“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” Screenwriting instructor Robert McKee could not have been more accurate with this quote—and storytelling is especially relevant in online video.
Our industry has evolved tremendously. In the past five years alone we’ve seen monumental growth on platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, and more. While this has spurred the demand for video everywhere, it has also lead to a crowded environment. The video options presented to audiences on a daily basis are endless. Brands both big and small invest heavily in online video.
For marketers, properly targeting an audience with an online video strategy has become a real struggle. Younger demographics have caused a shift in the marketplace, ignoring many traditional advertising methods. On the other hand, online safety has become a concern for many thanks to headlines on consumer data privacy. These topics and others play a big part in how brands should adapt and refine their video strategy in the coming years.
For brands invested in the online video ecosystem, it’s time to create more powerful and meaningful experiences with content. Using proven storytelling techniques in addition to understanding video platforms can lead to engaging experiences that provoke emotion and create dedicated lifelong customers. Here are a few tips to amp up the production process.
Be Authentic: A majority of consumers these days are on a quest to live more meaningfully. While that may look different for different people, a common thread is shared in how modern consumers view brands—people want to support companies that stand for something. Our purchasing decisions are researched, reviewed, and conversed about in a connected world.
Brands need to take an authentic approach to marketing. Rather than flat-out selling, they should demonstrate the real value of their products or goods and how they can add value to customers’ lives.
How does this apply to brand video content? For starters, it might be time to ditch that big budget production that eats up a lot of marketing dollars. Rather than having all of the bells and whistles in one video or commercial, think about creating series-based or shorter style videos that identify with niche target audiences.
Production value goes a long way, but brands don’t need to create the next Hollywood masterpiece. Focus on basics like clean audio, engaging video, and articulate subjects. Let the products do the work of storytelling. Make sure the video demonstrates how your products solve pain points.
Overview videos are great, but content that dives deep into the features and benefits of a product are going to be more popular. Check out this example from LinkedIn Learning Solutions on covering the specifics of a technique.
This series-based approach can help with video SEO and gives brands more content to distribute by breaking up general topics into specifics. It’s easy to put these videos into a playlist on YouTube or the brand website so they keep audiences watching longer.
Additionally, brands should consider the people being shown in their videos. Ask if the audience can relate and connect with them? Sure, a celebrity can get you a few extra views, but often this only acts as click bait.
Brands don’t need to look far to solve this issue. Take those rock-star employees and turn them into video stars. They’re often the ones who know the ins and outs of products like nobody else and are in the trenches with the life cycle of many products.
These subjects are more relatable to those savvy viewers we discussed above and can offer a level of authenticity that a celebrity can’t. Check out this example from Arizona-based Duncan Family Farms, which used employees to their story rather than paid talent.
Let Customers Be the Sales Force: A storytelling approach isn’t always something you come up with yourself. Take a considerable amount of time to listen to what your customers have to say.
Highlight the good and the bad with video testimonials or user-generated content. Taking the time to listen to a negative review and crafting a thoughtful response can make a customer feel heard.
Being real and admitting to product shortcomings or mistakes can show true integrity to your customers. This approach can lead to positive conversations about your brand and how you’re perceived in the marketplace.
Scope out the bloggers and influencers in your industry and encourage them to test and review your products in videos with no strings attached. While this might be painful at times, it can provide honest feedback and establish trust with those audiences.
Oftentimes, influencers have massive followings that may not have been fans or customers of your brand in the past. Getting a positive mention can convert those viewers into customers.
Brands can also encourage the use of hashtags with those videos to further create conversation around their products. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram all allow hashtags as metadata with their video uploads.
Know Where the Brands Is Going: This topic might be the most important when it comes to storytelling in online video. Publishers waste time when they take a post-and-pray approach. Knowing the ins and outs of each video platform—whether that’s social media or industry-specific sites—is crucial for online video success.
Each channel has its own technical specifications for video. For example, aspect ratios vary across platforms: They can be vertical, wide-screen, or square. Some videos may need to be optimized for mobile, while others may not. The ideal video duration across platforms is also different. All of these factors should be understood before producing content, and play a big part in crafting a story and video.
If brands fail to speak the native language of each platform, they shouldn’t expect big results from their online videos. Following best practices for each platform and paying attention to successful creators are great ways to properly craft videos. Tailoring output to specific channels also helps elicit an emotional response.
Platforms are starting to reward content that creates conversation. Facebook made big changes to its newsfeed in 2018 by opting to show fewer untrustworthy news posts and low-quality viral videos, emphasizing instead posts from family and friends to encourage more “meaningful” interactions. Facebook “can improve people’s lives by doing that,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
To reiterate, it’s critical for brands to think about each and every piece of content they put out there. Telling powerful stories with video should be at the top of the priority list. In this crowded online video landscape, brands need to do something to stand out from the noise, and storytelling is an approach that works and has been around for ages. Use these tips and incorporate them into future videos.