It's safe to say that video has gone mainstream. Everyone with a smartphone has become something of an amateur videographer. In the PR and content marketing world, more clients than ever are demanding video services as part of the package. Videos can help break down business concepts, showcase executive thought leadership and recap tradeshows and conferences.
But are people really watching them?
Half of YouTube videos get 500 views or fewer. About 30 percent get fewer than 100 views. Many corporate videos languish in an unpromoted channel, rarely breaking the 100-view mark. But when those videos do get seen, they really work. According to research from eMarketer, B2B prospects can be greatly influenced by video. The report found that, after watching a video, 46 percent said that they purchased a product and 54 percent contacted a vendor.
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So how do we reconcile the fact that YouTube videos tend to get watched by such a small number of people, but videos can have such a big impact? And how can we fix the problem?
The answer might be simple: make videos shorter.
The Art of Brevity
The two reigning social media channels for short video have been Instagram Video (with a limit of 15 second videos) and Vine (with a limit of six second videos). Millions of people are using the services. The popularity is staggering- 40 million people are registered for Vine and Instagram has 150 million active users. Those numbers are high enough to almost guarantee that a brand's target audience is watching short videos.
Brief, striking content has become an art form. Content marketing needs to be punchy and short, whether a blog post or multimedia asset, so short videos are likely to spur more engagement and more rewards for brands. Many companies have already started experimenting with short-form video this year, with Vine leading the way ahead of Instagram.
The emphasis has been more on starting a social conversation than actively nurturing leads or generating sales. For example, GE has recorded six-second science fair videos. If videos are spurring conversation, then PR is the one to manage that conversation -- and create the videos that start it.
The investment in these kinds of videos doesn't have to be big. If a brand is experimenting with content marketing with short video, all it takes is a smartphone, a good idea and six seconds of spare time. For further engagement, brands could even repurpose these short videos into a themed compilation of clips that cover one industry topic.
How Short is Too Short?
YouTube offers a robust analytics engine that allows brands to monitor which videos are getting engagement that goes beyond video views. Google's video service allows companies to get granular about statistics like minutes watched, which is extremely valuable when determining the appropriate length for different videos.
For example, just because one video has received 600 views doesn't mean that it's necessarily popular, or even having an impact. This could be a result of accidental searching from people who are looking for a laugh, not an educational experience about a product or concept. By analyzing the minutes watched, you can deduce which video attracts viewers that stay engaged and which videos are clicked but quickly abandoned.
Knowing how visitors interact with a brand's video is important, because if a video's key message isn't seen before a viewer closes it, then the content falls flat. Short video doesn't have to mean something as brief as the six or fifteen-second flashes allowed by Vine and Instagram, it means being conscious of how long viewers are willing to stay engaged with the content. In a lot of cases that will depend on the storyboarding and structure of the video itself -- does the clip start off strong? What's the central idea? Is the value of the video immediately apparent to the viewer?
As more companies get involved with video content, the competition for viewer attention is going to increase dramatically. Creating a concise video that still gets the key message across is going to become an art form for PR and content marketing campaigns alike, and brands that master it will have a huge advantage in the coming years.