Breaking Down Video with Visit LEX and Amelia Island

Video has become a key strategy for almost every brand and publisher - 60% of marketers used videos in their social media marketing in 2016 and 73% of marketers plan on increasing their use of videos this year. But is it just hype or based on actual data? Consumers are definitely turning to this content more - and Cisco projects this will only increase with online videos accounting for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019. Plus, according to Animoto, 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product or service than read about one.

However, video for the sake of video is not going to get marketing teams anywhere - it’s a big investment of time and resources to strategize, create and promote content that people actually want to watch. Take the time to think of the big-picture goals you have for your video output. Are you wanting to drive sales with video? Build a community or fanbase? Be a resource of information? Or are you just hoping to miraculously be the next viral hit? Each of these would suggest using the different platforms and tactics outlined below.

Here, you’ll find advice to keep in mind when launching or growing a video strategy along with interviews with two travel marketers, Kate Harris (Director of Digital Content for Amelia Island CVB) and Gathan Borden (VP of Marketing at Visit LEX), who are both leading the way with their video marketing efforts.

Content Sources

First, ask yourself how you intend to create or source video. This is going to all depend on your budgets, team makeup, and goals.

  • In-house: $

In-house content can take many forms - from training or hiring employees to be able to go out and capture your destination to even tapping current employees to be the digital personality of your brand. In-house content creation always takes some initial investment in tech and possibly training. However, unless you’re hiring specifically for a video team or planning to build out a set, overhead costs are fairly low after the initial investment. More than a financial investment though, this takes a real time investment from potentially multiple members of the team.



Jordynn and Sharon (also jointly referred to by fans as “Shordynn”) are marketing managers at ColourPop and also the brand’s in-house personalities. They star in product swatch videos on Youtube, host Facebook live shows, and even run the brand’s Instagram stories in a very personal and raw style - mistakes and all.

Amelia Island

Amelia Island’s destination marketing team also features their team in their video content. What at first began out of necessity has become a key part of their strategy.

“The videos feel more authentic,” Harris, said. “It doesn’t feel like an ad, because it has people who genuinely are excited and love this place. We have watched other people do stuff we liked, and honestly, we thought some of it came across so commercial and that is not really us. Our positioning is that here is this really cool enchanted little place. It’s a little bit different, it’s a little bit quirky, and you may not have heard of it, but wow, you will really like it. So how can we bring that spirit and passion to life in our content? Well, we’re passionate about [Amelia Island], because we live here, because we know the people and these businesses and this is our home, so we are going to be the best ones to get that message across.”

Harris said that outside of a little coaching, nobody on the team has been professionally trained for presenting, and she encourages marketers to just jump in.

“Why not you?” Harris said. “This is the internet age. Everybody has a platform. Some of our pieces that have done the best, that people have liked the best, are the ones that I have thought ‘Oh god, that one I was so tired’ or that we didn’t even prepare for that. We just kind of did it. If you are a person who lives there, it gives you a certain perspective and some credibility, which is important considering that people now more and more want to feel like a local when they travel. I will just encourage people just to do it. It is just a little video you know. It is not going to kill you.”

What to keep in mind:

First, make sure the employee is comfortable being a public face of the brand and that you’re comfortable with them being seen as a spokesperson. Are they publishing offensive posts or do they have tendencies to get into arguments on Twitter? Then, depending on your brand, they may not be the person for you. Likewise, going from thinking you’ll be working behind the screen to then being centerstage can sound fun but turn out overwhelming or stressful. Make sure that your employee understands this before diving in.

Initially, you may need to invest in your staff’s media know-how. Some brands like Benefit Cosmetics have created specific training days to learn equipment and get comfortable in front of cameras.

Lastly, what are the rules and limitations for that employee? Will you be tagging their personal accounts to add that extra layer of authenticity? Will they only be a first-name creator who can’t comment back as themselves? Will you, Buzzfeed-style, have them create pages for their brand personas? What happens if/when they leave the company? These are some topics you may want to think through as your platform grows.  

  • User-generated: $

83 percent of marketers said they’d like to create more video content if they didn’t have restraints such as time and resources. That’s where user-generated content can be immensely beneficial. Not only that, all the other benefits of UGC are here: increased authenticity and therefore trust and engagement.

  • Influencers: $$-$$$

Half of 18- to 34-year old YouTube subscribers would drop what they’re doing to watch a new video by their favorite creator. Many destinations and travel brands are already working with influencers whether for press stays or promotional campaigns. Just make sure your use of their content is written into your agreement.

  • Professional: $$$

Remember: Video doesn’t have to always be filmed! On Facebook especially, photos with text animated on top are just as shareable.

Key Digital Video Platforms

When it comes to video, the first platform that comes to mind for many consumers is Youtube. However, for marketers, it seems more are creating content for Facebook first. For teams wanting to reach Facebook audiences, those native videos are said to be shared 10x more. Just keep in mind that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound and captions on Facebook video ads increase video view time by an average of 12%.

