Boston College Videos: What do you want?

What makes a video successful?  What makes a video “viral?”  I spend most of my waking consciousness thinking about this, for better or for worse.

As Creative Producer for BC, I make social videos that tend to fall within these characteristics:

  1. Montage, highly visual;  narrative or theme driven
  2. Inspirational, uplifting tone
  3. 1-2 minutes in length
  4. Fast-paced, upbeat music
  5. Bright, colorful visuals
  6. Broad, expansive topics

Examples:

  1. Scripted concept: Boston College Awaits; Here All Are One
  2. “Day in the Life”  – Snow Day; First Day
  3. Event/News-driven – First Month; Upset Saturday
  4. Informational/Academic – Schiller Institute; Carroll Dean’s Message
  5. Fun/Community – Life is a Dance; Boston College Shake It Off

To some extent, there is a bit of a formula to the way we approach all of these BC videos, and the novelty often comes from one or two different techniques – drone shots, hyperlapses, timelapses – and a creative way to showcase the same series of student life events that occur each year.  My goal with every video I make, especially social videos, is to focus on emotion and heart – something that is relatable to as wide of an audience as possible.  Often I’m toe-ing the line of overly-sentimental, but I find that when I air on that side of things, it tends to garner the emotional response you’d hope for in an often-nostalgic audience – especially recent alums wishing they could come back to the Heights.

If there were a few “case study” videos I’ve been mulling over this year, it’s Snow Day, Here All Are One, First Day, First Month, Upset Saturday, and Boston College Awaits. Here’s the breakdown on these videos in terms of characteristics and results:

Video Description Day & Time Posted Length Views
Snow Day Montage of memorable blizzard Friday 9:30am 1:56 113K
Here All Are One Celebrating Student Intersectionality Friday 8:45am 1:02 23K
Upset Saturday Recap of BC vs Duke Upset Saturday 7:30pm 1:19 44K
First Day Sights and Sounds of First Day Thursday 11am 1:07 51K
First Month Recap of First Month Wednesday 1pm 1:06 34K
Boston College Awaits Admissions Early Action Message Friday 8:45am 2:04 71K

But, what does the BC audience really want to see?  Are these types of videos that are “thumb stopping” and content that people want to share?  Should our strategy prioritize “day in the life” content such as First Day and Snow Day, news/current content such as Upset Saturday, scripted concept such as “Here All Are One,” or huge, Admissions focused montage videos such as “Boston College Awaits?”  Obviously there needs to be a healthy mix of all-the-above, but in terms of creating and managing a video team that is best equip for the higher education digital landscape, how we prioritize each category of video will drastically change the way we operate.

Additionally, in the larger marketing landscape – given Facebook’s new changes, increasingly stringent algorithm, and “pay to play” model, is a non-profit University like Boston College well-positioned to stay on people’s timelines?

I would love to hear your general feedback as a class:  

  1. What do you like about BC video content?  
  2. What do you dislike?  
  3. What types of videos would you like to see BC making?  
  4. What brands should we emulate?  
  5. Which of the above categories (a, b,c, d, or e) should be our primary focus?

Qualitative feedback from a few members of the class would be greatly appreciated, and based on some of your thoughts, I hope to follow up with a more formal survey that perhaps more members of the class could contribute to, featuring more specific examples and feedback opportunities.  

Obviously view and share counts provide their own form of feedback on videos, but I often struggle to identify the variables that are driving those analytics.  If you feel so inclined, please also comment on any or all of the characteristics I mentioned above (1-6) and let me know what you think is most effective or important in your decision to share (or not to share) BC video content.

 

7 comments

  1. My general feedback on these videos is that they are amazing! As an alum, they are nostalgic and exciting at the same time. They definitely show BC in its most positive light, but the moments these videos capture are real. Even if some are staged for the right shot, the ideas and actions are authentic. We all had those epic snowball fights in the middle of blizzards and rushed the field or court after an upset at least once in four years. They are both accurate and romantic. While of course not all days of college are as idyllic as some of these clips may present, it all really happens here. I think I can speak for many alums when I say these videos bring back the best memories of our four years on the Heights and make us proud of our alma mater. While you can analyze the data on time posted, length of video, view and share counts, I think the ability to convey strong emotion is what makes these videos powerful.

