Garrett Goodman writes about the intersection of startups, content, and technology. He is the VP of Business Development, EMEA at Wochit. Wochit is a video creation platform used by 600+ publishers and brands. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter @GarrettGoodman for more insights and updates.
Last month while in Paris I heard a piece of advice that immediately struck a chord. It was a little nugget of newsroom strategy gold. Joackim Le Goff, Eurosport's content manager, was explaining how he encourages his digital team to think about video storytelling.
He said, "Don't just make a video, make a format".
The point is this, if you are going to put any creativity into crafting a video, then you should be thinking tactically: what kind of stories can I use this same approach for? How can I turn this one-off video into a reusable format?
Missing the leap from TV to digital
Of course, there is an analogue form of this from TV: the nightly news show. An established format where the same general recipe is followed day in and day out.
But somehow in the digital world of short-form video, publishers decided that every video needed a bespoke treatment, each video needed to be built from scratch – even though they no longer had the TV ad dollars to cover that kind of production.
Over the past few months I have seen more and more of the 600+ publishers and brands using Wochit really embrace this approach of recurring formats to better manage their video output.
Focusing on reusable formats is all about efficiency, which lets video storytellers manage their time differently, and better.
Creators can spend a lot less time to create a new version of one of their formats, freeing them up to spend more time on the creative crafting of interesting new formats and special projects.
It means the potential to move away from scrambling to keep up with the news cycle, and towards video creation that actually sets the brand apart and helps build loyalty with audiences.
As Xavier Bigot explained to me over email, “The formatted approach means a lot to us. It is the next step towards success with video on social media. We know how to achieve great success in terms of views and virality, but the formatted approach lets us communicate more as a brand. Now it's clearly us at L’Express, not just another video from ‘a brand you don’t recognise or remember, but you snack on their content’.”
When to format
Creating a format simply for the sake of having a format is like saying that your video strategy is to make more video: that is not strategic.
Think about this and how it can be deployed along with your editorial calendar. Plan ahead, find an event that your brand should be covering, and create a format, or formats, that make your brand shine.
Another approach is to use formats along with the idea of appointment viewing. Create a habit with your audience, like doing a 'today’s topic in one minute' video that goes out with your morning email newsletter, or a weekly roundup on Fridays posted to IGTV of your editors reading their favourite article comments that week.
Three formats for inspiration
Here are three examples of interesting formats, you will notice they are all from French media outlets - I purposely collected foreign language examples to de-emphasise the individual stories and really highlight the recurring formats. Also, France happens to be a hotbed of creativity in video right now.
1) The Video Dictionary from France TV
This takes a little bit of prep but the result is a collection of videos that can be re-released every year with only minor updates. And the format can be reused for any major sporting event with some interesting history.
As Rémi Pietton, France TV sport’s digital editor-in-chief, puts it, “the templated format guarantees a uniformity of style, so producing a video for the dictionary series was very fast to do (no waste of time)”.
2) Acrostic - The News in Letters from L'Express
A very creative take on the classic explainer, the anagram brings audiences beyond the headlines one letter at a time. It is the kind of format audiences can build a habit around, something they can look for to understand the big news items of the moment. It is no coincidence that L'Express uses the videos to attract new readers to their paid content offer.
3) One Day, One Event from RFI
A smart, simple, and highly reusable format that connects audiences of today with major events from the past. Easy to plan ahead for as well!
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