8 Tips For Creating Effective Online Video

8 Tips For Creating Effective Online Video

As I explained in the previous article, The Web Is Not Television, online video advertising requires a different strategy than that employed for television advertising. The competitiveness of the industry and demands of the audience means that you must find alternate ways to capture and keep your viewers attention and then generate a response from them.

Here are eight tips for getting viewers to want to watch your online video content:

Create an Emotional Connection

This video is a great example of how to not only get viewers to watch but also to want to virally pass it along to friends and colleagues. And it works foremost because it’s funny. Creating an emotional connection with your audience whether it is making them laugh or cry or love is vitally important. We have to feel something when we watch it.

Add value

Something else this video does well is that it adds value. Even though it’s satirical in nature it actually provides some pretty helpful advice: don’t trust profile pictures; and oh, here’s a few ways that you can hide the flaws in your own profile pics. Providing content that is useful is another vitally important way of getting people to watch and respond.

Talk to Your Target

Clearly this campaign is not aimed at grandmothers who have never been online in their life. It is aimed squarely at the millenial social networking generation and it talks to them in terms that they not only understand but also like. We only have to see the rabid response to stories like Twilight and the various zombie movies to notice they are enormously popular with that demographic. So target your demographic and talk to them in terms and with language that they understand.

Strange Attractor

This was one of the top viral videos for March 2010 and it’s main feature is that it’s in extreme slow-mo. It’s shot at 1000 frames per second turning a seemingly normal act – dogs jumping up to catch food – into something unusual and interesting. A work of art. Unusual factors in a video that make us want to watch it are called strange attractors. They are elements that differentiate the video from their competitors. You can use visual, as in this case, character, or situational strange attractors or a combination, but they are an effective way of tempting your audience to watch.


Apart from the slow-mo the video also uses another technique to get us to watch: it tells a story. Sure it’s a basic story of the dogs leaping up to catch the food and then landing, looking very happy and satisfied, but it still has a beginning, middle and end. We actually find it really hard to resist a story that interests us. It’s almost like we’re compelled to find out what happens next. So, creating a narrative is a really powerful way to get your viewers to watch all the way to the end.

Choose the Right Content

Another element in this video’s favour, believe it or not, is that it has cute doggies in it. That’s not being facetious either. Certain types of video content generate more interest.
Views by Category
In this chart you can see that videos in the Autos category generate the most number of cumulative hits across a number of video content sites. Even the Animals and Pets category, which this video would likely reside, generates significant numbers. On the other hand, commercial category generates a vastly lower number of hits, That’s because nobody really wants to watch your commercial. Unless you give them a reason to.

Keep It Short

On TV commercials are of specific lengths: 15secs, 30secs, sometimes they are 60secs and rarely longer. And while those specific lengths don’t apply online that doesn’t mean you should be releasing long commercials. Especially if you haven’t got great narrative and characters to induce the necessary energy to keep the audience watching. For instance, feature-length versions of either of the videos above wouldn’t be as compelling to the audience.

This chart shows the percentage of the audience lost – that have clicked away – compared to the length of the video. Even with a 30sec online video nearly 34% of the audience click away on average. At 60secs you’re losing on average of half your audience and 90% have clicked away once you stretch your video out to 5minutes or more. That is a substantial reason why brevity is an important factor. However it doesn’t mean that all your videos must remain under 1minute. It does mean that you only have a limited time to capture your audience and keep them.

Provide an opportunity to engage

The greatest differentiating feature between online media and the traditional media sectors is the audience’s ability and desire to engage. Whether it is commenting, embedding, posting videos in response, or creating mash-ups, your online video needs to provide more than just a call to action to purchase the product. Using online video is a potent way to open a dialogue with your viewers, to ultimately create a community – your own personal research group.

While many of these techniques are used in television and other media, when creating online video content they become essential. They are tools for helping you to provoke a desire in your audience. To give them a reason to watch.

About the Author: skribe

Based in Perth, Australia, Antonio Barimen (aka skribe) is a writer, digital media consultant and social media producer.

He is available to help you develop social marketing and digital media strategies, improving communication between staff, partners and suppliers or just increasing the number of fans on Facebook. He has developed successful digital and social media projects for clients including CBS, Evian, Procter & Gamble, Discovery Networks, Pernod Ricard and American Express.

Connect with him on Twitter or Google Plus.
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Post Under Advice, Marketing, Video April 15, 2010

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