If you’re looking to increase engagement and get viewers on social to “stop the scroll”, then video is where you need to be focusing your marketing efforts. According to Lauren Schwartz of The Loft 325, any experience level can create videos, and all you need is a smartphone and to follow a few of her simple suggestions for creating eye-catching creatives that make your product stand out online.
Lauren: Thanks for having me.
Rich: Now, Lauren, you’re obviously passionate about creative work. But what led you to focus on video?
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, so the biggest thing that led me to focus on video was obviously the change in everything that’s video. I mean, really like all of social media has really kind of had that push over to video and video creatives. And so it just naturally kind of decided to kind of go that way. So that’s, I guess really how I got kind of into it was just kind of how everything evolved, really.
Rich: All right. I hear from a lot of marketers and business owners that video is time consuming, and it’s expensive, and it’s just a lot of work. That there’s a barrier to entry here. What do you say to people when you hear similar concerns?
Lauren: I think especially with video, yes, it can be really time-consuming. But as far as the expense goes, I mean, it depends on what you’re looking for. I think if you’re looking for a high production video shoot, then yes. Obviously, that’s very expensive. But if you’re just kind of looking for that natural, UGC or organic-type content, then really that’s not that expensive, but it is very effective. And it is something that I think, especially in ad creatives, you should definitely have. So it just kind of depends on what exactly you’re using it for and what you’re looking for as the outcome.
Rich: All right. So there’s a lot of places we can put our videos these days, but I want to focus on Facebook ads at least to start. What are some of the considerations we should have when creating a video that’s meant to go into a Facebook ad?
Lauren: So I think for what I use it specifically for is, obviously it’s product based. So I work with a lot of e-commerce businesses. So obviously in video, you have to have something that’s going to grab someone to someone’s attention within the first second of the video. Whether it’s copy, whether it’s a quick transition, anything really. Whatever’s going to get someone to stop in the feed is what is going to be super beneficial for your brand and your product. And then again, just making sure that you’re showing your product within the first three seconds. So, I think when working in Facebook specifically, those are kind of the things that you definitely need to think about.
Rich: So I know you’ve worked with a number of different brands in the past. What are some examples of things that you’ve done in the past to really get people to stop the scroll?
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, for me it’s all about trying to figure out what’s going to be that hook or what’s going to get you to stop the scroll. And sometimes it’s really just large text that kind of pops up. That’s basically like it’s simple, but as you’re scrolling through your feed, if it just kind of like abruptly stops you, then you’re like, “Oh, what’s that?” You know, sometimes it could just be like a quick transition, someone kind of doing something really fast in front of you. I think just when you think about the monotony of your feed and what is normally in it, just trying to think outside of that to get someone to stop is what could be really beneficial. But most of the time it’s just something that’s like a quick transition or some big text, really.
Rich: Alright. So when you’re working with a client and they’ve got an e-commerce product, but they’re interested in doing some videos. What are some of the first steps that you do with them? What are the first steps that anybody should do if they’re starting to create video for a product?
Lauren: I think the biggest thing is making sure that you understand what your features and your benefits are. I think it’s so different. And I think a lot of times brands combine them together, which is actually like, as a business owner, you are so close to the brand that sometimes it just everything kind of melds together. And so I think just making sure that you’re really breaking out the features and the benefits to your consumers. And breaking it down in such an easy digestible way is probably the biggest thing I think that you should definitely do when you’re starting to think about video creative, because that’s just going to help you explain and shoot your video much better.
Rich: How about things like gathering assets or writing a script? How do those elements fit in when you’re working with clients?
Lauren: Yeah, so that, I mean, that is obviously a part of it, too. When working with user generated content or content creators, yes, the biggest thing that I make sure to do is write a script for them and not something that they have to read verbatim. When we write scripts, we write scripts in kind of bullet pointed areas. So really it just gives the creator ways that they can talk about the product, but in a natural way. So they don’t have to feel like they’re reading it and then it sounds obviously scripted. So just making sure that you can still get the points across that you want to get across, but making it just come naturally from their tone of voice.
Rich: All right. And you know, this is kind of a hook, and I’ve heard you call these things ‘hooks’. Are there any other things that we could take into consideration when it comes to Facebook ads? Like I know that when it comes to Facebook ads and building an audience, like if they watch a certain amount of a video, then Facebook will put them into an audience. Are there certain other things post after that hook that you think about in terms of timing and showing product or getting them to do something as you created, or is it really only about getting them to stop that scroll at the beginning?
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, again, everyone always talks – especially in this industry – everyone’s always like ‘the hook, the hook’, like the first three seconds. But like you said, after you’ve gotten them to stop, now you actually have to explain what your product is, and you have to get them to click. So I may have stopped you, but if my ad doesn’t do a good job of explaining anything or explaining what the product is or the benefits, then like you could just scroll right past it. So really the next biggest thing is getting them to click into the ad in order to go to the page that you want them to purchase from. So the click rate is obviously super huge. Again, it’s great to get them to stop, but if you’re not doing the rest of the job with the ad, then really, you’ve kind of just wasted your time with the ad.
