Want to attract online audiences? Here’s some guidance

How to give your work impact online

In ‘Enticing Audiences Online’, The Space Associate Sarah Fortescue teamed up with John Slemensek-Thorne, a filmmaker working with WOVEN in Kirklees, and Vicki Amedume from the circus company Upswing to discuss how best to engage audiences with online content.

Focusing in particular on the trailer for Upswing’s circus mockumentary Common Ground and the trailer for WOVEN in Kirklees’s short film Growing Colour Together, the conversation explored the art of storytelling and the preparatory work needed to seed a piece of work in the digital world. Packed with practical tips for arts professionals, we’ve pulled together the webinar’s top takeaways here, with additional insights from The Space Producer Natalie Woolman and Associates Jazz Rumney, Holly Close, Bilal Abood and Dominic Kennedy.


  1. Find a critical friend

It’s essential to have someone impartial on board who will give honest feedback on your work. Ask them, without leading questions, what they took the key messages to be and if there was anything they didn’t understand. This feedback will help guide your production and editing work, and is invaluable to any creative process.


  1. Use supporting assets to help create a welcoming space for your work

These are the calling cards to your work – as a minimum, you’ll need a trailer and a static image, and sometimes an explainer video too if you’re experimenting with new formats such as immersive technology or interactive films. They’re often the first things people will see, and are the most powerful tool you have to convince people to watch, listen or play the full experience.


The online world is fast-paced and competitive, so think about how you can grab people’s attention as quickly as possible. Keep trailers to 30–60 seconds, use captions for speed, and create a sense of intrigue by asking questions that only the work itself can answer. Just be sure to provide a link where audiences can click through to watch or listen to your work.


  1. Write heartfelt, creative copy

This is the text that will accompany your work or trailer. Ensure that your tone reflects your work, while keeping the messaging clear and descriptive. There are very practical things to consider too, such as frontloading your descriptions to beat the ‘Read More…’ cut-off, and keeping title lengths to 20–60 characters. Take advantage of YouTube end cards by providing links to other videos and playlists. These keep people watching your content, but are also good for discoverability through YouTube Search Engine Optimisation.


  1. Make the opening to your project work hard

This is the most critical bit: you have to make an impact within the first ten seconds of the piece. It’s important to show off! It might be the beautiful aesthetics, or a way to make the audience laugh – the key thing is to give a beautiful showcase of what’s to come within seconds of the opening.


  1. Don’t assume any prior knowledge

Although your supporting assets may have paved the way for your work, treat the main piece as standalone and assume that no-one knows anything about it. This means that it’s essential to orientate your audience – introduce the people on screen and the place you are inviting the audience into. This can be done by using establishing shots or audio, or – if you need to speed it up – by using text cards or a voiceover at the very beginning of your piece.


  1. Your work doesn’t have to be for everyone

Being clear about who you’re trying to reach will help focus your work, and inform your creative choices. Consider seeding your work among communities who have an existing interest in your subject matter, and who can fly the flag for your project and push it out into wider audiences.

Watch the webinar

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