There are 3.5-billion smartphone users in the world today, according to Statista.com, which means 45% of the world’s population owns a smartphone.
With mobile being the world’s most accessible technology device, the shift towards mobile strategies has prompted many industries to instinctively focus on mobile content relevant to market behaviour.
Mark Egan, a former BBC video journalist, is no stranger to compelling video storytelling. In fact, Egan was one of the Corporation’s first self-shooting video journalists, serving at the national broadcaster for 14 years.
Today, Egan is one of the world’s most recognised mobile journalists (Mojos), putting his in-depth understanding of the mobile media landscape to good use with Purple Bridge Media, who provide a range of media training courses for mobile journalists.
It comes as no surprise that Egan spends most of his energy training people to transition smoothly from traditional video storytelling to mobile media content creation.
We had a chat with Egan, who refers to the mobile phone as the “Swiss Army Knife of Journalism”.
“I love video,” Egan says. “For years I’ve been training journalists and media professionals to create videos. In the past, after the training course, many people would struggle to get access to cameras and their enthusiasm waned. Now, everyone has a smartphone. They can go from idea, to shooting, to editing and sharing on one device, which they already own. For me, that democratisation of media is exciting.
“Everyone has a smartphone. They can go from idea, to shooting, to editing and sharing on one device”
“The mobile phone does lots of things well and fits in your pocket. It’s only going to get better, which makes it such an exciting field to work in.”
Egan had been creating mobile stories for many years, and is well placed to comment on the evolution of Mojo over the years.
“Mojo is essentially using the mobile ecosystem to tell stories anywhere, at any time, in any way. Many people think mojo is all about the technology. In fact, it’s all about getting the technical hurdles out of the way to allow more people to tell more stories in a creative and flexible way. It has evolved to take in other devices [like 360 cameras] and towards creating stories for mobile audiences – not just mimicking traditional TV-style formats.”
As more and more content is consumed on digital platforms – through mediums like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – more businesses and organisations outside of the traditional media industry are looking at the value of mobile media capturing.
Egan thinks more organisations outside of the traditional media industry should be looking at Mojo as a way of generating content.
“Everyone is in the media industry now whether they like it or not. If you are a business or a charity, you need to build a relationship with customers and supporters. The best way to do that is with video. Mobile video is far easier to learn than big, complicated cameras and you do not have to carry heavy kit around with you.
“A PR officer, store manager or social media officer can easily grab engaging, high-quality content on phones. There is no excuse. It is the simplest, most cost-efficient and flexible way of generating content. It’s crazy how many organisations are squandering what is basically a studio in your pocket.”
“A PR officer, store manager or social media officer can easily grab engaging, high-quality content on phones”
After being exposed to so many large-scale organisations and Mojo conferences around the world, Egan believes mobile storytelling has more to do with the mindset than the devices and the accessibility of the subjects and style of mobile content.
“A lot of mobile journalism is about a mindset rather than devices. A lot of mobile journalists like to tell stories that are often being missed by traditional media. I also think much of the storytelling is more intimate, with the reporter remaining low-key and letting the subjects of the piece have the limelight.
“The main trend I see is making stories ‘on mobile, for mobile’. In other words, when your audience is mainly consuming on mobile, it often makes sense to create in the same medium it is being consumed. As augmented reality becomes more popular, it will get harder to use traditional cameras and still fit the style of content on social platforms. Put simply, it’s easier to shoot Instagram stories on your phone using the filters, rather than complicated workflows with big cameras.”
When it comes to marketing strategies, the ease of mobile media generation and popularity of social media has gone hand in hand with the growth of influencer marketing, with popular online personalities having a strong influence on a brand perception, but how can brands best make use of influencers through mobile storytelling?
Egan recognises that brands can harness their own following to curate some great stories, with some direction.
“Too many brands have influencers effectively doing a sales job for their product. It is far more elegant to tell a great story that happens to involve your brand, rather than have it rammed down the viewers’ throats. Phone content is often seen as more natural and authentic, so it works well for this. Also, I think brands could crowdsource their content more. We have seen under lockdown how members of the public and experts can be remotely directed to shoot some good footage on their phones.”
“We have seen under lockdown how members of the public and experts can be remotely directed to shoot some good footage on their phones”
While, like many, Egan is currently under lockdown, making it difficult for him to conduct his training courses in the traditional way, he is working hard on two online courses, which will be available soon.
Egan is also conducting training courses via Zoom for major broadcasters, who “suddenly seem to be very interested in making sure everyone has the skills to create quality content on their smartphones from home. If this horrible situation has proven anything, it’s that you need to be able to create content yourself if needs be.”