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How long should my video be?

Look to the left. Now to the right. Are you alone? No one has to know the answer to this question. This is a moment of truth. How many times in a day do you check your smartphone? How many times while you’re reading this blog do you think you’ll have a quick glance at your email inbox.

News flash: attention spans are shrinking!

That much we know. But, before making any determination on length you have to consider your audience. Where do they live?

Your answer impacts which platform you should use to share the video. The answer really is don’t just create one video at a fixed length. In this multi-channel world, it is very ambitious and bold to ask a lone video (regardless of length) to do everything. To maximize performance, vary the length of the same concept. What you put on Instagram will not be the same content you share during a live event.

With all that said you’ve got to learn to crawl before you walk. In essence, in order to break the rules you have to learn them first.  So here are the basics when it comes to length.

Go Shorty…

Remember when we mentioned those short attention spans? Let’s get back to that. To cater to viewers’ fleeting attention advertisers now film snackable, six-second versions of their 15- or 30-second ads.

Six seconds?! Yes. This is a very viable length right now. But remember, the video does not have to do everything… it just needs to get the attention you desire and cause the viewer to want more.

The overwhelming majority of videos we create are less than two minutes in length. Our team embraces the shrinking attention spans and shifting audience expectations, and we are always advising our clients on how to adjust their content to match.

We find that when it comes to product videos, some demos, and explainer videos, the shorter and more succinct the better.

1. Explainer Videos

In essence, an explainer video is one which provides an overview of a problem and demonstrates how your product or service provides a solution.

As these are generally quite top-of-funnel, meaning you are likely engaging your audience for the first time to get their attention and get them wanting more,  it’s best to keep them concise.

Recommended Length: 60 seconds or less

We produced a high-level infographic to explain what Hu-manity.co stands for.       
A deep and sophisticated philosophy does not have to be difficult to demonstrate with video.

2. Product Videos/ Sizzle Videos

If you think of the explainer video as the “what.” Then your product/ sizzle video is the “why.” These videos let your viewers experience your product or solution.

And at this stage, it’s okay to go a little longer. At this point, you’ll have piqued their interest!

Recommended Length: One to two minutes 

A product video doesn’t have to be something tangible. It can be a concept or an event. We produced Visit Tampa Bay’s Sales/Sizzle video as a tool for them to attract more meetings and large scale conventions to the area.

3. Webinars

Webinars are great opportunities to delve deep into subjects of interest to your audience.

With webinars, you also have a lot of flexibility on video length. It all depends on what you’re presenting and how you want to present it.

Recommended Length: 15 minutes plus Q&A

                               Our crew assisting with Bayer’s CTEPH webinar. 

4. Social Videos

What better way to connect with your audience than through their favorite social channels?

The rising popularity of IGTV is the world’s way of recognizing people are watching less TV and consuming more digital content. Instagram TV allows creators to upload high quality, long-form videos. It allows users to create channels where they can upload videos between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long.

IGTV is in fact the exception and not the norm (for now). In general, short and sweet videos are perfect for engaging with your audience on social.

And while it’s important to keep tweaking your video approach as social needs are always changing, here’s what’s working well right now.

Instagram stories can be longer, but they go away. And remember money talks. If you put money behind your push on Instagram and Facebook the rules are different. Posts can be longer. So below are for those of you going it without the added push.

Recommended Lengths:

  • Instagram: 15-30 seconds
  • Twitter: 15-60 seconds
  • LinkedIn: 15 seconds-tw0 minutes
  • Facebook: 15 seconds-two minutes

Video Pitches

Are you pitching a reporter or maybe you’re producing a sales pitch?

If you think six seconds is short, consider that your email pitch may be competing against 799 other email pitches.

As professionals who have lived on the other side of the pitch, we recommend keeping pitches short and sweet.

You can check out more on video-pitching here.

Recommended Length: 30-45 seconds

Long-form Content isn’t Dead

Now with all that said, we are NOT swearing off long-form content. It comes down to your goal and many times the platform. Webinars, certain event videos (like our example below) and many product demos can be 3 minutes and more. The bigger questions are: How well do you know your audience and can you meet them there?

We created a longer-form video for Habitat for Humanity based on what we knew about the audience and the circumstances under which they would be watching. 

