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If You Film it, They Will Watch — That is, if They Think it’s Worth it - 1/18/2017 -

By Thomas Marcetti

It seems like just about any conversation about modern publishing is required to include video. In some circles, they will happily tell you that online video is the answer to all of your media ails. Well-executed video is certainly a powerful publishing tool, but the key there is "well-executed.” Video alone is not enough.

In fact, a report by Parse.ly suggests that video is not nearly as popular with viewers as it is with advertisers.

The media analytics company analyzed information from more than 700 media outlets and found that online video showed significantly lower user engagement that short, medium, and long-form text items. In fact, online video was viewed 30 percent less than a normal post — that is a non-video, non-slideshow item that is between 200 and 600 words.

On the flip side, long-form articles — posts that are more than 1,000 words — received more than twice the engagement of a normal post. And slideshows were viewed 30 percent more than a normal post.

You’ll notice that no one is sounding the death knell of online video or suggesting that publishers or media groups abandon video. Far from it. Video is a powerful publishing tool, but this report does remind us of the importance of making sure you’re using video properly.

The goal for your videos shouldn’t be 100 percent viewer retention or virality though those things are nice. The goal of your video is engagement from your target viewer.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning video content:

Specialized content. Video content that is simply regurgitated from another platform isn’t effective. If your member can get the same information in another location, you are teaching them your videos are simply repetition. They are much less likely to watch your new video if they think they’ve already read all the content in an email blast.

Video content should play to the medium’s strengths, especially emotion, inflection, and nuance. Make the viewer laugh. Make them cry. Make them angry. Make them something or don’t count on return consumers. The old adage for writing applies here quite well — show, don’t tell. Show real people in real situations. Show the positive effects of a program instead of having someone sit and talk about it. Show people celebrating instead of just saying there is something to celebrate. This is a good opportunity to include your members in the process. Show and share their stories as inspiration to the rest of your membership.

Calls to action. After you’ve tapped into the proper emotion with the proper content, use it. Now that your member has this information, make sure they know what to do with it. Make it clear how to implement the best practices you just showed them. Make it easy to take part in the program you just highlighted or sign up for the email, membership, etc.

A call to action not only gives people a clear way to engage, it gives the experience purpose. Again, you can teach people the value of your videos. If people are taking action or taking something away from a video, they will remember that. So when they see you’ve published a new video, they’ll be more likely to act on the expectation of worth.

Make the video interactive. A call to action is great, but it also usually means viewers are required to stop watching to do something. As with any type of content, any time you offer people a chance to stop reading, watching, or engaging, you’re guaranteeing that someone will take you up on the opportunity.

If your video asks the user to go to a different website and perform a series of tasks, you’re giving them the option to disengage. So make it easy for people to watch and act. Let people complete the action right inside the video player. Let them sign up for an email list, share the video on their social media, make a purchase, or whatever while they are still watching and emotionally invested.

Know what’s working. Most associations are working with niche audiences that will have dramatically different interests and needs. You have to know how those needs translate to video. As the Parse.ly report shows, video is not the silver bullet of content. You need to know exactly what content your members want and in what way. Which topics are they willing to watch a 10-minute video on? Which topics do they stop watching after 10 seconds? Are more people watching the videos on Facebook or through your digital publication? If you don’t know, then you’re missing important opportunities to tailor your videos to meet your members where they are.

Thomas Marcetti is associate editor of Signature magazine. Signature is a benefit of membership in Association Media & Publishing. Find out more about becoming a member now.


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