Doing video right

Kevin Lim
By Kevin Lim | 21 August 2014

Throw a coin into the deep well that is the internet and you’ll hit dozens of content marketing blogs proclaiming how video nerds will inherit the earth. With 4 billion YouTube views per day and experts predicting video will account for 69% of all internet traffic by 2017, you can understand why.

Across the world marketers have cottoned on to the power of video and the influence it can have on consumer behaviour and now, all of a sudden, brands have an insatiable appetite for video content that I can only equate to the great alternative music craze of ‘92, which saw an upward spike in the number of red flannelette shirts sold.

However, before brands jump onto the branded video content bandwagon, I offer this word of caution: video isn’t a laundry list of key messages to be packaged up at 25 frames per second and dumped on YouTube.

Video is the child of filmmaking, an art form in itself, and one comprising many disciplines – script writing, cinematography, lighting and editing, to name but a few – all steeped in a language that is equal parts artistic and technical.

While I don’t proclaim to be any sort of Truffaut, there are five simple things I ask clients to consider before dipping their big toe into video content creation.

1. Keep it short, stupid

We’re living in an age of diminishing attention spans and the war for captive audiences gets harder every day. The average engagement of a YouTube video is just over a minute and the first 15 seconds are paramount to making your audience stick around. So make that first 15 seconds count and avoid filling it with brand logos or obtuse titles.

2. Emotional = deeper engagement

This is pretty obvious but if you want to captivate your audience, your content has to have feels, bro. Video is a storyteller’s medium that has the power to make people laugh or cry in seconds. Utilise it to tell stories that will hook your audience. But don’t take my word for it, simply watch this video and this video and ask yourself which was more memorable.

3. Funny beats frugal

In 2012 a Nielson study conducted in the United States during the global financial crisis showed humour always beat out advertising focused on value proposition, regardless of the state of the economy. The study also showed a marked increase in narrative-driven or sentimental ads. Who can’t think of a Sorbent toilet paper ad without also making a link to oh-so-cute puppies?

4. Avoid shooting interviews in boardrooms

You may think a boardroom is a great location to conduct an interview. It isn’t. Most boardrooms have centralised air-conditioning that emits a hum guaranteed to be picked up by your sound recording device, and which is costly to get rid of.

Furthermore, a grey, carpeted wall and a plastic fern make for a horrible background. And before you say, “That view of the harbour would look great as a backdrop”, remember that cameras don’t work like the human eye and your stunning view will almost certainly end up looking like a wall of white light.

5. Avoid talking heads / shoot overlay

Supplementary to your interview footage, you should have cutaway or overlay shots to support any kind of point being made by your interviewee.

For example, if your subject is talking about mums loving new Product A, make your video more engaging by overlaying the story with a visual of a supermarket, Product A on the shelves of said supermarket and a mum picking the item up off the shelf.

That way, your audience isn’t staring at the interviewee’s head for the duration of the video. An added benefit is that it allows you to make audio cuts, removing ‘umms’ and ‘ahhhs’ and any other stumbles to make your interviewee sound more coherent and confident. So always plan and shoot overlay.

There is no denying the power of video and its influence on consumer behaviour. However, before you rush out and start filming think about your content strategy and what outcome you are trying to achieve with consumers. Film is a medium which allows you to tell a story – take advantage of that, it will help you to deliver a more effective campaign with impact.

Kevin Lim
Head of film
The Department of Moving Image - Edge

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