The first word that comes to mind when I hear Micro, or Mini, Documentary is advocacy. Regardless of the subject matter, these short films are often created to further a cause and essentially make the world a better place.
I love micro-docs for that reason, but more brands should produce them to create engagement with their audiences.
Content marketing is nothing new and many companies, from Samsung to Procter and Gamble, have embraced them at some point. But considering how effective they are in attracting audiences, even in this social era of short attention spans, I’m surprised I don’t see more of them.
Because of the power of these short films, Picturelab created Circular to focus on producing micro-documentaries. Starting with stories from Silicon Valley, the objective was to showcase our ability to create engaging content that is of relevance to both the communities and businesses alike. We wanted to prove that storytelling, not selling, is the key to inbound marketing strategies. From our experience in creating them – for our selves and for brands – here are some takeaways when producing them.
Key points to consider when producing micro-documentaries as part of your inbound marketing campaigns.
Compelling content need not be directly relevant.
Audiences are drawn to interesting people and stories. If they are engaged, they will stop and watch your film. When you’re concerned that the video is not quite “selling” your brand, then that is the first step to creating something that is not as compelling as it can be, or worse. If you’re a winemaker, your wine doesn’t have to be front and center on every shot. It doesn’t have to be about your vineyard if that story isn’t very interesting.
Focus on the story. If anything, the mood, atmosphere, character and perhaps the overall theme or feeling of the film should reflect who you are as a brand, but it doesn’t need – and shouldn’t be – a sales pitch. That’s a sure way to turn away audiences.
Visual quality is important.
Many of these micro-docs are relatively low budget productions. But they should still look good. A decent camera and lighting gear are important. Solid talent to create these films are essential. Hire creatives and filmmakers for these, not task your summer intern. Technical know-how is only a small percentage of what goes into making these films. The camera angles, mood-creating lighting, and the overall storytelling skills are what will differentiate this short film from just another corporate video.
Think social media friendly.
Yep, very short stuff works best on social media, but people will watch a five-minute film if it is interesting. Some strategies to hook viewers are:
- Be clear at the beginning what the film is about. If there’s a famous personality or someone doing something that’s unique, don’t be suspenseful about it. Get it out there and do it early.
- Have strong visuals. The film doesn’t need Hollywood explosions, but there should be something to show that the piece has production value, and wasn’t shot with a consumer camcorder or phone with natural light throughout (unless it’s done in a creative way).
- Use text and subtitles. This is one quick way to be clear up front what the film is about and establish the setting without requiring the viewer to watch a minute or more (they won’t!).
It may also make sense to create 10-second trailers to post on social media before posting the entire film. Get audiences interested in the story and prepare them to “tune-in” when it’s launched.
Content marketing is more important now than ever. And inbound marketing is always more cost effective and impactful with engaging content to draw viewers. So, when developing a campaign, micro-documentaries should be considered.