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(Originally published March 1st on LinkedIn by The Story Source.)

A few nights ago, all of us were taken by surprise when La La Land was incorrectly announced as the winner of Best Picture. The mistake was remedied, but Moonlight‘s win was cloaked with intensity.

With the drama of awards season, I started watching clips of Carrie, the Academy Award-winning horror film by Brian De Palma. In the movie, Carrie does all sorts of paranormal and frightening things. But after a few minutes, I started to wonder: What makes the scenes, and the story as a whole, so engaging?

The answer turns out to be really simple: lots of tension.

To help you keep your audience on the edge of their seats, here are “5 Tips for Building Tension in Your Stories.” You may not win an Academy Award, but you’ll at least never have to watch someone nod off again.

  1. Foreshadow Future Events. Building tension starts shortly after your opening. Once the audience understands the basics of the story (characters, setting and problem), begin building tension by foreshadowing elements of the story that you intend to address later on. The easiest way to do this is to introduce a powerful image – in Carrie, it’s a broken mirror – that offers a clue about the events to come. If your audience suspects that something is awry (i.e. a girl breaks a mirror with her mind), they’ll keep watching.
  2. Subvert Expectations. In order to keep your audience engaged throughout the story, you have to undermine the audience’s expectations and keep them guessing about what’s going to happen next. Here’s a hypothetical scene: a man and a woman are flirting in the elevator of an apartment building. The man eventually asks for the woman’s phone number, but the woman refuses. The man presses her for her number and then all of a sudden a snake comes slithering out of the woman’s shirt. The man screams and runs from the elevator as soon as the doors open. Unexpected, right? All great scenes raise questions about the characters and the situation.
  3. Add Comic Relief. As a storyteller, you can only build so much tension into the narrative before your audience needs a release. The easiest way to do this in stories is to introduce a secondary character who offers insight into the struggle. Consider the earlier example of the snake. Maybe in the next scene of the story we see the woman walking out of the apartment building when a snake slithers out of one of her pant legs. The doorman sees this happen, but instead of screaming and calling the police, he pulls out a live mouse and proceeds to feed the snake.
    Entertaining, right? Good comic relief can momentarily distract the audience while also reassuring them that the storyteller understands the absurdity or tragedy of the narrative.
  4. Introduce Non-Visual Elements. Powerful images aren’t the only way to keep your audience engaged. Sound, smell and touch can be just as evocative (think about theme song from “Jaws”). In Carrie, the sound of locking doors seals the fate of all the students inside while also making the audience curious about what’s going to happen next. The challenge for storytellers is that most stories operate inside a visual medium (even oral stories “paint a picture” for the listener). One way to get around this is to use analogies or metaphors. A good analogy will do wonders.
  5. End with the Unexpected. In all stories, the job of the storyteller is to leave a lasting impression with the audience at the end of the story. The way to do this is often to introduce a new image or offer a final piece of comic relief. At the end of Carrie, the audience sees a hand reaching out from beyond the grave to grab Sue, the sole teenage survivor. The image is chilling and reminds the audience that even though the central problem (Carrie’s revenge) may be resolved, there are other problems that will outlive the story.

Pretty tense, right?


Andrew Linderman
Writer. Teacher. Consultant.
@lindermania



  • Published in Web

Demo of our in-house tool called Ad Charts, which we’ll be releasing soon as a premium web app

For anyone needing some expertise with tracking the effectiveness of social ads, here are some tips on how we make a better return on investment for our clients. Below we look at two kinds of Facebook ads that are available and share some results that can make a difference, whether it’s a $1 boost or an on-going big-budget campaign.

This insight is based on recently spending and tracking over $1,500 in Facebook ads on behalf of 5 clients with 28 ads total. These ads cumulatively led to 34,738 results, which reached 223,582 people. 31,882 of them took action on the ads including 1,418 link clicks, 292 page likes, and 102 post comments. The average cost per result was 18¢.

The goal for a majority of these ads was for the viewer to click a call-to-action through to a website. While we often have creative control over each ad, sometimes clients asked us to run an ad on something we didn’t do, so maybe it did better or worse in our data set. We track Facebook’s data outside of Facebook using an in-house tool that we call Ad Charts, which we’ll be releasing soon.

