With video increasingly powerful as a search engine optimisation weapon to drive traffic to websites and to create shareable content, more and more companies are including it in their corporate communications. However, particularly in business-to-business fields such as architecture, engineering and construction, the results, frankly, can often be fairly conservative and predictable (even more so in AEC software). The challenge for marketing and PR professionals can be summed up in one question: How can you create a refreshing and original video that stands from the rest?
One way might be to crowd-source your video. Instead of turning to your usual video-maker, or perhaps seeking recommendations from your website designer, marketing consultant or other adviser, why not run an online competition to generate some original and creative interpretations of your video brief?
This is the proposition behind Userfarm.tv, who’s Paul McCarthy I met in London earlier today. I have seen crowd-sourcing services for logo design – such as 99designs - and there have been similar services for company and brand names (eg: the now discontinued NameThis). While 99designs has diversified into business cards, t-shirts, brochures, apps and websites, among other things, it hasn’t so far started to crowd-source video content.
Paul (involved with Architects’ Journal some 20+ years ago) told me Userfarm was started around three years ago, by an experienced film and TV production company executive with a strong network of video industry contacts; it launched in the UK earlier this year. Its network has been nurtured and now includes over 30,000 videomakers and animators, ranging from large professional production houses to student bedroom operations. Some are looking to use their spare capacity on new projects; some want to break into new corporate projects; and some want to showcase their creative talents or get their foot on the industry ladder.
In the Userfarm process, community managers work with customers to develop a creative brief that is then shared with potential videomakers. These then produce videos which, after moderation by the relevant community manager, are posted online for the customer to review and make a final selection. The makers of the selected video(s) then receive the reward – usually a fee. Paul showed me advertisements produced for major corporates – eg: Helly Hansen, Match.com - (some intended for TV or cinema use, others for online use), with fees starting from around £3,000. For larger customers, Userfarm can also provide ‘white label’ dedicated video websites, and, for all customers will also provide help on uploading to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc. As well as the managed service, there is also a ‘self-service‘ option where customers can create and manage their own calls.
The AEC sector may be a little strapped for cash during the current financial turmoil, so creative use of the limited communications budget may be required. I think Userfarm is a interesting option for businesses looking to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and stretch their budgets as far as possible. A strong video can be a powerful addition to a website, blog or social network site, and so can provoke much wider conversations about the company and its products or services than other media (and if any construction organisation wants to take this further, I can help with introductions).