A question – why is it so many major brands have cinematic quality social media videos, yet their rate of engagement is low? We know they have the budget and the resources to produce top tier content, yet all too often the videos they make still suck. It almost always comes down to one major reason: storytelling.
We all can give examples of good stories. Movies like those in the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones series (yes, I know, I’m nerd) all tell drastically different tales but are each engaging because at their core they follow the basic tenants of compelling storytelling.
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At the risk of oversimplifying, what is needed to tell a good visual story is:
1). A character or characters
As human beings, we easily identify with those who are experiencing aspects of the human condition. That is the case even if the character, or characters, aren’t human, but instead a hobbit (I did it again… sorry, I’ll try to hold my nerdiness back moving forward) or someone living in a place and time we’ll never experience, like that of a spaceship pilot living a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (okay, I’m sorry, again, I have a problem).
Characters appeal to our most primitive emotions, and in turn, serve as a vehicle to explain complex situations through feelings we can all empathize with. The three movie series I mentioned earlier have complex global or out of this world political structures around them, ones that had they been laid out in a textbook would be nearly impossible for the average person to comprehend. Yet, when these situations are seen through the eyes of a character, most can easily follow what is going on.
To be clear, a product is not a character. A service is not a character. A deal or “act now” promotion is not a character. An explanation about why your company is better than your competition is not a character. Characters are people, just people like you and me, and are not simply nice things to have in a social media video, they’re vital.
To tell a good story, it must be character centered.
2). A beginning, middle, and end
The key to good video engagement is to give people are reason to watch the whole thing. In turn, there should be a storyline to follow that incentivizes the viewer to keep watching.
Your video should always be revealing something new and interesting that is as engaging in the beginning as it is the middle and end.
It doesn’t matter how much you pay Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. to “boost” your ad. If you don’t give people a reason to keep watching, they won’t.
3). A “Why?”
Are you creating a video for your benefit or for those of your prospective clients? At Five Seasons Media, we have a mantra we live by, “don’t create an ad, tell a story.” If your “why” is simply to increase your bottom line and not offer something of value to the viewer, there is no reason for anyone to engage with the content you’re putting out there.
In 2020, people don’t watch ads, they do however watch stories. If your “why” is to tell a story that rewards your audience with value, you will have digital success.
4). Good audio
Picture yourself scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and you come across a video that immediately grabs your attention. You click on it but quickly keep on scrolling onto the next piece of content because the audio is hard to understand. I am always amazed when I see videos that a company clearly spent tens of thousands of dollars on yet there apparently wasn’t enough room in the budget for a microphone that captures clear sound. If your viewers can’t understand what your saying, your message will not resonate.
5). Production value
You’ll notice I put this last on the list. Let me be clear, when we make a social media video, production value is of paramount importance, but we never allow it to come at the expense of the story. This is where many major brands have their priorities backwards. That said, for a video, you should have strong visuals that help showcase the other storytelling necessities previously mentioned, not the other way around.
A little advice, production companies are a dime a dozen, but good storytellers are a rare find. If you can find a company, like Five Seasons Media, that can do both, you’re in a strong position to succeed. If not, you’re in good company and as such won’t be standing out from the crowd.
The bottom line: tell a good story or find someone like us who can do it for you, and you’ll see your social media game take a major step up. You may even just create one page in your industry “to rule them all” (I had to, and no, I’m not sorry this time).
This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.
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