Be the enemy of average
Video will no longer be special in 2019.
According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Social report, marketers who never publish video dropped 25% to 14% from 2017 to 2018. In the same period, those that publish video daily doubled (6% to 12.9%). Imagine that a few years ago. 13% of marketers using video daily. Daily.
With LinkedIn jumping (late) on the bandwagon last year, native autoplay video is now in every major social network platform, from B2B to B2C. On Instagram, videos created each day quadrupled from 2017 to 2018. By 2020 (ie next year) 75% of the world’s mobile trafficis predicted to be video.
That means one thing: a storm of average is nigh.
In 2019 it will not be special to merely watch ‘moving pictures’ and compare it to ‘static pictures’ and remark how much better it looks. Only jerks will say “video out performs text posts every day of the week”. Everyone knows that now. In 2019, video will only be compared to other videos.
Standing out in a blizzard of average will not be easy. Last year’s video will seem 20% less interesting this year and it will be 50% more average than the year before. Hence, here are four ways to stay above average with stand out video content in 2019.
Be the enemy of average
Senior management will finally ‘get’ video in 2019. It won’t be an ROI thing. You will sit in at least one meeting this quarter where someone who ranks above you will mention video as if you have never bought it to them before and it was their idea.
Nine out of ten senior management stakeholders do not know the difference between good and average video. Senior stakeholders are smart and capable people managers (mostly) because they have devoted great swaths of their careers to delegating the doing to others. They don’t camp on Vimeo staff picks. They don’t while away hours nexting on IGTV. They haven’t seen as much as you. Their corridor of taste is narrow and uncomfortably short.
You are the wall (or steel slats — whatever) that average must climb to get published online in 2019. This year, spend time building that wall by topping up your taste for good content. Watch what people are talking about. Watch what people aren’t talking about. Follow brands that stand out. Often the best content doesn’t get good distribution budget, so you have to look for it constantly. Watch with your team. Have arguments. Taste can be elusive but hunting it will reward you with consistent and continuous improvement in your content.
Know your audience
Don’t self produce. There is a concept in writing called the ideal reader. This person is the ideal viewer for your work. They are pre-disposed to consider your brand. They have the right amount of money and/or problems only you can solve. They would be open to consuming your content so long its a) good and b) they can find it. You can use Google Surveys to understand your ideal viewer better. You can run focus groups. You can poll people in your facebook feed or send videos to friends or family who don’t care about your company but are a good representation of your audience.
But don’t create for yourself or your superiors. Listen to your team 50% less than you did last year. And don’t create content for people who don’t like you.
Don’t create content for people who don’t like you
There’s a lot of talk about optimising video for the first 5 seconds. Leading with subject is wise, and impactful openings are great, but imagine a feed of video content where every video is being ‘optimised’ for unengaged, fickle viewers. This is the social media feed of 2019.
There was a concept pre-2012 called ‘banner blindness’ where after bombarding website users with banner ads for 10 years, users learned to direct their attention to a subset of information on a website (usually those related to their goals) and ignore the ads. Banner blindness effectively ended the banner ad industry. Most websites don’t have banner ads today, and those that do are either blocked by software or completely ignored.
‘Open to distraction’ is not the goal of every user on social media. The endless scroll may be an epidemic, but it isn’t without intention. We are all looking for something, existentially or otherwise. People whom you have to trick to watch longer than 5 seconds are not ‘ideal’. Those fuckers don’t like you and probably aren’t ever going to buy from you.
Lead with purpose, not a logo. But focus on delivering meaningful value to the 10–30 second viewers and convert their attention by giving them something worth remembering. In 2019 more and more people will switch off if you stay with the pack.
In pre-production when ideas are flying around and someone sends you a script to read for feedback, read it. On set, when a director is offering you a screen to watch through, watch it. Engage thoughtfully with the process of making a video, because video is the product of decision making. If you are not making decisions, you are not engaged in making video. If you hate making decisions, get a great agency who knows you and your audience inside out.
That said, in 2019 you will feel the pressure to be making so much video that relying on agencies alone will not be feasible. You will need to pay attention to what is being made and what decisions are being made on your behalf. Put structures, milestones and creative artefacts in place to remain an active participant of the process. But don’t take over. Don’t assume you know everything. Employ experience over convenience. Make wise decisions between agencies who do what you say and those that act in your best interests (hint: you only want one of those).
At the end of each day of video making you will sit back in one of two states: 1) you will feel engaged because you created work that felt sincere and relevant and safe in the knowledge it will find an audience, or 2) you will sit back, puzzled, jaded, staring at your Facebook Ad Manager and wondering how much more ad spend you should allocate to float your sinking ship.
In 2019 the gap between play and pause has never been greater. Close that gap by eliminating average from your work.