Creative Corner: How 360Learning Launched a Documentary During a Pandemic

Lisa Marinelli

Lisa Marinelli

Creative


Developing compelling content can be challenging in the best of circumstances. This is a lesson 360Learning is all too familiar with. The SaaS company developed a first-of-its-kind B2B docuseries called Onboarding Joei earlier this year. The 13-episode series followed Joei Chan, a new hire at the company, as she learned the ropes of her new role as 360Learning’s Director of Content.

The most compelling part? Nicolas Merlaud, Head of Creative Strategy at 360Learning, created and drove the project forward himself, and he quickly adapted to running a show from home when COVID-19 escalated into a global pandemic.

In the first part of our two-part interview, we chatted with Nicholas to pull back the curtains on Onboarding Joei. He gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how Onboarding Joei went from an idea to a full-fledged concept.

In the second half of our installment, Nicholas delves into how he launched and promoted the project, and how Onboarding Joei exceeded all expectations.


Getting the series off the ground

How did you approach pre-production?

Nicolas: Making one episode every week for 13 weeks was the hardest part for me.

On Wednesdays, for example, I had to launch an episode, edit the trailer, and promote it while also prepping for the next episode. It was a lot. This is why, for every step, I created processes, outlines, and editing skeletons to make my life easier. After a few episodes, I was given more budget to pay a freelance editor, which really helped lighten the load.

“Making one episode every week for 13 weeks was the hardest part. To make it easier, I created processes, outlines, and editing skeletons for every step.”

Before COVID-19, Joei was on my team. I decided to keep things simple by shooting with an iPhone (plugging in a RODE microphone and using a DJI steadicam for moving shots) to be at the ready to record key moments, which is how I got great meeting shots and dialogues.

During COVID-19, the team shifted to working from home, so we made the daily videos via Google Hangouts. To keep video quality consistent, I asked Joei to record herself with her phone while on Hangouts with me. Luckily for me, Joei’s partner is a filmmaker and has his own equipment. So, he set up a studio every Thursday, and I was on Hangouts, asking questions and directing remotely.

What were the initial goals for the show, and how did they evolve over time?

Nicolas: We believed creating a show no one saw before for driven professionals could also resonate with our ideal customer profile (ICP), learning and development teams. At first, I set a goal to get 10k views for the quarter. But when the quarter ended, I reached 70K views, and I stopped counting.

We got subscribers to the show, and some of them were actually qualified leads. It created a problem, but a great one: we have to make another step in the funnel, brand qualified subscribers, that we implemented in our Salesforce sequence. We had to create specific nurturing sequences, guidelines for our business development representatives team, etc.

“We got subscribers to the show, and some of them were actually qualified leads. It created a problem, but a great one: we have to make another step in the funnel, brand qualified subscribers.”

Sharing “Onboarding Joei” with the world

What was your initial promotion plan, and how did it evolve over time?

Nicolas: I always wanted to keep the full series on our website. Even if it got fewer views, it would be contextualized. Viewers could click on other links and eventually, if they were a good fit, become marketing qualified leads.

So, I decided to create short trailers for each episode and publish those videos natively on LinkedIn, Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. LinkedIn is where our ideal customer spends a lot of time, so I put a lot of effort into that platform. Everyone on the team promoted the show from their personal accounts and linked to the episode in the comments.

“I always wanted to keep the full series on our website. Even if it got fewer views, it would be contextualized. Viewers could click on other links and eventually, if they were a good fit, become marketing qualified leads.”

I had a show promotion checklist that I filled out each week, and the promotion strategy evolved over time based on the results.

I also leveraged our dear 360Learners. They really helped make a difference. By sharing the link that Joei or I uploaded, they just had to “like.” Some of them even asked for the trailer files and posted themselves, which increased the reach dramatically.

After all the episodes were released, we pushed the show out on Product Hunt. We got handpicked by the staff, which was great news!

We started to host the episodes on the blog and write articles with relevant keywords to get some traffic there.

We transcribed every episode and added subtitles to make sure all search engines (and searchers) would know what every video is about.

Lastly, some media outlets have reached out for interviews and I’m fielding those requests, making sure to create backlinks and drive traffic back to the page as often as possible.

What was the reaction to the series, and how has it resonated with your audience?

Nicolas: The enthusiasm and engagement we received every week were tremendous.

Even my personal friends who have no interest in the business world asked me questions about Joei. They started Thursday night remote apéros and watched the show together, reacting and commenting in real time.

Within the company, I started getting internal messages that were very enthusiastic and intrigued! In a way, our employees were our first customers. They helped spread the word. I think people really enjoyed the transparency of it. The engagement followed very quickly on social media, and Joei started receiving encouraging messages.

Also, our clients were very intrigued. Our internal learning team decided to leverage the show. And some of our clients told me they were using the show as inspiration. Other companies expressed wanting to tackle similar projects!


Takeaways and tips for other creators

What was the most surprising or unexpected part of the process?

Nicolas: I would say the audience’s reaction was surprising — in a good way! I wasn’t expecting so many people hooked on the story. We played with it a little, and it was really fun to watch the engagement.

“I would say the audience’s reaction was surprising — in a good way! I wasn’t expecting so many people hooked on the story.”

When the pandemic escalated and we shifted to working remotely, we toyed with the idea of ending the show. We opened a survey for viewers to weigh in on if the show must go on or not. It was unanimous, and we got amazing encouragement!

What would you say to someone who is just starting down the “creator” path?

Nicolas: If you’re hired to run a show, trust your gut. Don’t hide behind what people expect from you. If you have something to say, say it.

Also, don’t be afraid to try something no one has tried before. Present your goals clearly, and how you want to achieve them. Take feedback, and decide if you apply it or not. But own your show. If you fail, try again. You’ll get to learn and make your storytelling even better.

“If you’re hired to run a show, trust your gut. Don’t hide behind what people expect from you. If you have something to say, say it.”

Getting a series off the ground during the pandemic was no easy feat, but Nicolas and 360Learning rose to the occasion and learned a ton about creating binge-worthy content along the way. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning from this interview series about what went into launching and promoting Onboarding Joei, and if you missed part one, go check it out on our blog!

If you haven’t yet, watch the trailer for Onboarding Joei, and check out the full series over at 360Learning:

Lisa Marinelli

Lisa Marinelli

Creative

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