When it comes to promoting your content online, it might seem like there are many obstacles to getting traction for marketing content and assets. Rob Lindsay, The Space’s Head of Programmes, and Sarah Fortescue, Head of Distribution at The Space, share their insights and advice on digital promotion.
Important digital assets to consider
If you are commissioning digital marketing content, or making it yourself, here is a basic ‘shopping list’ of the assets that can help your marketing effort:
1. Still images
“Photos are powerful, and they are sustainable. Take as many pictures as you can. And be ruthless on which ones are good, which ones are selling the show and effective. They are one of the ways to make an impression quickly and sustainably as well,” Rob says.
2. Longer form trailer (30 to 90 seconds)
Trailers are “powerful and versatile”, as Sarah describes. But keep it short – anything over 90 seconds is too long for short attention spans online.
3. Short trailer (15 second cut-down version)
This can be used in Instagram stories, and acts as an effective type of YouTube ad if you have social spend.
4. Social copy
Social copy is useful because it is flexible, as Rob explains:
“The brilliant thing is that it can be changed quickly and easily if you want to use the same piece of media for different purposes. Editing video is time consuming, but simply re-writing a headline or description is quick and easy, so it’s really worth making use of these spaces for any time-specific information that might change later.”
How to make your promotional video content stand out
These are Sarah’s do’s and don’ts’s for promotional video content:
1. Always use subtitles
Subtitles are important as “most people online watch videos without any sound, especially trailers”. If you can be creative with the subtitles, this can potentially enhance viewer experience further.
2. Don’t make long trailers (over 90 seconds is a no-no)
3. Have clear intensions for the audience
Be very clear in what you want your audience to do. “In the call to action, do you want people to book tickets, go on the website? What do you want people to do? If you’ve got their attention, you need to direct them somewhere, otherwise, it’s pointless,” Sarah explains.
4. Think about your call to action.
Try social spending on promotional assets
Social spending is extremely useful when it comes with pushing important content out. It acts a little like collaborating with the company, buying a ‘space’ on someone’s feed to overcome the algorithm (if your engagement is low). It is a great tool to reach a niche audience, with the help of the company’s data. However unethical it may feel, private information and data collected by the company can be useful for your promotion as they are able to promote your content to the audience that suits your content best.
Sarah describes social spend as an “automated way of going to your target communities. It tackles the issue of artists not having enough time for promotion. Social spend gets over the problem of artists promoting a big project without getting engagement in prior interactions on social media because you can ‘buy space’”.
However, a common myth of social spending is that “a platform won’t push my content unless I pay for it”. Rob debunks the myth by acknowledging that the algorithm deprioritises content which internet users don’t engage with. “For brands/people that don’t have an elegant message or trying to put out lots and lots of stories at once, paid spend is the way of overcoming that shuffling down the feed order,”
Rob reiterates, “It is important to promote good content, as if you put out great stuff, people will respond to it and engage with it.”
Don’t do this alone, collaboration helps
There are 3 reasons why collaborations are useful:
Collaborating with external companies and platforms allows your performance to reach to their audience. Third party organisations generally know what works for their audiences, creating more traction towards your performance.
2. Recommendation, or a trusted source
Sarah elaborates on some positives of having gatekeepers on platforms, as they know their audience well and how to sell to them. “It is competitive to get in those spaces, so if you get in those spaces and can collaborate with websites, your content will get pushed. Engagement is much more meaningful when working with collaborators, and it can act as a seal of approval to your content.”
Collaborations and partnerships are also useful through the sharing of resources. “Third party collaborators are able to provide resources by shooting and recording additional footage, or additional interviews, to put that story within their own grammar, and crucially, with an outside eye,” Rob emphasised.
When it comes to looking for individuals or organisations to collaborate with, there is no harm in being ambitious. Sarah encourages to think big, as there is no harm in asking to collaborate. However, there can be a downside to collaborating with third party organisations. In most cases, complete control over the promotional narrative will not be possible, so Sarah suggests understanding the external platform’s narrative before collaborating. “Look at the platform critically and ask yourself if these types of narratives are the ones that you are willing to promote your content.”
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