Video is swiftly becoming the native language of the internet – it’s expected to make up 80% of all traffic on the internet by 2019, and social media is making a strong push to become a video medium. At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Mark Zuckerberg commented, "I just think that we're going to be in a world a few years from now where the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video."
The video engagement you're seeking, however, won't automatically materialize; it all depends on the quality of the content you post. Users are increasingly sophisticated now, and their expectations are higher, so your video offering has to keep up with and exceed those expectations. Premium video is your most reliable route to audience engagement, as the online conversation shifts to visual.
Redefining Premium Video
The word premium is relevant here, but only if it's defined accurately. "Premium" doesn't refer to how expensive the video production gear was, or how many people were involved in creating the final piece. Premium is not about dollars -- it's about engagement.
Regardless of whether you're a large media company or a small lifestyle brand, what you want is to attract and engage your online audience. Once they start watching your video, you want them to be so engrossed that they watch it all the way through to the end. Any video that your viewers find compelling can be defined as "premium" by the standards of your company, because it meets your individual goals. Therefore, the nature of a premium video varies with the audience demographic.
Recently, Adweek sponsored a panel discussion of what exactly constitutes high-quality content when it comes to video. Adam Gerber, SVP of media buying agency Essence, noted that "at the end of the day, 'premium' content is what works best for the marketer."
The Power of Storytelling
Regardless of who your audience is, you can rest assured that storytelling is one of the keys to engaging their attention. A fascinating psychological study written by neuroscience researcher Paul Zak, PhD, explains why people are so captivated by stories. The researchers found that watching a video with a strong narrative caused viewers to increase their blood levels of cortisol and oxytocin. Our bodies release these hormones when we experience feelings of empathy and connectedness with other people. Test subjects who watched videos of similar length that did not tell a story did not release similar chemical markers.
Furthermore, the study found that the same type of story that caused viewers to feel emotionally engaged also led them to take action. People who watched the storytelling videos ended up giving 261% more donations to public service causes that were described in those videos. While this research was not conducted with the purpose of addressing the use of branded video content, its applicability could not be plainer. The researchers state, "By measuring how your peripheral nervous system responds to a story, we can almost perfectly predict what you'll do before you do it."
Don't Say Too Much
In addition to a compelling narrative arc, high-quality videos have other characteristics in common. One of these is their economy of words. Video stories succeed best when they don't overwhelm the viewer with too much text. Some words are necessary in order to convey the details of your message, but overuse of text will make a viewer tune out. In an exploration by the Science of People into the neurology of storytelling, Marsha Shandur reminds video producers and storytellers to "edit, edit, edit!"
Stay in the Moment With Mobile
A major factor in how the public will view your video is the intensifying shift to mobile. Video viewing accounted for 60% of mobile traffic in 2016, according to Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index, and by 2021 this figure will have reached 78 percent. Always being connected via mobile devices means that your audience expects a constant flow of fresh, relevant content. In the digital ecosystem, premium video content is defined by its agility -- the ability to move as fast as its audience and respond with new insights to a changing world. Expensive production techniques cannot compete with the ability to maintain an up-to-the-moment conversation with your audience.
Set Your Videos Apart With Branding
Making a premium video involves a range of craftsmanship, but there's another component you can't do without. You've put resources and creativity into giving your brand a distinctive look, so it only stands to reason that the video content you post shouldn't be generic. Branded video tells a story in the voice your users relate to, and it immerses them more deeply in the experience of interacting with your company. New users will learn about who you are through watching your original video content.
When customers already have a relationship with you, they'll be more likely to watch a video that's in a player on your site and branded with your unique style, voice, and of course, logo. The presence of that logo offers a guarantee that the original video content you're posting will be as worthwhile as the products you're selling.
Video content is the new language of our global conversation; engaging your audience means knowing what goes into making premium video, and using those techniques to stay continuously connected.