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!

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