How to make dazzling video content (and pick up a few guitar riffs along the way)

A YouTube series with rock and roll guitarists is an unlikely source of content marketing inspiration, and yet…

Making videos can seem daunting.

Ask a video producer how much a video will cost (and how long it might take) and you can expect to be frightened off the whole idea pretty quickly.

But there’s nothing to fear. More often than not, video content thrives on simplicity of thought and of execution.

The YouTube series Guitar Moves with Matt Sweeney has nailed the key principles of engaging online video content. Here’s how:

A simple idea

Matt Sweeney is a guitar player. As well as playing in the recently reformed rock band Chavez, more latterly he’s been a gun for hire – featuring with such varied artists as Jake Bugg, Neil Diamond and Iggy Pop.

His YouTube series (now hosted by Vice’s music branch Noisey) is based on a simple idea but has notched up millions of views. It comprises ten-minute videos of Sweeney playing guitar and generally hanging out with various guitar players.

The setup couldn’t be simpler either: two people in a room, two stools, two guitars. But this is no dry, muso, tech fest. Instead you get plenty of behind the scenes footage – such as Sweeney arriving, or indeed freaking out when meeting one of his musical idols.

For content marketers, the message is clear: keep it simple, keep it human. B2B video content, for example, often necessitates talking-head videos ­– not inherently the most engaging content. But there are always ways to jazz up the form.

Short footage of interviewees getting settled and plugging in microphones could lend a lighthearted air to the video before the main content begins. Those flashes of humanity put the viewer in the room immediately and provide a valuable dash of authenticity.

One question

Another way in which Guitar Moves succeeds in creating original, engaging video content is by focusing on answering just one question: ‘Can you show me a guitar move?’

Clarity of message is vital for any type of content, and no less so than with video. What is the purpose of this video? Why should people watch it? What should they do after watching it? If it’s easy to describe the motivation, it will be easy to engage with.

On a technical level, one central question also allows for more inventive cutting between sentences – even chopping between interviewees mid-sentence if required.


A major strength of the series comes in the form of the host. Matt Sweeney is charming, enthused and totally engaged with his subject. The stroke of genius is that even though he’s clearly a capable guitar player, he’s no virtuoso. He’s the everyman at the centre of the story, gamely following along with its stars – the guests.

Does your video content need a host? Webinars, for example, live or die by their host. What value do they bring? If it’s just a question and answer setting, title cards are more common – but they are also something of a trope. It could be worth branching out further and exploring the dynamic of adding another presence to the screen. The chemistry between participants can transform your video content.


The other obvious factor to the success of Guitar Moves is the calibre of guests it attracts. From Keith Richards to the late Lemmy Kilmister, there’s no shortage of top-level musicians willing to get on board.

In your target audience, who are the prominent voices? Are there influencers who would be willing to be on camera to host your message – or at least to share/retweet the results? There should also be some natural advocates within the company – and if not why not? (You can take our content advocate marketing test here.)

Guitar Moves’ content succeeds thanks to its simple premise, human elements and high-quality advocates. Easy really. For video content, sometimes you don’t need to turn it up to 11.

[Image: Guitar Moves with Keith Richards, from Noisey. Watch it here.]

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