Get Started in Making Videos for Social Media

Video is king in today’s world of social media. Engagement is better with video content (hootsuite), so this should be a top priority when it comes to content creation. But whether you are in a startup, small business or even a multinational, budgets still exist. And if you are trying to fill your social media calendar with video content, external video production companies aren’t always feasible to use all the time as the costs will get out of control. Don’t get me wrong, for certain productions you need a proper crew, especially for content such as national campaigns and TV spots. However if we want to fill our social media calendar up with those 30 second shorts, why not shoot it yourself?

If you are looking to get started, I’ve put together a list of what you will need to start shooting fast. The gear listed is intended to be for quick and easy shooting without requiring a crew to help set up, or a lot of time in post production.

1. Camera and Lens 

This is going to be your starting point and where most of the budget is going to go to. First I just want to say, don’t even consider a DSLR. Their time has passed. If you are just starting out, you have a clean slate to get in to a good mirrorless ecosystem. 

For cameras and lens, I would recommend the Fujifilm X-T3 with the 18-55 lens. This would be my first choice and a big reason for this is it can shoot 4K 60fps. 4K resolution is great because if you are exporting to just regular HD, you can zoom, or punch in a little bit in your footage without much losing image quality. 60fps is great because most of the time you will be exporting video to 24/25 frames , so this allows you to get those cinematic, slow motion type of shots. The X-T3 will also save you time in post productions because the colour profiles are good straight out of the camera. Less time tweaking colours will really speed up your workflow.

Another great camera would be the Sony A7III. This camera gives you that super cinematic full frame look, and more depth of field. You only get 4K 30fps, but you can shoot in HD at 60fps. Keep in mind that lenses will be more expensive and bigger than the XT3 which is a APS-C sensor. You can pick up the 24-70mm f4 lens to go with the camera if you don’t want to break the bank.

Both of these cameras are great not only for video, but also for stills photography as well, and that’s why they are my main recommendations. The lenses I’ve recommend have a very versatile focal length so they will capture anything from wider interior shots, to close up portraits. Video eats up battery life, so don’t forget to pick up a few spares for the camera you choose. 

XT3 with Lens Kit:

Sony A7III:

24-70mm f4 for Sony:

2. Sound 

Sound is the most important thing on this list. I know it sounds crazy, but if you watch a video with bad image quality and great sound, you can still get your message across. Put it the other way around, and your message might get lost. I would recommend the Sennheiser wireless lapel system and this easily plugs right into the camera. Wireless lapel mics are great because you can get good quality sound without being anchored to your subject. I would also recommend the Rhode Video Micro if you are recording sound where a lapel isn’t practical. You can mount this to the hot shoe on top of your camera.  For the ultra cheap option, you can use your iPhone and plug a mic straight into it. You will need to sync audio later as your phone and camera aren’t speaking to each other.

Speaking of syncing audio, external sound recorders are good, but this will require extra set up time, configuration, and of course, audio syncing. The benefits of an external sound recorder is that it gives you more flexibility and will allow you to plug in multiple microphones. I’ve used a Zoom H6 and can highly recommend it.

Sennheiser wireless lapel system:

Rhode Video Micro:

Zoom H6:

3. SD cards 

When recording in 4K 60fps, just any SD card won’t do. Don’t buy the cheapest with biggest capacities, you will need something that can handle the high bitrates from 4k video. I would recommend SanDisk cards like the Extreme Pro. Remember to buy these from reputable sources. If they are extremely cheap, be wary as they might be fakes.

SanDisk Extreme Pro:

3. Lighting 

If you are just starting out, I would get a lighting kit so you can get everything you need in one go. Aputure make some great quality lights and you can get up to 3 of them in a kit. You will also need with light stands to mount them, and some diffusers to soften the light. Having portable lighting will allow you to get good looking shots in situations that would otherwise be difficult to do so. This could include things like shooting with a window behind you, a dark room in an office, or around fluorescents.

Aputure Light Kit:

Light Stands:

Light Diffusers:

4. Video editing software

The thing to consider when picking software, is knowing if you want to get better at video editing and have this as a skill you can keep building on in the future. I’ve split up this list as free programs, and pro programs. There are in-between programs, but I can’t think of any I would recommend.

Free Programs

If you are getting into video and want to invest as little as possible to get started, try out either of these programs. They will let you put together simple videos, and if you don’t need anything super demanding or technical, they will get the job done.

  1. Windows Movie Maker

This program will get you started and you can get it for free if you are on Windows. It will allow you to cut and edit clips together with very basic functionality. Super easy to use, but also super limited.

  1. iMovie

The free equivalent if you are using a Mac. Same story as the above.

Pro Programs

If you really want to build on video as a skill, jump in the deep end and start with one of these programs. This will save you putting hours and hours into iMovie for example, and having to relearn as soon as you are ready for something more advanced. You will save a lot of time by just starting here and sticking with one of them. These programs have a lot going on, so the more time you put into them, the easier they will be to use.

  1. Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro is what I use and what I would recommend. You can do everything you need with this program, and if you are already in the creative industry, chances are you already have the program as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud software package.

  1. Final Cut Pro

If you are using a Mac, you can consider Final Cut Pro. In my opinion it is a bit better optimised than what Adobe Offers, but you are restricted to using a Mac and the hardware that comes with it. If you really like the Mac ecosystem and plan to continue on using a Mac, definitely consider it.

