Social Media

How our video content reached one million people in four days without spending a dime on ads or influencers

The last few days have been interesting. HireHunt’s ‘Fresh Grad Guide to Emails’ video content has spread fast and resulted in an average increase of 380% in daily applicant sign-ups and many sales leads from five different countries just in the first few days from 6 thousand organic shares.

Content creation is not just a marketing device; for startups, if done right, it works as a business development tool as well.

We got lots of messages, comments and emails with the same question: Who’s your agency? How did you do it?
We worked hard for three months, then we clicked ‘publish’.

That’s the short version.

The slightly longer version I wanted to share with other entrepreneurs who also ask themselves these questions:
How can we compete for attention in the middle of all the noise? How can a startup produce content that stands out against other companies that are much larger, with much more money, more reach, more influence, more connections to gatekeepers?

I believe authenticity, storytelling and resourcefulness can help startups’ content compete.

1 – Authenticity

Authenticity wins, simply because there’s so little of it available. It’s valuable. It’s the reason brands pay influencers, to borrow their authenticity and have relevance to target consumers. You can’t buy authenticity, you can only rent it. And with every rental it smells a bit weirder.

At the heart of our content strategy for the Fresh Grad Guide is to be 100% authentic and try to be the mentor that we all wish we had when we first graduated, when we didn’t understand what was going on after we suddenly found ourselves in the concrete jungle of work.

Tonality was key. We did not want to sound like a washing machine manual. Not like a teacher who grows a ponytail and sits at the edge of the desk to seem cool. As with the platform itself, our content had to be an experience like spending time with someone fun and experienced who can show you the ropes and be transparent with you.

All around the world, young job-seekers are constantly bombarded with repetitive promises of ‘improve your CV’, get your ‘dream job’, ‘take the first step up your career ladder’, etc. But the reality we discovered is: If you’re a fresh graduate, the job market hates you. Just for being a fresh graduate. On so many occasions you get treated like you’re not prepared for the work force, not professional, lacking skills that you weren’t equipped with at university. And you’re always at blame.

Also on the side of applicants, there are so many unrealistic expectations that get shattered on the grounds of first work experiences. So we decided to neither turn a blind eye to this reality nor paint a rosy picture. And the Fresh Grad Guide campaign doesn’t stop at this piece of video content to help fresh grads on their path. This is just the beginning.

2 – Storytelling

We didn’t want this to be another ‘advice’ video. We wanted to tell a good story, make it rich and insightful, yet fun and humorous and at the same time, stay engaging throughout its length since there is so much to be said.
Our creative approach was to speak the language of the internet, not the language of recruitment. So we chose a 100% original concept and turned an email thread into a story; an everyday drama that most employees live. What’s amazing to us is to see managers and mid-level employees engage with it as much as fresh grads, with hundreds of comments praising the insights and relevance.

Generic posts lead to generic brands, and generic brands are forgotten in milliseconds. Whether you’re doing it in house or partnering with a creative agency, it’s critical with content to be able to tell a story that connects with people on a human level.

3 – Resourcefulness

When you don’t have the big budgets, you have to Do It Yourself (DIY). And within that limitation, you must utilise every resource you have. A lot of creativity comes out of that very limitation as well. We shot multiple scenes in different sections of our office. We made deals with cafes and a book store to use their locations. We shot guerrilla style in the street, shooting scenes as fast as possible so we don’t attract the wrong kind of attention.

Everyone in the team went above and beyond. I did the VO. I cowrote the script with our creative director May ElNaggar. Nevine Nashed, our head of quality control, acted. Our content executive, Karim Helmi, is the DOP, grader, sound man and animator all in one. Both May and Karim coedited. Tasneem, our graphic designer, acted as the AD at times and others helped with many production details. May dug up the right library music after days of searching, then cut it up with the edit in a way that keeps the plot points interesting. And ultimately, she directed and led the production. And it all came together with the right cast, Ezz Kassem, who did a stellar job with his minimal, natural performance.

Startups have a massive edge with speed of execution and the ability to move fast on decisions that might take larger companies (with more to lose) months of hesitation and debates (usually in long email threads, ironically). So let that be your your start-up leverage.

Now we will start giving our video a little boost, to push it more beyond its organic reach. We also will continue our campaign in other forms. Thanks to those who reached out with either feedback or questions. Thanks to everyone who supported and continues to support our vision. Here’s to the underdogs who can create a lot out of a little.

The article was first published on LinkedIn and has been reproduced here with author’s permission.

Basil Fateen
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