On Youtube, more than 500 million hours of videos are watched every day. Plus, in an average week, YouTube reaches more 18+ year-olds on mobile alone during prime-time TV hours than any cable TV network. However, if your goal is to grow a real Youtube audience, that can be a much longer and difficult game that takes a consistent upload schedule and content.

Of course, video lives on other platforms like Instagram and Twitter too. Over on Twitter, Native videos drive 2.5x more replies, 2.8x retweets, and 1.9x favorites than sharing links to videos uploaded elsewhere.

“I would say for us, Facebook is where our audience is,” Harris said. “Because we are so small, we really have to focus in on what works best. If we did all the platforms, we wouldn’t be able to give them all the attention they deserve. On Facebook, we can also do so much more  with targeted promotions, and from facebook we can push back to our website and and share with our partners. Instagram does that to some extent, but for video series I would say definitely Facebook is better.”

Borden also shared how the Visit LEX team kicked off their video strategy and what tactics have worked best for them. The team has done extensive testing across platforms to understand what content works best for each.

“We know that on Instagram, while video does well, it still doesn’t outperform showcasing photos on the platform,” Borden said. “Instagram is a bit difficult because most people go to Instagram for photos. When you think about the user experience, people tend to scroll through their timeline continuously and don’t want to wait for a video to load. Plus, sometimes the thumbnail that you use for your video doesn’t always look the best based on the video you have. You can never have a thumbnail that looks as good as high-res photo that you've taken. We’ve done a lot of A/B testing on Twitter where we would direct upload the video into a tweet and then we would also provide the link to our Youtube channel, and we know that any video that is uploaded directly onto Twitter way out performs the link to our Youtube channel. I think that goes back to that people want to stay in the platform, they don’t necessarily want to get out of it.”

How did Visit LEX get started in the video world? Initially, Borden and his team launched an internal campaign called Content 365, which had the aggressive goal of posting piece of content every day on all of their social channels.

“We knew that the more that we post, the more opportunities we would have for people to engage organically with us,” Borden said. “Then, we started looking at all the content we were posting and asked ourselves, ‘How many times can you post a long-form article with a photo?’ We saw the need to get more video because we know that that’s where internet traffic is going.”

From there, his team dove right in and created 100 destination videos for Lexington last year. How?

“We did it by basically taking all of our b-roll footage cutting it into either 15 or 30 seconds clips,” he said. “We took the same clips and overlaid them with quotes from a publication or a fact about the destination. We know that sound is not often enabled on these social platforms, so it was really key for us to make sure that we had words across the video.”

Since then, the Visit LEX team has been testing more experimental video styles - from 360 to GoPros on horses.

“We recently shot our first 360-video experience using horses, which is one of our main brand pillars,” Borden said. “Our most recent video was the Ad of the Day on Adweek. We put GoPros on horses and created this series of videos called Horses Filming Horses. We created four separate videos, so people could see what a horse does on a daily basis from a horse’s perspective: running around on the farms, foals jumping around, and one of the videos is actually of a mother filming her son.”


When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of videos, there are a few metrics that stand out. First, is views. This is too often the number marketers focus on even though it really doesn’t tell you much about the content’s performance. Views can be bought or accidental. Instead, look to watch time and engagement.

“If you look at it like you would in the real world, an impression in digital to me is like if I’m in retail and somebody is walking through the door,” Borden said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that they will stay in there, and it doesn’t mean that they picked up any clothes. It just means that they walked in the door. So we really look at that view rate and how long they watched the video, because that’s a better indicator of how interested they are in the content. You can get impressions anywhere if you put money behind it, but it’s harder to get someone to actually sit there and watch.”


Visit LEX’s Gathan Borden on how destinations can kick off their video production

I tell people to make the budget the last thing that you talk about. I think you need to have a clear vision of what you want to do, because there is a lot you can do, especially with the way that mobile devices are. You can create a lot all on your own without having to spend a lot of money. Once you have a clear vision of what your video strategy is, focus on those major brand pillars that help sell your destination. Don’t try to sell the whole destination in one or two videos, break it up to get people to try and understand your destination over time.

The car company Bentley recently shot a five minute documentary on the guys who actually design their cars, and they shot the whole thing on an iPhone. I think when you look at destinations, with limited resources and limited budgets, and then you have Bentley who has a bigger marketing budget than most destinations, and they are shooting video on an iPhone, so we can actually do the same thing. That’s why I always encourage people to find out what the people outside our industry are doing with video.

When it comes to investing in equipment, start by just finding some stabilizers. When you look at an iPhone, you have the ability to do anything from timelapses to slow motion and of course regular video - all in HD quality. If you want to improve your sound, you can get a microphone through Amazon that’s pretty effective, and now you’ve got yourself a whole video production set-up. Just invest in some basic equipment to help tell that story, and you are good to go.”