I saw a quote on the Digital Sherpa the other day that said that across the internet “more video content is uploaded in 30 days than all three major US TV networks combined have created in 30 years”. Now that’s something to think about.
Video content has been hitting the internet like a Tsunami. A bazillion hours uploaded every day. All of it posted in the hopes to connect, inform, capture and often sell. The quality and relevance of these videos go from utter crap to sometimes excellent.
In an ocean of so many videos, what is your video really worth? How can your video stand out from the dancing cats and laughing babies and the billion other videos?
First, a few more numbers.
The Cisco Visual Networking Index projected that in 2015, “1 million video minutes – the equivalent of 674 days – will traverse the internet very second”. According to the Youtube stats page, 100 hours of video are uploaded to its servers every minute. When I think of these numbers I can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. Furthermore, these numbers will seem small in 3 years from now. We are nowhere near the apex. By 2018 a whopping 79% of all internet traffic will be video content.
There are some obvious reasons why this is happening. Internet broadband speeds are increasing, there are more video capable devices out there, almost twice as many as there are people on the planet and there are more and more internet users sharing content. But the most important reason why video is sweeping through the internet is that video works. It’s a powerful communication tool like no other. Really, it is.
But let’s not get carried away here. Yes, video is a powerful tool but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to create or that any video will do.
1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. Really?
The quote that everyone likes to float these days is that “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words”. That’s a fun fact to pull out during cocktail hour but does it really apply to any and every one minute of video out there? The answer is a categoric and resounding “no”. It’s not because you made a 1 minute video that you suddenly have 1.8 million words loaded and ready to fire. Perhaps this general misconception is why we see so many mediocre videos out there.
Let’s just debunk this quote before we go further.
Put is this way, 1.8 million words is equal to about twelve 500-page novels. I would like to see the 1 minute video that could adequately depict 12 novels… The quote is flawed. It’s only extrapolating the original saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and if there are 30 frames (pictures) per second in video (most of the time), then that would be the equivalent of thirty thousand words in one second of video and if you multiply that by the 60 seconds in one minute, you get 1.8 million.
It’s pure logical math that has no practical use in real life.
But even if that saying doesn’t make any sense practically, there is no denying that video is formidable communication instrument. Video works because it has the potential to capture a viewer’s attention on an emotional level. Triggering different emotional states has always been the key trick in marketing & advertising and videos do this very well by combining moving pictures with audio into the art story telling.
Can a simple gum commercial make you feel strong emotions? Check this one out:
It is likely that the next time you enter a corner store and glance at the gum display this video will come to mind. And that’s what a good video does. It makes a lasting connection by triggering your emotions.
But the general novelty of video online is long gone and viewers are only going to become harder and harder to entertain as we go forward. People on the internet are getting extremely picky about what content they choose to consume.
It used to be when a video appeared on a Facebook post, I was likely to watch it regardless of the content. Nowadays, if the first 10 frames don’t connect with me in some major way, I move on. And I do this completely free of that nagging feeling that I might have missed out on something because I know there is still an ocean of “stuff” to explore ahead.
The reality is that if you want to use video to connect with a target audience it has to be relevant and it has to stand out from the many other videos competing for your viewers attention.
Even if the viewers are invited to watch the video in a more controlled environment – say a business sales meeting – where there are no other potential videos to possibly distract them, they are likely still numb from the hundreds of video snippets they ingested here there and everywhere during the last week and will need to be fed relevant and entertaining content to be compelled and engaged by your video.
If your viewers don’t feel anything, they don’t do anything.
A good video will often take time to plan and produce. More and more experienced video producers are being hired to make business videos of all kinds because companies are understanding more and more that although user-generated videos are still relevant (in some cases), a well crafted video with a focused message is what viewers want to see.
Actually it’s not so much about “making a video” as it is about crafting a visual sequence that will engage the right viewer with the right message on the right emotional plane. It doesn’t have to be a tearjerker or a slap-yourself-in-the-face-hilarious video. Both these styles of video are already becoming a little overdone I would say. It’s about leaving your viewer informed and compelled.
How about an example, you say? Let’s say you want to make a video that shows how down to earth your company really is. “You’re like a big family” you say. “Everyone is considered and respected and there is no “hierarchy” atmosphere”. You have a fundamental belief in this approach and your CEO is totally committed to this philosophy. In fact she is the one that championed this vision from the beginning and she wants to foster this image and promote this cultural approach to potential employees.
So you decide to make a video. Everyone has a video. We need a video too, yes? Yes! No problem. You decide, let’s get the charismatic face or our wonderful company, that of our CEO, to sell the concept right to the camera. We’ll make sure to edit her verbal presentation with a few b-roll shots that show our collaborative atmosphere and that will help to make the video a little more self explanatory and less of a talking-head piece.
You shoot, you edit, you put the video online and your message is out there. Yeah! High-fives! Let’s go have a Cosmo.
Weeks go by. You don’t get a whole lot of attention through the video and after the initial elation of having “made a video” goes away, you review the video and suddenly find the message a little week, especially when it’s surrounded by dozens and hundreds of other videos online.
What if you did this instead. You film your CEO coming in to work one morning. She drops her coat off in her office and heads out to the shop floor. She deliberately walks over to the first employee she sees, shakes his hand and engages in short friendly conversation. Then she moves to the next employee and does the same thing. Then the next employee. Then the next.
The video turns into a series of smiling faces, hand shakes and laughter, showing a warm group environment that values the individual. It shows people working together, helping each other out and solving problems as a team while we cut in and out of the CEO sequence, shaking hands and talking to people. Carefully chosen music drives the emotional message home and ends with a shot of the CEO sitting back at her desk, feeling fulfilled as she digs back into her work. Cut back to the first employee we saw her shaking hands with, who is also hard at work with a smile on his face. On this last shot, we see simple overlaid text that says: “Come work with us!”
Now I’ll admit that’s sort of a half-baked idea but it certainly would invoke more emotions than the original talking-head video. There is a story there. We see people connecting and bonding and there is a sense of team-work and positive cooperation; an atmosphere that anyone would like to work in. But it’s obviously going to need more work than the first video, more planning and more collaboration.
The bottom line is that in most cases if your video took little or no time to put together then it will likely be of little or no value. If you are going to make a video and you want your message to be heard, seen and most importantly felt, take the proper time to plan ahead, discuss, brainstorm, write, re-write and execute.
If you are passionate about your brand, your story, your topic, let it come out through your video and people will follow. It may seem like a lot of work but you may actually find the creative process fun and the results rewarding in many ways.
Have you made successful or not so successful videos? If you want to share your experience or have thoughts on the above I would love to hear from you.