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What Video Marketers Should Know About Creating Diverse and Inclusive Content [New Research]



What Video Marketers Should Know About Creating Diverse and Inclusive Content [New Research]

Inclusive content is no longer considered a bonus for video marketers; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is an integral component of an effective video content strategy.

According to Facebook Advertising, 64% of audiences in the US, UK, and Brazil said they would like to see more diversity. Deloitte’s Heat Test Report found 69% of brands with representation in ads saw an average stock gain of 44%.

But where does one start? Diversity isn’t something you can simply check off a list — implementing inclusive content is complex. It has many facets internally and externally in an organization and includes multiple areas that must be taken into consideration when brand and marketing teams plan and produce diverse content strategies.

Many marketers are working against legacy systems and ways of doing things that have been in practice for years, if not decades or more. What can brands and marketing teams do today to start implementing successful DEI content strategies?

At Storyblocks, a rapid video creation company, we’ve released the Diversity in Video Report to help businesses and marketers implement effective DEI content strategies. Through conducting quantitative and qualitative market analysis over a period of the last four years, we could see how the DEI landscape has evolved in video marketing and determine what the key takeaways are for brands today.

About the Diversity in Video Report

Thanks to our growing diverse video content library at Storyblocks, we’ve been given unique access to what is important to content creators and brands today. Our research analyzes over 250 million searches and over 45 million downloads from our user database of businesses, marketing teams, and individual content creators from 18 industries worldwide.

In addition to these quantitative data points, the research also includes a qualitative in-depth analysis of noteworthy brand DEI initiatives over the last few years. Through evaluating what the top global brands have done to implement DEI strategies, this qualitative study shines a light on best practices and lessons to be learned from the successes and failures of the big players in the market. We include specific examples from companies like Citi, Netflix, Sesame Street, and more.

Diversity in Video Report Findings

1. Diversity doesn’t stop at race.

Diversity is often thought of in terms of race, but our research suggests that diversity in video marketing extends beyond that. Diversity has many layers and includes diversity in faith, age, sexual orientation, ability, body type, and more in addition to racial diversity.

In 2021 the top five DEI keywords and searches by all businesses were: body diversity, elderly, Muslim, general diversity, and African American.

Body diversity, particularly the representation of plus-sized bodies, is something multiple industries prioritized in 2021. This is an area of diversity that has been historically underrepresented, with most ads showing thin body types. Today marketers are approaching this differently, highlighting the importance of body diversity in content planning.

Top DEI searches by businesses in 2021Image Source

2. There’s an increased demand for BIPOC representation in media and marketing.

Compared to 2019, there has been a 113% increase in BIPOC (Black, Indigineous, and People of Color) video searches from members and visitors, with 937,000 more searches in 2021. There has been a 195% increase in the number of BIPOC video downloads, with 2.3 million more downloads in 2021 compared to 2019.

BIPOC video searches vs. BIPOC video downloads

Image Source

This increase in demand for BIPOC representation in media is likely linked to the murder of George Floyd and the vast racial inequities that led to increased coverage of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement that took place in the spring of 2020.

This movement resulted in a global cultural awakening that led to a ripple effect on different facets of media and business. Similar to the evolution of BLM, demand for BIPOC representation in media is not a ‘moment’ — the movement is still continuing and growing today.

3. Demand for diversity is clear with an increase of over 100% in just two years.

It’s clear that brands and video marketers are getting the message and listening to consumers’ undeniable demands for representation. Many businesses have been prioritizing inclusion when producing video content in the last few years.

In 2021, diversity searches including race, ethnicity, ability, age, body and LGBTQIA+ increased by 104% from 2019, with 1.1 million more diversity searches in 2021 from both Storyblocks members and visitors.

Similarly, downloads of diverse content increased by a massive 191% from 2019, with 3 million more downloads of content that include more authentic representation of communities in 2021.

Downloads of diverse content 2019 vs. 2021

Image Source

What the future of diverse content looks like.

The data indicate DEI is not a trend — the increase in diverse video content creation and consumption in media is increasing. We see DEI in video and advertising becoming an intentional, thought-out practice that more businesses invest in and strategize around.

Diverse Video Content Best Practices

1. Don’t insert your brand into a community without research.

The most powerful tool to invest in when approaching DEI is research. If a community is “trending” and receiving increased attention in the media for any given reason, be careful before your marketing team dives headfirst into the conversation.

Do your due diligence and fully understand the community you are planning on representing in your content. So many failed DEI campaigns that have received public backlash could have been avoided if the research phase was done properly.

2. Have a DEI strategy in place.

Set clear and measurable DEI goals and targets that are cross-functional and involve different workstreams and teams in your organization. DEI initiatives shouldn’t just be put on a singular group — DEI should be incorporated into your company’s strategy as a whole.

When a company is serious about its DEI efforts and has a results-driven strategy, dedicating financial resources is essential, similar to how sales and marketing have quarterly and annual budgets. DEI should be no different.

3. Diverse representation needs to exist at the decision making level.

This past year, Storyblocks worked with Indigenous filmmakers to increase the representation of Indigenous communities in our libraries. We recognized our team did not have adequate Indigenous representation, so our marketing team hired a board of external advisors from the Indigenous community to act as guides on how to best communicate, understand the community’s pain points, encourage compassion and avoid harmful misrepresentation.

When aiming to create content that’s inclusive, make sure the decision makers represent who you are speaking to. Recognize when your team is not as inclusive as you’d like and reach out for third-party support to make up for the representation your team is lacking.

