Social Investments - Content VS. Production
The following. The burning desire to attain a place among the elite, the suave, and the adjusted. The need to arise from the burgeoning streets of the social construct and sit beside your hero, all the while commanding an army of ten, fifty, or even one hundred thousand socialites who like or comment at your every whim.
You've dreamt of the possibility, the moment when you can display your social worth to all who you think care (and those that don't). Your desire increases as you look over at your friend's larger numbers, only to wonder what they did to hit the mark. You both play guitar. You have better gear. You might even be the stronger player. Yet, your friend has twice the following and thrice the engagement.
How is this possible? You've invested thousands into equipment and high end DSLR cameras! But, no matter what high definition angles you get or the hours spent behind Final Cut, your numbers just don't improve. Here's a hint: ditch the production.
Your Content, Your Voice
In many circles, my previous paragraph would be considered sacrilege. However, believe it or not, your content is not determined by the production. Your high-end cameras, your array of plugins, and your compendium of tools and tricks will only get you so far. So, if the gadgets aren't even part of the content, what is it exactly?
Content is what your product actually is. It is the music you're playing, the lick that you're demoing, or the effects pedal that you are reviewing. It is everything that your video is about, not what your video looks like.
Developing and branding content is the first step for any business. This is where you determine what you, as a business, wish to create. With whatever you decide, it is vital to remain true to your business and curate content along the same lines.
2. Your Content, Your Product
So, if content is just the subject matter, that must mean we can use all of our fancy gear to polish the product, right? Not exactly. It is important to remember that your product is your content. Production only helps take it that extra step further and, while your video may look brilliant, it is not the deciding factor on its virality.
Let's say you have a great concept for a video. We'll use a tried and true example for this scenario - Lick Videos. Easy concept, right? Write or learn a lick, hit record, play it, slap some post production on it, and release it. An hour goes by and your only at 250 views, while your friend with the webcam released a video at the same time to the tune of 2k views. What the hell went wrong?
Aside from platform algorithmic issues, the answer is quite simple. Your product was polished, but your content wasn't. You could have an entire Hollywood studio at your disposal and still be met with crippling numbers because you neglected your content.
3. Your Content, Your Production
A video will only be as strong as the content provided within. In order to curate strong content, you must evaluate these three things:
What is the content?
What is needed for the content?
What is the content for?
Recognising these three things will not only improve your workflow, but also help you identify problem areas within your content.
Deciding on your content, or product as mentioned previously, is the first step to a new business. If you're a teacher, it may benefit you to provide instructional videos that require thorough explanations. If you're a master bedroom shredder, perhaps just getting your playing out there is what you're looking for.
What you need for your content may require a certain aire of maturity. This just means that you provide the gear you need to execute the content efficiently and thoroughly. If you are our teacher, you'd likely want a lavalier microphone for speaking, as well as helpful camera angles and effective lenses. If you are our bedroom shredder, you may just need a cellphone or webcam that can shoot decent video.
The final step revolves around where your content intends to go. This isn't quite as simple as just choosing between Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, but more so about the circles that your content will likely leech into. Each circle provides a different level of standardisation. Our teacher would need to release content that is of a specific quality for education, whereas our shredder just needs content to promote their name and skills.
Realistically, higher budget videos do not guarantee virality. Your favourite cat video scoring at 2M+ views was likely shot in 720p with a Nokia flip phone back in 2008. Your content is what decides the gear required for the budget you have available.
Generally, your focus should be on releasing consistent and valuable content, rather than wasting precious hours on editing for something that truly may not need the full post-processed treatment. In my case, I built my following (13k on Facebook, 30k on Instagram) purely through the use of Logitech webcams and, for the longest time, audio straight from the webcam mic!
My reasoning for this was that I wanted to be able to release content without the pressure of having to heavily learn video editing and purchase high end equipment. My focus was then left on my playing performance and transcribing the notation for my videos. My content is where my videos are effective, rather than piles of post-production sparkles that often don't add much to the content of the video.
This being said, things change and evolve with time. The needs for my videos have evolved greatly in the last year, from just using webcam audio to using a Kemper into my DAW. I also now supply backing tracks, which can be very time consuming, though are now in-line with the needs of my content. However, I still use a webcam, albeit the Logitech C922, which shoots in HD.
As the needs of our content evolve, we must evolve in kind. If your focus is on the audio, upgrade your instrument and interface, but relax on the camera. If your content is influenced by the visuals, upgrade the camera or production software.
Placing too much time into a production that won't elevate your content is inefficient, sometimes even depressing, when the numbers don't align with your goals. Remember that your content is what makes the product, not the production.