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Going Viral: The Making of BeanBoozled

Five words: CSU Football Players Try Beanboozled.

The game and the guys helped us make a viral video — one that reached almost 2 million people on Colorado State University’s Facebook page alone. While the video itself is simple and fun, the strategy and effort that went into creating this video was fun, but not simple.

Here is some insight into our process, and hopefully it helps you should you ever decide to make a Buzzfeed-style video like this one.

(And I couldn’t help but include my favorite screenshots from the video. Seeing the players’ smiles and knowing they all truly had fun was the best part of this project.)

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Test Out Your Idea First

It’s really easy to mess up a Buzzfeed-style video. Really. Filming people’s reactions sounds easy — and for the most part it is. But creating an environment and a task that will get you the reactions you want isn’t as easy.

We spent a good amount of time brainstorming the perfect “task” to put in front of our CSU football players. And then, we made our colleagues play it. (We’re so sorry!) First up: Gross-flavored sodas. Not just any gross flavor. We asked our public relations team to taste liquid buffalo wings, sweet corn and more. While they were gross, our public relations team had a difficult time guessing what exactly the flavor was. We wanted the game to be gross, yes, but we wanted the players to have some idea of what flavor they were tasting.

That’s when Jen suggested a game she had heard was popular amongst kiddos (and adults): BeanBoozled. We bought the game that day and, once again, asked our wonderful colleagues to play another game. After many trips to the trashcan, we knew we had a game with the right mixture of “ew” and “hahahaha.”

We emailed our friends at Athletics to see if they would be willing to put their players to the taste-test, and we got a yes.

Tip: We filled the coaches in on the plan, but asked them to keep it a secret from the players. We wanted a 100% authentic reaction.

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Get a Good Mix of People

Of course we wanted all rockstars in our video. But more importantly, we wanted the class clowns of the team. We knew having players who weren’t shy in front of strangers and loved a good laugh would do well on camera. We left the recruiting up to the coaches, and boy did they deliver. Lucky for us, the starters for CSU Football are also absolutely hilarious.

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Keep it Simple and Comfortable

This is possibly the most important part. Do not overthink it or have expectations of the people starring in your video. Let them be themselves and capture the magic.

Kimberly and I spent more time strategizing “simple and comfortable” than any other part of the project. We knew the players might find it awkward eating disgusting jelly beans in front of strangers. So we paired them up. But most importantly, we let them choose their partner. We knew if we let them choose the player they had the best rapport with on the team to play the game with, we’d get gold. And, we did.

The background of the video is beyond simple. A little good lighting and sound made this feel video feel comfortable, but not lazy. (Big shoutout to Stan Gilliland, creator of The Grind, who helped us film this when we were in a pinch. On a SUNDAY.)

We provided no directions to the athletes. We told them they were there to play a game two at a time, and that was it. When we began filming each pair, we set the game in front of them and said “go.” It helped us get great video of them explaining the directions (so we didn’t have to in editing), and some hilarious moments as they tried to open the game, which was oddly difficult.

We did control one part of the game. We wanted the players to guess based on the flavor alone, and we wanted them to have the key and know exactly what they were eating. When each pair started, we didn’t give them the key. So they literally had no idea what flavor they were about to eat. Then after 2-3 rounds, we gave them the key. This helped us get a wide variety of reactions and guesses, and we ended up with a lot of diverse content for the video.

Whatever they wanted to do, we filmed it. There were no rules on our end. Some players started throwing away the jelly beans they definitely did NOT want to eat. Against the game’s rules? Probably. Against our rules? Never. It’s so important to keep your directing to a minimal to get the result you want.

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Keep Everyone Separated

As I mentioned above, we wanted the most authentic reactions we could get. So we kept the players separated until they played. Looking back, I am so happy we went with this move. Nobody had time to prepare or overthink anything. Everything you see in the video is 100% real.

Once the players finished playing, we let them hangout and watch their other teammates play. Another move I’m happy we made. You can hear the players laughing in the background in some parts of the video. Didn’t it make you smile bigger when you heard it? Initially, we did this to help keep the players comfortable. Instead of just playing a game in front of strangers while we record them (awkward), they were playing in front of their friends. I think it helped everyone feel more comfortable. And the best part was, every player stayed to watch their teammates play.

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Ask Questions

Okay, yes, you should keep your directing to a minimum. But sometimes we wanted to help our players out (especially at the beginning) to get them started. We would ask them what colors their jelly beans were, what they tasted like, etc. This (1) helped us get good content of them describing the jelly beans and the game itself and (2) helped them get talking. Everyone was a little uneasy at first. But as they played, everyone became more comfortable.

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Strategize the Editing AND the Release

Chase did such an amazing job editing this video. We started with an hour of content, and as a team narrowed it down to the best parts…which ended up being 20 minutes long (a video editor’s nightmare). We agreed the video would be longer than the majority of our social videos (which are around 1-2 minutes), but we still wanted it to be under four minutes. Chase only had to cut out 16 minutes of hilarious content 😉 Sorry Chase!

Enter the hardest part of the project: We filmed this the week before the football season started in August and planned to release it before the first home game. Our Rams, bless their hearts, faced a hard loss at the first game. We knew our fans could potentially turn on the project if we posted it after the loss, and we wanted to set up the team and video for success. So we held it. Fast-forward two months into the season and we knew the timing was now or never. The Rams had some great wins and some hard losses, so if there was anytime to make the video go live, it was after their win at Homecoming. This is important. Did we want to post the video as soon as we could? Absolutely. We knew we had a really special video, but our fearless leader Kimberly had us hold and I am so glad she did.

After the release, we let it build momentum for two days. By the third day, it was near reaching 1 million people, and we knew we had a hit. Chase and I pitched the video on Twitter and Facebook to different sports organizations, sports personalities, and past CSU football players who have gone pro. Within 24 hours, ESPN College Football, BleacherReport and Yahoo Sports had picked up the video and embedded our Facebook post into their articles (can you say YAAAAAAS). When you know you have something great, get the attention of others.

As of today, the video has reached almost 2 million people alone on CSU’s Facebook page, has 560,000 views and almost 7,000 shares. It is one of our most successful posts. Ever.

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Have Fun

At the end of the day, this was a fun project. And if we didn’t have fun making it, then I would be seriously concerned about our team’s mental state. Social is fun. The more fun you have making your projects, the better the final product will turnout (not to mention better memories).

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See? There’s Really Nothin’ To It.

This is how simple the setup was. Other than the camera and mic, it was literally a table, chairs and a sick, sick game.

Shoutout to my boo, Andrew Schroeder, and Kimberly’s husband, Kevin Stern, who are the best sound guys and helpers in the biz. Couldn’t have done it without you two!