1. Facebook’s “Boost Post”

When promoting a post, we’ve found that videos and photos do much better than website links, which do better than plain text posts. These promotions show up in the newsfeed and look like normal page content, often with a “Sponsored” tag added.

Here is our usual format with some suggestions:

  • Keep the text as brief and engaging as possible, usually with one link, and preferably one clear photo or short video
  • Outbound links are limited to the text; clicking the photo or video keeps you within Facebook
  • If outbound links are not important, avoid boosting an image gallery; but go for it if reactions and shares are the goal
  • Choosing a demographics to learn about the client/brand can help with reaching new customers, rather than pay to show the post to existing fans/followers
  • If you’re promoting a video as a post, the reach will often be very high and the cost per result will be very low; this is because Facebook seems to prioritize video right now
  • If you’re promoting a website link as a post, be sure to use all the required OpenGraph markup on your site; for troubleshooting, their debugger is super handy
  • All posts have version control for text that’s visible to people viewing the post, so heads up; needing to change the text in a post after its boosted is possible and goes back into the queue to be re-approved
  • If needing to change the photo or video, just scrap the post and start over

2. Facebook’s “Promote > Get More Website Visitors”

When running an ad for a page, specifically to drive traffic to the page’s website, there is a slightly different format which has more restrictions, but includes added benefits. This kind of boost seems to always show up in the newsfeed on mobile devices and the right column on non-mobile devices. These ads look like a promoted post or a square banner ad.

When creating an ad, here is our usual approach along with some suggestions:

  • The text at the top does not significant max character limit, but keep it as short and clear as possible
    • On desktop, it truncates after 480 characters including spaces and shows up to 6 lines
    • On mobile, it truncates after 210 characters including spaces and shows up to 4 lines
    • If truncated, the text automatically says “Show more…” at the end, which is a link toggle for the remaining text
    • Posts with truncated text, especially any link below the truncation, will generally have very low click-thru rates
  • The text at the top also cannot contain clickable URLs; their error literally says “your text can’t include 2 punctuation marks or signs in a row … please remove these to continue”
  • The “bar” at the bottom (which doesn’t always appear in all ad placements) has a 25 character limit on its headline text, no description/sub-headline, and the URL seems to just look at the domain, not the full path to the deeper page on the site
  • There’s an option to have a “call to action” button here, like “Learn More” and “Get Quote”
  • Having to pause/stop an ad is an option, but needing to edit anything means scrapping the whole ad and its current data set.

The best thing about this ad unit is that clicking any of the image or “bar” content takes the user off Facebook, giving it a relatively large target with no “photo enlargement” distraction.

Other Insights

With both, unless there’s a benefit to brand awareness and not click throughs, we manually disable having the ad run on Instagram. Facebook moves around the disable option — it’s sometimes in a bottom left gear box and sometimes an inline checkbox in the main form.

Approval for ads can often take hours, so don’t be in a rush; Facebook’s interface copy often says 15 minutes or more, but that’s often not the case.

With both ad types, you can choose a demographic to include specific to age and location. (There’s also a power user method to exclude an audience.)

For photos, try to use big landscape image (e.g. 1200 x 628 or 1.91:1 aspect ratio, according to their 2017 social media specs). Having more than a little text on the image makes it ripe for being denied as an ad.

For video, try a 16:9 aspect ratio video or be bold and use a 1:1 square (a trend that may have started so people don’t have to turn their screen on mobile). Skip any music that you don’t have the license for because that’ll likely get flagged or a DMCA take down.

To help with insights on the results of an ad buy that’s bringing traffic to your website, adding a Facebook Pixel on your site — everywhere or at least on “goal” pages like a contact form’s “thank you” screen — help show your ads effectiveness beyond just brand awareness. If you sell something on your site, that’s also one way to track which ads led to actual customers.

Need more choices and analytics? There’s the Facebook Ads Manager which is so advances, it’s really for power users running campaigns needing even more control over goals, placements, demographic exclusions, advanced connections (e.g. users who installed your Facebook app or attended your Facebook event), optimizations (e.g. leads aka pay per impression vs. clicks aka pay per click), and so on.

How do you using Facebook to advertise? Any success or failures that you would like to share?

If you need a hand, we do a lot of social media marketing in our web studio.