  2. I think @mariaknoerr said it best…they’re nostalgic. And as consumers, we are digesting these video/images because the end goal should be to have engaging relationships that are not solely based on functional attributes. The key is to know that “your” stories are impactful and change the perception of its audience.It can’t be all about the analytics, but more so on the narrative – the wow factor. The data can guide you, but the content has to be authentic and strategic. At the end of the day, its about the different facets that make BC great.

  3. Thank you for sharing! As an ex-dance community member at BC (I was on Synergy when you were so generous with taking videos of dance!), Life is a Dance collaborated with Agape Latte is my favorite. It not only displays the dance community at BC but also captures the unique faith aspect of our Jesuit community, which make BC unique. Both Raf and Maria made great comments about nostalgia and authenticity, and I believe that you can add the collaborative aspect of different communities/groups at BC to include as many audiences as possible. As you mentioned in the blog, inviting as many audiences as possible to the video content is the best way to make the videos “effective,” and one of the best ways to do so is showing a combination of multiple of them. One particular suggestion I have is perhaps you can make a similar one with the acapella/singing groups at BC and have a collaboration with the orchestra/instrument groups. This would be a great way to not only include many audiences but also reinforce musical organizations’ presence at BC.

  4. I’ve always been a big fan of the “Day in the life” type videos like the snow day one. I’ll echo again what the previous comments have already said about authenticity, I think it’s a crucial aspect to creating a video that will connect both with current undergrads like myself, and grads or people that have any kind of connection to BC. Obviously it’s fun to showcase big events on campus and those dramatic moments that all students will remember, but I think that it’s those simple, unscripted moments like a random snow day that are the purest expressions of the college experience, and of college joy. In just a few minutes, you can strike an emotional chord with anybody that has ever lived this experience or imagined themselves in it. Obviously you don’t want to create too many of these videos, lest they start to appear to be disingenuous, but a little sentimentality never hurt anybody. Your videos are certainly more successful than an admissions catalogue could ever be in getting someone invested in BC.

  5. I really enjoy the videos that BC puts out. The videos that I like the best are the ones where I can relate to. I think the videos where they show the raw emotion of the students. For example the Upset on Duke video. No one believed BC was going to win, and when they kept on making big shot after big shot, the fans started going crazy. In the moment it was a surreal feeling. Everyone was so happy and excited. Where the video comes in is when you want to revisit that moment. They way that video was produced gives me chills every time I watch it because it captures the live, raw emotions of the students and fans. It is almost like you can put yourself in the video and feel like you are watching the event in real time. The ability for these videos to bring back those defining memories as a student at Boston College are really important to me because I can easily go back whenever I want and watch the video, which will allow me to re-experience the event.
    As for suggestions, I think that BC could maybe try to capture some events that happen off-campus. For example, the Head of the Charles race is a very historic crew event. A lot of BC kids go to cheer on their friends, and videos like these would bring shine more light on the non-power sports that BC has to offer. This will show the life of a BC student outside of the classroom, which could attract a new pool of potential students in the future.

  6. I really loved the Boston College Happy music video few years ago. I think that kind of flash mob portrays the lively image of both BC students and around the campus. If someone outside of BC saw the video, they would get positive image about the school. It may attract more students to come to Boston College. At the same time, for alums, the video would have given nostalgia while remembering campus where they spent four years of college. In addition, I like videos that features famous athletes from BC. I remember Andre Williams took short video about his academic life on campus when he was a Heisman Trophy finalist back in ’13. It would be really cool if we see Matt Ryan or Luke Keukely return to campus and discuss memories at Boston College.

  7. Great idea to get feedback. Recently I saw a video profiling students in a quick format that was pretty good. Still, why does someone care for you to profile that individual? Make the title as interesting as possible and unlike other common titles. Awhile back I saw a FB ad that was pretty bad. Something like “we are BC. or become BC.” Just very plain and I believe some people mocked it. You could do a montage of great leaders or experiences in the past that get people to reflect positively.

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