In a nutshell, even though short content performs well, consumers also seem to have an appetite for in-depth educational content.

Remember, time is money. But don’t sell your story short.  Hit reply and tell us if you think this article was helpful.

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About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

 

Turning Content into Interactive Connectivity

What do we want?

Engagement!

When do you want it?

NOW!

Interactive video is a perfect opportunity to provide customers with a dynamic experience when learning about a product, service, brand, idea, concept, etc… It’s like a custom-tailored suit. By enabling them to shape the way they consume your content, you can offer a more personal interaction with your brand and get them the most relevant information faster. Plus, you get something in the process.

Here are a few ways to make your video more fun, engaging and … interactive.

Clickable Content: Fundamentally, clickable video is any sort of online video that the user can interact with by clicking on it. That can be in the form of video overlays which allow you to display ads/ text without interrupting the content being watched. Different platforms offer different examples of this. Here is one from Wistia where we encouraged people to learn more about our TEAM:

 

Cards and annotations with YouTube are a simple way to get people to click on           additional videos, links to your website, products and merchandise, and more.  Cards have some advantages over annotations, like being optimized for mobile and higher click-through rates, but both can be useful. Cards and Annotations are a way to add interactive commentary, including links to your YouTube videos and beyond. See the use of a “Poll” in the video below.


360 Video: 360 video is pretty much just that. Only it’s so much more. It’s created with a camera system that simultaneously records all 360 degrees of a scene. Viewers can pan and rotate a 360 video’s perspective to watch it from different angles. The net effect is a deeper level of immersion into the video. When you strap on some virtual reality goggles/headset… the experience goes to the next level, however, 360 video is viewable on computers, iOS devices and Android devices. If you watch on your computer make sure you’re using the latest version of your web browser (ex. Chrome, Firefox). Google created Google Cardboard which would give you a Virtual Reality-esque experience.  The Australian Tourism Board created this 360 video of Rottnest Island. Click and experience it for yourself.


Email Opt ins / Call to Action Buttons: These interactive videos contain social buttons and forms inside the video. They can include email opt in forms (like the video below), buttons (including “buy now” buttons), redirect actions, embedded html, hyperlink text, and more.)  While CTAs are great for generating leads, they can also help contribute to a different goal: growing your email list.

Interactive videos give viewers the opportunity to determine how their viewing experience unfolds. In fact, there are some brands that create multiple endings to a video and allow the viewer to select the ending they want to watch. Regardless of your tactics, the more that you can drive engagement, the better the result will be for your brand.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

The Power of Music in Video

The importance of music in video is indisputable. It is the subtle guide that commands an audience to sit up and pay attention. The right music can make your video memorable and moving. On the flipside, a mistaken choice of soundtrack can give the wrong impression about a brand, confuse a message and/or simply leave the story flat.

Mad Bear’s Co-founder and creative genius Julian Williams, Knock it Out Music’s Executive Producer/ Composer Ryan Nach and Mark Malekpour with Beat Suite share some tips to help choose the perfect tunes for your next video marketing project.

1. Think about how you want your audience to feel

You know what I am talking about. You get a text from a family member and it says “Stop what you’re doing and watch this video.” A distraction from work sounds nice right about now, so you take the bait. A minute later, you’re holding back tears because the video you just watched was that good. And when a colleague stops by your desk to ask what’s wrong, you lie and say “My allergies are just awful today.” Try watching that video on mute; you probably won’t need those tissues this time. Nach says “the power of music to elicit emotional reactions is one of the reasons why it’s often referred to as the language of emotion – and it’s vital you get it right.” Malekpour adds “if you’re producing content that has a high tempo and is a visual feast, you need music that compliments that and carries the energy and tempo of the content… the music is used to keep the attention of the audience, maintain the flow of the video and help it along so that a 2 or 3 minute video doesn’t seem like a long, drawn out watch.” Remember, the music is a main ingredient that pulls them in, pricks their ears and grabs their interest.

