Fast Cheap &Viral : What I would never forget.
In 2018, I would have read 4 books, but in 2019 I ramped up to 26. This year I am hoping to do 52. But damn, I should have made notes last year, or it all goes to waste. I forget something everyday. And memory weakens.
I am making these notes so I don’t have to pick up these books again. And many of you, mostly my friends and people, can’t find the time to read this book. So you won’t have to either.
Ashish Chopra is the guy behind some iconic ads from Ixigo which he made for real cheap, think 1500 rupees, defying the concept that you need the big bucks to have videos.
Check out : Every Goa Plan be like by Ixigo. What do you think the budget was for this?
I have read “Crush it” from Gary Vee, and I saw a lot of similarity. Too bad I never made the notes in 2019. The good thing for this book is that it’s more practical and relevant in today’s time. Crush it was launched in 2009!
Also all this is more relevant for India, with even lower budgets.
If I had to pick one nugget to remember, it’d be that we have to measure the success of our content by the amount of shares it gets.
Not views. Not likes. But Shares!
In Aashish Chopra’s words, “Create Share Worthy content”. That’s the entire crux.
Chapter 1: The big picture
Rise of the Indian internet
The total Internet user base in India is estimated to cross 700 million by 2020; that’s almost two in every three Indians with access.
A report from Mary Meeker (a venture capitalist; her much-awaited annual Internet Trends report gives an overview of the entire industry) in 2017 stated that Indians spend 28 hours on their mobile phones, four hours on TV and two hours on print every week. Just think. If you thought TV ads made money, think what lies here.
Chapter 2: Competing with Goldfish
We have an attention span of 8 seconds which is is one second lesser than the goldfish. So all the fancy stuff, hiring Shahrukh Khan, can go to waste with the swipe of a single thumb.
Ashish makes a comparison between social media platforms and concerts. He says that you are shouting your content out but the social media platforms control the volume on those speakers.
So either you can give all your money to the platforms or you can create “share-worthy” content that the first row will share with the next and so on and so forth.
Secret #1: Make it Share-Worthy
Creators can’t make a video viral. Only a user can. So our focus, as creators should be on making the content share-worthy. Not on making it viral.
“My boss asked me to make an emotional video once. The objective was to create a patriotic, touching video, slated for release on Republic Day, and I asked myself the same question then: ‘If an emotional video is the outcome I want, then what should I focus on?’ The right focus for a viral video is to create something that is share-worthy. And boy, the video hit 15 million views, more than 100K people shared it and the Railway Minister of India wrote a poem about it! Google ‘Ixigo Ghar Wali Baat’; it’s a video about train travel in India.”- Aashish Chopra
The point of having share-worthy content is that you can save distribution costs by making users share the video rather than you paying for it.
“Get over yourself”
Don’t talk about your own products and services. No one gives a shit about you and your products. Talk about them. Your users.
“It’s not about the views”
Views can be bought. Shares are earned. A share is a personal endorsement of a person. Measure your content success by the number of shares you received.
Secret#2: Picking share-worthy topics
“Apple is not about computers, but thinking differently; Nike is not about shoes, but celebrating athletics; Lifebuoy is not about soap, but cleanliness.”
Brand DNA is important. And it can’t stick to what problems you address to or what products you make. It’s about zeroing in on your core user. About the problems, you can address, and the ones you can’t.
“‘The content must not be about your products or services, but about the people who would use those products or services.”
One thing we see a lot of people do is make ads look like content. It’s not and people can see that.
Now he shares his mantra for generating share-worthy content. IUCTC
I is for Inspirational content, U is for Useful, C is for Celebrating their life, T is for Topical content, and C is for Change the world.
Inspirational Content: This sort of content is share-worthy, because you feel inspired to do something and also make others feel that feeling.
Useful: Think Hacks, ways to do things, jugaad.
Celebrating: The goal here is to find a sense of related-ness for the user. You as a company can maybe solve one problem. But there are100 more such problems. Call them out and create that relatedness.
Topical Content: This is a short shelf-life content that you can ride on. Like for example, Modi winning the elections or India defeating New Zealand.
Change the World: Think videos in which you publicise social good. Urge people to say “give their seats in Metros” etc.
Secret #3: Move Fast & Engage
The first impression is the thumbnail. Always make a thumbnail. Don’t let one of your frames show up as Thumbnail. If the platform does not allow for a separate Thumbnail, add it as your first frame. But do it.
Some pointers for thumbnails.
