Ian Servin is a passionate strategist and producer at Animus Studios. He helps brands big and small tell their stories with video. He is a guest writer on the Wistia Blog.
Making engaging video is all about communication, and if you can’t empathize with your audience, it’s really hard to communicate effectively with them. When it comes to producing videos for clients, understanding the audience is key.
Your client’s audience should determine the tone of the videos, what content goes into them, and even what channels you choose to share them on and how you target ad spend.
A little extra thoughtfulness in the audience discovery phase will change how you make videos and strengthen your client relationships.
So how do you begin?
Start by going through your client’s existing followers across every channel they use, and ask yourself a few questions.
What do these people look like? What kinds of content do they tend to engage with? What do they not respond well to? In this stage, you’re essentially building a marketing persona from our research. In case you’re scratching your head right now, a persona is a fictional profile of a single person that represents a segment of your audience.
“What kinds of content do they tend to engage with? What do they not respond well to?”
When I worked with a travel company last year, our primary persona was a millennial woman who valued things like convenience, adventure, and social connectedness. We knew that in order to engage with folks like her, our content needed to hit on those central themes.
Personas also come in handy when it comes to thinking about the distribution side of a video marketing campaign. A persona contains the information you’ll need to set up demographic targeting settings. Things like interests, income level, marital status, and more can all be helpful at this stage.
Personas aren’t just for current customers, fans, and followers. Every brand wants to expand their reach beyond the people they’re currently talking to, so I do a similar analysis with competitors and publications working within the client’s industry.
Looking at Facebook groups, forums, and editorial outlets can provide vital context and help you identify audiences that don’t currently interact with the brand, but still make up the larger community that the client wants to connect with.
Once you have a good picture of who your audience is, drill deeper into what they care about. Especially when you’re working in niche industries like interior design or fashion, knowing what topics are trending and what language people use is critical.
A while back, I worked with an IT startup that focused on networking, and the language barrier was huge. After our first few meetings, I realized I had no idea what they actually did beyond the very basic idea of making enterprise networking better. I was completely lost.
Only after I sat down with their founder, and read up on the industry, was I able to build a strategy and develop some concepts to share their story.
It underlined one of my core beliefs: It’s impossible to tell someone’s story (well) without understanding it.
Understanding the vernacular ensures you’re communicating in a way that feels authentic. It also prevents you from making embarrassing mistakes. Needless to say, I do a lot of research into what’s being talked about, how it’s being talked about, and why it matters for every video I make. I’m always returning to the places online where my audiences hang out — I want to stay connected to what they care about and how they think.
Focusing on what thought leaders and experts (like the client) are saying is important, but paying attention to how the rest of the community reacts and responds is also critical. At the end of the day, those are the people you’re making content for.
“Paying attention to how the rest of the community reacts and responds is also critical.”
What I’ve described is a lot of work, and not all projects warrant such deep dives. But with larger campaigns and long-term relationships, understanding is the key to making amazing work together. Spending the time upfront to align with whom you’re talking to is the fastest path to creating content that resonates.
What strategies do you use to get to know your audience? Let us know in the comments!