2. Pick the right mood

The mood of a piece of music is one of the most important elements to consider when choosing a track for your video. “If I had to pick one of (Mad Bear’s) videos where the music set a mood and a pace it would be a video we did for Attorney Paul Edelstein. Right away the music sets a mood and a pace. And when it changes, it still drives the timing and edits under the voice over. It’s a great example of how music sets mood and determines the pace of a video.” How about music and sports? ESPN’s Monday Night promo for the Giants and Dolphins is a terrific example of how music and image complement each other…especially the first few bars of the Lil Wayne track.

3. Use budget wisely

Budget will obviously factor in when it comes to the quality of what you can afford, but a small budget doesn’t mean your video has to appear cheap. “Production music catalogues offer a cost-effective alternative to expensive specially-composed or commercial tracks” says Nach. The internet has also made music more available. “There’s a common thought that if you can license music for next to nothing, then you shouldn’t be paying much more for it. However, you get what you pay for with music, just as you would with any other professional industry…the quality of the writer and composition of the music track, where it builds, where it breaks… the quality of the instruments… the quality of a drum can ruin a music track.” Williams adds that “music and images complement each other. Powerful images can stand alone but they are enhanced with music. And good music with some editing can enhance average images.” Check out how the music takes a fairly simple subject like “How to Choose a Lawyer” and turns it into something sexy.

So I think we would all agree. When chosen well, music sets the stage and allows your video to shine.

Our thanks to Ryan from Knock it Out Music and Mark at Beat Suite for their contributions to this blog. You can check them out at www.knockitoutmusic.com and www.beatsuite.com.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes… she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.

 

Online Video Drives Cross Country Move

By Melea Seward

Last month, I moved 3,000 miles across the country. Well, 2,910 miles really, but who’s counting?

In February I started researching and in the span of about six weeks, I became a big consumer of products and services I previously had known very little about. As someone who regularly advises businesses and artists on their web marketing, on their grand stories, on their content strategy, it was an interesting user-experience exercise.

What worked? What didn’t? What made me buy? These were big purchases, from $300 (boxes and twine) to $25,000, (a new car), often researched and purchased completely on line. I even chose a house, sight unseen.

Googling “Cross-Country Move” is a little like going to WebMD and searching, “White Spots on Tongue” or “Tingling in Left Calf”. All signs lead to “Brace yourself. You are in for a terrible experience.” You have sickle cell anemia and all of your things are about to be lost, broken, held for ransom in Utah, or worse. The company you chose to move everything you own won’t return your calls. And neither will your insurance company. Yelp is the WebMD of consumer spending. It is a freak show.

In the micro-decisions and big decisions I made as I navigated the web, “Should I do a full-service move or use Pods? Should I DIY this? Absolutely not. If I were to do a freight or POD move, which company would I use?” I realized that what separated the reputable and the no-way-in-hell websites, was one thing: video.

Video created trust. Video told me, “Relax. We do this all the time. We will break it down into small, bite-sized steps and tell you exactly what to expect.” The company I went with to move me, they even created a DVD packet that they sent me in the mail. I tweeted them MAIL?! That’s stupid. Have you heard of the internet? And they tweeted me right back. They had heard of the internet. And they have their DVD packet online too. Relax. I was showing my high strung New Yorkiness. They were showing their excellent customer service.

@boardofus I apologize for any confusion. The same video clips are available on our YouTube channel

— ABF U-Pack Moving (@ABFUPackMoving) February 17, 2012

My partner and I watched the “how to load your stuff in the bulk head video” over and over again. It was like what I imagine going to a lamaze class is, a preparation for the big event, so on the big day, we would know what to do and how to breathe. We had the video queued up and ready on our phones for our movers to watch as they loaded the bulk-head. They had done this before. They rolled their eyes. Turns out, they have videos on their website, too.

When I felt overwhelmed, I would watch a how-to pack video, a how-to load everything you own into thirteen feet of space video, what car should I buy in 2012 video. For six weeks, before I went to bed, I would watch a video produced by a company I was about to hand over a bunch of money to.

DEAR BUSINESS OWNER, THERE IS A LESSON FOR YOU IN THIS.
Video is more important than ever. It is ubiquitous, it is shareable, it puts a human face — or faces — on your brand. Videos can be instructive, funny, create levity for a stressful experience, be helpful, and help me make it easy to give you all of my money with a smile on my face. Assure me. It also means I spend less time dialing your 1-800 number trying to talk to someone. It’s like using the TV as a babysitter for your customers. Video can save you money.