FWD:labs
Studio + Network
@fwdlabs



  • Published in Film

During the Super Bowl this last month, three ads stood out in touching upon polemic subject matters. For better or worse, they received a lot of love and hate alike. Politics aside, here’s more about who made each one. It’s interesting to see who worked on more than one of these, such as Anonymous Content and Company 3. Each spot cost over $5 million dollars per 30 seconds to air, although a lot of people tuned in for the Patriots beating the Falcons in overtime, meaning mere cents per viewer.

Budweiser “Born The Hard Way”

28 million official online views in February with 48k likes, 16k dislikes, and 12k comments.

According to some press, this was shot in New Orleans over three days.

Director: Christopher Sargent
Director of Photography: Jody Lee Lipes
Agency: Anomaly (New York, USA)
Production Company: Anonymous Content
Visual Effects: ARTJAIL
Creative Director and VFX Supervisor: Steve Mottershead
Head of Production: John Skeffington
Senior Producer: Mike Tockman
Flame Artists: John Geehreng, Margolit Steiner, Chris Memoli
Nuke Artists: Sohee Sohn, Eric Conception, Herculano Fernandes, Dayung Jo
Flame Assistant: Ben Vacarro
Digital Matte Painter: Quimet Delgado
CGI – VFX Sup: Gavin Guerra
CGI – CG Lead: Santosh Gunaseelan
CGI – FX TD: Shawn Lipowski
CGI – TD: Felipe Amaya
Rotoscoping: Trace VFX
Edit Company: Saints
Producer: Stephanie Hickman
Editor: Ross Birchall
Assistant Editor: Nancy Gidman-Latorraca
Color Grade: Tom Poole

84 Lumber “The Entire Journey”

10 million official online views in February with 88k likes, 30k dislikes, and 24k comments.

This short film, shot in Mexico, also had a microsite at journey84.com, which viewers of the shorter TV ad were led to for seeing the “entire journey.” (More on the U.S./Mexico “wall” elements that led the broadcast version getting cut short can be found on ADWEEK.)

Director: Cole Webley
Advertising Agency: Brunner, Pittsburgh, USA
Creative Director: Dave Vissat
Chief Creative Officer: Rob Schapiro
Associate Creative Directors: Derek Julin, Kevin Corfield
Chief Client Officer: Jeff Maggs
Account Director: Lauren Tedesco
Senior Account Manager: Dana Lucas
Associate Broadcast Director: Kathy Baldauf
Agency Production: FIXER Partners
Executive Agency Producers: John Noble, Brad Powell
Production Company: Sanctuary
Director of Photography: Justin Brown
Creative Director: Matt Wilson
Line Producer: Christopher Cho
Executive Producer: Preston Lee
Heads of Production: Adam Litt, Leopoldo Luisetti
Production Designer: Christopher Lagunes
Editorial: Final Cut
Editor: Jeff Buchanan
Exec Producer: Sarah Roebuck
Producer: Penny Ensley
Head of Production: Jen Sienkwicz
Assistant Editor: Geoff Hastings
Cutting Assistant: Andre Castiglioni
Visual Effects: Method Studios
Executive Producer: Stuart Robinson
CG Supervisor: Boaz Livny
VFX Supervisor: Eliza Pelham Randall
Flame Artists: Stephen Morris, Jared Pollack
Senior VFX Producer: Bennett Lieber
Color Grading: Company 3
Colorist: Tom Poole
Music: Future Perfect
Composer: Victor Magro
Producer: Max Gosling
Audio Post: Heard City
Sound Mixer: Phil Loeb

Audi “Daughter”

12 million official online views in February with 60k likes, 74k dislikes, and 21k comments.

