Although the types of videos we produce for clients can vary depending on their business and their needs, there are some fundamental guidelines that we always try to stick to when we produce any video for online use. In this blog I want to share with you some of the most important guidelines and potential reasons why you might break them.
1) Web video is best kept short (30 seconds- 3 minutes tops).
If you check out the analytics of any video you have published online, you’ll see that in most cases people will watch up to the first 20 seconds. Very few will go further than that or watch all of the video. In fact, the longer the video, the less likely people will watch until the end. Of course this does depend on the video and the message (see point 5). For example, instructional videos and educational videos can sustain a longer viewing window, especially if clients are paying for them. But in most cases it would be well advised to keep web video as small and punchy as possible. Check out Ezra Fishman’s "guide to how long should your next video be?" https://wistia.com/learn/marketing/optimal-video-length for some general but interesting points in regards to video length and audience attention span.
2) There is only enough time and space for one clear message.
Don’t try to fit too much into the one web video. Stick to the bare essential, the one message, the one call to action, the one idea. If you have more messages, there should be more videos.
3) Don't fudge sound quality.
Yes I know there is a fad at the moment of people watching videos without sound (getting back to our silent cinema roots, which is awesome). However, when a person wants to watch your video with sound then that sound better be up to scratch. In fact, there is no better way to turn people away from your video than with bad sound; they won’t even get past the first few seconds.
4) Make your point clear from the start.
When structuring the content for your video keep in mind the Inverted Pyramid concept used in journalism. This structure dictates that the most important information is at the top and, as you go down the inverted pyramid, information becomes less important. Make sure that the important information appears within the first ten seconds of the video.
5) The rule that rules them all. Know and understand your audience.
The only way to make your web video engaging is to understand the purpose of the video in the first place and to deliver on that purpose as succinctly as possible.
Every other guideline is flexible but not this one.
Not all videos have to be entertaining, short, funny, or cinematic. They don't all have to have a story, be clever or creative. But the one thing they all have to do is deliver on their promise as quickly and elegantly as possible.
This is why no blog or article in the world will be able to help you create the right web video, because ultimately, it is about you knowing your audience and meeting those audience expectations. For example, if you are creating an instructional video on film editing then, as a student, my level of engagement depends on how quickly my skills develop, not on how short, beautifully shot or funny the video is. I want to see results in the first few minutes otherwise I’ll go somewhere else.
For that reason, creating an engaging web video means having your audience needs in mind constantly. Creating web video just to improve your SEO or to promote your brand is just a bad way to start. To make a video engaging, start with what your clients’ needs are and, by addressing those, see if you can leverage their needs to get what you want. You’ll find that this is the only true way to creating engaging content.