How to Turn Your Cell Phone Videos into Marketing Tools

Adapted from our Chief Creative Officer Eleni Sokos’ 10 Minute Takeaway presentation at the Manatee Chamber Coffee Club on August 22.

How to Turn Your Cell Phone Videos into Marketing Tools

Marketing experts are encouraging organizations to incorporate video into content marketing plans. Believe it or not, you likely have everything you need to get started in your pocket, and I’m not talking about your wallet.  Even if your business can’t afford a fancy videographer, your smartphone can produce high-quality marketing videos. In this 10 Minute Takeaway we’ll share some quick tips for shooting like a pro that you can try today.


In 2014 – five years ago next week – I founded our marketing agency. It’s been a great 5 years offering a full scope of marketing services to our clients.  We manage social media, build websites, design beautiful graphics… and everything in between… including, of course, video. Year 5 is culminating with our Small Business Of The Year finalist recognition and we’re so excited for tomorrow morning’s awards event. Thank you to the Manatee Chamber staff and our hosts at CenterState for inviting us to share some video tips with you today.

As marketers, it’s always important to know our audience. Show of hands: who here uses an iPhone? Android? Certain tactics differ between phones/operating systems, so we’ll try to spotlight the differences.

What makes a compelling video? What would make you stop and watch something? 

      • Good story
      • Appealing to the eyes – good video quality, well-light, good composition
      • Emotional connection 
      • Not too long, not too short

Video marketing is an emerging service for our business at Sokos Social.  Our clients are asking for more video content because their audiences are thirsty for video.  43% of users want to see more video content according to Hubspot’s 2018 State of Inbound Marketing annual report.

Video posts engage better on social media and as a result, the social newsfeed algorithms prioritize video content.  It’s also important to note that video marketing is a great way to tell your brand story very authentically and creatively.  Set yourself apart from competitors and distinguish yourself as a thought leader – or showcase a unique product or service.  

Studies show that creating a video of a product increases the likelihood of a purchase by 144%.  Having a video on your homepage can increase conversion rates by 64-85%. Most importantly, It’s widely accepted that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text.

Now, we’ll share tips for shooting the best possible video. We’ll start with “as is,” meaning, using only your phone before also sharing some tips for cheap equipment you can buy to level up your video game – all under $100. 

BASIC TIPS FOR SHOOTING VIDEO

PLAN!  DO plan/outline content but DON’T script it. A good general format for sharing instructional videos is “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em.  Tell ‘em. Then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.” Try not to overthink & let the planning process keep you from just diving in, though! It’s better to produce videos that will become learning tools for you later – than no videos at all. 

STORAGE / NOTIFICATIONS – make sure your phone storage has enough capacity! Nothing worse than running out of storage space while filming.  Go into Airplane or Do Not Disturb mode to eliminate notifications

ORIENT PHONE BASED ON YOUR PLATFORM – basic tip, big impact. Choose the orientation of your video based on the platform you are sharing to.  Generally speaking I recommend shooting in LANDSCAPE – better for websites, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. Then Instagram comes along and makes things difficult, because the IG Stories feature plays video in PORTRAIT… which is the natural way we hold our phones. 

STABILITY – stable images are key. The trick here is removing your hand from actually holding the phone – so rather than selfie-style, you’ll be more successful with a tripod of some sort. 

Level up: For flexibility we like these little guys (at left) with adjustable/removable legs.  For stability & height we like this one.  Both of these are under $20 on Amazon.  

LENSES – use the rear-facing camera whenever possible because it gives you a higher quality image. Before you begin, clean your lens of any grime/fingerprints with a soft cloth.

Level up — you can find different lenses that clip right on to your phone. For instance, if you’re a real estate agent who wants to make rooms look bigger, you can use a wide-angle or fish eye lens with your smartphone to achieve the same effect that used to take a big fancy camera and production team.

ZOOM — avoid using the zoom feature because it will pixelate the subject. Instead you’ll need to physically move closer to your subject. 

Level up:  Have you ever shot a video and tried to tap the screen to focus, then it whitewashed or darkened the whole screen?  On iPhone, in shooting mode, if you tap and hold on a focal point, it will lock your exposure [AE/AF] so it doesn’t keep brightening/darkening. 

LIGHTING — Proper lighting can dramatically increase the quality and professionalism of your video. Overhead fluorescent lighting is the enemy. It may sound counter-intuitive but lower lighting might be better.  Cell phones are actually equipped with higher apertures that let more light into the camera and perform well in low-light.

The goal is for lighting to display as much vibrancy and color — with even light across the subject, so people can connect with you. Some shadow is good, because it creates depth and you can see some details. Reduce bright light coming in by closing curtains or balance it by lighting up the other side of your face.  If outdoors, shade is the best option. If you must be in the sun, don’t shoot towards the sun because it’ll turn you into a silhouette.

SOUND – You’ll need to invest in a good microphone because most smartphones still don’t have great audio-recording capabilities, so it helps to invest in a decent microphone that will work with your cell phone. If you don’t have that, try recording in a sound dampened – meaning, not empty and echo-y, but furnished with lots of textiles to absorb sound.  

Honestly, audio is more important than video. If you make mistakes with your video, you can replace the footage with slides, graphics, or stock footage. Because there’s not much you can do to fix bad audio,  we try to use wired lavaliere microphones when possible.

Level up – smartphone mics might be ok for conference calls, but over video, can sound thin, fuzzy and lack clarity. 

HIGH DEFINITION –  Can you shoot in HD from a phone? Yes and no. The newest iPhones let you shoot in 1080p with iMovie. You can shoot, edit, add b-roll, and immediately upload to YouTube all in the same place. It’s the best video-creation method for Apple.

For Android, try a free app called FilmoraGo. all the basics you would need in video editing. You can trim, crop, add music and b-roll.  

EDITING INTO A STORY – We’ve talked a lot about filming people for marketing videos, which is very effective, but what if you’re camera shy?  Dozens of apps out there bring together short video clips and still images. You don’t need spoken words because the music and visuals pull you in.

We LOVE the app called Magisto – it uses AI to analyze your photos and create a story, it overlays graphics, and more. It has a free version with limited features.  We chose to upgrade and pay annually which saved a little – the annual pro subscription cost us $90 but it’s one of my favorite purchases. We use it to create client videos almost every day. 

GOING LIVE — People tend to watch live videos 3x longer than regular videos. Going live can be a good idea IF you’re prepared with a content plan.  A strong WiFi connection is crucial for live-streaming so check your connection BEFORE you begin filming.  Plan for the worst of what could go wrong — if you’re outside cars, trucks, loud noises, people, dogs barking in the background of your videos. There’s no reshoot on a live stream so you have to be extra aware of your environment.

We went live here today so you can watch the recap of our presentation on our Facebook page, and we also have posted a blog with this script and recommendations for some of our favorite products and apps. Find it online at SokosSocial.com/video. Thank you so much for tuning in today – I look forward to seeing all of your videos!

AFFORDABLE TECH FOR LEVELING UP

Interested in our product recommendations?  Email us at hello@sokossocial.com and we’ll send over a shopping list with links to purchase all of your smartphone video production needs!

Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

 

We live in a time of inclusivity, where businesses and individuals are taking important and necessary measures to ensure that the company’s operations, staff, and cultures are inclusive of all people, regardless of race, religion, orientation, ability, or country of origin.  Today, website accessibility is more important than ever thanks to the rise in mobile devices, iPads, and generally everyone everywhere constantly in a state of “connectedness.”

At Sokos Social, many of our Agency Clients are asking us what might seem to be a simple question: “Is my website ADA compliant?” While we are marketers, not attorneys, the Sokos Social team conducted our own research on behalf of our clients, and we hope this post can provide some context to the situation and clarity on what you need to know.

There has been a tremendous increase in lawsuits regarding website ADA Compliance, with municipalities in our local area like Manatee County and the City of Bradenton Beach sued successfully over web accessibility.  Despite that the targets of most lawsuits currently are municipalities and big businesses, there is cause for concern on behalf of small business owners and non-profit organizations, as well. Over 27 ADA lawsuits are filed on average each and every day. Not every suit is legally in violation of ADA laws but, of course, this does not stop one from filing. 

Part of the reason we at Sokos Social have seen an increase in client inquiries about ADA compliance is that other local Marketing and Web Design firms have resorted to “ambulance chasing” techniques most commonly used by attorneys, sending letters and communications warning them to potential fines and litigation.  They join law firms in targeting what they feel are “low hanging fruit,” specifically smaller businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations, who they know rely on small teams, smaller budgets, and time constraints with the hope they will just “pay up.”

A basic test that we advise our clients to consider is this: if you have a publicly accessible office, store, or venue where you must meet accessibility requirements for public access to your establishment, it’s a best practice to take measures ensuring your “digital” presence is ADA accessible as well. 

What Does Website Accessibility Mean?

Spoken in the most basic terms, you should ensure that your website can be accessed by anyone, regardless of disability.  

What this means to you: the vision-impaired must be able to use an audio translator, so all of your written content needs to be spelled out and logical. These users could also be dependent on screen reading software. All media (think videos, pictures, audio clips, etc) would need to have tag descriptions that are logical. An easy example: when you download a picture of your team members at the office from Facebook, the file name may read something like this: 96003482i478337.jpg.   It’s common for even the best web developers, marketing associates, and employees to just upload that picture to your website. In order to be ADA compliant, that picture needs to both be re-named and the image description updated to be understood by anyone. 