Director: Aoife Mcardle
Director of Photography: Pat Scola
Advertising Agency: Venables Bell and Partners (San Francisco, USA)
Founder / Chairman: Paul Venables
Executive Creative Director: Will Mcginness
Creative Director: Justin Moore
Associate Creative Director: Allison Hayes
Copywriters: Mike Mcguire, Kathy Hepinstall
Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
Senior Producer: Matt Flaker
Head of Brand Management: David Corns
Group Brand Director: Chris Bergen
Brand Supervisor: Justin Wang
Brand Manager: Abu Ngauja
Group Strategy Director: Tonia Lowe
Director of Business Affairs: Quynh-Ahn Phan
Project Manager: Leah Murphy
Production Company: Somesuch and Anonymous Content
Executive Producers: Nicky Barnes, Sally Campbell
Ep / Production: Sueellen Clair
Head of Production: Kerry Haynie
Producer: Grace Bodie
Editing Company: Work Editorial
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Assistants Editor: Josh Sasson, Erik Vogt-nilsen
Executive Producer: Marlo Baird
Producer: Lynne Mannino
Music Company: Human
Music Composer: John Christopher Barnes
Creative Director: Craig Deleon
Executive Producer: Jonathan Sanford
Sound Design / Final Mix: Lime Studios
Sound Designer: Matt Miller
Mix: Matt Miller
Assistant Mixer: Peter Lapinski
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Associate Producer: Kayla Phungglan
VFX Studio: Electric Theatre Collective
Creative Director and VFX Supervisor: Adam Watson
2D Artists: Adam Watson, Tommy Smith, Dave Damant, Jessenia Nauta
CG Lead: Corinne Deorsay
CG Artists: Corinne Deorsay, Nate Lapinski, Remi Dessinges, Steve Beck
EP: Kate Hitchings
VFX Producer: Catherine Y
Color Grading: Company 3
Colorist: Stefan Sonnenfeld
Senior Producer: Katie Andrews

What did you think of these? Does piggy-backing on a hot topic help or hurt?


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact




Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

In a world where there’s a lot of prejudice and judgment, TV 2 in Denmark did a promo that takes a look at how easily we put people in boxes. It opens with groups of people organized by looks. It continues by moving people around based on prompts of similar backstories, like they’re step-parents or if they’re lonely. It asks a timely question: “Maybe we have more in common than what we think?” If only we could bridge differences in real life.

Watch on YouTube

(via Connie Richardson)

Design works when we see it in action. Instead of forcing a path or a story or a product, Tom Hulme did a TED Talk called “What We Can Learn From Shortcuts.” It’s about observing how people behave and then accommodating to them based on what they’re already doing. One of his points is “about designing for real needs with low friction, because if you don’t, the customer will anyway.”

Watch on YouTube or Watch on TED.com

(via Daniel Landau)

Information is Beautiful hosts a data visualization that looks at budgets for every major film over the last eight years. It’s fascinating to see big budget films that flop charted out and then sleeper hits that really stood out, side-by-side with peers that you don’t necessarily think about. Sorting by genre or script type is also quite eye-opening.

View on InformationIsBeautiful.net

(via UCLA Studio 22)


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in FWD:labs

10 Best Posts of 2016

This year we published 11 articles on film, web, and design, in addition to sharing a few dozen posts on Facebook and Twitter. Here are our favorite subjects covered this last year.

  1. Nice approach to sponsored web content...TWEET: Nice approach to sponsored web content, @verge and @OnStar, with your Wally Pfister interview!
    While branded / sponsored video for the web is still figuring itself out, we love seeing more low-cost, high-concept series efforts like this.
  2. How The New York Times Showed Usain Bolt's Gold Medal Runs at the Rio OlympicsHow The New York Times Showed Usain Bolt’s Gold Medal Runs at the Rio Olympics
    Almost more jaw-dropping than some of the Olympic coverage on television was how the New York Times used information design to tell a separate story of Usain Bolt’s top events.
  3. Great to see @SoniaNCole featured today!TWEET: Great to see @SoniaNCole featured today! For more about her, check out her sites at http://sonianasserycole.com and http://breadwinnerfilms.com.
    We’ve been doing websites for Sonia’s production company and personal projects for years and it’a great to see her featured by one of the classiest intimate apparel companies out there — again with the branded / sponsored series approach.
  4. Just successfully helped one of our members...TWEET: Just successfully helped one of our members get their expired domain name back. One of many things we do for filmmakers here at FWD:labs.
    We do a lot of behind-the-scenes help for our clients and users that go un-tweeted. This one is just an example. After overcoming challenges with the registrar, it’s sometimes nice to tweet about winning.
  5. TWEET: Looking forward to @WHMPodcast's show...Looking forward to @WHMPodcast’s show tonight at The Improv in WeHo — their west coast debut! @ericszyszka
    One of our original users switched gears from screenwriting to podcasting and blew up, both with a nation wide comedy show tour but now end-of-year acclaim from the likes of AV Club and others. The show we saw in Los Angeles was a riot.
  6. On this day 7 years ago...TWEET: On this day 7 years ago we published an article which led to our Apps for Pro Filmmakers database: http://fwdlabs.com/resources/apps/ #ThisDayInHistory
    This “throwback” post was especially telling because we’re in the midst of making the apps database its very own website. This will be our first “spin-off” product — with others on deck. Stay tuned!
  7. The Benefits of Owning, Promoting, and Maintaining Your Official WebsiteThe Benefits of Owning, Promoting, and Maintaining Your Official Website
    This article came to life when a friend of a friend asked if official websites are dead, especially in the age of social media. It’s no slam dunk one way or the other, but this cheat sheet has become helpful for brainstorming what’s best for your own bandwidth and budget.
  8. IMVDb's Best Feature: Music Video CommentariesIMVDb’s Best Feature: Music Video Commentaries
    Giving the IMVDb website some link love was long overdue, but this post ended up getting some “favs” from the music video directors we wrote about. Always cool when there’s a ricochet effect.
  9. 10 Tips for Search & Social Marketing10 Tips for Search & Social Marketing
    After getting asked again and again what’s the difference between organic versus paid marketing, it was due time to craft up a cheat sheet. This ended up circulating with a lot of our clients and helped pave the way for some low-cost, high-reward campaigns across several months. The even-keeled effort also led to our second “spin-off” product, which will also be dropping in 2017!
  10. Websites of the 2016 Oscar NomineesWebsites of the 2016 Oscar Nominees
    Before the Oscars, we meticulously combed through each nominee’s official site to see who built it and how they built it. This gave some additional fodder when, during the Oscars, we live tweeted each winner’s respective website.

