Films about architecture tend to be highly produced and expensive. Why not ditch them for a gif?

13 March, 2021

Photographer Edmund Sumner was surprised when his recent LinkedIn post about his micro videos or ‘archygifs’ provoked such an instant reaction.

Above a 22-second video of a community football clubhouse in west Bengal by Abin Design Studio, Sumner explained that when he posts a video or ‘archygif’ of a client’s work to his Instagram account, the architect or practice would see their followers increase significantly.

“I note the number of their followers, put up a series of posts about their project and then I have a look at the end of the day. Their followers will have gone up by as much as 6%,” he says.

The point he’s making is that video doesn’t need to be ‘super complicated’ to be effective, citing the growing number of practices who are winning work via Instagram, especially residential.

And with “traditional media under siege”, and magazine’s budgets cut to the bone, he encourages architects to pay more attention to social media to get their work seen more widely.

So are longer films a waste of money?

Sumner says: “Video is a fantastic medium but it’s very complicated in terms of time and post-production costs”.

Then there’s the question of engagement. Architects’ videos, which average around five minutes in length, attract audiences only in the hundreds rather than the thousands, whereas Sumner’s videos on IGTV are often get 6,000 views each.

Sumner says people’s attention span is another reason why he’s concentrated on perfecting highly-polished but entertaining micro videos or gifs for his clients.

“They’re designed for a visually sophisticated but distracted population.. I’d almost go as far to say there’s a visual Attention Deficit Disorder going on. People now are just going click-click-click, so it’s a real struggle to keep people’s attention,” he says.

We know that more and more video content is being watched than ever before and for architects this is an opportunity. But still the challenge – whatever the length – is to offer inspiring and engaging content. Otherwise people will simply switch off.

Social Media Video Tips

  • Be informative and fun. Edmund’s ‘archygifs’ always include people moving, for example this one ( see above) of architect Neil Davies getting up and down from a chair.
  • Think of new ways of telling your story. Create something that helps users better understand who you are and what you do as a practice.
  • Go live. According to Livestream, 82% of audiences prefer live video to social media posts. Going live can be scary but quick action blog-style video is great for engagement as long as the video and audio quality are good.
  • If you want to get across information, captioning is vital as more and more people are watching video without sound.
  • And finally, don’t forget TikTok which I wrote about here.