Web Videos – the Story behind the Story

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screen-capture-8Guest post by Edward Peters

If you’re looking to make web videos, here’s something to keep in mind:

Each video tells two stories

There is, of course, the narrative, the basic story you want to tell. But there’s another story too – a bit less concrete perhaps, but just as revealing – the level of craft and professionalism you put into your product. Both stories can affect how viewers respond to your video.

A lot of us who began producing web videos in the mid-aughts had a short learning curve. The medium was still relatively new and some of us figured the talking head format was a quick and easy way to deliver information… and deliver… and deliver… and…

Yes, they could go on a bit too long – but we reckoned that viewers would be just as in love with our little Flash epics as we were – especially if, heaven forbid, we were “guest starring” in the video somewhere. In that case, we thought, Hollywood was right around the corner.

Then video metrics came along.

Uh-oh. It became apparent that our love was decidedly unrequited. After seeing a consistent trend of two-minute fall-offs – the equivalent of a lousy Variety review – we learned: package your message inside a short, compelling story and people will relate to it far better; oh, and better grab their attention in the first 15 seconds while you’re at it – or start packing.

Rightly or wrongly, people do not have the patience to sit around and watch you flounder around in search of a story. So, know your message upfront. Then, keep it short, keep it sweet – and get to the point! Give your viewers characters or circumstances they can relate to and your chances of connecting grow exponentially. Your metrics won’t lie.

And, let’s not forget that other story. If we don’t take care to make a well-crafted product, why should our audience care about watching it? Quality speaks volumes about the respect you have for your viewers.

G57A9722_1Edward Peters is Executive Director of Web and Media for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) and Owner/Producer of Shadowfisher


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