Sometimes, people want to see your brand’s pimples and stretchmarks.
“I don’t want any video to go up on our Facebook page unless it is broadcast quality.”
Our client had a brand image that was highly polished and refined. We were discussing the business’s content strategy, and the topic had turned to video content; specifically, Facebook Live. Until that point, the website had no video content other than advertisements and case studies of the work that it had done. We suggested that the site begin featuring more video content, but it was rebuffed as being cost-prohibitive. We countered by suggesting that the business could shoot “whiteboard-style” videos and behind-the-scenes content with a smartphone, eliminating the high cost of video production. The owner did not want any video content that wasn’t broadcast quality, and to this day, the blog and social media pages have no video content whatsoever.
Does video content have to be broadcast quality?
Ten years ago, I would have answered “absolutely.” Any shop that put out video content that looked in any way amateurish could have done more harm than good to their brand, leaving them worse off than if they had simply left “good enough” alone. Now that high quality video equipment is available to pretty much any small business, the need for broadcast quality is actually less, and in some cases, could actually even be counterproductive. For a brand that aims to foster trust and exude authenticity, lower production value can help them achieve it.
Wait, how can lower quality ever be preferable?
Today, people crave authenticity. We have become so inundated with cleverly edited, touched up content that internet users have become a bit fatigued from it all; we live in a state of feeling like we’re being lied to. Additionally, we have become better than ever at sniffing out inauthenticity in what we find online.
It can be argued that many have come to regard much “high production content” as suspect. We hear the occasional stories of high-profile Instagram models “outing” their pages as inauthentic. Rapper Kendrick Lamar expressed the sentiments of fatigue with overpolished content, expressing a distaste for Photoshop and a wish to see “stretchmarks.”
This explains the odd success that people like DJ Khaled have had on media like Snapchat. His Snapchat story about being lost at sea was viewed 1.8 million times. He posts videos such as this that people love:
Why do people enjoy this content? Because it is real. Here, DJ Khaled is inviting us into his life, starring in his own self-produced reality show—a reality show that differs from the high production “reality” shows that we have become accustomed to because it is real. People see that it was shot with a smartphone and posted to Snapchat; this is the brand equivalent to the “stretchmarks” that people like Kendrick Lamar want to see.
When your business or brand can benefit from “low production value” video
You want to create trust. If you operate in an industry that needs to foster trust, low production value video can often gain that trust better than a video that could be aired at the Super Bowl. An iPhone video will better communicate what it’s like behind the scenes at your business—just be sure to hide your startup’s ping pong table and piñatas before you hit record. In other words, the fact that you are shooting with the smartphone lends authenticity, but you still don’t want to overshare. As anyone that ever watched Chappelle’s Show can attest, keeping it real can and does go wrong.
You want to create a large volume of content. For whatever the reason may be, sheer volume of content could be part of the content strategy that your business has adopted. Being able to shoot and edit on the fly could facilitate this strategy for your company.
You need agility. If you are creating content to create thought leadership for your brand, weeks are the equivalent of years. If you want to create content about the latest Google or Facebook algorithm changes, you don’t have weeks to plan, create, edit, and promote your video. Get some decent lighting, a tripod and clip for your phone, and get it out ASAP.
Ultimately, there are advantages to creating video content with a smartphone.
The agility, authenticity, and cost afforded by smartphone video can create value for you and the audience you wish to reach. For a brand wishing to outflank its larger competitors, this sort of content could be key in doing so successfully. What are some brands that you’ve seen do this well? Are there reasons to embrace low-production value video in addition to the ones that I have listed? Does your brand have plans to implement a similar strategy? I look forward to reading your comments.