In 2023, video is democratized: anyone with a smartphone and a decent idea can make a compelling clip and maybe go viral on TikTok or Instagram, just take a look at the video marketing statistics. This is an incredible thing, and it's led to an explosion of creativity—spend just a few minutes scrolling TikTok and you'll start to wonder if the gap between a video professional and a savvy teen in their bedroom is perhaps less wide than you might've thought.
This is, of course, deceptive. Yes, anyone can now make a video—but the vast majority of content posted to these platforms goes more or less completely unseen. The algorithm only surfaces the cream of the crop. Still, it puts brands in a bind: if they want their content to be seen and shared by these audiences, they need to compete not only with each other but with every single successful content creator on the app. This is a daunting challenge—but, as countless brand success stories can attest to, far from an impossible one.
Cutting through the noise on a consistent, sustainable basis requires, more than anything, a deep sense of how these platforms work and what their audiences respond to. You need to be able to juggle a hundred variables at once: not just the differences between platform audiences but the differences between audiences within a given platform. TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook serve a vast range of sub-audiences—targeting the right one is half the battle when it comes to gaining momentum on social. And that's not to mention the fact that these audiences' preferences are in a state of almost constant flux, so that keeping on top of their shape shifting preferences can feel like playing a game of Whack-a-Mole.
This is where a quality social media video production company makes all the difference. A quality social media video production company will not only possess all the skills and know-how required to make beautiful, engaging video content—they also will possess a detailed sense of what works on any given platform at any given time. Marino's vast range of experts—in video production, PR, organic social media and beyond—have helped countless brands level up their social video presences. In the process, we've learned a ton about what works, what doesn't, and what to look out for when scoping out a social media video production company.
Social media video production companies: red flags to look out for
As mentioned, when it comes to social media video production, the actual technical skills involved in video production are the baseline. Obviously, it matters that the company you're considering can make beautiful videos with professional sound and lighting. But in the context of social media, detailed platform knowledge is just as important. (And this applies not just to B2C brands but to B2B companies and nonprofits as well.) To that end, when taking calls with social media video production companies, you're going to want to look out for the following red flags:
1) The company doesn't have a detailed grasp of the differences between the platforms
If you find yourself talking to a company that treats 'social media' as a monolith, here's some advice: run. Anyone who works with social media knows that the same video can tank on Facebook and soar on Instagram. These platforms are their own worlds, with their own unique incentive structures.
On Facebook, for instance, uplifting, quick-hit, human-led stories tend to be more successful. YouTube, meanwhile, can accommodate a much wider range of content—from snappy advertorials to an entire branded lecture series. TikTok skews younger, and its audience tends to be more receptive to flashier, funnier content.
These aren’t hard and fast rules by any means, but if the production company you're working with isn't aware of them in the first place, your campaign is effectively doomed in advance.
2) The company isn't communicating extensively with you—and cares more about views than impact
It's true that, on a basic level, what any company wants is to get their product in front of as many eyeballs as possible. But with some companies, the pursuit of virality at any cost has serious drawbacks—yes, your video might go viral, but is that viral video actually linking back to core brand tenets? Is it advancing any predefined goals (i.e., sales, awareness, newsletter sign-ups, YouTube subscriptions, etc.)?
Virality ultimately doesn't mean much if it's not significantly moving your brand's goals and story forward—which is why communication between agency and brand is so important. If you get the sense that the agency you're considering thinks they know what's best for your brand (and don't need your input at every step of the process), you might want to think again about collaborating with them.
3) The company is more focused on production than planning
At Marino, we've long felt that for a video to gain traction, the pre-production stage needs to be as (if not more) intensive than the production stage. You need to draw up your objectives in advance, confirm your scripts are laddering back to those objectives, and ensure what you're shooting is the right fit for whichever platform you're targeting. You also need to stay not just on top but slightly ahead of current trends so that your video isn't outdated before you even post it. It's a complicated, intensive process, and any social video production agency that skimps on it isn't worth your time.
If there's any common denominator here, it's curiosity (or the lack of it). A serious social media video production company is endlessly fascinated by the way trends mutate and spread on these different platforms. You need that curiosity—in abundance—to make any headway with a social campaign. It's kind of like sociology, combined with math, combined with art—you use intuition and analytics to figure out what's working, and then you apply all your creativity to making that work for your client. It's not easy—but with the right social media video production company, it'll hopefully feel like it is.