The biggest mistake you can make when going from season to season of your episodic video series is to ignore the chances to improve. Even if you think what you’re doing is working OK, there’s always room for improvement.
If you’re not sure what to improve upon, let our local videographers, Isabella and Aaron, guide you through what problems you can look for and how to improve them as we look at how we progressed between seasons of our inbound marketing video series, Coffee Talks.
Learn the Importance of Planning Each Episode
Coffee Talks started as an idea to talk about MarTech, sales, and inbound in a fun, conversational way that would be accessible to newbies and seasoned marketers alike; A video marketing series for video marketers.
At first, we had an idea, some passion, and a camera, so we dove in headfirst without checking to see if the pool was deep enough. The result was content that conveyed what we wanted but was unorganized and lacked fluidity in the natural conversation we were aiming for.
The intent is clear and the heart is evident, but the execution was lacking, not for lack of effort, but for lack of proper preparation and the fact that, at this point in time, episodic content was a fairly new concept. Brand Affinity Marketing and the idea of using content to build relationships with your audience was a twinkle in Wistia CEO Mark Savage’s eye. In other words, the book had yet to be written on how episodic content works, why it’s important, and what level of production is needed for it to be successful.
Isabella: Some structure could have really helped keep engagement up in a conversational video like this. The planning strategy was nonexistent and it was still very difficult to conceptualize the ROI on a project like this.
Aaron: The goal of these videos was simply to produce content. The production quality of the video wasn’t high on the list as you see the minimal lighting and lack of dedicated microphones for each person.
Don’t Get Discouraged When Things Don’t Work
It’s easy to look at past work and become discouraged, but innovation can’t thrive in a doubtful mind.
So, when we decided to take another crack at it, Isabella and Aaron took a deep look and decided it was important to use this first attempt as a stepping stone rather than a roadblock.
Isabella: Coffee Talks Season “.5” had its flaws, but we decided to view them as growing pains instead and it became the launching pad we needed to help us learn, optimize, and restructure.
How the Right Equipment Helps Your Episodic Series Look Professional
A lot of things went much better the second time around in our first official season of Coffee Talks, especially when it comes to using the right tools. Immediately, you’ll notice a more professional-looking video because of it: the lighting is better, the set is more defined and intentionally laid out, the audio is improved, and the topics are much more pre-defined.
Along with all that, the intense preparation meant our conversations in each episode were more structured and the information was more relevant than before.
Isabella: The major improvements from Coffee Talks .5 to 1.0 involved the equipment, the preparation, the staging, and the team collaboration. The other big improvement was the organization as a team. We had meetings to discuss potential conversation topics and to schedule out the first batch of episodes depending on how it fit into everyone’s schedule.
That type of pre-planning and organization meant we could feature our entire team throughout the season with topics that they knew. That means that we got richer content delivered from the members of our team who were most qualified to give it. The more we showcased our team, the more brand affinity we built with this series.
Not everything on the technical side went smoothly, though. Something our video team found out in post-production was that our use of two different brands of cameras (a Canon and a Sony) presented many issues to our editors.
Aaron: We shot Season 1 of Coffee Talks on a Canon 5D MK III and a Sony a6300. Between the two cameras, the color science is quite different and we struggled to match the color, leaving the image rather flat.
The Importance of Set Design in Your Episodic Series
One key aspect that both Isabella and Aaron agreed was an area that still could use improvement was the set and its design.
From our first attempt to this season, the set significantly improved. The lighting and camera work was better and the set had life, but it lacked depth and, though the setting was an improvement, the new location presented even more challenges than anticipated.
Isabella: The space we filmed in seemed like a good idea at the time, but looking back, our footage looked flat because we didn’t have room to play with depth.
Aaron: We had very limited space and putting both subjects against a wall was difficult as we cast shadows with our lights. In hindsight, this wasn’t a great idea.
Learning How to Promote Your Episodic Video Series
One of the biggest things we learned when going through the process of creating this season of Coffee Talks was how important it is to properly promote the show.
Through a string of meetings and brainstorms, we developed the first plan of action. This involved a lot of work on its own, including blogs, social media, graphics, and even more videos.
Isabella: We were able to create an entire promotional strategy to align with each episode. Episodic content is a great opportunity for content generation and so we weren’t just posting episodes, we were posting social clips, photos, and blogs. Along with that, we wanted to make sure every episode had captions to boost the content’s SEO and searchability.
SEO for your video series? There’s more than one way to promote your series. Social media bombardment and paid ads are one thing, but making your videos searchable is crucially important. Using a video hosting software like Wistia means you can optimize your videos for SEO without having to do much work other than embedding them on blogs, building a Wistia Channel, and making accurate captions.
Build Off Your Momentum and Continue to Improve Every Aspect That You Can
The fourth iteration of Coffee Talks (season 3 officially) was another significant jump in quality. Not only did we iron out the technical hiccups from the previous season (using Sony cameras, for example), but the set continued to improve and even included a few varied locations like the Inbound Conference and the offices of Revenue River.
Aaron: We alleviated the two biggest issues from Season 1 - our cameras and our filming space. We moved to a larger space which adds depth to our shots. It also allows us to customize the set design for each episode by adding props behind the subjects and separating them from the background even more.
Isabella: This time, we switched from using a Canon and a Sony to two Sony’s (Ayiii and A6300) which eliminated the need to color match our shots in post-production.
And the improvements didn’t stop there. One focus we had when it came to the actual content was to make it even more relevant and even more powerful. We quickly realized that including a selection of guest stars was the obvious way to bring recognition to the show and give our audience another expert opinion. Coordinating guests and continuing to plan out the topics took even more time and effort from the entire team.
Isabella: We put even more effort into planning out the episodes and making sure the subjects were prepared. This really improved our overall engagement.
You can never rest on what you’ve done in the past when there are so many people willing and waiting to overtake you. There will always be something you could be doing better whether it be technical, design, content, or planning. The need to innovate and improve will never end. So, view it as a creative challenge and continue to push yourself and your content every day.
For each and every episode of Coffee Talks, check out the Video Gallery.