As you’re thinking ahead to your video content strategy, think to yourself,

1. What story can I tell in two minutes that gets at WHY I DO WHAT I DO?

ABF — the moving company I chose — succinctly tells the story of why putting your stuff in a freight truck makes a crazy amount of sense. Cheaper, more reliable, easy.

2. How can I break down the product or service I offer in a way that is helpful to answer the needs of my customers?

3. Are there any customers who would be willing to GIVE ME A VIDEO TESTIMONIAL?

I bought a car based on video reviews of others who had just bought the same car. And they gave tours. Lots of them. With no buyer’s remorse.

4. What content do my customer service reps or do I give to potential customers over and over again?

5. What expertise do I have that isn’t directly related to selling my product or service, but is related to helping my customer in the moment?

Videos on how to pack pictures, videos on what to think about as you set up in a new city, all of that content was related to me creating a connection with the brand. And hanging out on their website for longer than necessary.

Now I’m settling into a new life on a new coast in a new city (Portland, Oregon). Yes, I have heard of Portlandia. I watched it on YouTube before I bought Season Two.


Melea Seward is a web strategist for small businesses, non-profits, artists, and the occasional corporation. Her website is at Chief Amusement Designer, where she is the resident CAD. She also founded Board of Us, which is a little like Fight Club for business owners and artists. She can be found online at @boardofus. She lives in Portland, OR and works in New York, NY.

Video as a Commodity

Even if you are not in the financial world, if you saw Eddie Murphy back when he was funny talk about pork bellies in Trading Places you understand a little about commodities.

Gold is a commodity. So is oil. Even time could be considered a commodity but video… a commodity … how do you mean?

First, I am not talking about the common YouTube video of babies, furry animals and craziness caught on camera. I am talking about videos used for business.

Even in this context, obviously video isn’t found in the ground or growing on a tree. However, with the explosive growth of online video over the past several years and the over exposure of poorly produced, uninspired or predictable videos; the perception of video could clearly be seen as “a mass-produced unspecialized product”… with “wide availability” as Merriam-Webster defines a commodity.

Whenever you are thinking about video this needs to be your enemy.

Video should not be a commodity. When approached well, video is a tool specifically designed to do a job. Much like a scalpel or a steak knife. Both cut but don’t hand a surgeon one when he/she calls for the other.

How to uncommoditize your video:

1. Shoot from a certain perspective that is unique. The focus here could be capturing unique images or highlighting uniqueness through what is said. Ideally, you would like to do both.
2. Make sure your video is designed with your audience in mind. Not only should the message speak to them directly but it should be meaningful and hold key takeaway messages that they will remember.
3. Make sure the video is effectively delivered and then tracked (i.e. Google Analytics) that way you can properly make sure it is doing its job.

What has been your greatest video challenge?

What is the Mad Bear Experience?

The title is “A Conversation about Better Video for Business” and that is what we will deliver every month in this newsletter.

It makes sense that video will be the theme of what is found here but we will explore video innovations in a thoughtful way. We will not dumb it down because we are writing and shooting for an informed audience.

Many of our subscribers have the words marketing, advertising, sales and/or public relations in their tittles. These are people who have worked with video before but are perhaps looking for new approaches and technologies to better engage an audience. Other subscribers are business owners who are rethinking their current marketing budgets and considering how video might play a role. There are also hundreds of other people who just want to see what a bunch of video geeks will come up on a monthly basis.
Each issue will have a theme that we will explore in a thoughtful way. This theme will be expanded to our network of experts in supporting areas like SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media and Web Development/Design. These experts will be given a platform to add their 2 cents on the theme to help make this newsletter even more robust.

Ok… so you will also get a simple overview of the past month in the world of Mad Bear Productions — complete with news and snippets from our blog.

In future issues, we will perform product tests that will range from cameras to codecs to delivery platforms. The “Experience” will always be a mix of video and text but the content in the video and text will never be the same because while video and text support each other they serve different purposes.

We hope you enjoy and share the “Mad Bear Experience” with your friends and colleagues!

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