 

Think if you were not able to see: how would you know what that image was depicting? The ADA-compliant way to handle would be to name the file “Team-Members-at-Office.jpg” and add a description stating “members of our team working at the office” so that screen readers can read aloud the description of the image to someone visually impaired.

What can you do to be compliant?

At Sokos Social, we’ve researched the best ways and most cost-effective ways to keep up with changing ADA regulations. It is in your company’s best interest to consider this investment an insurance policy against potential risk and litigation – but more importantly – it is also enabling you to reach and serve a growing percentage of the population (and your potential customers) who arer disabled or impaired. Through a new our partnership with AccessiBe, for one low annual fee we can configure your site with AccessiBe.  

AccessiBe utilizes Automatic AI (Artificial Intelligence) for Web Accessibility & Compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA Level and US Section 508, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and European Union Standard EN 301549.  Audits are performed automatically and provide over 96% AI-powered remediation. The remaining 4% are reported during daily automated compliance monitoring scans and will be remediated manually by your Sokos Social Team.  The only exception to our automated solution is PDFs, documents, and video subtitles, which are priced separately. This is simply because the assets listed are added files, which are not a part of your website’s codebase. 

Please note: AccessiBe will not change a thing for the majority of users. It will only be activated when turned on via the interface (or a Screen-reader if the user is blind), as an overlay to your website, and only to the user’s specific session. Therefore, AccessiBe won’t affect your design, user interface, or site performance at all. The entire process is automated, from remediation to becoming compliant. Additionally, AccessiBe doesn’t collect user data, so it doesn’t affect your GDPR compliance. 

The annual cost to Sokos Social Agency Clients is $750, with an additional $49 set-up fee for the first year.  Non-Agency Clients who have had a website designed by Sokos Social within the last 2 years are offered the same rate.

Interested in learning more?  Let your Client Success Manager know you’d like to proceed with ADA Compliance Installation or drop us a note at Hello@SokosSocial.com.

Our Clients Feel Like Family

It’s safe to say that the work that our team does day-in and day-out would not reach such a high level of quality if we lacked passion for what we do. Sokos Social specializes in meeting the marketing needs of clients in three main sectors: financial, hospitality and nonprofit organizations. Our team loves bringing vibrant, upbeat energy to the workplace every day. But what really motivates us is watching our clients grow their businesses thanks to their work ethic and passion for their mission.

Many of our clients are entrepreneurs who have cultivated their dream into reality. Some clients are nonprofits whose work is close to our hearts. Nonprofit organizations create a vision of how the world should be, and then get to work implementing it! Experiencing first hand their commitment to such important causes inspires us every day to become better, both in and out of the office.

When our businesses and organizations select Sokos Social as their partner in brand development and marketing we understand the tremendous amount of trust they place in us: their dream, livelihood, and vision for their business. These responsibilities motivate us to establish the best working relationship possible. Our values of working closely with clients are fundamental to a successful working relationship. And as Sokos Social grows and expands as a business, we know that individual human relationships have the most impact on delivering results and exceeding expectations. These personal relationships also lead to our own increased business development – the statistic our CEO, Eleni Sokos, takes most pride in is that 97% of our clients were referred by a friend or colleague.

Each staff member at Sokos Social can identify with a client. From the moment of client on-boarding, to recapping the end of a successful campaign, our team works one-on-one with our clients to ensure their goals are met, allowing us to develop a personal relationship with our beloved clients.

For example, our Client Success Specialist Kendall Lewis loves working with Anna Maria Oyster Bar. Kendall is new to Florida and enjoys the Gulf Coast, old Florida, fun-loving feel that the Anna Maria Oyster Bar brand exemplifies…margaritas included! When she works on Anna Maria Oyster Bar projects, she is invested in the work because she genuinely enjoys the brand. Working with this client helps her feel closer to the community as a new resident. We are thankful for the relationship that each of us have with Anna Maria Oyster Bar. We truly feel like an extension of their staff and more importantly, part of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar Family. Whether it’s joining them on a trip to the annual Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Marketing + Operations Summit or having fun at one of their many events throughout the year.

“It makes coming to work easy knowing that we are making a difference,” remarks Marketing Coordinator, Dylan Howell, about working with our nonprofit organizations. Dylan actually found Sokos Social after volunteering for the Women’s Resource Center. Her passion for helping women who need it the most translates into a true desire to support the missions of for our nonprofit clients like The Women’s Resource Center, HOPE Family Services, Foundation For Dreams, and more.

