Once you decide to make a video for your business site or social page, often the first reaction is to just get started. After all, making a video seems like fun, and how hard could it be… right?
Well, actually, there’s a lot more to video than what you see on the surface, and before you can start creating videos or even coming up with ideas, you should first be able to answer the question, “what is video?” Of course, everyone knows what video is in the technical sense, but to truly grasp the medium you should know what it is as an art form and as a marketing strategy. Once you thoroughly understand what it’s all about, then you’ll have a much better foundation for creating consistently great videos.
As an Artform
There’s a reason videos, TV, movies, and the like have become such popular art forms — because they engage people on so many levels, particularly when they are visually, aurally, mentally.
When done right, video has a power like nothing else to evoke an emotional response. So, whether you’re creating videos for pure entertainment value or as a marketing strategy, an emotional response is what you need if you want viewers to like, share, and talk about your video with their friends.
How to Create an Emotional Response?
It’s up to you to decide what type of response you want to evoke from your viewers, but no matter if you want them laughing, crying, motivated to action, or something else, the key to creating a video that stirs human emotion is to ensure you have the audience’s full visual, aural, and mental attention throughout the whole video. Even if just one of those features is missing, your video will only be average at best.
One of the best ways to encourage viewers to become emotionally invested in your video is by telling a story. Whether you’re doing a product demonstration, talking about your company, or giving a tutorial, try to put it in the form of a narrative, because people can relate to experiences and they’ll want to stick around to see what happens. For example, our creative director created a great WordPress tutorial:
Additionally, it’s absolutely vital your video gets people’s attention right from the get-go. As you know, the internet is teeming with both interesting and crappy videos, and viewers are used to skipping through a few until they find one with real potential. If you can’t make an emotional connection within the first few seconds, most people won’t bother to wait around to see if things get good; they’ll simply move on to something else.
The bottom line is: a video implies entertainment… so, make sure your video is entertaining (the whole time).
As a Marketing Strategy
Yes, creating a worthwhile video is a lot of work, but there are some important marketing reasons why your business should bother with this medium, including these four benefits:
More User Engagement
We’ve already discussed how videos create an emotional response in viewers — that emotion is what keeps folks interested and engaged in your content. That’s not to say you should get rid of all text content and switch entirely to video (text has its place too), but a well done video can easily suck in someone who was initially uninterested; where as a bunch of words don’t have quite the same allure.
You can trigger more engagement by ending your video with thought-provoking questions which motivate people to share their opinions in the comment section and stay on your page longer.
Improve Brand Awareness
From a branding perspective, with video, you have more control over what the audience takes away from your content. For instance, with text someone may only skim your content, just read particular sections, and may not get your entire message. However, skimming is a little harder to do with video, so most people just sit back and watch the whole thing — this puts the power back in your hands.
Also, a video gives consumers a better sense of your brand’s personality. Videos that feature you and your team are especially useful because when viewers see your faces, expressions, mannerisms, etc., they begin to feel like they know you, and this personal connection is vital for making your business seem “human” and not like a soulless enterprise.
Search Engine Optimization
Video creates several opportunities to improve your presence in search listings, including:
- Gives you video rich snippets
Rich snippets are the little blurbs of information that appear under your site listing in Google search results. Unlike ordinary listings, they include, among other things, a thumbnail picture of your video, which signals to users your link is indeed a video. In general, listings with rich snippets (especially video snippets) have superior click-through-rates, so you should always code your content to utilize this tool.
- More time on pageBecause people are engaged and watching for the length of your video (not scanning as with text), your visitors’ time on page will increase. On average, video is able to keep people on your page longer than either text or images (or a combination of the two). And greater time on page is a signal to search engines that your site has value.
- Link BuildingInbound links are still one of the major metrics in how search engines determine your rankings, and while quality links are never easy to come by, video can make the task less difficult.We’ve all seen enough viral videos to know internet users love videos, and everyone wants to be the first to share the next greatest, funniest, or most interesting thing with their friends. Thus, with a stellar video, you only need to get a handful of people’s attention to acquire thousands or even hundreds of thousands of hits and links, because folks will be spreading the word for you.Besides consumers sharing your content, other websites may embed your video and share it with their own followers (businesses are always on the lookout for videos to put on their pages). This is a great way to expand your reach and get links from a whole new audience.
- Have a place in video search enginesDid you know YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google? This is a big deal because while most people recognize the need to stand out in traditional search results, they are ignoring everybody’s second favorite choice — video! So, by giving your brand a presence on YouTube and even Vimeo, you can have a huge advantage over the competition.
All of the above mentioned things (engagement, brand awareness, and SEO) help to increase conversions. Quite simply, making your business findable and keeping people interested in your page are two of the biggest hurdles in winning customers — the more effective you are in these areas, the greater your ROI.
Coming Up with Ideas
Ok, now that you know what video is and why it’s important, it’s time to start coming up with ideas for your own video. Undeniably, this is the hard part, but here is a process which can make things a little easier:
- Find a “Gap” in the Available Content
Analyze the current content related to your industry, keep an eye out for any useful topics that are glaringly missing or done poorly, and fill those gaps with a video. Even if the subject has been discussed before, you can do it better and make the idea your own.Quite often, you can discover gaps in content by listening to your audience. Read through comments, follow social chatter, and straight-up ask them what they’d like to see. They regularly request tutorials, advice, and opinions.You can also look at popular search terms for inspiration, sneak a peek at your competitor’s content, and explore what successful businesses are doing in other industries to see if you can replicate it.
- Select Your Goal for the ContentKnowing what you hope to achieve from your message will help you come up with an idea and serve as direction for the video. For instance, depending on whether you want to inform, entertain, inspire, or convert will drastically change your video design.Despite your business goals (SEO, brand awareness, conversion, etc.), the overarching mission of every video should be to give something of value to the viewers, because if they don’t get something out of it, they’re going to be unenthused and unwilling to share (no links). Thus, steer clear of blatant ads, heavy self-promotion, and hard-sells.
- Analyze Your AudienceSure, you may love slapstick comedy, but does your target audience? If not, you may want to select a different style of video — one that appeals to your viewers. Also, consider if your style of video matches your goal. For instance, if you’re hoping to inspire people to donate money for charity, you should probably forgo the humor and instead create something that sparks their conscience.
- Decide if Your Content is Suitable for VideoUp to now, this whole post has been on the awesomeness of video, but that’s not to say video works for every type of message (e.g. some things are easier/better said through plain words or pictures). So, it’s up to you to determine if your idea is actually a good candidate for video. Here are some questions to help you decide:Can I include the three basic elements of video engagement (aural, visual, and mental)? Is the message easier to understand through video than through pictures or text alone? Will video genuinely contribute something to the experience, or am I trying to force it?A good indication your content is not suited for video is if you’re struggling to come up with appropriate images or if your images are mostly text (i.e. explaining something technical).
If you’re confident your idea would make great video material, and you know in what way you’d like to appeal to your audience, then your next best step is to dive right in. Collaborate with creative types on your team and come up with a plan that reflects your business’ personality, offers something to your viewers, and helps you reach your goals.
If you find it’s not working, don’t be afraid to scrap your idea and start all over. In fact, sleepless nights, a ton of editing, and frustration are all signs you’re on the verge of a fantastic video, so keep at it! And of course, if video is not your thing, you can always hire some professional help — the payoffs are worth it!