What are cave paintings, essentially? A pretentious art show in the middle of a damp cave, that’s what. I can picture the artist was standing there next to the paintings in a Woolly Mammoth beret looking bored. At some point, there were probably caveman art critics who came along. “Oog no like use of space.”
The paintings ended up drawing notoriety and attention. The same is true with today’s online content.
Videos are made to attract attention and hopefully keep an audience long enough to motivate someone to action. That would be pretty easy to accomplish if today’s online viewers didn’t have the attention span of a toddler hopped up honey smacks and jolt cola.
Sounds patronizing, I know, but that’s exactly what the audience has been reduced to. Recent studies show that online viewers have an attention span of 9 seconds. 9 seconds? I can’t even have a thought in 9 seconds, a hazy recollection maybe, but never a full thought.
Ask any six-second “star” of Vine to explain why anyone would subscribe to his or her channel. I’m sure they couldn’t tell you because, quite frankly, the phenomenon of Vine shouldn’t even exist. People shouldn’t have fans for a six-second joke that has been circulating within 5-6 different Vine user variations. It’s absurd.
Unfortunately, that’s the reality we now live in. As we devolve into human versions of Spongebob Squarepants we have to change the way we approach making video content. So now the job is to shake a pair of keys in front of the audience and have them on their backs, giggling and reaching for the shiny–shiny.
Again, sounds patronizing, but that’s the truth of it.
The ‘burger method‘ used to be taught for storytelling.
A chunk of meat, a bit of cheese, some tantalizing bacon and ends it all with another huge chunk of meat. It may not be very good for you, but it’s popular and people keep on buying it.
This is the formula for a new age. A snack sized informational nugget to fill you up as quickly as possible. Seems kind of difficult, but there are ways to make it work.
Key things to remember with this new format:
- GET TO THE POINT. Since videos are inherently getting shorter, your message should get to the audience quicker. The specific fight is to get your point out before the viewer clicks on the ‘Skip Ad’ button. This is the new marketing battle for many companies. First it was recordable TV– viewers could hit a button and skip the commercials, now it’s a small clickable banner in the bottom right corner of your video. How many seconds do you have? It takes 5 seconds for that button to get clicked. Spitting out your point or grabbing their attention in the first 5 seconds will do you well to get your message out there.
- EXPECT A DROF OFF. Unless the video you make has a very specific purpose, the most important part of your video will not be the end. The end is where most of your audience has already clicked away so they need to see who you are and what you do before that happens. 20% of the audience has already clicked away within the first 7 seconds, so make that time count. Those first seven seconds could make all the difference between a skipped video and a high retention rate.
- A MOSTLY WATCHED VIDEO WILL USUALLY BE THE MOST YOU’LL GET. A mostly watched video on YouTube or post on Facebook, unless it’s a 6 second Vine, is probably the best result you can hope for. As you watch the numbers of where people click away, getting 75% retention on that video is actually amazing. Most videos don’t even last that long. The challenge is not only to get all the information you can in a small amount of time but to also front load the thing as much as possible. Basically, all videos have become the equivalent of children’s shows and the end is now usually saved for a kicker of some sort. Some off chance reward for making it through a video.
Now that you know the formula, the real challenge is getting your message out. The first 7 seconds could be right on point, but the second that video falters, it’s lights out. There is no room for fluff in the entire video. It’s all meat with a bit of cheese. Why am I so hungry all of a sudden? Is KFC still open?