Launching your first video series can be as thrilling as it is nail-biting. On the one hand, you’re embarking on one of the most creative pursuits a marketer can go on — you’re crafting something potentially groundbreaking for your brand. On the other hand, you’re jumping into a completely new venture. Where do you even start? And what if things don’t go as planned?
If you’ve ever questioned the feasibility of launching your first large video project, rest assured you are not alone. ThriveHive experienced this same roller coaster of emotion when they launched their debut video series, Locals, a show that takes you behind the scenes of local businesses’ operations to capture the adventure that small business life innately calls for.
Follow along as we review some of their top challenges and strategies for launching a wildly successful series.
When ThriveHive decided to fully commit to Locals, they immediately hired an in-house videographer who could help their Chief Marketing Officer at the time, Dan Slagen, plan, film, produce, and edit the show. They also hired two in-house designers who could create a strong brand for the show.
In the past, we’ve recommended making your first in-house hire a video producer. But regardless of what works best for your team, consider taking on someone who has experience in film. These soft skills can flatten the learning curve for your team and take your video series to the next level.
If you don’t have the budget to hire someone full-time, consider hiring freelancers to help produce your video series. You can find experienced videographers on freelancer marketplaces for film professionals, such as Storyhunter, ProductionHUB, and Staff Me Up.
While filming the first-ever episode of Locals, ThriveHive’s CMO and videographer improvised the entire episode. And 15 takes later, they quickly realized that shooting from the hip wasn’t a feasible strategy.
To shave off time during the production process, they invested heavily in pre-production by storyboarding each episode. ThriveHive mapped out the entire season ahead of time, from each episode’s theme and essential shots to what questions to ask and when. There were still some moments when they needed to improvise, but their storyboard ultimately guided them along the way. For example, for their last episode, it only took them three takes to complete.
If you need a visual of a storyboard, here’s one from Game of Thrones:
As a marketer, you may be tempted to write a loose outline and start filming your show as soon as possible. But that’s where traditional content and binge-worthy content differ: You need to be as committed to the planning phase as you are to the production phase. So, before you press record, map out your theme and key plot points and flesh out a script and shot list.
After wrapping up each episode, ThriveHive’s CMO would ask his marketing team to watch and provide suggestions. This feedback prompted them to add more special effects, side notes, and fun pop-up facts about the guests on their show to boost engagement.
Feedback is the breakfast of champions, especially for creative projects. To constantly refine your video series, ask your team to list its roses, buds, and thorns — and don’t be afraid to make changes. The more invested the team feels in the project, the more passion and effort they’ll bring to the table.
ThriveHive’s main marketing channel for Locals was their email subscription list — and for good reason. Email is consistently ranked as one of the most successful marketing channels, with some brands earning $38 for every $1 spent. How’s that for an ROI?
“Email is consistently ranked as one of the most successful marketing channels.”
So, take a page from ThriveHive’s binge-worthy content playbook and build a subscription list for your video series. This will build a direct relationship with your audience and keep the show close to your brand.
Metrics can be remarkably revealing. For ThriveHive, key metrics for success included views, episode completion rates, subscribers, and social shares.
Analyzing these metrics not only helped ThriveHive grasp whether the show was resonating with their audience, but also enhanced the team’s creative decision-making.
“Analyzing these metrics not only helped ThriveHive grasp whether the show was resonating with their audience, but also enhanced the team’s creative decision-making.”
For instance, they realized that if a viewer hits the five-minute mark on an episode, they’ll stay for the entire 20–25 minutes. As a result, they decided to start throwing their audience right into the content and adding engaging pop-ups throughout the episode.
At ThriveHive, each episode of Locals spent four weeks in post-production. This helped the team apply the lessons learned from previous episodes and constantly improve the show.
Too often in marketing, we conflate efficiency with effectiveness. Quality will always trump quantity, especially with a creatively taxing project like a video series.
So, slow down, figure out how much time you need to craft something compelling, and set a deadline. Whether you need a week or a month to craft each episode of your show, you’ll want to dedicate the time required to make something you’re really proud of and that your audience will love.
Launching a video series can seem daunting, but with the right planning and processes in place — anything is possible. Take these tips from ThriveHive to heart as you start scoping out your next big video project!