Final Thoughts

Armed with the information we’ve compiled in this report, you should be able to build or take a critical look at your DEI video strategy successfully. A crucial part of that success lies in you and/or your business’s ability to approach DEI thoughtfully. Learn from the successes and failures of other brands, bring in diverse voices and understand that this isn’t something you should rush to implement. Take time and care in crafting your approach.

We’re still learning lessons ourselves, and are on this journey with you. We can’t wait to see what you create.

Discover videos, templates, tips, and other resources dedicated to helping you  launch an effective video marketing strategy. 

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes



Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

Did you follow the Apple iPad Pro content debacle?

Here’s a quick recap. A recent online ad for the new iPad Pro showed a large hydraulic press slowly crushing various symbols of creativity. A metronome, a piano, a record player, a video game, paints, books, and other creative tools splinter and smash as the Sonny and Cher song All I Ever Need Is You plays.

The ad’s title? “Crush!”

The point of the commercial — I think — is to show that Apple managed to smush (that’s the technical term) all this heretofore analog creativity into its new, very thin iPad Pro.  

To say the ad received bad reviews is underselling the response. Judgment was swift and unrelenting. The creative world freaked out.

On X, actor Hugh Grant shared Tim Cook’s post featuring the ad and added this comment: “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

When fellow actor Justine Bateman shared the Tim Cook post, she simply wrote, “Truly, what is wrong with you?” Other critiques ranged from tone-challenged to wasteful to many worse things.

Actor Justine Bateman shared Tim Cook’s post on X, which featured the ad, and added this comment: "Truly, what is wrong with you?".

A couple of days later, Apple apologized and canceled plans to air the ad on television.

How not-so-great content ideas come to life

The level of anger surprises me. Look, the ad does show the eyeballs on an emoji-faced squishy ball popping under the plates’ pressure, but still. Calling the ad “actually psychotic” might be a skosh over the top.

Yes, the ad missed the mark. And the company’s subsequent decision to apologize makes sense.

But anyone who’s participated in creating a content misfire knows this truth: Mistakes look much more obvious in hindsight.

On paper, I bet this concept sounded great. The brainstorming meeting probably started with something like this: “We want to show how the iPad Pro metaphorically contains this huge mass of creative tools in a thin and cool package.”

Maybe someone suggested representing that exact thing with CGI (maybe a colorful tornado rising from the screen). Then someone else suggested showing the actual physical objects getting condensed would be more powerful.

Here’s my imagined version of the conversation that might have happened after someone pointed out the popular internet meme of things getting crushed in a hydraulic press.

“People love that!”

“If we add buckets of paint, it will be super colorful and cool.”

“It’ll be a cooler version of that LG ad that ran in 2008.”


“It’ll be just like that ad where a bus driver kidnaps and subsequently crushes all the cute little Pokémon characters in a bus!” (Believe it or not, that was actually a thing.)

The resulting commercial suffers from the perfect creative storm: A not-great (copycat) idea at the absolutely wrong time.

None of us know what constraints Apple’s creative team worked under. How much time did they have to come up with a concept? Did they have time to test it with audiences? Maybe crushing physical objects fit into the budget better than CGI. All these factors affect the creative process and options (even at a giant company like Apple).

That’s not an excuse — it’s just reality.

Content failure or content mistake?

Many ad campaigns provoke a “What the hell were they thinking?” response (think Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad or those cringy brand tributes that follow celebrity deaths).

Does that mean they’re failures? Or are they mistakes? And what’s the difference?

As I wrote after Peloton’s holiday ad debacle (remember that?), people learn to fear mistakes early on. Most of us hear cautionary messages almost from day one.

Some are necessary and helpful (“Don’t stick a knife in a live toaster” or “Look both ways before you cross the street.”) Some aren’t (“Make that essay perfect” or “Don’t miss that goal.”)

As a result, many people grow up afraid to take risks — and that hampers creativity. The problem arises from conflating failure and mistakes. It helps to know the difference.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to become a rock ‘n’ roll musician. I failed. But it wasn’t a mistake. I wasn’t wrong to try. My attempt just didn’t work.

Labeling a failed attempt a “mistake” feeds the fears that keep people from attempting anything creative.

The conflation of failure and mistakes happens all too often in creative marketing. Sure, people create content pieces (and let’s not forget that there are always people behind those ideas) that genuinely count as mistakes.

They also create content that simply fails.

Don’t let extreme reactions make you fear failures

Here’s the thing about failed content. You can do all the work to research your audience and take the time to develop and polish your ideas — and the content still might fail. The story, the platform, or the format might not resonate, or the audience simply might not care for it. That doesn’t mean it’s a mistake.

Was the Apple ad a mistake? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Was it a failure? The vitriolic response indicates yes.

Still, the commercial generated an impressive amount of awareness (53 million views of the Tim Cook post on X, per Variety.) And, despite the apology, the company hasn’t taken the ad down from its YouTube page where it’s earned more than 1 million views.

The fictional Captain Jean Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.” The Apple ad turns that statement on its head — Apple made many mistakes and still won a tremendous amount of attention.

I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t criticize creative work. Constructive critiques help us learn from our own and others’ failures. You can even have a good laugh about content fails.

Just acknowledge, as the Roman philosopher Cicero once wrote, “Not every mistake is a foolish one.” 

Creative teams take risks. They try things outside their comfort zone. Sometimes they fail (sometimes spectacularly).

But don’t let others’ expressions of anger over failures inhibit your willingness to try creative things.

Wouldn’t you love to get the whole world talking about the content you create? To get there, you have to risk that level of failure.

And taking that risk isn’t a mistake.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 

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The Future of Content Success Is Social



The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book



7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.


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