The Biggest Mistake Made with Informational Video

The biggest mistake organizations make with their informational videos is not a technical problem. It’s all about their audience.

So the average internet user spends 88% more time on a website with video than one without. This means putting a video on your web site is a no-brainer, right?

Well, if video really is better at holding people’s attention, why do so many organizations have YouTube channels filled with unwatched videos? Why is no one paying attention to them?

Time and again, I have seen organizations make the same mistake with their use of informational video. They forget one simple but crucial principle. It’s a rule of thumb that, when forgotten, sabotages their efforts to reach and persuade their audience. And it’s this:

It is never about you.

It seems obvious when you see other people do it. A talking head video that’s just trying to promote the latest release is simply talking past its audience. It’s nothing more than vain chest-thumping. And instinctively, we all know that – at least, we recognize it when we see other people do it.

Videos that are nothing but advertising for a product or an idea will gain zero traction on platforms such as YouTube. Unless they happen to be extraordinarily entertaining. And that’s hard to pull off, and it’s usually expensive.

Video advertising is what Seth Godin calls interruption marketing. He says:

“The key to each and every ad is to interrupt what the viewers are doing in order to get them to think about something else… Sooner or later they’re going to tune out the interruptions. Sooner or later, it all becomes background noise.”

Putting up a informational video that fails to address questions in the audience’s mind is just adding to the din. No one is motivated to click and watch a message that is entirely about you and your organization.

So rather than simply promoting, try educating.

A great type of video to put on your site’s home page is an explainer video. This kind of video illustrates how something works or what an idea means, rather than just giving a shout out to your organization.

For example, here’s a concise and appealing animated video from Zendesk that actually shows their value, rather than simply announcing their existence:

A great way to design an informational video that’s about your speciality is to think about how people are using Google. Figure out which keywords people are already typing into Google to learn about subjects that are related to you.

Try it yourself. Start with queries that begin with “how to” and see what comes up. Then think about how the answers to those queries could be delivered with a compelling video.

And above all, try to think about the needs of your audience. You have to step outside of yourself.

A great example of this is Google’s own research into the viewing habits of women on YouTube. They found that the time women spent watching content related to small business, business news, and business services more than tripled year over year.

Women are often stereotyped for watching beauty or parenting content on YouTube. But they’re actually more likely to seek out “how-to” videos. And they’re 50% more likely than men to regularly watch these kinds of educational videos.

So when you want to promote your idea to an audience, remember… It’s about their needs, not yours.

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