Humblee Proves the Power of Video

Video is still an emerging force in corporate marketing and culture. When the founders of Humblee decided to get into the game, they also followed another growing economic trend -- young entrepreneurs who founded their own company. The founders, Aneri Shah and Zuley Clarke, responded to my questions via email:

What do you do, and why did you create this company?.

Humblee: With Humblee, we're making it easy for businesses to create online video by connecting them to an awesome, global community of video experts, i.e. videographers, editors, motion graphics artists, and producers. In our past roles, we saw video being used more and more as a successful marketing channel, but it seemed really hard to hire good video talent and to produce engaging video at scale.

So we started interviewing marketers to understand the video production process. We found that bigger companies were using traditional agencies that are better for large scale marketing campaigns, so they ended up spending months on video projects and treating them as a one-off.

A marketer at a large tech company said to us, "We spent $100K and eight months producing video last year...and never used it." As a boot-strapped company, that was pretty painful to hear.

On the other hand, smaller companies were hiring freelance videographers ad-hoc without truly understanding how to predict quality or tie the videos to marketing goals, so the videos often came out poor-quality or were not applied effectively.

For businesses, there is no easy way to search for high-quality video talent, get the right content and integrate it with their marketing goals. And for videographers, there is no easy way - outside of referrals - to connect to businesses and produce video that aligns with their marketing goals. So in June 2015, we started building a highly curated marketplace of video experts specifically for businesses shifting video needs to solve this problem.

Had either of you ever owned a business before? Even if on the side? What was the hardest part of getting it off the ground?

Humblee: We have. Two years ago, we launched an iOS app together. It's called Thirty Day Fit, a habit-forming fitness app for women. We were trying to keep up with 30-day fitness challenges on Pinterest, and we kept missing days. We thought there must be an app for this! And at the time, there wasn't.

It was a side project so it wasn't easy. It's really hard to see something as a real business or product when you're doing it on nights and weekends without pay. Especially because we were figuring stuff out as we went along. It was our first time wire-framing, designing and branding an app from scratch. So we just did what we could and took it step by step. With an investment of $3,000, we were able to outsource development, launch an app, and get over 200K downloads in two years without doing any paid marketing. It was crazy!

So you landed on corporate video, which isn't exactly the most exciting topic for many companies. What do you have to offer that others haven't in the past?

Humblee: Corporate video is changing. It used to be about big budgets, commercial-quality content and cheesy effects. But technology has had a dramatic impact. Today, anyone can pick up their phone or camera and start making videos. It's not to say that video quality no longer matters, but that it's more about how you apply the video to your market. Many businesses are starting to think about distributing video through social media, as a way to engage with and persuade their audience. They will gradually move away from thinking that video has to be ridiculously expensive, time-consuming and treated as a one-off, and can in fact be produced and distributed through multiple channels at scale.

We are building a marketplace and streamlined process that speaks specifically to that need, and video is something that social giants like Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat are just starting to figure out. As video content popularity grows over the next few years, now is the perfect time to learn from the shifting market and be part of the solution.

What kind of video performs best? And placed where? What are the big takeaways you've learned along the way?

Humblee: Shorter is better. Many times businesses will create long-form content - 10-15 minute videos - because they feel like they're getting more bang for their buck with longer videos. Which is the wrong way to think about it because editing a one-minute video can take more time and money than a five minute one.

Also engagement rates are higher with shorter videos, typically viewers drop off after the first minute of watching and continue to fall off after that. One of our clients, Work Market, got a bunch of 30s clips, one of which they ended up using on their careers page, driving traffic up by 10% in a month.

People's attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, it's crucial to get to the point quickly. Businesses are going to need to shift their thinking to engage with their audiences through video.

We've also learned that people expect to be served targeted content rather than having to search for it. Facebook has a leg up here because they have so much data on people's behavior and interests. They're already at over 8B daily video views. As video engagement skyrockets, Facebook is positioning itself to become the best place to watch and share content. The brands who take advantage of it now, while Facebook is still driving significantly more organic reach to video content (if you didn't know, now you do!), will see great benefits in the long run.

You have a stable of freelancers you work with to produce your videos. What's it like to sit at the middle of one professional style (creative, flexible) and another professional style (corporate, standard)?

Humblee: This intersection is the exciting part. Videographers don't want to just be churning out templates of video content, and viewers don't want to be watching monotonous stuff. At the same time, corporations don't want to have videos that are wildly off brand or "too creative." So how can each individual videographer make video emotional and unique without losing the company's brand? This is a cool challenge that we are excited to solve.

Not only do we want corporations to get videos that are actually effective marketing tools, we want videographers to be excited to produce compelling content. Actually, if you're an awesome videographer, editor or motion graphics, designer, you can apply to be part of our network!

Given that video marketing is moving more and more towards authentic content, we know that corporate video is slowly headed in that direction. We'll meet somewhere in the middle.