Online marketers love video. Now that the web is able to support throwing media around, it’s a way to appeal powerfully to humans as social animals. We can hear the person’s voice, and see their facial expressions and body language: the kind of communication we’re designed for (except only one-way).
That’s great. But there’s another thing to understand about video.
A video marketing experience
I was just looking at an email from an online marketing guy whose mailings I subscribe to. I find him engaging, and within my tolerance for ra-ra and pushiness (which many are not). Hey, he says, I’ve discovered this thing you can do and you should know about it. Then he links to a video. In the video he takes 10 minutes to talk about the thing. He could have covered it in 5, but I don’t mind too much.
Then, he says, if you want to learn more check out this training programme thingy from one of my friends. I click the link to give it a quick once-over. It’s a page with just a video and no text. The video is embedded in such a way that I can’t pause or stop it, and there’s no visible info about how long the video is. I do the mental equivalent of throwing up my hands in alarm and close the browser tab.
It’s kind of like someone coming up to you at a social gathering, starting to talk about some random topic, and droning on and on with no apparent prospect of escape. Who feels enthusiastic about that?
Won’t someone think about the users?
That other thing about video is that it’s an imposition on the user.
If you describe your thing in text, concisely, well broken up with headlines and bullet points, I can scan it in seconds and get the overall shape of what you’re talking about. Then I can decide to read it through properly to get the detail, or I can decide that it’s not the sort of thing I’m interested in and I can spend my time elsewhere. Either way, I’m satisfied with the way you’ve interacted with me.
In video, you’re asking people to commit several to many minutes of their time. If you’re doing that, you’d better be offering some things in return.
Frame the video so they know it’s worth their while. That means using it alongside text rather than as a replacement for it. Use the text to introduce yourself and tell them what you want to talk to them about.
Allow them to control the experience. Experiences you can’t control are scary. Show them how long it is: how much of their time are you asking them to commit? Let them start it, rather than making it start automatically. Let them pause and resume so they can view the video as it suits them, alongside whatever else they’re doing.
Put your ego away. Your stuff may be important to you, but it’s not that important to the rest of us. Don’t go on and on. Don’t assume the user is under some obligation to listen. You’re asking for their time and attention. Get your key points across quickly, and give avenues for those people who are interested to find out more.
Be aware of communication styles. I know you’re using the video to build a sales pitch, but I’m more of a text and raw info guy. I just want you to tell me what your thing is and what it costs. I don’t want to sit through 10 minutes of buzzwords and images to find that out. If you really want to embed the basic sales info in a video, make it a maximum of 5 minutes long. You can always include a link to further videos or text talking about particular aspects of the programme. (And you can make longer content for the community who are interested in what you do.)
Video is a useful thing to have in the toolbox. But, like anything else, it needs to be used in the right situation and with the needs of the audience in mind. Request a few minutes of our time, tell us what we need to know in a snappy and engaging way, and some of us will keep in touch after the party’s over.