked the participants in the mentorship sessions, why are you making this script or content? A large part of authenticity is about being true to why you want to do it in the first place.
Agon: There are many content creators who produce click-bait content. I believe there are two types of controversial content: when its right, and when its wrong. The right motive behind these type of controversial content is when you’re doing it to defend somebody.
I received a lot of hate for a video I made in defense of a minority community. It went viral and garnered 50,000 comments within the first 4 days. About 60% of it was positive sentiments, but for a video that goes that viral, 40% worth of hate sentiments is a lot. I was getting death threats. But for that I believe it was worth it, because you must stand for what you believe.
The wrong reason for creating controversial content is when you create controversy FOR controversy. Just to get attention – like sexually appealing videos. I once believe in a lie when I worked with some of the biggest social media content creators on YouTube. I saw how it’s done – getting hot girls and using them for click bait.
“You can be cool, yet clean, and bring some value to societies through positive social media content.”
Essentially it is not the type of work you can be proud of. Making this type of click-bait content seems attractive because it brings the views and nice money, but you never really are respected in the industry for creating a real impact with the type of content you produce.
You can be cool, yet clean, and bring some value to societies through positive social media content. There is not enough of it – but this is what Nas Daily values very much.
Agon: I used to focus 90% of my efforts on video productions. But as I did more and more videos, I started to focus more on the strategy – on why people would want to watch it, the framing of the video, things like that. People don’t care about the video quality as much as they care about what you are saying.
Diogo: Some film or video makers think they will find their target audience after making the content. They write their scripts and creatives of their stories, while thinking of a very broad audience.
“It is better to capture the attention of 5,000 people to watch your film for 10 minutes, than to have them watch it for 10 seconds.”
Because broad audiences watch Marvel and big movies, they assume the same for their content. But those movies are made with a budget in the billions, while these film makers have a budget of about $10,000 – so they need to target that 5,000 people who are going to watch it.
It is better to capture the attention of 5,000 people to watch your film for 10 minutes, than to have them watch it for 10 seconds. More thought should go into specific audience targeting from the very start.
Josiah: You can work backwards too these days. Another distribution strategy is to release the main content first, and then after that, have the teasers follow. We released a video for Public Utilities Board (PUB) once, that had ‘Easter Eggs’ in it which we worked with popular content platforms to talk about in their blog articles.
The teasers then caused people to go back to watch the actual video because of the interest garnered to find those ‘eggs’
You want to make sure the content has a hook. It’s a meme generation now. To the point that film-makers consider if a certain video scene could later be translated into a meme.
Rumor has it that Baby Yoda was Baby Yoda because it had the potential to become a meme – because then people start talking about it. In a way that’s a release strategy.
Agon: It is important to have the right title – and you can use social media as a feedback loop. For my upcoming videos, I run polls on Instagram Stories for titles I have in mind, then use the one that won the highest votes.
Why wouldn’t we ask them before releasing our content? It’s human behavior that they would know what they would stop for, given how easy it is to scroll past content these days.
Don’t forget to put emphasis on the opening and the first 10 seconds of your video. The more shocking the title, the better. (Agon’s most viral video is “Are we wasting more food than we eat?” – currently at 30 million views)
Agon: If you do a video with a social movement on Facebook, it is bound to do well. YouTube however, is not so much about videos with a social impact, because people tend to go there and watch what they intentionally search for, which also explains the longer average watch-time.
Facebook is more about what’s happening in the world now. I love posting on Facebook because it allows your content to bring meaning to peoples’ lives.
“Content creators need to find out what kind of eyeballs are on each respective platform… be adaptable – tell a story on Instagram, and adapt it for the Facebook audience.”
97% of videos on Facebook are consumed by audiences when they are browsing their feed. The average watch-time on YouTube is about 5 minutes, but if you get even 50 seconds of watch time on Facebook, that’s already considered amazing.
Josiah: Content creators need to find out what kind of eyeballs are on each respective platform. Now there’s even Tik Tok – which also has its own audience. Content creators also need to be adaptable – tell a story on Instagram, and adapt it for the Facebook audience.
Diogo: One of the big advancements over the past 10 years is that you get to understand what the audience is watching. If you go through the back-ends of YouTube and Facebook, you get to see where the audience tends to drop off through the audience retention graph.
This helps you understand how to optimize the content to a point where people stop dropping off. Many YouTubers eventually become efficient film makers because they optimize their content on a second to second basis.
“You need to lose your ego and learn from what the audience is looking for.”
Agon: Badly produced content comes from the lack of awareness of why people are not watching your video. You need to test things so many times. I’ve produced about a thousand videos for social media by now, so I’ve seen things succeed and fail. When people don’t learn from testing, they keep making and uploading content that keeps failing.
Diogo: Film makers fail when they don’t care about feedback or how the public perceives their films. You need to lose your ego and learn from what the audience is looking for.
If you are a film maker and are not writing scripts or watching content daily and don’t know everyone’s references, then you start to funnel your vision into this small hole that nobody cares about.
Be self-aware. Don’t just stay glued on the content you want to make, but ask – what is the audience watching? Then work on optimizing the content to the best that it can be.
By: Rachel Lee
The STOREYS movement seeks to harness the power of video and social media to shed light on issues that matter to Singaporeans, through storytelling. 15 teams were chosen after a nationwide call for submissions. e2i supported the 15 trainees of whom the mentors will be equipping, through an Attach and Train programme. To better hone their skills, e2i worked with CreativesAtWork to come up with a training and mentorship plan for them.
We want to thank Agon, Diogo and Josiah for sharing these valuable advice with our readers!
The e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) is a tripartite initiative of the NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) set up to support nation-wide manpower and skills upgrading initiatives. e2i serves as a bridge between workers and employers, connecting with workers to offer job security through job-matching, career guidance and skills upgrading services, and partnering employers to address their manpower needs through recruitment, training and job redesign solutions.