Video telling the human story


As emotional creatures, we tend to respond more favourably to media types that capture desirable semantic aspects. With video being the most information dense media, capturing approximately 1.8 million words per minute, the use of video storytelling as a marketing strategy is highly effective. This is because many visual cues such as gestures and auditory aspects can be used to set a videos tone to supplement information delivery. Whether the purpose of your video is to market a good or service, market a cause, or something else entirely, the implementation of emotional marketing and video story telling can greatly increase the odds that your video will go viral. 

The increase in video popularity is correlated with a decreasing human attention span. In 2000, the average person’s attention span was 12 seconds. This number has dropped to 8.25 seconds in 2015. A decrease of 31.25% in just 15 years, the average person now has an attention span less than that of a goldfish. 

Further research indicates waning viewer attention span when looking at static webpage content. On an average webpage, visitors read approximately 28% of the words presented. The percentage of visits to webpages that lasted over 10 minutes is less than 5% and the percentage of page views that last less than four seconds is 17%. Even on small webpages consisting of 111 words or less, viewers read less than half. 

This means that, now more than ever, video has the potential to capture usersattention better than many other media types. Further, the average viewer now values a concise message over a message jam packed with information. This is perhaps why video storytelling is perceived so favourably in contrast to traditional advertising forms. 

To begin, even if the purpose of storytelling is to sell the viewer a product or service, storytelling is not perceived in the same negative light that traditional sales pitches are. This is partially caused by the fact that storytelling comes across as a more authentic means of delivering information. Further, stories only delivered the minimum amount of information required while relying on other contextual cues from audio and visual aspects of the video to deliver a particular emotional connotation. 

Depending on the message you are trying to deliver however, there are various storytelling techniques that are more appropriate for specific situations. 

If the purpose of your video is to encourage your audience to take risks, demonstrate how you’ve gained some new found wisdom, or to take the audience through a journey, a Mono-myth video story telling technique is the best choice. A Mono-myth is a story structure where the hero of the story is removed from their comfort zone to somewhere more threatening. After overcoming a great triumph, they return home with a reward or some newfound wisdom. By drawing parallels in your video story to this general structure, your story will inspire viewers to experience similar feelings. 

If however you are trying to evoke one, constant emotion from the viewer, then a technique that involves compiling a short series of stock video snippets which convey a constant emotion may be a better choice. By frequently switching between the snippets and having background audio that complements the mood you are trying to deliver, it will be much easier to keep the viewer engaged while you deliver the message of your story. The series of stock videos you use however must complement the story you are telling. Even if the videos capture the mood, if they are completely irrelevant to the story, you risk distracting the viewer. 

A cost-effective choice and valuable way to showcase the experience of someone who has either purchased or lived through what you were trying to convey with your message is a video interview. This is the most simple and therefore the most cheap, however its success is hinged on the effectiveness of the storyteller. The person being interviewed must have the correct look and personality that supports the tone of their message. Further, they must be well spoken and deliver the information in such a way that it does in fact resonate with the viewer. 

If the purpose of your video is to motivate, build tension, illustrate how you overcame a series of challenges, or deliver a satisfying conclusion, then a Mountain storytelling structure will yield the best results. As a way of strategically mapping the tension and drama over the course of the story, you can capture the escalation of commitment that the storys protagonist experiences in their pursuit of some overarching goal. This story type is often most effective at delivering a climactic conclusion. 

If the goal of your video is to illustrate how you acquired a particular piece of knowledge, explaining a certain abstract concept, or to show how you were inspired, then a storytelling technique called the Nested Loop works most effectively. By layering several narratives with each other, you can draw parallels and make analogies that build upon each other as your video progresses. This is especially effective when trying to convey abstract thought as you have the ability to create a framework that is layered in escalating complexity. By taking the user step-by-step through complex thought, you have several opportunities to simplify an otherwise difficult concept. 

If the purpose of your video is to explain the usage of the complex product, a product walk-through method of storytelling may be the most optimal choice. Videos like these serve the purpose of the traditional instruction manual, but make the viewing experience much more enticing for consumers. Not only do these videos deliver the same information regarding how a product is assembled, but they also give dynamic illustration of how the product is actually used once complete. Further, if the user chooses to, they can rewind, pause, and fast forward the video as they need to, so there is not the same need to worry about information overload. 

By choosing the right storytelling method for the message you want to convey, and appropriately incorporating semantics into your video, you can increase the value you deliver to your audience.

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