10 Mandatory Ingredients of Online Video Content (Part One)

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This definition of ‘great online video content’ has to be one of the most subjective definitions in existence.

How many times have you heard someone say: “We’ve produced some great video content for our client.” 

And then you watch it and shake your head (until it nearly falls off).

Is this ‘great video content’ claim simply based on personal preference and / or original client buy-in?

Probably (sadly).

Who ultimately decides?

The public, of course, but how can you predict performance before hitting publish?

Side note: If you only use video in an ad hoc manner (as opposed to treating it like your other channels, characterised by regular and consistent programming) you’ll NEVER be able to predict success with any proof / confidence. 

While I could bleat on for years about the subjectivity of this topic (and why I can’t stand PR and Advertising people developing these ideas in isolation), I’d prefer to share some practical criteria for online video content that covers the important bases.

Online video content: 10 Key Ingredients 

I’m going to look at the first five ingredients now, and will follow up with the second five next week.

1. The first 15 seconds – Let’s rip this directly from the second edition of the YouTube Creators Playbook: Many viewers decide whether they are going to keep watching your video within the first 10-15 seconds. Attention spans can be short and they are just one click away from abandoning your video. The video’s content – “What am I Watching?” – should also come across in the first few moments and hook them early to give them a reason to stick around.

Here’s an example of a video which does that (in my opinion): Built To Last (from First + Main).

2. Just an ‘idea’ vs. a film / story – This is very closely related to the first ingredient and why you need film producers involved at the embryonic stage of the process. Compelling online videos contain characters, plots, sub-plots and twists. They are mini-films. Scripting and story-boarding content properly is essential. This is especially obvious at the end of solid online videos. You are taken on a journey and then should feel compelled to respond. This (should be) is the only aim.

Here’s an example on a project we worked on: #1thing (Coca-Cola)

3. Taking a stand? Here’s some good questions to ask yourself when you are getting a feel for the quality of your content: Does your content take a stand? Does it have a voice? Does it have a point of view? Other characteristics via the Webby Awards criteria for content include informative, useful, funny and leaves you wanting more. It is often difficult for brands to take a stand, but it is the job of brand advisors to push those boundaries are far as they can.

People like iJustine (gadget reviewer) epitomise this characteristic – check out her YouTube channel here.

4. Addressing a need – Following on my earlier pet hate (single video mentality versus consistent and regular programming) there is a lot of evidence to suggest video content that addresses a need should be an (almost) ever-present criteria. This is where using your assets wisely is important. If you can identify a customer need for knowledge, you can use your in-house experts as talking heads to help solve that need.

Home Depot’s YouTube channel and how-to videos are a great example.

Note: Pitching channel ideas as opposed to single videos might seems costly, but the return you’ll get from a regularly engaged audience will pay dividends.

5. Evoking the ‘right’ response – This has been a feature of points 1 – 4 so far and needs its own point. If you scroll through YouTube channels and videos, you’ll notice people LOVE commenting on the featured content. Video content is the easiest form of content on the web to consume and therefore the easiest to participate in post publishing. When creating content, have a think about how people might respond to it. If it is egocentric or narcissistic, you will get grief for that. Ideally, prescribe the ‘response path’ for your audience by giving them something specific to comment on or add value to.

Looking ahead

We’re going to get a bit more specific in part two of this look at the ingredients of great video content.

The key message to take from part one is simple: Ignore the one hit wonder / viral mentality and consider other ways of entertaining your audience.

And, the only way you can avoid the subjective discussions about the quality of video content, is to create and publish video content regularly, using the insights from each video to improve the quality of the product you are producing.

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