| 9 February, 2015

Best Practices for Better Videos


If you build it, they will watch.

For the last few years, this has been the mantra. Add a pinch of video to your marketing mix, blend with social media, and let bake.

Lately, though, I've been hearing the same concerns from clients and industry peers. "Our videos are great, but people only watch the first 30 seconds." "I can't get the kind of return on investment I need to warrant a large investment in video." "Our videos used to perform, but now we struggle to get views." Each of these is a common pain point for today's marketer.

So how can we create videos that audiences actually want to watch? Well, here are some best practices we've used to take clients' video content from zero to sixty. 

Spice it up.

When was the last time you went to your YouTube channel or website and watched all of your videos? Let me rephrase: have you ever sat down and watched all of your videos? If not, now's the time.

If you're like most, it won't take long before your videos begin to blend together. They all look the same, they all use the same voice over, they have similar content, graphics, and music. Good job staying on brand (I'll give you that), but consider your audience. If they've watched all of the videos you’ve sent them, they too have seen only seen one flavor. Vanilla. Vanilla. More vanilla.

So spice things up! If you've relied heavily on interviews in the past, try turning key quotes and sound bytes from those interviews into a compilation video using big motion graphics and sound. If you're a big fan of live action video, see what happens if you work in a testimonial or animation piece that highlights your core messages. If your content is typically bright and bold, try black and white. If everything has been fairly subdued, dial up the color, motion, energy, and intensity of sound.

Keep it snappy. 

How long should your videos be? If your goal is real engagement, then you must consider your audience first and your content second.

No one (seriously... no one) wants to sit down and listen to a 20-minute dissertation on your product or service. Not your biggest fan, not your most loyal customer. If a prospect wants to spend 20-30 minutes of her time engaging with your brand, then it's time you get up and go pay her a visit. Time is valuable; make the most of it.

I typically recommend keeping all videos under three minutes. If your content is more complex than you can communicate in that time, then maybe video isn't the right channel fit. Maybe you need to hold a webinar on the topic instead. Or perhaps you could do a series of videos and break them out into small, digestible bits that you can distribute once a week for the next month. 

Make it meaningful.

Don't just read from a presentation deck or script. Make it interactive. Include questions that viewers can answer. Make it possible for audience members to engage not only with the content but with each other. Gamify it. Leverage personalized video technologies to tailor the lesson to each audience member. Go one step further and use that interactive, personalized video content as part of an augmented reality experience that audiences can keep coming back to for repeated learning. Track and measure their performance. Turn all of that video content and interactivity into a mobile application that participants can engage with on the go.

Match production quality to anticipated value.

If you're creating a video to announce the launch of your newest product and that product stands to bring in several millions of dollars in revenue for your company, then go big or go home. Pull out all the stops. Add bells. Add whistles. Partner with professionals. Hire the right actors and voice over talent, and work with designers and animators who can produce the best video experience you can dream up.

If, on the other hand, you want to produce a video celebrating the 30th anniversary of your business and envision some simple shots of your staff celebrating the special day, then ask yourself: "What is the anticipated value of this video?" In all likelihood, it will not result in a sale or generate millions in revenue for the company. What it will do is garner comments, likes, and shares on social media. So match your budget to that. Capture the event on your smartphone and get that baby out there. No need to waste a ton of time in post-production. Spend that video budget wisely. 

Remember: if you build it, they may watch. If you build it right, they will watch.

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