How to make good online video content

If you are involved in any marketing work it is likely that you have created or commissioned video at some point, but was it good online video content that is suitable for the web? In this article I’m going to try to summarise what makes a video suitable for the web, and why it’s important that you video is created specifically for online media.

There is a special skill to creating effective videos on the web. And there are several reasons why videos need to be created in a specific way when they’re published on Facebook particularly, but also on YouTube. (These are the two main platform under consideration here, but Twitter and Instagram are worth a mention in this context as well). This article does not consider Facebook Live either – that seems like enough for an article of its own, someday…

What makes good online video content?

As has happened with writing online copy – traditional narratives have been turned upside down online. The old beginning-middle-end storyline rarely works anymore when writing for digital platforms. The reason for this is that people will not, by nature, pay attention to the content of the web page for a very long time.

I would summarise the elements that make good online video content as follows:

  1. Produce a video that is no more than 2-3 minutes in length. (if you wish to use video for Twitter, there is a restriction of 140 seconds – which is 2 minutes and twenty seconds). Statistics suggest that the majority of viewers will not reach half way in your video. Many will not even reach the tenth seconds unless the video is suitable for its context e.g. social media.
  2. Make a video that works without sound. If you’ve been paying attention online, you will see that the majority of videos that you see on Facebook these days include visible always-on subtitles. Your video should be able to explain its topic and message without audio. Take a look at Channel 4 News’ Facebook page. Note the use of subtitles and introductory text.
  3. You must make a video that draws your audience’s attention in the first moments. To stop someone scrolling past your video in the news feed, it is necessary to draw them in with visuals. In the same way that the first sentence of online copy explains briefly the exact purpose of the rest of the piece, you should aim to do the same with video. Again, do provide striking or intriguing visuals, but provide enticing text to accompany the visual element. If you’re lucky,your users will decide that it is worth turning the sound on.

Why make a video suitable for the web?

We have already touched on this above, but it is worth emphasising people’s online viewing habits.

Previously, in our analogue days, to watch a video we would sit down in a comfortable position, turn the lights low, reaching for the popcorn/toffee crisp/fruit pastilles and watch video content with all our undivided attention. But that is not the reality of online video today.

Your audience will often come across your video content in the middle of a very busy feed of content. The competition for the attention of audiences is fierce. Unless your content really shines – your video will always be second to the video of the duck running after sheep dog. For real.

It is a serious point. On social media people expect to be entertained, saddened, exasperated, amazed. Unless you manage to appeal to their emotions, it will be difficult getting their attention at all.

Your strategy for video

The two main platform for video at the moment, undoubtedly, are Facebook and YouTube.

Facebook gives great attention to video content in the newsfeed of its users, and is now just as important a platform for video as YouTube. Why is that? Put simply, nearly everyone is on Facebook already, and a large number of those users spend hours on the platform every single day. You don’t have to go out of the way to search for content on another platform, let’s say YouTube.

So, you may ask where’s the best place to upload your content online? At the moment my advice would be to use both platforms by repurposing content.Put simply:

For the short term, put a video on Facebook, and draw the attention of your followers your friends to it.

For the long term, if the video has some staying power, put that video on YouTube as well, as it is the biggest search engine for videos out there.

Ready? Get making good online video – go!

This is therefore, simple, how to think about your video content when you’re commissioning, recording, editing and publishing online video.

Consider how people come across videos and consume content these days. After that consider how you are going to draw their attention among all other content that fights for their attention-span. And then, just maybe then, you can reach for that tub of popcorn!

What are your experiences of creating online video content? Is there something else on the subject that I haven’t touched upon here? Please let me know in the comments below!

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