Hand Drawn Whiteboard and 2D Explainer Animation

What Video Types Work Best Where and Why?


In Part 1, I looked at why we prefer to engage with visually rich stories rather than text alone.

In Part 2 I explored why online video has become an essential tool for anyone growing a business online.

But all online video is not the same. Knowing what visual storytelling styles or video types work best where, and why, is central to calculating where best to invest your video marketing budget.
If you are fortunate enough to have a product or service that has a physical embodiment or outcome, then this is likely to form the focus of your video marketing content. You should be able to not only show potential customers what your products look like but also how they are made, how they behave when being used or the outcome from their use. i.e. A great blender will blend almost anything. Consider yourself lucky to be so “Visually Rich” as all you will need is a good storyline, a quantity of visually interesting video footage and some editing skills.

If however yours is a “Visually Impoverished” business, then you will inherently struggle to be visually interesting, stimulating or even exciting. I feel your pain, because your only visual resource is likely to be your place of work or the people who work there. The term visual storytelling implies that your videos need to be visually rich and interesting though people can be, they aren’t that interesting to look at. More to the point. Pattern recognition is a known unconscious survival trait that may explain why we engage with music. According to a study by Johan Lehrer, the auditory cortex is only excited when challenged by the unpredictability of the melody. On demand video is a relatively new phenomena, yet my view is that the same rules apply. If the image being presented is predictable or doesn’t engage. It is subconsciously tagged as a known pattern, curiosity disengages and clicks on to look at something else. This theory is also supported in research published by the RSA in 2013, when they demonstrated that 15% more of the information contained in an audio recording was remembered, when supported with a series of revealed illustrations, than when the same information was simply presented by the speaker taking to camera. I

If you are a visually impoverished business then don’t despair. You are likely to be sitting on a visual content gold mine but haven’t realised it yet there will be value in what you have to say, you just need to make it visually engaging. Using visual metaphors with animation should be your preferred tool. These don’t have to be complex or expensive they just needs to be relevant and visually stimulating.

In part 2 I recommended using the rule of three in structuring your video marketing plan based on three levels of engagement.

Level 1 videos being for content that will grow your audience and help get you found. This can be almost anything which might entice and engage your audience and doesn’t have to be all about you but it is obviously better if it is in some way related to what you do. Use short, visually rich stories that are news worthy, i.e. something interesting which people may have missed, topical or informative. These should be created primarily to entertain for distribute through your social media channels in the hope that some of it will be shared. It is therefore important that you spend time actively seeding the distribution of these videos by encouraging as many people as possible to watch them. Attach a thumbnail image with an embedded link to your video within your emails. Include the same when posting to forums, your blog or other social media channels. The simple truth is that the more people you can get who already know you to watch your video then the more likely it is that others who don’t know you will also view your video.
Level 2 video content can be longer, go into more depth, be more educational but also needs to entertain, enrich, and reward without over loading the viewer with too much information. I’d describe these as being more corporate video than marketing hook but be wary of making these too long. Better that they are more elevator pitch than a lecture and not like this presentation. They may be the first touch a visitor has with your website so should educate and inform while encouraging visitors to want to find out more. These are also suitable for distribution through your social media channels but being more product or service related will be less likely to be shared.
Level 3 videos should form the bulk of your online video content. It is where you will find this presentation and will be there for anyone happy to invest their time in watching it. Level 3 content is everything which supports the value of your product or service including: How-to’s, training content, demonstrations, product or service reviews, product rotations, your stuff being used, case studies, customer testimonials and video FAQ’s. They put meat on the bone, are there to provide reassurance, reduce any perceived risk, present you as being experts in what you do to convert prospects into buyers. This is where people talking to camera works best because recorded video is at its most powerful when it is used to resonate emotionally with the viewer. This longer more in depth video content is the least likely to be shared as they are produced to help the conversion process and likely only to appeal to viewers who have already taken the time to connect with you at either level on or two. However consider taking elements from these to produce shorter more hook like versions more suited to distribution through social media.

In summary.

Aim to make your video content relatively fast paced, visually rich and if your can, emotionally charged. Unlike broadcast or cinematic storytelling, online video can be paused, re-watched or abandoned at any point according to viewer whim.
Have a distribution strategy and plan your video content based on what level it sits within this. Using video simply for the sake of using it will not bring the results you are hoping for. You must first identify where they sit within your overall marketing objectives and what measurable viewer response you want to achieve as a result of producing them. Content produced for sharing on Linkedin will be quite different to content produced for sharing on Twitter yet each may have the same strategic objective and use some of the same visual references within the story.