Rich: You often recommend that we have some strong call to action to get them to click into the video, or is it just the assumption that everybody knows that they should click on the video to get more information?
Lauren: I mean, I think we live in a world where people now understand that you have to click. I mean, obviously like with the native buttons of the ‘shop now’ and everything, like that’s built into pretty much all of the sponsored posts. So I don’t necessarily think you have to have a call to action. I mean, it’s just an added benefit. Obviously, I still always add it to be in the ad, but I don’t necessarily think you need it. Because I think sometimes getting away from the end card of the ‘shop now’ or ‘swipe up’, again, it’s just one of those things people inherently know to do that and it makes it look more natural and organic when you don’t have those things on there. So I, I feel like it can kind of go either way, really.
Rich: Now on Facebook, we can obviously have cold audiences. People who don’t know our brand at all, but we’ve identified them because they fit a certain demographic or psychographic. And then we have warm audiences. Maybe they’ve been to our website, joined our email list, or liked our page, or watched a previous video. And we can track them because of that. Do you have different approaches with your clients based on whether they’re targeting cold and warm audiences? And if you do, what are some of the things that you put into a cold audience versus a warm audience video?
Lauren: Yeah. So obviously with cold audiences, again, I think it’s just breaking down how the product is going to benefit you as a person. So really kind of diving into those points when you’re talking about value props. And really just like making the product seem to be the hero really. So giving the information to the audience, if I’ve never heard of you, what exactly do you do? Bring it, cut it down so that it’s easy and simple enough for a child to understand. I think that’s another big thing is that you have to make it super easy to understand and really just hitting on those points and really kind of driving in those value props. Because really, especially nowadays, people don’t go on first click anymore. It’s obviously you get them interested with the prospecting, but then with remarketing, then you can kind of dive more into more of the features and benefits. You can dive into reviews, you can go into any sort of PR articles that you’ve had or testimonials, stuff like that. I think it’s just again, talking about your brand, you can get them to be interested in it at the beginning and start to kind of lead in with those features and benefits. And then you could really hit them again with retargeting.
Rich: All right. That’s awesome. So you had mentioned before, you want to get people to click on these videos. Ultimately, the goal is to sell product, right? This is we’re talking about e-commerce, but along those ways, do you have clients who have different KPIs? Is there different types of videos or brand awareness, or sometimes is it just about getting them on a mailing list so that we can continue to send them more stuff? Or is it just about getting them to like a page? Do you do any of that kind of stuff? And do you take a different approach when you’re creating videos that maybe serve a different need?
Lauren: Yeah, for sure. I have some clients obviously, they’re really, we want to get them to click. We want them to purchase the product. Especially coming up right now for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, we are doing email capture kind of lead generation. Because really we want you to sign up at the beginning so that you could be in for early bird discount type stuff. So we have to kind of think of an approach of getting them to actually sign up for an email. Which that can be challenging because a lot of people get so many emails that it’s like, I don’t want to get another email. But I think it just kind of depends on the direction that you’re wanting to go.
But yes, we definitely have to come up with a completely new strategy when you’re trying to do either lead gen or brand awareness or anything like that, because really for those types of products, it’s like you’re selling it, but you’re also just trying to be more informative about the product and the brand and whatnot.
Rich: Yeah. Sounds good. Now obviously Instagram is owned by Facebook. We’re putting our Instagram ads directly into the Facebook Business Manager. Should you create different versions for Facebook and Instagram? Are there any variances between them, or can we basically just put the same video up to both places?
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, I definitely do have a little bit of a different approach. Obviously, it’s feed version versus 9×16. For Instagram, honestly, I try to make all ads look very organic to the feed. So Facebook and Instagram can technically, since they are like the same thing, you can put those two together to make them kind of work, and just obviously break them down in the different formats. But yeah, I mean, definitely I think you can come up with the same approach, but I think just making things look more native or inorganic to the feed is probably the best thing that you could do for both platforms.
Rich: So that makes me think that you might’ve already answered this question, but obviously YouTube is another opportunity for us to be advertising our products and our services. Would you recommend a different approach for YouTube, and maybe what you would do there versus what you would do selling the same product on Facebook?
Lauren: Yeah, so YouTube is a tough one. I’ve had success with some clients, and then I’ve had to test out a bunch of different things. I am seeing on YouTube a lot of the same sort of tactics from Facebook and Instagram with user-generated content and even showing the product within the first three seconds.
But I think on YouTube, obviously again, it’s a different platform. You have to shoot wide, and that can be a challenge because now everyone is shooting vertically, and so how do you make your vertical ads fit into your YouTube ads? Which again, that has been a challenge, but I think there are ways around it. You just have to figure out you have more space to fill and now you could potentially put more information in there. But I am seeing a lot of the same things. It’s just thinking about the format where it’s horizontal instead of vertical, and how do you fill that space and how do you basically talk about it the same way?
