Go Behind the Scenes To Create Engaging Content

Every day I’m asked how companies can create content that will be engaging enough that people will take the time to consume and then share it with others.

My standard answer is that there are no silver bullets, but I do think that the more types of content you know about, the more you can consider them every time you get stuck with one of those “well what do I do now?” moments.

Today I want to talk about the power of behind the scenes content and why you should consider it.

Do you remember when DVDs first came out? Suddenly movie companies had a lot more space to fill on the media so they began filling them with behind the scenes footage.

For people into making movies like myself, I loved all this bonus content. Back in the days of Random Foo, we tried to always have an extra camera around to capture off camera moments. Now that I stream most movies, I miss having access to all this bonus content.

No matter what your industry is, people love to peek behind the curtain and see how the sausage is made. (How is that for a mashed up mix of two overly used cliche phrases?)

Recently, I shot a promotional video for Passion Hit TV and while I couldn’t afford to have a second person film a making of video, I took screen shots from the raw footage to share in a post until I could edit the video. People loved it.

This week I watched and shared a video from L.L. Bean that showed how a recent campaign took their classic catalog covers and recreated them.

This appealed to me as a photographer but also because I’m a fan of their brand. I’m not going to share their commercials, but I’ll share something like this and did so as soon as I finished watching it.

The team behind one of this year’s biggest Superbowl commercials, VW’s “The Dog Strikes Back” had a feeling the commercial would be a hit so they made this entertaining making of video to show how much work goes into a commercial like this. Best part was that they didn’t make it boring and followed one of our Content Rules of “Do Something Unexpected.”

Finally, I want to share an example of a completely different sort and that is the peek behind the scenes of what it is like to be a speaker at TED. They followed a seasoned presenter and a rookie to showcase what their experience were. As someone who does a lot of keynote speaking, this hit home for me.

So, what kind of stories can you tell that feed into the desire for behind the scenes content?

  • Start with people. Profile the employees who make the company what it is.
  • Show how your products are made. If you provide a service, show what goes into giving a customer a great experience.
  • Quirky, fun and unique are always engaging. What is different about your organization than most?
  • Any company traditions? Thirsty Thursdays or Taco Fridays? Perhaps you have a company mascot that sits on a shelf, but no one outside knows about it.

Also remember that while I showcased examples of videos and photography, this can be done through the written word as well. But, words only go so far to show people so I think to do this right you must have a visual element if you really want to make it stand out.

What are some of your favorite behind the scenes moments that you’ve seen companies share?

  • Good points CC — I loved the TED video when it came out because it really did “behind the scenes” perfectly. The music, the cut scenes, everything is about creating tension… which is exactly what a speaker must feel before going on stage at an event as big as TED.

    The VW piece is interesting but feels more “produced” to me…. especially with the scenes of the director talking to the dog via mobile… but then you get to the Cantina stuff and that’s pretty cool because you get to see something folks outside of big commercial production never see…

    • Of course it is more produced. To me it feels like they treated it almost like another commercial, but I don’t see anything wrong with that.

      I liked that they had the parts with the dog and director. Those were the pieces that I thought were “unexpected” and as a dog lover I cracked up when he told the Bloodhound he didn’t get the part. The ending with the dog covering his eyes over Darth Vader is my favorite part.

      Nothing wrong with produced if you have the budget for it.

  • Great points C.C.  Back when I was making movies we ALWAYS had a still photographer on set to capture everything, and traditional movie press kits always contained a few  “behind-the-scenes” shots.  Today I would capture it all on video too, even using mobile phones, Sony Bloggies, etc. (but alas, no more Kodak ZI8’s….).  Even before “home video” and VHS and DVD’s made room for supplemental content, the early days of PayTV created demand for “behind-the-scenes” footage. When HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and The Movie Channel only played movies (long before they introduced original series…) they started showing behind the scenes footage of how the movies were made, interviews with the filmmakers, etc., to fill the time between movies.

    Arguably, the “reality TV” boom is just a reflection of our interest in watching “the rest of the story” and not just what is scripted or performed…  So, wanting to know what really goes on at the companies and brands we admire would be a natural extension…  Many business give an “office tour” when someone shows up for a meeting.  Why not extend that “tour” to anyone by turning it into readily accessible online content…

    • Great points all around. Any filmmaker knows the power of behind the scenes.

      I love the office tour example you just raised. I’ve never understood why my old agency Campfire hasn’t done a tour of their Tiki Room or Wall of Clocks. 

  • Awesome post, C.C.!  Thanks for sharing those behind the scenes videos.

  • Great point! I know brands have a fear of looking “unpolished” or sharing too much, but I think this type of content (especially if created by a third-party, like a journalist or blogger tagging along to capture their own photos/video), is more genuine window into the brand and offers more exclusivity, which is what fans are looking for in social. 

    • The key word you mentioned is “genuine” which is the key. 

      The only reason to create or share behind the scenes content like this is to show what it is really like. If it is faked people will sniff it out and not like it at all.

      Seeing that every company has problems and goofy people reminds us that no matter how big they might be they are still like us.

  • I bet some places would be hesitant to pull the Wizard’s curtain back and “reveal their secrets,” but you’re not going to spoil the Coke formula or reveal the Colonel’s special blend of herbs and spices – going behind the scenes should be seen as an opportunity to make a deeper connection with your fans.

    And I agree completely on the need for genuine moments. While it doesn’t have to be candid, sneaky type content, it ought to be real and offer some of the truth behind whatever it is you do. That being said, I always loved how we (at Random Foo) offered our “Rumor Mill”, where we posted some Hollywood style hype about the no-budget projects we were working on. It added an element of fun to our peek behind the scenes; since we are entertainers at heart, it was only natural to have fun with it. :)(And yes, I do LOVE that photo you chose. Ironic too since I’m about to post a behind the scenes pic from an actual video shoot today… first in a LONG while.)

  • Bill Gibeault

    Good post.  ” Every Business is a Stage.”We all love to get backstage passes for concerts.  Same idea !   Thanks bg