3 Steps to Video Content that Stands Out On The Web
We hear it so often maybe we’ve stopped hearing it: “Content is king!”
Yes it is. Without it, television, movie theaters, and the Internet would be very lonely places. From funny cats and Charlie biting his brother’s finger yet again, all the way to slick ads, news stories, marketing pieces and blockbuster films, content shapes the way we view the world every day. With emotion, straight facts, manipulation, humor, drama, and satire we are entertained, sold to and taught.
Savvy brands are joining the party with their own content in an attempt to get their piece of the glory. It can be a crowded and confusing place and if you’re new to the content game, where do you start? As a company trying to gain market share on a crowded and noisy Internet, how do you stand out? What works best to gather an audience–and to keep one?
1) The Television Formula
The television formula comes to mind. What makes a television show watchable and popular? Three things: story, characters and stakes.
So to begin, a good story will always connect with an audience and if you tell yours in a creative way, people will watch. What is it about what you do that can be told? How does what you do affect people? Is there something unique about where you operate or how you obtain your raw materials?
Next, characters will bring people back. Are the people featured in your video relatable to an audience? Are they fun, silly, authoritative?
Then the stakes; in television we like risk as a stake, as in “Will my favorite character succeed or fail? Survive or die?” The stakes in your video need not be so dramatic, but what can you offer that creates that kind of anticipation for resolution within your video story?
As an Internet example for story, character, and stakes look at the amazing success of Bunny Meyer and her YouTube series, “Does This Thing Really Work?” She successfully bundles all three parameters into her videos, but she, as the character, is the life of the series. She’s funny, spontaneous, smart, and fun to watch, but she never forgets her story or her stakes and if something doesn’t work as advertised, she reports the truth as she sees it.
There’s a dedication required for success like that. There needs to be an investment of thought, money, and time. But the rewards can be great.
In the corporate world we don’t always have the ability or the approval to create something as complex or seemingly spontaneous as Bunny’s channel, but the goal to connect is still the same. Whether you post one video a week, one a month, or only one a year, the formula remains the same: story, characters, and stakes. And while Bunny has created a brand with a casual feel, your company may have a different brand image to maintain.
2) Production Value
To create an effective web presence with video content, a brand needs a few things that will make it stand out. Obviously production value is a good first thing, but a word on production value; we’ve all seen that one video go crazy viral with bad, hollow audio and the unkempt “character” shot shaky style on a phone. There’s no way to explain the success of these kinds of videos. You know the ones I’m talking about. Some of these offerings just seem to touch the human experience in a weird way and we share them over and over again. That doesn’t mean though, that that is a technique you want to adopt for your branded appearance on the same Internet.
The most basic level of production value is good sound and a steady picture. You don’t want Tom in accounting to shoot your video just because he did a good job on last year’s Christmas video. You may not necessarily have a budget for Spielberg either, but fortunately there is middle ground. There are many production companies out there that shoot great video with great sound, and some of them, also functioning as marketing companies, can help with the story.
3) The Brand “Must-haves”
Following are some of the things I have determined through long experience that a brand needs in its media to make it stand out.
First, your video offering should create positive, strong, and unique associations with your brand. Its attributes should be clearly visible. They can be suggested or openly declared.
Second, pick a style of communication. Emotion connects with an audience. So does humor. If either of those elements can be a part of your video, it could be a good place to start. So if you make golf clubs, you want to tap into your viewer’s connection to golf, through emotion, humor, or even the gleam and shine of new equipment. We all love shiny.
Next, you should differentiate your brand from your competitors, Marketing 101, but important. You have to look different or better than others. How?
This is where the story part of our formula comes into play. That said, there should be a story. A tour of the plant may not get many views, but a story about a plant worker that participates in triathlons may have a different outcome. You want to connect your audience to him as a character and to his stakes, then through the affinity you created with his story, connect your viewers to your plant. That worker is one thing you have that’s different from everyone else.
As part of your story you want your video to improve customer perception. You need to have a clear idea of what you want them to think, know or feel after watching your video. And notice the “or” above. You don’t want one video to try and do all things. Let one video announce your product while another evokes a feeling about it. Have one clear objective to communicate in each video release and it will focus your efforts.
Third, you want to make sure your brand is clearly identified in the video. How often have you recounted to friends a great commercial you just love, but can’t remember who’s it is? You want your brand associated with this great story, so it needs to be seen. It can be subtle, or more out front. Show the product in use, placed in beautiful product set-ups, and use clean graphics. The little logo bug in a corner is good too.
How Much Can It Cost?
One thing you’ll notice not mentioned here is money. That’s because video budgets have so many ranges and levels, there’s no rule of thumb. And a high budget doesn’t always equate to lots of views. You can invest $100,000 in a project that connects or doesn’t connect. You can do the same with $5,000. In a future blog I’ll talk about production value and how it figures into the overall equation.
Now all this may sound complicated, but there are production professionals in your area that can bring all these factors to bear on your next video offering. They can bring a fresh perspective to your brand. They are also consumers, and may see an angle from a consumer perspective you may not have thought about. A good production company can give you a creative concept and a budget with no obligation, and that might be a great place to start.
So what do you do?
One. You stand out by telling great stories no one else has that feature characters your audience will connect to that are in a situation your audience wants to see concluded.
Two. You build an audience by delivering quality content, and keep your audience by making each offering of content a good one, technically with good sound and a steady picture; and aesthetically with stories to which they can relate.
Three. You include in each video the brand “must-haves” and create a clear and concise message.
Regular video offerings will give you presence on the Web and can become a source of pride for the company as you build an audience willing to share your content with others.
-Gregory King is President and CEO of King Media Group, located in Southern California.