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Doing Video Right: 5 Tricks from the Experts

Blog post   •   Jan 29, 2016 10:00 +08

(From official event photographer)

Still grappling with whether and how your brand should embrace video? There are few names better to look to for guidance than Twitter and the Huffington Post, giants in digital content creation and hosting that are leading today’s video revolution. We took your questions to the content producers and strategists behind these leading digital brands - and more - at Online Video Advertising Strategies 2016 (VIDAS 2016).

So what did the experts have to say about trends and strategies for online video? They clued us in on 5 specific tips for producing effective, engaging videos:

1. Demographics aren't Enough
You really have to know your audience - down to their average attention span at different times of the day, their gritty preoccupations and priorities, and the constraints of their preferred viewing platforms.

Jim Spencer, President of online video newsite Newsy, shared an example: Understanding that Newsy’s audience liked to listen to the news while getting ready in the morning gave the team the idea to create automatic morning playlists of news with less emphasis on visuals and more on detailed narration.

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2. Debunking a Myth: There is No Magic Length
This may come as a surprise but short and long videos can be equally well - or poorly - received. Short videos work best for news clips and portrayals of specific objects. Long videos have maximum impact when there is a compelling character whom audiences want to follow through with.

“But what about video length restrictions?” you may ask. That leads us to the next point.

3. Avoid the Cookie-cutter
Besides the fact that short and long videos elicit different emotional and intellectual responses, different publishing platforms typically have different limits on video length; Instagram’s stands at 15 seconds and Snapchat’s at a mere 10 seconds. The same consumer will have browsing habits unique to each platform he uses. Ergo, it’s no longer just a consideration but a necessity to create different video content for each platform in order to capture an audience’s interest.

But for the resource-constrained teams that can’t afford to create a whole range of snazzy videos for a single campaign, Twitter’s Director of Product Strategy Maya Hari also suggests a workaround - create one long video and splice just the most salient, exciting bits. Be sure to feature your brand prominently in the first 3 seconds to improve recall dramatically!

4. Do You Really Need Audio?
Mobile has surfaced as the dominant device. 65% of Facebook’s video views and 90% of Twitter’s happen on mobile devices. While brands benefit from video auto-play on many apps, the videos are automatically played on mute. Video content creators need to consider how important audio is to achieve their core story.

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If at first audio seems instrumental, it’s important to ask - can the audio be supplemented by text overlays and visual cues? By combining these elements in their online news videos, Newsy effectively caters to their audience throughout the day - whether the audience wants to listen to the news while getting ready for work or view news on mute at work.

On Twitter, compensate for the muted audio by featuring your character(s) and key message right at the beginning of your video. Maya Hari shares that this doubles the likelihood of viewership.

5. Be Authentic (It Might Take a Few Tries)
When Internet news juggernaut Huffingtonpost hosts sponsored content, it takes care to ensure that its clients and their content are tailored to suit the priorities of the Huffington Post’s audience. This prevents embarrassing contradictions between their own brand and their clients’... like that time The Atlantic, famous for publishing literary work by Mark Twain and Edith Wharton, posted sponsored content from the Church of Scientology.

It might take some iterating to get it right. As shared by Huffpost’s Video Strategist Drea Bernadi, the team typically assesses its audience’s response to initial ideas before returning to the drawing board. This continual reevaluation of audience response ensures that the native material that goes out is aligned with both their own values and audience and the client’s expectations.


Mynewsdesk was a media partner for VIDAS 2016. If you’re interested to find out more about partnering Mynewsdesk for your event, feel free to reach out to Julia Tan at julia.tan@mynewsdesk.com.

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