Rich: All right. Now Facebook Business Manager, I know a lot of people are excited because they rolled out this Creator Studio. I think it has been around about a year now, although I was a little late to the party. Now the idea here is to put the necessary creative tools in the hands of everybody. But as a creative professional, I’m curious about your opinion. What do you think about all of this?
Lauren: I mean, it’s tough. I get it and I think it’s great. I think that obviously everyone should be able to access these things. There are a lot of small businesses out there who just need to get started and they need a tool in order to do that. But the difference, I think, with having the Creator Studio and then understanding paid social, are two very different things. Just because you have that access, doesn’t mean that you’re going to understand how to make people convert. And so there are things that you need to understand. And again, it’s great to have that tool. But personally, there’s more to it than just giving someone a tool and saying, “Here, design an ad”, it’s going to work. Like, there is a lot of thought and strategy that goes into it.
Rich: Yeah. And I completely agree. And of course, there’s going to be some people who find this tool and they start killing it. But I think, and of course I’m also biased because I run a creative agency, but part of it is you start to see that all these ads start to look the same because there’s only so many templates. I remember the first time, I think it was at an app called Animoto, and the first time I saw Animoto I’m like, oh my that’s the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen. And then like two weeks later, I had seen people using it to death and I’m like, okay, I’m tired of this already. And I think that that fortunately is what’s happening, or what will happen, with Creator Studio. And again, I’m always about standing out online, and if you’re using the same tool in the same templates and maybe even the same stock photography and videography that other people are using, you’re going to end up starting to look like everybody else.
Lauren: I 100% agree. And again, I think it’s great. But as a designer and someone who wants to make noise for your brands, I definitely think you are going to look the same.
Rich: So admittedly we’re biased, but we’re telling you our honest beliefs. That if you want to stand out, then you hire a professional -internally or externally – but get somebody who this is their life and this is their passion.
So along the same lines, there’s a lot of stock video out there. Some really good, some really terrible. What do you think about using stock video versus having somebody create video specifically for you?
Lauren: Yeah, I mean, again, I will be honest. I’ve used some stock photo or some video in my ads, but it’s mostly just for either background or small snippets. It’s not necessarily for the entire. And really, if you’re selling a product and you’re selling your brand, you should just shoot the video. It’s really not that hard, especially with the developments of the iPhone camera, video is awesome on your camera, and it doesn’t take that long to do. And I just don’t think you need to, you know, why have these generic videos when you can just go create your own really.
Rich: And you bring up a good point, too. Your work is primarily in the e-commerce world, where people are selling a physical product, and there’s obviously not going to be stock photography about a specific product that your client is bringing to you. So in those cases, and I feel similar, like there’s a place for stock photography, but it’s not on the homepage of your website or in your primary social branding. So, let’s talk about that for a second. Because obviously e-commerce is where your bread and butter is, but if you’re selling services and you want to do video ads, do you have any advice for those of who are more in that lead gen/services verticals, versus somebody who just has a product?
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, I think if you could just think of it as the person is the product, really. I mean, I think obviously you don’t have a physical product that you could showcase, but you’re really selling yourself as the product. And so you’re really selling your services and understanding for people who do need to sell that stuff, why they should purchase your services or why they should work with you or whatever. So I mean, really, I think you could potentially look at it as the same thing, even if you’re getting in front of a camera to talk about it. You’re talking about yourself and what you offer, and how that’s going to benefit someone’s life. So I feel like you could do it in the same sort of vertical, really.
Rich: Alright. What are some of the mistakes that businesses are still making with video online that you wish they would stop?
Lauren: Yeah. It’s funny. Again, I still see a lot of mistakes, but I think the biggest thing for me is that a lot of people, if they do invest in these content creators, they specifically pick ones that could work for their brand. I do think that’s one area where, again, you’re not showing the product within the first three seconds. That’s one thing.
Not having captions, that’s still to me is crazy. Even if you shot a video on Instagram Stories, you can create captions now. And on mobile, when you think about it, most people are on their phone looking at this stuff. And if you don’t have any sort of captions or callouts, you’re missing a huge opportunity. So I definitely think that that’s something that a lot of brands are still doing that I don’t understand why when it’s so easy to have now.
Rich: All right. Now, if I understand your business, you’re focused entirely on the creative side. You actually worked with some other agencies who then handle the whole bidding and stuff like that. Am I getting that correct? So for those agencies, and also for individual companies that have an e-commerce product and might want to reach out to learn a little bit more or find out if you’re a good fit, where can we send them online?
Lauren: Yeah. So my company is theloft352.com. And then my Instagram handle is @theloft325. So, anything @theloft325, you can find me.
Rich: Awesome. And we’ll have those links in the show notes, as always. Lauren, and this has been great. I really appreciate you coming on and giving us some great advice around creating videos for Facebook ads and beyond. Thanks so much.
Lauren: Yeah. Thank you so much, Rich.
Lauren Schwartz is an expert at creating profitable paid, creative, ad strategies for her e-commerce brands. You can find out more about her and her agency at her website, and you can follow her on Instagram.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.