The 3 Keys to More Compelling Video

Video is hot! As a content type, it’s rapidly taking the lead in what people want to consume. In fact, according to Cisco, 80% of Internet traffic by 2019 will be comprised of video. But you probably already know this, at least intuitively. And whether you are just getting into producing video for your business or you’re an old hat at it, you’ve probably bumped up against one of the critical challenges when publishing video—how to get people to pay attention, especially when your content doesn’t feature cats and lightsabers! In fact, according to Visible Measures, 20% of your viewing audience is giving up after just 10 seconds.

To help you overcome that challenge, I’ve identified three keys to making your video content more compelling. By employing these techniques, you stand a better chance of not only attracting viewers but keeping them engaged the entire time.

The first key is that your video has to tell a story. It can’t just be someone talking about your product. No one really cares about that. It has to follow Freytag’s Pyramid—an introduction, a rising action, a climax, a falling action, and a resolution. But don’t just take my word for the importance of storytelling in your video. There’s real science behind this. According to Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist, when we encounter the dramatic arc, it triggers endorphins (Cortisol, which focuses our attention, and Oxytocin, which controls our levels of empathy). In short, we produce a biological response to stories. Without that response, there is little reason for us to pay attention.

Second, your video has to be authentic. Even if you are using actors, makeup artists, multiple cameras, and a Hollywood-esque production budget, if the story isn’t authentic, people will tune out. A great example of this is a story from the Arnold Palmer Hospital. People have to believe that the character’s responses to the conflict in your story are genuine. You can’t fake it. Consider the following—would you rather watch a company representative tell a case study about how a customer solved their problem with the company’s product or would you rather watch the customer tell that story? The answer is pretty obvious. You want to see the customer tell it.

Third, your story has to have some sort of emotional angle. This ties back to Paul Zak’s research and the biological response to storytelling. If there isn’t any emotion, people aren’t going to have a reaction and, most likely, they’ll just abandon the story part of the way through. But if there is some sort of emotion—happiness, sadness, tragedy, distress, excitement—those endorphins will be flowing in your viewer’s bloodstream, keeping them engaged and actively watching your video. A bit on the funny side, a great example of this is the New Zealand Lotto’s 2012 commercial spot with Wilson the dog because it combines a wide range of emotional strategies.

On a side note, don’t get caught up in the production value of your video. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to produce great videos. You can capture quality content with a number of consumer devices (tablets, smartphones, GoPros), edit it using off-the-shelf software, and upload/distribute it using a number of different online video platforms (OVPs). In case you didn’t notice, there was no mention of “production quality” in these three keys to making more compelling video.

What it all boils down to though, is that your video can’t be about your company. It has to be about the customer—their problems and how they solved them (hopefully with your product). By utilizing emotionally-driven, authentic storytelling, you can put the viewer (your prospect) into your customer’s proverbial shoes. In doing so, you stand a better chance of that viewer staying engaged longer with your video.

This blog post was written by Jason Thibeault, Senior Director of Marketing Strategy at Limelight.

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