During the summer I was lucky enough to have lunch with some industry luminaries and as people who all create content – albeit predominantly of the written word type – the conversation came around to the use of video in marketing and communications. Common wisdom was that yes, all the insight points to HUGE growth in video consumption: the predictions state that globally, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020, up from 70 percent in 2015.* Facebook has invested hugely in its new ‘Live’ video broadcasting and since when did Zuckerberg jump on something that didn’t have some kind of traction?
But! The shared experiences around the table reflected a consensus that while video is great and can absolutely add value, producing it and delivering it to a high standard is a damn sight more fiddly than typing some letters into a word processing document (or blog, or whatever your preferred format is). There has always been some debate with people I know around video about the importance (or not) of the quality of the output. Brand is so important these days and a piece of crappily shot video with rubbish audio can potentially undermine a company or an individual’s position. Having dealt with the ramifications of that previously, it can be easy to come to the conclusion that video might be more hassle than it’s worth.
However, can ‘good enough’ video be better than none? It doesn’t have to be over-produced or shot in a studio – but if the audio is good and the quality is at least ok – is it preferable to giving up the ghost before you’ve even started?
Learning from good examples
I was mulling this over during the holiday season when I came across the video below (HT Katie McNab – also my maiden name doppelganger!).
This is not over-produced. In fact, although I’m sure it wasn’t actually cheap to make, I would say the quality falls into the ‘good enough’ category. But what makes it stand out (to my mind at least) is the concept. It’s clever, deceptively simple and makes the production values less of an issue than they might otherwise be. Even something as simple as this will have taken a lot of planning, and you can bet your bottom dollar (or pound sterling) there will have been a much discussion about which doors to include in the video! The music is also a smart choice and adds to the overall snappy, punchy feel of the whole piece.
I then also started following Alex Pettitt who is one of the biggest Periscope broadcasters out there. He mostly talks about social media and tech, and his broadcasts pop up at all sorts of random times. He gets thousands of viewers and he is mostly just sitting in his office talking to his web cam. It’s not flashy. But he always has a particular topic he is addressing in each broadcast and it’s clearly working for him and his huge community of followers.
So, what are my conclusions after kicking this around for several weeks?
- Concept is key. Whether it’s a Periscope broadcast or something you are storyboarding and scripting – you need to have a point to what you’re doing. Video for video’s sake is not going to work for you or your viewers.
- Plan. I would go so far as to say you should even plan short live broadcasts through before you press that big red button. I don’t believe videos need scripting necessarily, but planning your start, middle and end points means you won’t ramble on and bore people in this age of low attention spans. And if you’re creating something more formal for say a corporate brand, then the planning becomes even more key. It might take longer to plan than to film, but the up front investment in time pays off with a better end product in my opinion.
- Quality does matter. Poor audio and shaky camera work on something you are recording ‘properly’ (as opposed to a live video) can potentially be damaging to your brand…Interestingly, Zuckerberg feels that video feeds a desire from people to see more ‘raw’ content as an antidote to the stylised images of perfection that proliferate platforms like Instagram. But I would argue that nobody wants to see your laundry in the background of your home office!
- But having said that, ‘good enough’ – to my mind – is better than nothing at all. As video becomes increasingly important, getting too hung up on the perfect shoot with the perfect script and the perfect edit will be a blocker to you keeping up with the competition and getting your video out there. It’s all about balance.
- Don’t be too dependent on a particular channel or video platform. With Blab suddenly pulling the plug last month, there’s a lesson for us all not to get too dependent on any one platform. Make or broadcast the content you want without putting all your eggs into any particular platform’s basket. The video market is proving pretty brutal and it would be awful to lose previous recordings etc if your chosen platform suddenly folds.
I’ll be attending Learning Live this week and aiming to do more live video – hopefully with half decent audio and a particular topic in mind for every broadcast! My aim is to to summarise each session immediately afterwards. I’m sure the camera work will be shaky but hopefully the content will be useful to those following the backchannel.