We see a lot of misconceptions about what it means for something to be a “good video”.
The most common form this mistake takes is the idea that if something is good, it’s always good – or, to put it another way, the idea that there’s one perfect video out there for you, and once you’ve figured out what that is, you’re set.
You can make one video, use it for all occasions, and save money in the process.
This sounds great, but it is, sadly, a terrible idea for a number of reasons.
This is true at both extremes. If you try to throw everything in – aim to hit every demographic, push all your selling points, and leave nothing out – the end result is a hopeless mess. You’ll leave no real impression because nothing you did had a chance to land properly and breathe. It’s too much of a jumble for any one idea to stand out.
On the other hand, it isn’t any better to be too generic, as if you can create something ambiguous enough that it can apply across the board. The problem here is that a broad message isn’t that different from a vague message, and another word for a “neutral” style is “boring.” If you dilute your approach too much, it loses its punch entirely.
Good videos are tailored and specific. They have a narrow scope because that’s what’s most effective and delivers the greatest ROI – precision, coherence, and focus.
How long should your video be? Should the tone be humorous or poignant? When is the right time to include a call to action?
There is no single answer that will give you that perfect video for all occasions. In fact, depending on the context, there is a different right answer for every one of these questions.
You need to know where a video will be watched in order to determine the most appropriate length, tone, stylistic approach and more.
Virtually all digital platforms – Facebook, targeted landing pages, email campaigns, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat – come with a set of unique needs that a video has to meet in order to be a good fit.
If you use a five-minute, in-depth piece when what you really need is a thirty-second trailer, you run the risk of boring and alienating your audience, sabotaging your own outreach efforts.
On Facebook, for example, you need to be aware that viewers won’t hear audio unless they click. This means that if you want to capture and maximize a user’s attention, you must rely on subtitles and strong visuals to draw the eye and the scrolling finger. You should also aim for something short and less formal, suited to browsing.
This same video would only detract it if were featured on your website, where viewers expect to encounter a higher level of detail on your organization. Site visitors are out in search of greater nuance and more advanced informational content. A Facebook-style video on your homepage is too lightweight and insubstantial for the situation.
Production companies employ all kinds techniques to adapt their handiwork to the necessary format. By recycling films, you undermine much of the specialized work and expertise that make them effective in the first place.
Some videos have a longer shelf-life than others, but it’s hard to imagine any of them lasting forever. In fact, the more immediately relevant your video is – the more keyed-in it is to an important ongoing issue – the sooner it will start to feel stale. Even if you continue to work in the same field and champion the same concerns, you will need to update your videos regularly to stay current.
Aesthetics, priorities and cultural touchstones change quicker than you think. Stylistic quirks that once seemed fresh and clever eventually become the next cliché. This very Pokemon Go reference is going to be a useless example by the time we hit 2020, if not earlier.
The zeitgeist moves on, and your film loses potency along the way.
The most efficient way to keep up isn’t to hold onto a video long past its expiration date, but rather to maintain a five or ten-year plan that makes the most of multiple videos over time.
You can try to create a video that accomplishes every goal and lasts forever, but it will only barely be able to scratch the surface of any individual objective.
Video can’t stretch and change to accommodate every need; it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Nor does it exist in a vacuum where nothing ever shifts or changes. And because one video can’t be the solution to every problem, successful marketing strategies use different videos for different goals.
While not everyone can afford to commission multiple films, you can certainly give yourself a boost by making sure that the one you have is worth it.
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