Don't overcook your videos

I once  saw a marketing video that looked really amazing. The three minute case study had it all -- drone shots, setup shots of the subjects from all kinds of angles, loads of Go-Pro shots of the setting. It really did look great.  It had 50 views.

It's not an anomaly either - videos like this are all over the internet. Keep an eye on your recommendations next time you're browsing YouTube, and I'm sure you'll see one. 

The fancy video made me think of  the opposite end of that spectrum:

If you can’t stomach 60 seconds of political content, I’ll describe it to you: it’s a guy (Opportunities Party leader Geoff Simmons), standing in front of a whiteboard, using it to explain a tax policy. There  are no Go-Pros, there are no setup shots and there are no drones. It has nearly 200,000 views. 

If we assume that both videos were looking to get lots of views, then the first one is pretty dismal compared to the second. Even if the glitzy case study video got the  same number of views as Geoff, it would still be a poorer use of resources, because the investment per viewer was so much higher. 

Video is a vehicle

Video is a vehicle to get a message across - not a vehicle to show how good you are at making videos. I suppose there are some niche cases where these two objectives overlap , like if you were producing marketing content for a video production studio or something.  But in most cases, the story you’re trying to tell is much more important than the production values of your video.

An interesting story that connects with people will compensate for relatively low production values. By contrast, high production values can't compensate for a story that doesn't connect with people. A drone shot of something people don't care about is still ultimately something they don't care about. 

Don't embarrass yourself

Having said that, don’t embarrass yourself with video that looks like home video from the 1990s. We're lucky enough to live in a time where it's easier than ever to strike a middle ground between these two extremes. I think TOP's video does a good job of striking that middle ground. Their video tells their story quickly and clearly. It has subtitles, so you can watch it on social media without your headphones, and it’s only a minute long, so it’s not a big time investment. 

So if you’re creating video, think about what you’re trying to do and the resource you have to do it. You'll be surprised by how much further your resources can go if you just focus on the message, instead of overcooking your videos. 

(Disclosure: I provide bits of pro bono communications advice to The Opportunities Party, but I never had anything to do with their videos. I just think they're really well done.) 

Image credit: Normanack via Flickr.

Sam GrovervideoComment