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Short Form Hook & Idea Guide

By October 13, 2023November 9th, 2023Newsletter

My email has been a lot of things over the last year, and similar to how we did on the product playbook series I’m reeling it in over the next few weeks to focus on a single topic and give you tactical information you can crush with. This is Season 2, Episode 1 of Colin’s email list:

The Short-Form Attack: Hook em in

Today we’re covering hooks and topics for your videos and what I wish I had done differently is start making videos sooner.​

On this day in 2003

Murphy Lee famously uttered: “What the hook gon be?” and followed up with a proclamation that he doesn’t need a hook. Idk if it was actually September 29th but that’s not the point. The point is that unlike Nelly’s right hand man, you and I need hooks.

Hooks are like headlines for your videos, but where a good headline grabs attention and hopes for a click (or an open in the case of this email), a good hook pulls the user in and keeps em around. A video’s hook is significantly more important than the video itself because it dictates whether or not anyone will actually see the video. There are countless examples of creators reposting the same video several times over the course of months, each time trying a new hook, until one hits and the video blows up.

Enough of the abstract, here’s are some examples:

  1. 3 things every _______ needs to know (golfer, designer, realtor, brand owner)
  2. My favorite 3 _______ (quarter zips, websites, beverages, shopify plugins)
  3. This is a great example of _______, here’s why (email automation, mid century design, etc)
  4. Most people think _______, but actually _______ (common, contrarian)
  5. Hot take: _______

Let’s get your wheels turning

If you’re thinking about making content the first place your head probably goes is “What the hell would I make videos about?”.

Hopefully those hooks get the juices flowing but let’s take it a step further and apply them to a topic, then drill down and expand to turn one of the above hooks into several different video concepts.

Using Hook #1 from above let’s say I’m into pet turtles, and I want to make content about pet turtles.

As you can see that single hook can prompt 5-10 video concepts in a heartbeat without even taking into account that any *list of 3 things* video can in fact be expanded into 3 videos itself. It also illustrates how *making videos about the same thing over and over again* isn’t actually that at all.

What not to do in your hooks

Don’t introduce yourself – People watching your video we already see your name and profile picture on the screen, and often follow you.

  • Bad: My name’s Colin and today I’m going to tell you about a cool factory for golf bags
  • Good: If you wanna make golf bags, here’s a factory:

Don’t qualify what you’re about to say – This is easy to do early on before you’re confident and comfortable with making content. You don’t need an excuse to be doing this.

  • Bad: In my opinion Dame should have stayed with the Blazers, here’s why:
  • Good: Dame should have stayed with the Blazers:

Don’t tell me what you’re going to talk about – Just fucking tell us.

  • Bad: I’m doing a series of content about hats and today I’m going to tell about one that came in the mail
  • Good: This hat just landed

In all these cases, you need to just shut up and give us the content.

The best way to practice hooks

TikTok is ruthless and rewarding, making it a great testing ground. With a new account you will not get over 300 views with a bad hook. The good news is their algo will pretty much always give you 300 views to see if people like it. The best practice I’ve found for writing and executing good hooks and concise engaging videos is posting complete 15s videos on TikTok. That is: a hook, a point or two, and a close. 15 seconds is not long enough for that, which will force you to get to the point and be concise. To be clear, the videos will mostly suck.

If you want to take the plunge into making content for yourself, your brand, or a combination of – I’m putting on a 30 day short-form video bootcamp with my friends Oren and Alex. It’s called Cut30, signups close tomorrow (Saturday) night and we’re kicking it off on Monday. It’s gonna be sick.

(Oren has gained 36k followers in the last 3 weeks lmao)

Update: This has passed but you can join the waitlist for future cohorts.