Our very own Chief Executive Socializer, Eleni Sokos has lived in Manatee County her entire life. She is a foodie who has a passion for travel and creating immersive experiences, whether in person or online. Growing up in a family of restaurateurs and other small business owners, she sees her family’s hustle, resourcefulness, and community spirit in each of our clients.

There are a million reasons to love your job, but at Sokos Social we find new reasons every day. Watching the growth of our business comes from the amazing clients who inspire us every day.

What’s a Marketing Plan and Why Do You Need One?

Every organization has objectives and goals that they would like to meet. Setting a Marketing Plan makes it easier to track and execute goals for your organization. Sokos Social works with our clients to develop and implement an Annual Marketing Plan. Our team focuses on reaching your goals through digital channels, and together we map out action steps and objectives on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis through your digital platforms as well as print media, public relations, community outreach, and other types of traditional media. These objectives help meet your sales or fundraising needs through creative content to promote events, communicate new products & services, and execute strategic campaigns for your business or organization.

Sokos Social tracks the return of investment on your advertising dollars to make sure your marketing investments will directly benefit you and your organization. Paying for marketing services without a Marketing Plan is not only ineffective marketing… but wasteful to your business and resources with no way to track progress.

Our Marketing Plans involve creating a narrative each month that ties into driving sales and goals to our clients. These narratives come to life through content marketing, via blog posts, email newsletters, website content, and social media. It can be a call to action, a seasonal holiday campaign, or other strategic promotion for specific time-sensitive content.

For example, during the holiday season Sokos Social creates campaigns for our nonprofit clients surrounding the season of giving to encourage supporters to donate. Each of our clients has different objectives and goals to meet, but Sokos Social rises to each unique occasion thanks to our custom-tailored Marketing Plans.

Using a defined timeline of action steps within an Annual Marketing Plan, communication between the departments of your organization will run more smoothly as well. Sokos Social works as an extension of your in-house team to support achievement of your goals – bringing dreams to reality. With information strategically defined at a birds-eye-view level for the entire year, it’s easier for those team members outside of the Marketing & Advertising departments to embrace long-term vision for your brand and its marketing and communications.

Our clients and their teams are some of the most determined and talented individuals that we have ever met. However, even the most successful and talented organizations need an expert in the marketing field to make their goals and objectives come to life. The team of experts at Sokos Social look over your business operations & marketing with a set of new eyes to add a fresh perspective to your organization. Let our marketing rock stars invent creative and strategic Annual Marketing Plans for your organization.

Email hello@sokossocial.com to see what your advertising budget can really do for you.

Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About!

Sokos Social’s mission is to creatively support small businesses and organizations that think big. In Sokos Social’s infancy, Eleni Sokos started her professional career early with freelance marketing and dreamed big. Today that same idea of dreaming without limits translates to Sokos Social’s areas of expertise: client relations, agency-wide standards of marketing excellence and pride in delivering effective marketing assets that tell our clients’ brand stories in compelling, unique ways, online and in person.

Today, Sokos Social is made up of President and CEO, Eleni Sokos and her team of five marketing experts. Founded in 2014, Sokos Social specializes in integrated web solutions, graphic design, content marketing, public relations and creative marketing concepts with a keen eye for style.

Sokos Social specializes in bringing a fresh and vibrant perspective to your company’s brand, paired with technical marketing know-how to reach your your business’ goals. Sokos Social offers services including brand development and strategy, web & graphic design, print & digital media, and content marketing to clients in the Manatee-Sarasota area.

Graphic design, advertising, web design, community outreach, content marketing, creative campaigns… these can be intimidating subjects for many businesses and nonprofits. We aim to make these tools accessible to leaders who don’t have marketing degrees but need to know how to reach the right people at the right time.  And as technology and trends evolve so quickly here in 2018, Sokos Social prides itself on always being on the cusp of what is trending.

Even more importantly, Sokos Social strives to anticipates our clients’ needs and ensures that each client has the appropriate amount of support to succeed and reach their goals. Working with our clients closely as a marketing agency gives Sokos Social a major advantage with superior client relations and industry/operational understanding – many of our clients think of our team as an extension of their own.    

Depending on your needs, there are several Agency Client content marketing packages available to your business or nonprofit. As Sokos Social is a boutique marketing agency, we limit the number of Agency Client subscribers to ensure each receives the best support possible.  We also believe in an interview process for client onboarding to ensure that our relationship will be the right fit for all parties. Through the end of 2018 we will be taking on three new Agency Clients and are currently inviting those interested to meet at our office in Lakewood Ranch over a cup of coffee to discuss objectives.

Together let’s give ‘em something to talk about… email hello@sokossocial.com so we can get to work.