Got a favorite that’s not here? Browse the archive and comment below.

Finally, check out our 10 best posts of 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Film + Web

One of the best features of The Internet Music Video Database (IMVDb) is providing artists and filmmakers the ability to pair an audio commentary alongside their work. Instead of being relegated to disc bonus features, IMVDb adds value to the discipline. Here are some good ones for some popular tracks over recent years:

bjork-commentary

Stonemilker (2015)
Björk
dir: Andrew Thomas Huang

katy-perry-commentary

This Is How We Do (2014)
Katy Perry
dir: Joel Kefali

mgmt-commentary

Cool Song No. 2 (2013)
MGMT
dir: Isaiah Seret

cinnamon-chasers-commentary

Luv Deluxe (2009)
Cinnamon Chasers
dir: Saman Kesh


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Film

Do you know what the entire U.S.-Mexico border looks like? Director Josh Begley wanted to show all 1,989 miles of it through satellite imagery in a six-minute film called “Best of Luck with the Wall.” It’s a subject referencing one politician’s claim of making a great wall along this very path, which is full of desert, mountains, rivers, and more — like an existing border fence.

You can also read an interview with the director on Field of Vision with culture critic Eric Hynes. There’s also an article by the director on The Intercept that talks about technicalities, like the use of ffmpeg to automate the stitching together of 200,000 images.

Director: Josh Begley
Motion Graphics Editing: Jonah Greenstein
Original Score: Jace Clayton (aka DJ /rupture) and Andy Moor

Thanks to CartoonBrew for the initial heads up.

National Geographic released today a feature-length documentary “Before the Flood” on YouTube for free for a short period of time.

They’re also doing a hashtag promotion where getting the word out about the film helps calculate a benefactor’s donation to the cause: “For every use of #BeforeTheFlood across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram between October 24 – November 18, 21st Century Fox and National Geographic will together donate $1 to Pristine Seas and $1 to the Wildlife Conservation Society, up to $50,000 to each organization.”

Director: Fisher Stevens
Writer: Mark Monroe
Cinematographer: Antonio Rossi
Music: Mogwai, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Gustavo Santaolalla
Editing: Brett Banks, Geoffrey Richman, Abhay Sofsky, and Ben Sozanski

Back on July 4, professional wrestler John Cena was the face of a “We Are America” campaign focused on inclusivity to all people. The campaign was for Love Has No Labels. His post on Facebook summed it up nicely: “Celebrate the diversity that makes America, America.”

