Social media has transformed video. After losing its lead to text in the early days of the World Wide Web, video has made a huge comeback, in large part thanks to the implementation of video in social media and the formation of new video-based networks.
Following the notion of "the medium is the message," it's interesting to see how video has changed in recent years so that it could fit the demands of new platforms and changing audience behavior and needs.
When considering using video content for your next campaign, also consider the following advice.
1. Change your point of view
Camera angles are more than just a technicality. Selfies, for example, are a statement made by the "me generation" that no longer needs anyone's help to create content. That is why it is not at all surprising to see the increasing number of over-the-head shot videos, making this filming angle a new standard, especially for anything food-related.
The bird's-eye angle not only helps independent video creators film their work while minimizing external assistance but also creates an increased sense of involvement with audiences, who enjoy this first-person perspective and feel as though they are the ones filming. This new sensibility is important to understand even for those who can afford an entire film crew for their next branded content campaign.
The anonymous presenter—whose face often does not appear on screen at all—can be absolutely anyone, very much including the viewer. The poor man's VR experience, if you will.
2. Enjoy the silence
Brands and publishers have long realized that when audiences consume their content, they most probably consume only parts of it. In the case of video, it is the sound that usually ends up out of the picture: 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound.
With that stat in mind, brands have had to innovate ways for delivering silent—yet impactful—messages, paying special attention to visual tactics, intuitive content, and context. Those who thought that video killed the text star have been proven wrong, with the use of subtitles and written text making up for the missing audio channel of communication. You could say that Facebook brought back the silent film genre, title cards included.
A unique example for a brand that turned the tables on this new video consumption habit can be found in a campaign by cider-maker Kopparberg. The company included a hidden recorded message, inviting viewers who bothered to turn on the sound to participate in a prize drawing—a wonderful example of turning lemons into lemonade (or cider).
3. Cut to the chase
Traditional media outlets usually impose strict length restrictions on video commercials, but it turns out that even the toughest network could not compete with today's audiences' brutally short attention spans.
Advertisers are facing a much tougher challenge in reaching an audience that is anything but captive, so the first rule of ad clips is shorter is better. So much so, that tech giant Google has introduced six-second ads on YouTube to try to prevent advertisers from losing their audience.
Forget about building tension or saving the best content for last; brands advertising with video should start with a bang, or there will be no one around to watch the rest of their ad.
The TL;DR culture is also responsible for the rise of the skip option. Shared videos on social media come with a gracious recommendation to skip the irrelevant parts and begin watching at, say, 1:23. Once again, we see leading tech companies cater to their users' needs, with Facebook allowing users to go straight to the parts on a livestream that other users responded to most.
Publishers that value video content—such as The Hill and Red Bull—are also using content creation tools that enable users to skip the boring parts of lengthy video content. That is why content creators who feature or curate content should forego the less relevant or interesting sections and keep only what they feel their viewers will actually watch.
4. Make it scalable
We can go on and on about the advantages of video content, but one should also keep in mind that video usually comes with a hefty price tag. The production cost of video content is higher than that of text content; and when every small change requires costly external resources, the creative freedom for video creations is limited, hindering brands' ability to expand this type of endeavor unless they have deep pockets.
There are a few solutions to that problem. The first is to opt for content that is more general and flexible in nature, and hope that it remains relevant as changes in company messaging and branding take place. That approach is far from perfect, as it involves compromising the message, and still cannot ensure that changes will not be necessary later on. Another option is to use DIY technological solutions that allow creators to perform basic edits without having to rely on anyone else.
* * *
Much like the content it displays, video is a vertical that is ever changing. From '90s video clips on MTV to vanishing Snapchat Stories, the platform that airs the content also helps shape and refine it.
Based on what we've seen so far, we can expect that as technology advances, viewers will demand even more control over the consumption process, creating increasing demand for tools that allow brands to address their audience's needs quickly.
Solutions that offer more personalization and minimize the production cost will help brands and media publishers catch up with the changing climate and prevent their audiences from looking the other way.
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