At Sanctuary Health, we get asked a lot about our content creation process. Some of the most common questions are how we create content, what tools we use, and what process we run.
In this blog, we will uncover the things we do that can help you build or inform your own content creation process.
We will go through:
- Selecting topics
- Building content
- Filming and editing
We won’t be diving into what software we use to track it yet. That will come in the next part of this blog series.
We make content in an overlapping quarterly structure (ie December to March then March to June) Before we dive into stage one of the quarterly process, let me define what we mean by content.
At Sanctuary Health, we currently make masterclass-style videos that are one to two minutes in length. The videos use a nano-learning model with a 1-1 value exchange. This essentially means that each video is short and aims to deliver one core piece of information.
These are the operating parameters for our content process. However this doesn’t mean that it is the “right” way, you can make documentary-length pieces on patient stories, TikTok-style videos, or incredible written pieces of content. The aim of these parameters is to build content that drives behaviour change. As Michelle Irwin, a Content Director at League recently put it to me “The greatest kind of content is one that elicits a thought or an action. Change is hard. Changing habits to impact your health in a positive way is really hard. If the content helps someone take a step then it’s a success.”
Your own definition can evolve over time, but the operating guidelines result in continuity and understanding at each stage of the process.
As a reference point, here is an example of one of our videos:
Stage 1 - Selecting Topics
At the end of a quarter, we will sit down as a team (content, sales, and clinical) and decide the broad topics we want to make content on.
Each stakeholder has important input here. Sales tell us what kind of digital health startups we want to partner with, and where we’re seeing growth combined with underserved needs. the product team will also share what they are hearing from product interviews with our ICPs.
For Q1 we decided to make content on 3 topics: COPD and Sleep, and expand our MSK offering. We can film around 30 videos in a day, and we will be filming for three days in Q1, which means we can make 30 videos per topic.
The obvious question here is: how do we choose what to cover, within those broad categories? There’s no way we can cover an entire disease category in 30 videos, so it is really important we take the time the select the kind of questions we want to answer within those 30 videos.
The content team spends time researching these topics and will write 50-150 titles within each given topic (topics are MSK, COPD, and Sleep).
We have three main considerations when writing titles:
a) Clinical recommendations. We ask specialist clinicians to suggest what should be covered in a given category. In their experience, what do patients want answers to?
b) Search data. What are patients searching for online? What do they want answers to when searching within a given category?
c) Disease prevalence. We tend to focus on high-severity, high-prevalence diseases because this is where our videos will have the highest impact.
We use these principles to take the 150 titles down to about 30 for each topic. At the end of this process, we have a select number of titles that seek to answer the most prevalent questions patients have, alongside providing them with the most important clinical information.
This process is not unique to making videos. You should do this whether you are writing content, making audio, or videos - irrelevant of the tools you use. Spend time understanding how much content you can make, the broad topics you want to cover, and finally, break them down into specific titles you will cover within those topics
Stage 2 - Building out the content
After stage one, we are left with a skeleton list of proposed titles. Many companies’ content teams will just start writing/producing the content from this list. This is a bad idea - don’t do it.
If it is not obvious by now, what makes a content process so powerful is having operating parameters that allow for creativity but have clear goals. What does this look like at this stage of the process?
Once we have titles, we write content outlines that have a few key characteristics:
a) Learning outcome - this is a measurable statement against which we could test whether the patient has learnt the intended piece of information. Why is this important? It sets the north star for the piece of content and gives you a measurement for success.
b) ‘Aha’ moment - every piece of content should make someone feel something. We want each piece of content to give someone that “aha moment” where what we are telling them brings a moment of realisation.
c) Script structure - when making content at the volume and scale we do, you need the scripts to follow a similar structure. We have a three-part structure: Why, Knowledge Transfer, and Conclusion.
Why - Why am I learning this, why should I care?
Knowledge transfer - A summary of the information. This is the stuff we want the patient to remember.
Conclusion - What can I now do having learned this information?
Finding the talent
If you are making videos, who you get to feature in those videos is critically important. This can be extended to both audio and written content; who your voice actor and/or writer is will be crucial to the quality of the content. The ability to construct a narrative or deliver a script in front of a camera is important as it will affect the engagement with that piece of content. With that being said, it will become progressively less important with the development of AI (see my other blog here).
At Sanctuary Health, we spend a lot of time figuring out to who we want to present our content. This involves multiple screening calls, filming tests, and media training. The talent will also clinically review the scripts to make sure they are happy with the content.
Stage 3 - Filming and editing
Now for the fun part.
By this point the content team has developed 100 scripts, we have reviewed them to make sure they hit our learning outcomes and aha moments, and they have been medically reviewed. The administrative work of booking a studio, flights, and accommodation, is done. All that is left to do is film. We have a great time filming (despite some occasional hiccups) and we take some epically good photos.
The editing - like the rest of our process - is systematic. We work through V1 sound lines using Descript and then the content gets handed off to our editor for all of the usual treatment.
Most importantly, we are rigorous in how we track it. With anywhere between 100 and 150 videos being edited at a time, it is crucial we know the status of each video in the editing funnel and what needs to be done next. We do that on software called Monday but more on that in the next blog.
Within the first 6 weeks of the next quarter, we will have finished editing and uploading to the platform at which point they will be marked as “On platform”.
Wrapping up and final thoughts
Our ability to create the volume and quality of content we do is solely down to the process that we have created.
We end each quarter with ideation and research around what topics we will create. We then write outlines, learning outcomes, and aha moments on all of those titles. After, we generate scripts and cast talent that will present and review our content. This all builds into a week's worth of filming where we will record 90 scripts in three days. Finally, those videos hit the editing floor where they will be made into the finished product.
Processes allow you to refine messy, multi-stage, complex tasks into segments that you can track and iterate on. Most importantly, processes allow you to deliver the best kind of content; content that helps patients change their behaviour. And whether you are making 30 blogs a quarter or running a video production engine like us, building a process will be crucial for your success.