When television news began, it consisted largely of a journalist sitting at a desk, reading from the newspaper. But from about the 1960s on, the slow realisation of the power of moving pictures gradually made TV one of the most powerful communications mediums on earth.
The Kennedy assassination, the first moon landing, the Vietnam war — these stories became so indelible for an entire generation because they were told through the visual medium. The pictures told the story better than any words could.
These days, businesses give primacy to visual storytelling. There has been a significant body of scientific research showing that people assimilate and retain information more effectively via visual media.
Think about how the primary tool of teachers for years has been the blackboard (now, of course, the “smart board”) at the front of the classroom. Teachers know that students retain only 10-20% of written information within a few days of reading it. Visuals, on the other hand, stick with them.
So, we learn better if we’re shown how to do something, rather than just told. There’s also a wealth of research showing that we’re more likely to engage with the content, reflect on it, and, if its compelling enough, share it with others. That’s why video is now an essential element in almost any business’ marketing plan.
But wait: before you rush out with your smartphone and microphone to direct your magnum opus, there are a few steps you need to take. Indeed, it’s this preparatory work that often makes the difference between success and failure.
What are you trying to accomplish with this video? Are you simply trying to build awareness of your brand? Are you trying to attract new customers, or nurture current ones? How do you want people to act on the information you're presenting? How will you measure your success?
There are many business videos that look thrown together as an after-thought, that clearly lack clarity about their overall aims. Just having the principal staring down the barrel of the camera and telling the world how wonderful the company is won't cut it. There needs to be a plan.
Once you've devided on your goal and how you'll measure it, you need to think about how to most effectively communicate your message. This is the creative part that requires to ask yourself: what can I do visually that I can't do in print? In short, you need to show rather than tell.
There are many types of videos that can fulfill different aims and say different things about your business. If you want to communicate the value of your services to customers, for example, a testimonial video or a video case study about a particularly satisfied customer would be ideal. Or perhaps you're launching a new product, and want to showcase it with a cinemamatic-looking promo.
What kind of video best fits with what you're trying to achieve?
To keep a viewer engaged with what you're trying to say, it's necessary to construct your pitch around a well-structured beginning, middle, and an end. What video can do better than print is convey emotion, or at least a feeling of what the product or service can deliver.
So a winemaker, for example, may choose to show the journey behind manufacturing their product — starting with the growers working to harvest the grapes, continuing through the cellaring process, and then ending the journey by showing people sitting together and sharing the wine over dinner.
There's an oft-quoted statistic that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. This means that, to be effective, your video can't rely on audio to get the message across. For this reason, it's often recommended to add subtitles to social media videos so that viewers can easily follow along without sound.
Additionally; bolstering key points and statistics with eye-catching illustrations and text graphics is a great way of maintaining an audience's interest and engagement, while also communicating clearly to them.
Don't try to tell people everything about your business in just one video. Break your message up into a series of smaller ones. Give people choices about which ones they watch, and maybe keep them interested by adding fresh videos on a regular basis.
Overall, the most important takeaway is simply to take video seriously as a communication tool: be strategic and thoughtful in how you use it, and in how you measure the impact of your videos.