Client: Ad Council
Agency: R/GA
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Rocky Morton
Executive Producer: Emma Wilcockson
Line Producer: Larry Shure
Director of Photography: David Lanzenberg
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Dan de Winter
Original Music: Human/ Phillip Glass
Color: Nice Shoes, Chris Ryan
Flame: Nice Shoes,Jason Farber
Mix: Nylon Studios, Dave Robertson
Music Supervision: wool and tusk

(For additional agency credits, see AdWeek.)


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in General

Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

Robert Richardson

robert-richardson-640

From his interview with The Talks: “I try to bend and be a chameleon towards what the director is looking for. I think equipment is vital for all filmmakers. All filmmakers should have the opportunity to use film, whether that’s Super 8, 16, 35, or 65, or to use small cameras such as an iPhone to create an entire film, or to work with the Alexa or the Red. It doesn’t matter. I think all these are tools to create and they’re all vital. The more we have the better and well-rounded we’ll be as filmmakers.”

David Bowie

Advice for artists: “Never work for other people…always, always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt, that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you co-exist with the rest of society… And the other thing I would say is that if you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth and when you don’t feel that you’re feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

(via dedpxl.com)

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha: Buildings and Words” is a short-length documentary, commissioned by MOCA, about Ruscha’s extraordinary body of work. The film is written and directed by Felipe Lima and narrated by Owen Wilson.

“When they talk about Ed they describe him as ‘cool’ and, yes, he’s cool and, yeah, the places he paints or photographs are usually in Los Angeles. He’s lived here for over 60 years after all. I’m not going to try to explain Ed’s work — we’ve only got a few minutes here. But I am going to show you as much as I can and there’s a lot, so buckle up.”


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Design

With media banned by the IOC from using GIFs or live streamed video, The New York Times got especially creative. Here are some cool ways they showed just one athletes achievements the Rio Olympics, which ended yesterday:

rio-olympics-nytimes-1

Caption: “Usain Bolt and the fastest men in the world since 1896 — on the same track”
Source: @nytimes for nytimes.com

rio-olympics-nytimes-2

Caption: “How Usain Bolt came from behind again and won gold”
Source: @nytimes for nytimes.com; also see another article on this recommended by Kottke

rio-olympics-nytimes-3

Caption: “Usain Bolt surged late to win the men’s 100 meters for the third time in a row”
Source: @nytimes for nytimes.com

rio-olympics-nytimes-4

Caption: “Bolt reacted .01s faster today than in 2012, but he was still almost last out of the blocks”
Source: @nytgraphics for nytimes.com


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Web

Choose your own adventure. Photo: Aaron Proctor

Choose your own adventure. Photo: Aaron Proctor

Illustrator and filmmaker Matt Busch shared a concern that many people have been having recently: with all the social media out there, why bother keeping up your own website?

Having been involved with websites for over twenty years now, where social networks come and go, here are my two cents:

  1. Ownership

    With your own site, you own your site’s domain name and all its content.

    With social media, you’re a guest.

  2. Rules

    With your own site, you make your own rules. If you want to collect e-mail addresses, you can (but be cool with out-outs to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003). If your online store has the whole pipeline under your purview (e.g. Stripe), you can know more about your customers and can offer better customer service.

    With social media, you got fans, friends, and followers — but that’s it. You can’t pull e-mails. You can’t easily export. You can have the most followers around, but if they don’t go somewhere else to help (e.g. buy a product, support a crowd-fund, etc.), how valuable are they?

  3. Control

    You control the design, paradigms, and priorities. If you want someone to see something, you’re not playing into algorithms whether or not a newsfeed reached your entire audience.

    With social media, you often need to pay to reach people. You have to compete with other noise in news feeds. Time of day of posting or frequency of posting is suddenly important.

  4. Synergy

    With our own website, you can do a “domino effect” to save time and get a better ROI for your effort. If you update your site first, get the permalink you want, and post to social media natively with that permalink, you can then get people coming back to the best online headquarter — your own site.

    Side note: each social media follower doesn’t like jumping from one to another. Embrace native posting to catch some eyeballs, like your photo and video within Facebook or within Twitter, not via YouTube. A link to a photo gallery on Facebook from a tweet on Twitter is a painful jump; a YouTube embed on Facebook fails to deliver versus a video using Facebook Video. Simply providing an outbound link for “more info” at your (hopefully) fast, mobile-friendly site is the win-win.

