I was driving along the other day when an ‘80s classic came on the radio. As I hummed along to The Buggles Video Killed the Radio Star it brought me back to my college days (yes I’m dating myself) and the launch of MTV. The song was the first video MTV played in 1981. It was also a 3rd party video boast on how the channel would change the world. The song became the unofficial MTV theme song and the channel did change the world.
Now more than a quarter of a century, and a fistful of gray hair, later, there’s another video channel, albeit on the web, YouTube, that’s threatening to change the world again. And the way things look maybe YouTube should get The Buggles to revamp their old classic to create its theme song for the 21st century. I’ll even throw a potential title out there. How about “Video Saved the Communication Star?”
Because with more than 8 million hits a day on the video sharing web site, YouTube has become more than an entertainment novelty; it’s an online community opening up new marketing possibilities and new audiences for businesses and individuals alike. But how do you maximize the audience? How do you know you’re making a good YouTube video? Well ‘good’ can be subjective, so I’ll draw upon agency experience to give you some first-hand guidance. Over the years we’ve uncovered some key elements that memorable and entertaining videos have in common:
- Show it, Don’t Say It – Don’t forget: video is a visual medium. Words on a screen and talking heads can be hard for viewers to follow and even harder to get excited about. Use action and symbols to demonstrate concepts wherever possible and try not to stay on a single shot for more than 5 seconds. Diverse imagery and scene changes will ensure a steady pace, keep viewers engaged and make for a stronger overall viewing experience.
- Remember Your Real Audience – You may be the only one making your video but hopefully you won’t be the only one watching it. Don’t forget your real audience. Put yourself in the seats of the people you’re trying to reach and make sure your concepts make sense through their eyes. Tailoring to your target audience will help you hit a video bulls-eye with viewers.
- Juice it up with Music – You’ve heard the phrase “silence is deadly”, well that goes double for online videos. Don’t let dead air be a death nail for your piece. Use music wherever possible to emphasize a point, invoke emotion or infuse some energy. Hitting the right notes can take your piece from video downer to life of the online party.
- Make ‘em Laugh – Just like re-telling a good joke, people love to share a funny video. Don’t underestimate the pass on power of humor. Push for laugh out loud moments in your piece that people will not only relate to, but will want to tell someone else about. Laughter is contagious and that’s a good thing when it comes to viral videos.
- Always Leave Them Wanting More – It’s easy to fall in love with your work but an epic online video can fall flat with viewers. As a general rule shorter is better. Think TV commercial not video novel. With this in mind, one-to-two minutes is a good guideline for length. Get to a point where you think your piece is strong and then try to cut it in half. You’ll feel better about it, the audience will enjoy it more and your high speed line will thank you.
- Close Strong – In Hollywood they say you’re only as good as your last movie. Well in online videos you’re only as good as your last scene, so you better make the final one count. Don’t end with a whimper. Push for a close that reinforces your theme, wraps up your piece, and leaves an undeniable image in the mind of the viewers. An unforgettable ending can make up for some slow spots and move viewers to pass on your piece to others.
So there you have it: Show it, don’t say it; remember your real audience; juice it up with music; make ‘em laugh; always leave them wanting more; and close strong.
Here’s a YouTube video that we put together for one of our clients to help employees understand a new approach to the marketplace. See if you think we followed our own advice.