5. Tutorials 

Once you get all the gear and software, you will need to learn how to use it. The best way to do it, is whenever you have a question, put it into YouTube and find a video that walks you through it. This is how I taught myself to make videos, and you can do the same. Unless you are looking for something incredibly specific or advanced that you can’t find anywhere else, avoid paying for any guides. Questions like, how do I set up my lighting, or how do I use Premiere Pro can all be answered through videos on YouTube. Of course, you can also contact me if you have any questions. You won’t be able to learn how to do this all in a day, but once you pick up the skills, you’ll be an invaluable asset to your team.  


Remember, we aren’t trying to make huge budget productions here. If you are a smaller marketing agency, this is enough for you to visit your clients new cafe, film the coffee machines and interview the baristas for that 30 second targeted Facebook ad. If you are a large corporate looking to fill out your social media calendar, this will do the job of filming some of the managers for a few career profiles on LinkedIn. Keep in mind that all the gear here is expandable as well. You won’t need to replace anything, you can just add things to your kit if the need arises. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

I’ve added Amazon links to make it easier to learn more or even purchase the products I am recommending. I am an Amazon Affiliate and I do receive payment for any products bought through referral links.

A Case Study in Cracker Barrel: Rewriting the Rules for Social Media Moderation?

Originally published March 25th, 2017 for an assignment blog. 

Having a presence on social media (SM) can appear to be a necessity. If your target audience is searching for you and you're not there, chances are your competitors are going to be the ones popping up in your place. With this in mind, a business may seem to dive headfirst into SM, using only the experience they have had with their own personal pages. Most of the time if you just use common sense, there really isn't any harm done. If you're the pizza shop around the corner, the boutique clothing store, or maybe the local pub, common sense will go a long way. It's just another way to let your customers know about what's going on.

That being said, if you follow a publicly listed restaurant chain with 639 stores in United States, with a revenue of over 2.58 billion, you would have certain expectations for how they would act on social media. Firstly, you would probably assume they know a lot more about SM than you do. So when we see a large organisation do something we wouldn't, we are all pretty quick to judge. It is easy to point the finger and say "You're doing it wrong.", watch the fallout from their decisions and say "I could've done better" - especially if you manage/moderate social media for work. 

The emergence of Web 2.0 has seen opinions like these come out in full force. Not only are we saying we would've done it differently, but we make sure to let them know how badly they screwed up. There is no more one way communication, everything done on SM is two way. From the things you post, to the things you do, your stakeholders will be able to add their opinion to the view of others.

The Cracker Barrel incident demonstrates the full force of Web 2.0. It started off on Facebook when Brad Reid Byrd simply asked, "Why did you fire my wife?" to Cracker Barrel's official Facebook page. Understandably, they never gave reasons why (probably due to legal issues), but they never acknowledged Brad. The post blew up with advocates for Brad asking why his wife was fired. Now their SM is filled with people up in arms trying to get 'justice' for Brad's wife. Cracker Barrel, even two weeks after the incident, have still not responded. Here is a good example:

Screenshot from Cracker Barrel's Facebook Page

Screenshot from Cracker Barrel's Facebook Page

An innocent post about pancakes. What could go wrong? Well, the post received over 19,000 comments. And after reading over a thousand of them, I was having trouble finding a post that had anything to do with pancakes.

Even the recipe posted for 'Mixed Berry Pancakes' require the tears of Brad's wife as an ingredient. Screenshot from Cracker Barrel's Facebook.

Even the recipe posted for 'Mixed Berry Pancakes' require the tears of Brad's wife as an ingredient. Screenshot from Cracker Barrel's Facebook.

This situation could have totally have been avoided. As soon as the topic started ramping up, Cracker Barrel could have just merely acknowledged that they were maybe looking into the issue, or trying to see what happened. After all, going silent is simply unacceptable from organisations in crisis, it's pretty much textbook what not do in crisis management theory. Their silence has escalated something that was potentially small and harmless, to derailing their entire SM efforts. We can see it on their official Instagram too:

Screen shot of Cracker Barrel's Instagram.

Screen shot of Cracker Barrel's Instagram.

And even Twitter:

Compilation from Tweet Reach.

Compilation from Tweet Reach.

Brad's wife is still a trending topic on social media. However it should be noted, that it is dying down. If we take a look at Google Trends, we can see it is starting to settle:

Data from Google Trends.

Data from Google Trends.

First impressions is that Cracker Barrel has shown exactly what not to do when dealing with a potential crisis that can spiral out of control. But we need to still remember that SM is still incredibly young relative to traditional communication channels. Facebook and Twitter have both only been open to the public for a little over 10 years. Instagram, launched in 2010, making it less than a decade old. The young age of SM makes it the wild west of communications. There are countless academic journals, how to books for utilising SM, and theories that try to portray an understanding of the platform but these theories and guides are changing all the time. Even professionals don't have it completely figured out. However, it would be remiss to think that Cracker Barrel have abandoned strategy all together.

Only they know if this crisis has even affected their sales or bottom line, and it is yet to be seen if this whole fiasco has even affected their stock price. The strategy of silence is a new one in the online space. However it seems Cracker Barrel is intent on waiting it out, not providing a single acknowledgement to the crisis at all. Regardless, this crisis is going to provide a great case study depending on the outcome. Will it show that huge viral crises can potentially have no negative affect to the actual business? Is the online crusading for Brad's wife just Kony 2012 levels of slacktivism? A company this large not even issuing a corporate statement due to a SM crisis is unprecedented. Has Cracker Barrel rewritten the book for social media crisis communications? 

Update May 27th, 2017: Cracker Barrel have still not responded and their content is still being hijacked with Brad's wife comments.

Update August 23rd, 2017: Brad's wife comments are actually dying down with some users even telling others to "get over it". Very interested in how this is going to play out.