  5. Discoverability

    With your own site, you can best curate your links to be easily findable on other social networks. Matt Workman of the Cinematography Database recently did a video podcast about what he looks for in websites — and one top tip was to quickly and clearly link to one’s own Instagram. (Some say Instagram is the new showreel: sell yourself in short but frequent clips, rather than yearly reels or longer work.)

    By having the official site link to the right account, you’ve saved people time searching the often hard-to-search social networks to reach you. You’ve also tackled verification by yourself — it must be true if it’s your official site — and you’ve interconnected one or more social networks by making yourself even easier to follow or contact.

If your website or workflow isn’t working for you, FWD:labs can help.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Film + Web

Part of a series of posts about great film, web, or design artists and their work abuzz online and in-person.

Visual effects shop The Mill worked with JemFX, Performance Filmworks and Keslow Camera to create a car rig called Blackbird for photoreal CG cars. Why shoot one car at a time, or be limited to one car in a shot, when you can more easily combine practical and digital effects into the same workflow. Lots of talk about how this is a game changer.

Rally Interactive's National Parks Case Study

Interactive studio Rally goes above and beyond with their work and their case studies, like this one for their National Parks app for National Geographic. They give you some great insight into their thinking process for some complex work and even touch upon mistakes as lessons learned. That level of transparency is a cool approach, surely appealing to clients who appreciate that candor. It’s also an inspiring move to run any business where it’s okay to share what works alongside what doesn’t.

Codrops: Collective Examples

Codrops has a consistently impressive blog (and e-mail newsletter) that highlights web design and web development resources. The updates often involve hosted demos of cutting-edge work (e.g. an interactive mall map and multi-layer page reveal). Codrops also frequently highlights inspirational websites (e.g. a site dedicated to flag design and Quechua’s Lookbook) and — like this series on our blog — blurbs about home-grown digital tools that rock the boat. It’s a little tricky to subscribe to their e-mail list, but just click the mailbox icon in their header to get their posts via e-mail.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



  • Published in Web

Climb up in style, just like Wal Green circa 1950. (Creative Commons / Blue Mountains Library / Flickr.)

Climb up in style, just like Wal Green circa 1950. (Creative Commons / Blue Mountains Library / Flickr.)

One of our clients recently asked about the point of organic content like a on-going blog or social media strategy, rather than just paid ads. They recently re-branded and wanted to get ahead in search engine ranks along with grow their social media followers.

Instead of paying for results, they’ve got options. Create some of your own content on a regular basis, and you’ll have a longer and cheaper win-win.

To elaborate, here is part of our consulting effort to help articulate fast and cost-effective ways to climb the ranks with two kinds of great content: their product pages as well as blog posts about their products.

Paid vs. organic SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

1

Paid means always paying for placement and therefore some kind of result

Organic means paying once (for original content) and rising naturally for free


2

Paid placement means selling / sharing a product

Organic placement means selling / sharing a story that also sells a product and brand awareness


3

Paid (for content that isn’t new every week) means no fringe benefit for “freshness”

Organic inherently gets extra credit from search engines because it shows your site is “fresh”


All ads* aren’t the same (* Search and social ads)

4

Paid ads/keywords for evergreen, timeless pages will focus around search networks (e.g. Google AdWords, Bing Ads)

5

Paid ads/boosts for organic, timely posts will focus around social media networks (e.g. Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads)

6

Bulking up pages may look like clutter (e.g. Product Detail 1, Product Detail 2, Product Detail 3, etc.) …

… but we can easily repeat products if the angle of the blog content is different each time (e.g. best food in Los Angeles, best art in Los Angeles, best beaches in Los Angeles, etc.)


Why paid and organic is a win-win for marketing

7

Destination content provides you with timeless content: products for sale

Blog content provides you with timely content: stories to encourage sales


8

If just paid, you have to keep paying to keep you rank up.

If just organic, you keep producing content to keep your rank up.


But if both are done well, the result is fast and can last. One could even scale back from doing paid ads and stay afloat with a good (free) ranking in search.

9

Other sites & influencers might not link to product pages as much as they might link to blog posts (which in turn are linking to the product pages).

10

Content is king: it informs your social media posts, your e-mail marketing blasts, and your brand’s voice.

It might not convert new customers as well as a destination landing page …

… but it might be better at getting customers in the door, knowing your name.


###

If this was helpful or you have a need for organic/paid marketing, drop us a line.


Author

Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site
Contact



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