- Most interesting visual here.
- Minimal Text
- Use bright colors
- Keep consistent branding
- Keep experimenting
The second impression is the first 3 seconds.
“So you’ve rocked the first impression game and have a killer thumbnail, which goes on your video. Now that you have your user’s attention, you need to keep them meaningfully engaged for the first three to six seconds. That’s the second first impression you make. The goal for content must be to stop users as they scroll through their newsfeeds (thanks to a compelling thumbnail), hold their hand and engage them for the first couple of seconds.”
Thirdly, keep them engaged.
Not all frames are going to be awesome. So Ashish suggests this method. 11101010111.
“Say we make a video about 10 things travellers will relate to or 11 themed restaurants in your city. We take the best ideas and assign ‘1’ to awesome or the most interesting shots or points in the narrative, and ‘0’ to what are a little less awesome. When we’re editing the video, we align the first three shots or scenes which are excellent (hence 111), and then alternate the 0s and 1s. Show the best in the first 20 per cent of the video and then end with engaging content again, so we get that share.”
Secret#4: Storytelling beats Production Value
People are going to be viewing on a small phone. Not in theatres with all their attention directed to you. So even when editing and viewing, check it on your phone only.
Even if you do have budgets to shoot with the full production team, it can all go to shit with one swipe of the thumb. check out this ad from Dollar Shave Club, one of the best I’ve seen.
So storytelling is important.
“One thing I learned early on was that when it comes to movies or videos, it’s all about the visual storytelling. So I edited videos (back when I was attending filmmaking classes) with the sound switched off initially. The idea was that the video must make sense visually first..”
This works out well because most of your users are in fact in a meeting or at lunch or don’t have their earphones out. So when the video autoplays, users should be able to follow along without the audio.
That’s why all the content creators today give huge subtitles.
Secret#5: Make for Mobile
Make square videos. Not rectangle.Clutter-free visuals with minimum text, because it’s for mobile.
Rule of the selfie
“The ‘rule of the third’ says that you keep your subject in one-third of the frame, and the background in the rest. But in a fast-moving, mobile, square-content world, I propose a new rule — the ‘rule of the selfie’. Create content like it’s a selfie — front and centre! In all the videos we’ve made, I’m very mindful that the subject of the shot must be front and centre, clearly visible with enough margins.”
Secret #6 Think Conversations before the campaign
Good story. The learning is that you are no longer pushing content and watching it. You have to be aware that it is a two-way street.
If you see some institutions, they upload a video, notice how people comment but these guys act like it’s still the TV. It’s all about them giving out the content and we consuming it. Don’t be that. Reply. React. Apologise if you see someone making it a big deal. For example, check how bad this ad did. And imagine the budget they would have spent.
Secret#7: Distribution is Everything
Probably the most important piece.
There are a few hacks.
- It’s all about the first 100 shares in the first 10 minutes. Very crucial. So when people speak of when is the right time to post a video, the answer is that whenever you can get your friends and acquaintances to share the video. Don’t expect that they will share the video just because you asked. You have to earn it.
- When to spend the money? Only when you see engagement. I am guilty of putting money in things that did not show engagement and it basically becomes an ad then. So put money after 30 mins of launching the video and seeing what engagement people had with it.
- This one is obvious but still some people make this mistake. Never upload to youtube and copy paste the link. Always upload to Facebook, LinkedIn, Insta directly. Your reach will be massively decreased by external links. And your videos on fb, linkedin don’t autoplay when you give external links.
Secret #8: Do not make an ad
Making an ad and making content comes from a different mindset. So don’t try to make ads. People have high BS sensors and they will smell it. Focus on making content.
Secret#9: Experimenting and ROI
Experiment with 10, not with 1. Think like a movie studio crunching out movies and see what works. Don’t pin hopes up on 1.
The pointers I am taking back from this is that B2B doesn’t have to be all work and no fun. Every deal you do will take 7–8 meetings and 4 months probably and we do these meetings particularly because we want them to be reminded of us. Guess what, content marketing does exactly that.
It’s not about product videos anymore. B2B marketing has to grow up from that.
This is a sure shot way to get attention from people and kill job insecurity. People who are doing podcasts, or writing on Linkedin or Medium are always sought after. Not doing that, means putting all your eggs in one basket labeled “only-my-boss-knows-me”.
If you think it is wrong to self-publicise or you can’t go online and talk about yourself, you need to rethink. It’s never about you. It’s about helping others in the areas you are strong at.