How To Make Your Video Content Stand Out, Embrace The Unexpected

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 74% of B2C marketers and 92% of B2B marketers use video in their marketing efforts. And rightfully so—with users constantly connected via mobile devices, video has become a top way to garner user attention and engagement. In fact, eMarketer reports that the average US adult spends 76 minutes daily watching video on digital devices.

With so many marketers competing for consumers’ attention, how can you ensure that your  videos are the ones that users are engaging with?

Creating Engaging Video Content

What makes for engaging online video? MIT’s Sloan School of Management examined 750 English-language YouTube videos across 15 different categories to find out. Their conclusions:

Contrary to popular belief, babies, animals, and attractive people have no effect on video engagement. At least, not directly—it seems the characteristic that makes such videos go viral isn’t the subject matter, but rather the surprise or incongruity (difference between what is expected and what actually happens) in the video. Takeaway: surprise viewers with unexpected and surprising facts or situations to drive engagement. Viewers are much more likely to engage with and share novel information.

The study also viewed satire and hyperbole (exaggeration) as strongly tied to video engagement. But be careful. Satire is seen as humorous by those who agree with your point of view but can be angering to those who disagree (it is these emotional reactions that drive engagement). Using satire in your video content should be done carefully and sparingly to avoid alienating a segment of your audience. As the study states, “using exaggerated content may earn views, but at the expense of angering customers.” Is that a tradeoff you are willing to make?

Accounting for Mobile in Your Video Strategy

Online video consumption has grown tremendously and mobile devices have been a driving force in this increase. In fact, Cisco reports that mobile video consumption is expected to increase 13-fold from 2014 to 2019. That means that all video content you create must be mobile-optimized.

File size is a key consideration when optimizing video for mobile. Just like mobile websites, users expect mobile video to load quickly – and to avoid re-buffering in the middle of a video. Mobile bandwidth limitations exacerbate the issue so it is important to compress any online video to reduce loading speed. Though, be careful not to over-compress the file leading to quality loss. Test all videos on desktop and mobile devices to ensure you’ve found a happy medium between high video quality and fast loading time.

Designing videos to be viewed across all screens is also an important consideration. Ensuring any text and graphics can be easily read on smaller mobile devices is essential—if a user cannot make out any graphics you felt were important enough to highlight, the user may quickly disengage from your video content. Again, testing can help prevent this issue. Preview any videos on devices with smaller screens to ensure all text is legible; then go back and increase font-size on any text that is too small.

Video and Social Media

According to venture capitalist and digital marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk, “The single most important strategy in content marketing today is video. Whether it’s video on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Youtube, the content you need to be thinking about creating and marketing on social for your business is video. Period.”

Need more convincing? Fast Company reports that Facebook video views have surpassed YouTube, while SnapChat receives 6 billion video views daily. Simply put, if you are not leveraging video on social media, you are missing out.

By distributing your video natively on your social media platforms—that is, uploading videos directly to the platform rather than embedding a YouTube link or video—your brand can maximize its reach to fans and followers who are already engaged with your content. (Natively uploaded videos tend to receive more organic/unpaid reach than YouTube embeds.)

By following the video best practices above, you can help ensure your existing fans share and interact with your video, amplifying its reach and driving increased engagement with new users.

In Conclusion

Online video is exploding in popularity and marketers must be savvy to capitalize on the trend. Create interesting content that surprises and delights users to maximize engagement; add a call-to-action to videos to drive likes, shares, and comments; ensure videos are optimized for view on mobile devices without sacrificing the desktop experience; and distribute your videos natively on the social media channels that matter to your business. By following these best practices, your video may just become that next big thing.