Business videos get a lot of hype from the converted, but do they really live up to their reputation?
Is video the king of content?
To answer this question, we need to compare the online communications options we have: written word, still images (photography), graphic design (infographics), audio (podcasts) and moving pictures (video).
You may be thinking, “What about websites, apps and social media?” I’ve excluded these platforms as they are the hubs for communication content, not content itself.
From an entertainment perspective, we all know that moving pictures – film, television and video – are streets ahead of all other mediums in terms of their popularity. But where the communications revolution is taking place today, is that businesses of all sizes are now accessing the power of moving pictures. This area – traditionally dominated by Hollywood, the television and advertising industries – is now accessible to us all.
So, here are my Top 5 reasons why videos are good for business.
1. Our brains are visual
Going right back to basics we need to consider how the brain is wired.
From our very first breath, when we open our eyes as newborns, our brain interprets the world visually.
The ability to hear and speak, comes next – this capacity is written into our genetic makeup – but it takes several years to fully develop.
Then comes reading – this is a learned skill – it doesn’t come naturally. In fact, the evidence shows us it is a very under-developed skill. Just 100 words make up around 50% of everything we read.
And that’s why it’s said ‘a picture is worth a thousands words’, because the brain is designed to ‘read’ images, not the written word.
2. Stories are how we connect
Audio and visual images – both still and moving – trump the written word because of how we’re built.
So the question is, “What is the most powerful way to harness sight and sound?”
History provides the answer – stories.
Humans have been using stories to connect with one another and make sense of the world for millennia. Indigenous Australian cave paintings reflecting Dreamtime stories stretch back as far as 40,000 years.
When we think about business today, there is also a resonance – behind every great business is a great story.
3. Structured stories are more memorable
The Greek philosopher Aristotle put forth the idea that “A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end”. Shakespeare took this notion and ran with it, proving beyond any doubt that well-structured stories perform best for audiences.
His work provided the foundations of what we know know as the dramatic structure or dramatic arc – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
In my film and video production work, I see the same fundamental principles inform whether a video succeeds in holding an audience’s attention, and fails in its absence.
Modern-day humans are visual animals with a highly sophisticated understanding of story, so failing to structure a story to meet their expectations is fraught – do so at your own peril!
4. Videos are the most engaging way of telling stories
We’ve narrowed the field down to audio and visual communications as being the best way to tell stories.
I feel the case for video is based on pure arithmetic. It simply engages one extra sense than audio alone, adding vision is the difference.
Because our brains are so highly tuned to capture and process visual information, this gives video the edge.
That visual processing power can be harnessed to deliver massive amounts of information in a much shorter time. Visuals also have the benefit of being more memorable.
So let’s put this theory to the test…
Is it easier to understand and interpret an instruction on how to use a function on your computer by listening to a podcast or watching a short instructional video?
For most of us, the answer is video – because we can see what’s happening as well as hearing what we need to do. And we remember the key image that relates to that learning more than the narration that accompanies it.
We also see this reflected in consumer behaviour research – we’re collectively reading and listening less, and watching much, much more.
The opportunities afforded to businesses to take advantage of this trend are immense. The quality and quantity of original video content created for YouTube (the world’s second largest search engine), Facebook (the world largest social media network) and video-on-demand (the future of television) attests to this.
5. Great stories move audiences to action
However, there is a catch…
I believe there is a big difference between passive and active consumption of moving images.
If we plant ourselves on the couch and let the images wash over us without moving us at all, we haven’t changed.
This is the television culture we grew up with… but the world is changing.
In fact, when we think about television, the bits that are most effective at moving us to action are actually the ads – they say ‘buy this’, ‘do that’, ‘drink up’, ‘bet down’ – and many of us respond.
Now the Internet – with its increasingly popular video services made or curated by us, and social media connecting us all – changes the equation yet again.
Passive consumption of content is no longer the norm – we want to click, tweet, post, multi-screen and engage with the content we’re presented with. As audience members, we expect to be activated, and failure to do so often leads to us disengage.
All of us are now empowered to inform, entertain, advertise and move audiences to action.
And from a business perspective, the opportunity is to be be at the leading edge of this communications revolution.