It’s tempting to think that if you have a good video, that’s all you need to rack up hits.

A good video, you might think, will attract viewers simply by virtue of its quality. All you have to do is post it somewhere on the internet, and people will watch it and share it of their own volition. It’ll go viral. It will be easy.

As good as that sounds, the truth isn’t nearly that simple.

There are countless details that can affect how people perceive your video when they encounter it and how they’ll then choose to react: the title, thumbnail, and surrounding text all matter, to name just a few.

One element you may never have thought about is the design of the platforms where your videos are posted.

Do you understand how users interact with the content they encounter on any one of these given sites? Have you taken this into account when designing your video?

In fact, there’s one specific feature that I want to discuss today: auto-play. It’s just one little technical quirk on social media, but it may have more of an impact than you realize.

The intention

Auto-play is designed as an enticement. As users scroll casually through their feeds, they’re subtly bombarded with options. They skim and skim until something finally stands out and draws them in.

In theory, this system is a win-win for both users (who can filter their experience with minimal effort) and creators (who have the opportunity to make an immediate impression).

But as with any other theory, it’s important to consider the complications that can crop up in practice.

The unintended consequences

A colleague of mine, David Khabinsky of Daled Studios, once pointed out to me that videos traditionally begin with a few seconds of fading-in. This is a vestige from the world of the theater, from which video was adapted; it recreates the moment of transition from the real world to the dramatic, the anticipation that builds as the curtain is pulled back and the lights dimmed to reveal the scene onstage.

The problem is, when you’re dealing with social media, that moment of transition might be all your viewer ever sees.

If your supporters are scrolling on by, and the video starts rolling only to reveal a blank screen, you can hardly blame them for moving on. You haven’t given them a single reason to stick around.

That’s why instead of fading in, a social media video needs to start off with a bang. By that, I mean it needs to be immediately eye-catching – visually arresting from the very first second.

Bear in mind that the sound doesn’t matter, since auto-played videos are usually muted; just like you can’t take the time to open slowly, you can’t rely on a great opening line to be your hook.

By contrast, a live presentation has completely different requirements when it comes to video. In that situation, your audience is present and focused directly on you.

Rather than opening with something abrupt and attention-grabbing, you can afford to fade-in. You can even afford a slow start if you want, a video that takes time to build up its momentum.

The point is, don’t just assume that once the video is made, you’re off the hook. Don’t entrust its success to fate. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for ways to ensure that not only is your video good – but that it’s being seen and understood.

What steps can you take right now to ensure your next video is implemented effectively?

 

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