Why No One Watches Your Online Video

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Print is about information. Video is about emotion.

I read some research recently that indicated more than 66% of online video viewers turn it off at the two-minute mark.

True or not, it’s pretty close to my experience. For a captive audience at a live event, banquet, or other presentation – fine, you can go longer.  But when it comes to an online video – keep it short. 

But I continue to see more and more corporate videos, donor development presentations, and promotional video projects at 8, 10, or even 15 minutes. When I ask “Why?” I get the same old answer: “We just had so much information to share.”

Baloney. Online producers understand one big rule: Print is about information. Video is about emotion.

If you want to clobber your audience with the sheer weight of numbers like sales figures, how many people you’re feeding, outreach statistics, product specs – then write it up in written form and hand it out. They can read at their convenience.

But when it comes to an online audience, they’ll always connect better through meaning and emotion. Inspire them; don’t just inform them.

In the Wall Street Journal recently, columnist Peggy Noonan said something similar about political speeches:

“Politicians give 54-minute speeches when they don’t know what they’re trying to say but are sure the next sentence will tell them. So they keep talking. They keep saying sentences in the hope that meaning will finally emerge from one of them. A 54-minute speech is not a sign of Fidel-like confidence or a love for speaking. A 54-minute speech is a sign of desperation.”

She went on to describe a particular recent speech by President Obama:

“It was a speech about everything—renewable energy, tax credits, Abraham Lincoln, tax loopholes, deficit imbalances, infrastructure, research and development incentives. But a speech about everything is a speech about nothing. I listened once and read it twice: It wasn’t a case for re-election; it was a wordage dump.”

An effective online video – like a political speech – is not a “wordage dump.” It’s about meaning. It’s about moving your audience toward action.

Short films and online videos can be one of the most effective ways to connect with an audience. But next time, keep it moving, give it meaning, and keep it short.

What’s the worst problem you’ve seen with online videos?  

Phil Cooke Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California (cookepictures.com)where he helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."

More from Phil Cooke or visit Phil at http://philcooke.com

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