07 Jan 2009

Are you creating compelling online video content? Why not?

If you’re looking for an effective way to spice up your Web site and get users all hot and bothered in 2009, a quick look at the new comScore stats show that adding some video content to your site may just be the way to go. Hell, I got all hot and bothered just looking at the numbers.

Er. Disregard that.

On Monday, comScore revealed that 77 percent of US Internet users came together to watch 12.7 billion videos over the past year, with each user watching an averaged total of 273 minutes of online video. That’s a nice 34 percent increase from the year before OR an increase of more than an hour per user.

In simpler terms, that’s like an extra episode of Gossip Girl or a whole bunch more random YouTube videos sprinkled into your “busy” work day. Not bad, guys, not bad at all.

Especially interesting to me was that the average video was watched for just over three minutes and that the average Hulu video was watched for almost 12 minutes. Twelve! Suddenly the Internet has an attention span. Or at least they do when you’re providing them content they’re interested in.

As a site owner, this is important stuff. It means that as long as you produce interesting video content, your audience will sit there to watch it (and put up with the ads). Suddenly long form video is legit.

If I were you, here’s how I would be using online video:

To differentiate myself

Stop telling me what you offer. Put your money where your mouth is and show me already. BlendTec is the master of this. BlendTec blenders can blend anything, including an iPhone, a rake, and even light sticks.

Don’t believe me? Watch.

[The only thing the BlendTec blender can't blend is Chuck Norris. Google it.]

To show how useful I am and how much I care about you

The best videos are the ones that show you how to do something or help you solve a problem. When I first got my BlackBerry (yes, it’s pink, what of it?), I had no idea how to insert the teeny MicroSD card thingie. None at all. Luckily for me, I did a quick YouTube search and BBGeeks was there to show me the way. They were useful in my time of need and helped solve my problem. You can bet that the next time I have a problem with my BlackBerry, that’s where I’m going for help. Why? Because they’ve shown that they can help me.

I had a problem. They solved it. I’m sold.

To get users to engage with my brand

Kraft launched a Cooking Video Challenge towards the end of the year that gave people a reason to engage with the Kraft brand. Cooking aficionados were asked to choose one of Kraft’s recipes and then create a video of themselves preparing the dish. Top prize was bragging rights and $1,000.

Through the contest, Kraft got people raving about their brand (who says people can’t be bought?), they empowered Kraft fans, and they’ve now flooded YouTube with Kraft How-To’s. I see what you did there, Kraft. And I see how easy it would be for me to do the very same thing.

To attract attention with humor

Have a tough subject you need to tackle? Use humor. It’ll stick in people’s brains better and they’ll be much more likely to remember you (and giggle in your honor) while strolling down that one aisle in the grocery store. Humor breaks down people’s natural defenses and helps them get the message you’re trying to deliver.

[If you haven't seen this video, it's incredibly awesome. You must watch.]

To make an emotional appeal

If you don’t do what they tell you and fight global warming, your animals will die. Do you love your cat?

€˜Nuff said.

Most of the videos above are relatively short, but they don’t have to be. Give your users the content they’re after, regardless of how long it is. If it’s worth it, they’ll stick around. If it’s not, you’ll lose ‘em.