Tips for Engaging Video Viewers

As we’ve discussed previously, engaging online videos play an important role in ultimately converting your site’s visitors. In fact, it’s rare to convert people without first engaging them in one way or another. Engagement does more than entertain; it adds value and builds trust. Video is an excellent medium for doing just that.

If you’re ready to create an engaging Web video, you’ll first need to consider your target audience and how it relates to your product or service. For example, if you’re selling sunscreen, identify your target audience. Are you targeting moms who want to protect their children from the sun’s harmful rays or are you targeting teens who feel invincible and consider tan lines a badge of honor? Once you know who you want to engage, your message becomes that much easier to write.

Now that you know who your audience is, think about what they know or don’t know about products like yours. Think about what they believe in, what they value, and what they want. What matters most to your audience? For moms, value may mean complete, long-lasting coverage so that their kids don’t get the slightest of sunburns. For teens, value may mean a cool bottle or colored zinc oxide. A mom will appreciate supporting research or an expert’s testimony while teens may be influenced by a hot soundtrack or a celebrity endorsement.

Despite their differences, these audiences need a reason to choose your product over the others on the market. An engaging video can make your product more memorable (brand awareness) or more valuable, both of which can ultimately lead to conversion.

So, how do you engage these audiences? Here are some ideas:

  • Tips related to your product or service – While most people know how to apply sunscreen, many don’t apply enough or do it often enough. In addition, some spots of the body (such as the tops of the ears and feet) are notoriously missed. A video with tips on how to use your product properly could engage viewers and reinforce that you are the authority on sunscreen.
  • Event videos – Does your company sponsor an event? Consider posting short videos highlighting that event before, during, and after the event. Even modest events such as a local pet parade can drive traffic to your site and engage viewers. To be engaging, your event coverage should relate to your product somehow. For example, event coverage of a local surfing contest would be a good fit for a company promoting sunscreen.
  • Videos that solve your audience’s problem – People buy products to solve problems. By creating an engaging video that shows how your product does just that, you’re one step closer to conversion. So, what problems does your audience have that your product can solve?

Your goal with any of the above videos is to have your viewers nodding in agreement as you present your message or solution. If you can do that, you’ve created an engaging online video.

Behind the Scenes of Video Production: The Green Screen

If you’re planning on having a video production company produce a short Web video for your website, be prepared for a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity. After all, there’s much more involved than lights, camera, and action. When you arrive at the studio, you may be surprised at the lack of a set. In its place, you may see a gaudy green screen.

What Video Green Screens Do

The green screen may be bright and unattractive, but it serves an important function. This green color can effectively be removed from the video and replaced with other images. For example, when you watch a television weather reporter standing in front of weather maps and radar images, the weather reporter is actually standing in front of a green screen. In the television control room, a technician uses a switcher equipped with what’s known as “chroma key” technology to replace the green with a computer generated image. If you’ve ever watched the Suze Orman Show on television, her entire set is chroma key green and computer generated.

Why Chromo Key Green?

Theoretically, you could use chroma key technology with other colors. However chroma key green and chroma key blue are the most popular. These garish colors aren’t commonly used in clothing and props, making them a good choice. Remember, the technology finds all instances of the selected color whether the color is painted on the set or worn as clothing. If the onscreen talent were to wear a chroma key green necktie, that necktie would be replaced with the video intended to appear on the screen behind the talent.

The Green Screen and Online Video

While green screens are commonly used in broadcasting, they’re also used for Web video. If you want a unique background or a polished “broadcast-like” look, shooting your Web video in front of a green screen and replacing the green background with a computer generated or b-roll video background can accomplish that.

Another use for chromo key in the Web video realm involves virtual spokespeople who are superimposed over the actual website. In this case, the chroma key technology doesn’t replace the green background with a new image; it removes the background completely. With a transparent background, only the actor or actress appears. This allows for frameless video overlays and creates the illusion of the actor being a part of the website itself.

When you head to the studio for your next video shoot, don’t be surprised if you’re placed in front of an ugly green screen. If you’re curious, ask the director to show you the composite picture before or after the shoot and enjoy your time behind the scenes!

Overcoming Short Attention Spans with Web Video

Though Web video has become extremely popular, there are still many potential viewers who choose not to watch your videos. Not only do you have people hesitant to commit to watching a video online, those that do may have short attention spans. So, how do you convince viewers to watch your video and how to you keep them watching?

The reason many people hesitate to click a Web video’s play button is because they simply lack the time. Web surfers are accustomed to being able to quickly skim text to see if an article is relevant to them before committing to reading the article in depth. With Web videos, it’s harder to skim. If viewers perceive a large time commitment just to see if the video is worth watching, they may opt not to watch in the first place.

To overcome this initial objection, it’s important to make the following crystal clear:

  • What’s covered in the video
  • How the viewer will benefit from watching it
  • The Web video’s length

These three key points let viewers know if the video is relevant to them. Outlining the video’s content is a substitute for the skimming that many visitors need. By listing at least one benefit, you’re giving your viewers a compelling reason to click the play button. Telling viewers the time commitment lets them know just how long it will take to receive the information – and the benefits.

However, while these steps will help attract hesitant viewers, they won’t completely solve the problem of short attention spans. You can have viewers that want the information you’re delivering and completely willing to invest the time to watch the video, but if you don’t quickly capture their attention and then keep it, you could quickly lose them. People are simply too busy and pulled in too many different directions to put up with Web videos that do not engage them.

Remember when television shows and movies used to have long, creative title sequences? Think of the opening sequence of M*A*S*H as an example. The same opening song played each week while the same montage of helicopters and characters filled the screen. Each week, this opening sequence set the stage, introduced the characters, and got viewers in the mood for the story to come. Today, few television shows and movies have long opening sequences. Now, it’s not uncommon for the show to begin immediately with a brief, 10-second title sequence. Why the change? Attention spans.

What does this mean for your Web video? It means to forget the long introductions. It means get to the meat of the material quickly. It means you have to get the viewer’s attention in the first few seconds. So, forget the long fade up from black to a series of dissolving titles. Forget the “In this video we will tell you about. . .” monologue. If you can set expectations before viewers press the play button and then get your video off to an engaging start immediately after, you will have overcome the first two of many short attention span obstacles.