That’s not a video.
Video is currently ‘king’. Yes, right after content was king, before SEO was king. Everyone is pivoting towards video and CMOs are on their teams’ necks to make ‘viral’ videos. In an age where video production is significantly cheaper, and ideas are abundant, it’s ironic that we’ve abandoned what videos really mean.
Here’s a reminder.
Video (according to The Oxford Dictionary): a short film or recording of an event, made using digital technology and viewed on a computer, especially over the internet.
Video (according to our current feeds): Short clips of (probably copyrighted) content patched together with bold font text slapped across and a click-bait title. Oh… and crescendo music that keeps building so you stick around long enough for the 2-second clip that makes your 2 minutes worth the wait.
Here are some examples.
They all have one thing in common. You’re mainly reading a story, with a few images provided for context, and music to keep you minimally interested. Nothing about the examples above qualifies as videos.
Unfortunately, even the big media companies are playing this game. Consider the video which accompanied the Vanity Fair article on Serena Willaims, Alexis Ohanian, and their love story. The Vanity Fair team had ample time to interview Serena, extract humorous stories, and complete a photo shoot. With different looks!
And then we come to the video.
One might click on it, hoping to hear the love story right from Serena and see the starry look in her eyes as she talked about her surprise pregnancy. But no. It’s merely powerpoint slides with images from the photoshoot, quotes from the interview, and stock music.
Let’s also talk about emotionally fraudulent videos. Those that harness the power of human empathy to go viral. If I had a dollar for every “What happens next will shock you” video I’ve ever seen, I could probably take a first-class trip to find out for myself.
How anyone expects these videos to make an impact on anyone is beyond me. Especially in marketing. How do you communicate value? Is there any evidence that virality has an effect on long-term market performance? Or are you just seeking analytical figures to show your boss and investors?
While we barrage 2.5-minute social media videos, let’s not forget YouTube content farm channels. In some ways, it’s hard to blame these content creators more than we blame the platforms they use. When content was ‘king’, blog owners would (and still) write 2000+ words to gain the attention of Google’s search engine bots.
Today, YouTube channels will hardly put out any video with less than 10 minutes of mind-numbing fillers. The latest ‘hack’ is that YouTube prioritizes 10 minute + videos over shorter videos, so goodbye straight-to-the-point content.
Every single idea gets stretched with long narratives and filler content, so their videos don’t get dumped down the search results black hole. And if you think the audience doesn’t notice, well, they do. As an (unashamedly) avid YouTube watcher, I often scroll through the comment section looking for help. Some of the good people of the internet watch these ridiculously long videos and summarize them in the comment section, just like this.
So here’s my point.
Are you’re a business owner, content creator, CMO, meme guy, or *insert title* planning to pivot to video? Hold on for a second. When you say that users are sharing more video than text, what does that mean? What kind of video are they sharing? Is that relevant to your brand?
If you’re planning to contribute one more powerpoint + text + crescendo music “video” to the world, there’s no need to answer these questions. Trash your video strategy document right now.
If you still remember what visual storytelling is, spend quality time on idea development, pay good money for production and editing, and honestly believe you have value to offer, then you’re on the right track. Don’t believe (and give into) the hype of viral-style ‘video’ content. While these videos may receive impressions, their value to any brand looking for real results is seriously overhyped.