What is a micro-documentary?

Posted on: 8th February 2016 Filmmaking Short-Form Content Social Media
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We are living in the media-snacking age where it is crucial to quickly get to the point before the viewer decides to click on something else.

Micro-documentary has become one the most efficient tool to do this. This short documentary type video is characterised by its length, ranging between 1 to 10 minutes and is based on a specific subject. Due to time constraints, there is no space for establishing characters, setting conflicts and revealing the story like longer films and documentaries do.  In comparison, micro-documentaries combine cinematic filmmaking with a strong narrative employing documentary techniques and establishing a strong motivational voice.  According to Micro-Documentaries website the secret for making a powerful video lies in making ‘a strong personal connection up front or present a powerful set of images connected to a single theme with the focus on a single character, story, event, place, or process’.

This leads us to our next question: if you follow these tips will your video go viral?

The short answer is no. Unfortunately, this is an incredibly tough thing to do in today’s saturated media-landscape. In an ideal scenario, your video would reach millions of viewers in a very short period of time, making your business and products gain a tremendous exposure across different media platforms and translating into increased sales. The reality however is that most films and video-based marketing campaigns do not hit the ‘viral jackpot’, and instead end up generating low numbers of viewership, leaving the creative team wondering what went wrong.

One of the most recent examples of a very successful micro-documentary video is Always’ Run Like A Girl, released during last year’s Superbowl event drawing the attention of more than 60 million viewers. But what does make this campaign so special? The brand managed to create a campaign that challenged the stereotypical and negative expression ‘Like A Girl’ and reinvented it by establishing a strong emotional connection, as well as empowering millions of girls.

Always, very cleverly did not include any type of product promotion in the video and used regular people instead of actors, making it even more engaging and authentic. In addition, the brand chose wisely the releasing time- this was crucial for the success of this campaign, by choosing an event like Super Bowl, completely antithetical to the ‘Like A Girl’ expression, hence making their message even stronger.

As for the social media promotion and PR campaign, these were approached in a very inspiring way, as well as managed to create a lot controversy and discussion.  The idea of creating a hashtag (#LikeAGirl) to invite viewers to participate in this social matter and re-vindicate their new message, made the campaign incredibly accessible to young girls from 16 to 24 years old. This allowed them to post their own personal videos, which subsequently were used by Always to release a new film, which incorporated user-generated content. 

According to marketingmagazine.co.uk:  ‘since the launch, it’s been attached to overwhelmingly positive sentiment, becoming a symbol of female empowerment around the globe. Even the UN acknowledged the power of #LikeAGirl: in March 2015 Always received an award for the impact it had on female empowerment around the world’.

The #LikeAGirl campaign succeeded in starting a conversation about what it means to be a ‘girl’ and in doing so focused on the stereotypes around it therefore creating a cultural move that empowers young women and encourages them to take pride in being a girl, using it as a starting point, instead of a ‘limitation’, to achieve anything.

Micro-documentaries are increasingly being recognised as a valuable marketing tool that engages viewers in a different way than stylised promotional materials.  In comparison to traditional advertising media, a documentary-style video is easier to share and can reach more people, by establishing a sense of community and a shared story.


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