How I Launched a Web Video Series in 48 Hours


Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show and CNN, and the host of a tech talk radio show on SiriusXM. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.

Recently, I launched a new web video series called “Socam Show,” which focuses on my favorite new mobile video app, Socialcam. If you’ve never heard of Socialcam, here’s a quick explanation: it’s like Instagram for video, a way to make videos quickly and share them immediately with friends, family, and your existing social media networks. The show itself is an exciting and new idea for me–I’ve never hosted a weekly, online web series before!

The format of the show is that it’s driven by community-generated content by showing off cool, funny and unique videos by other users. As well, the show aims to introduce novice-to-intermediate Socialcam users to advanced features in a fun and engaging way. It’s right in line with my brand and messaging, because it helps people to maximize their use of tech and improve their lives.

I had the idea on a recent Wednesday morning while talking with Shy Mukerjee, the web editor of my website, and together we launched the show by that Friday afternoon. From concept, to prototype, to finished episode, we were able to iterate quickly because we had the experience, insight and drive to launch the show as quickly as possible.

I’m happy to announce that so far, it’s been a success! Our first episode generated 70 comments and almost 100 “likes,” so we’ve clearly hit upon a successful formula that the community responds to. Here are the steps we took and how we did it.

1. Figure out where to attack

Shy and I took a look at an area of our social media strategy that was exploding–in just a few weeks, we’d managed to generate almost 40,000 followers, rapidly outpacing the growth of our twitter, Facebook, or even web presence. It was clear that, if we extrapolated the data, we could have 100,000 followers by the end of the year easily.

What do you do with that many people looking at your content? For us, we couldn’t keep simply posting quick videos of tech products we saw at events, we needed to step it up to the next level. We decided a weekly show our followers could come to rely on would be the best way to connect on  a regular basis with our fans.

2. Have a concept and apply it

A show in and of itself isn’t particularly exciting. There needs to be something more! So we had to come up with a formula to go with the show. The one we picked, somewhat arbitrarily, was that we would show off two user videos and one new feature of Socialcam every week. It wasn’t something we had spent too much time thinking about, the important thing was to settle on an idea and put it out there.

Too many times, people will get caught up on the production and concept. When it comes to generating content, simple and straightforward formulas work best. Make it simple to start, and then build from there. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way.

3. Iterate fast

The first night we put ourselves in front of the camera, we filmed three 15 minute episodes back-to-back-to-back. This was important so that we could begin to gauge how it was working, not just in one episode but over the course of multiple episodes. This way, we could see if the formula felt more like a one-hit-wonder or if it felt like it had real staying power.

4. Seek feedback, lots of it, from people you trust

I trust Shy, which is why we’re always bouncing ideas off of each other. Sometimes they’re crazy, sometimes just crazy enough to work. I have lots of other people I bounce ideas off too, it’s an important part of how I gauge what’s worth pursuing and what’s worth leaving on the cutting room floor.

After we put up our first episode of the show, we solicited feedback as well by specifically asking viewers to leave comments and send us emails with specifics about what worked, what didn’t, and what they’d like to see in the future. By sifting through dozens of these comments we were able to move into future episodes of the show with a greater understanding of what we needed to change and how to do it.

5. Don’t hesitate to revise your work

After the comments from the first two episodes, we decided to leave the third (which we filmed that same Thursday night before even launching the show) on the cutting room floor. There was just so much feedback we felt like we had to incorporate some suggestions as well as respond to other comments that were made.

It seemed irresponsible to not revise that episode. This is about paying attention to your community and caring—when doing video you really have to shoot for that personal connection and think of the camera as an actual viewer, not a device.

So we filmed the episode again, and then again, until we felt like we’d taken the feedback to heart and really responded to it in a positive way. This was no easy task! Each episode runs almost 15 minutes and requires both preparation and a ton of concentration. But in order to fully integrate the feedback into our show, it was absolutely essential.

These are 5 tips that helped me launch a successful web series, but maybe you feel like you need help in other areas. What is preventing you from launching your show, blog, company, twitter? I’m here to help, so leave your comments and questions below and I’ll be sure to help out!
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