Without feeling overwhelmed by a zillion choices
Having just produced and released another short video for a client, I know small business owners can feel completely lost trying to figure out how to delve into this medium. Leaving aside the logistics of “This is how you film, this is how you edit…” for the moment, let’s cut to the chase:
What Makes Successful, Watchable Video?
Drill down the myriad factors to answer these three questions, whether you are contracting a videographer to produce content for you, or you are creating the video yourself:
Does the final video accurately reflect your brand?
A number of factors contribute to answering that question: Does the video reflect the brand’s look or sound. In my example below (just finished for a client), the brand is not to look commercial in nature. That means the client doesn’t want it to look over-produced or visually expensive (shaky camera motion is okay).
Anything remotely resembling Hollywood production values may not be included. In fact, the client wants no traditional “call to action” at the end of the video because even that looks commercial. That means titles, credits or even showing the website address are out. And sometimes I’m not allowed to show the brand name or logo at all.
Music choices (if any) must be eclectic, unexpected and definitely not sound anything like the typical acoustic-guitar-background-music-to-relaxing-wine-country-setting. That reflects this client. Another wine country client may indicate that is exactly their brand.
Is the video engaging?
(Define “engaging” LOL.) Skill in story-telling and editing plays an enormous part in answering “yes.” Viewer attention spans are so short these days, it’s essential to grab it and keep it with riveting content from the first frame. That may mean excluding titles or explanatory slides or text at the beginning. Just because your opening seconds include a beautifully panned shot of XYZ, dovetailing into a compelling narrative doesn’t mean the viewer will give you more than four seconds of their time. It takes but a moment to click “stop” or close a browser to lose your viewer.
The little things that improve engagement:
- Employ fast, short editing cuts of clips. (They can always replay to see a clip again.)
- Mix still photos with video motion photography.
- Keep transitions between clips simple. (Don’t test out every different transition style from checkboard to dissolve in the hopes that it will generate adequate variety for your viewers. That only sends a muddled message.) Stick to only one or two transitions styles in short videos.
- Use great soundtracks–legally.
- Get to the point immediately.
- Use humor.
- If you feel your own attention lapse even the slightest, your clip needs shortening up – no matter how much you hate to give up a certain moment.
- Always leave them wanting more!
Would I Watch It?
This is your final test of the edited video. If you don’t enjoy watching it, you can guarantee your target audience won’t watch it either.
Bottom line: Even when your video’s objective is to be educational, it must be entertaining. If it isn’t, no one will watch it. If the video shows the business owner explaining a product or service but the delivery is coming back worthy of a good snooze-fest, you must figure out how to inject excitement and energy. This may come in the form of superimposing humorous captions or subtitles to juice up attention. Or you may re-cut the entire video with other content to make it pop. Get creative.
If the video reflects the brand, is engaging to the viewer, and you would watch it, your job is done! Judge for yourself: