On Day Two of Brand Camp, Irina Dvalidze and Alexa D’Argenio joined our Chief Video Officer Jason Hsiao for a conversation we called Beyond Video Ads. The discussion centered around the creation of videos that tell a story, rather than focusing on the hard sell.

Alexa, our Video Producer, and Irina, our Senior Producer, shared numerous insights that they’ve learned from experience, both in terms of the videos themselves, as well as figuring out just what stories people will want to hear. The both of them are highly experienced video creators, and the forces behind our own video content and our storyboard collection, respectively. We’ll run through a few of their key pieces of advice here, as well as cover their tips for video creation best practices.

People don’t share ads. They share stories.

When marketing a product or service, there’ll always be a temptation to turn to the hard sell. Before you do, consider the content that you, your friends and family, and your customers actually interact with on social media. A straightforward, price-based sales pitch doesn’t make any attempt to connect with the viewer. With a social media audience that could scroll on at any moment, that sort of approach runs the risk of being ignored.

That’s why it’s so essential to get comfortable creating videos that tell a story. As Alexa says, “If your viewer watches your video and thinks, ‘That’s so me, or that’s so my mom, etc.,’ Those are the kinds of videos that make people say, ‘I’m going to show this to them right away,’ or, ‘I’m going to buy this for them right away.’”

But where do these stories come from? And does every business have one to share?

Don’t be afraid to get personal.

In an increasingly impersonal era of shopping, one that’s flooded with an array of similar products and services and a near-overwhelming amount of information to process, giving people a chance to make a personal connection with your business can be a powerful way to differentiate yourself from the competition.

But what does that actually mean? Rather than thinking about video as a way to showcase the nuts and bolts of a new product, think about it as an opportunity to introduce yourself to your customers in a way that they’ll want to take the time to watch.

Consider how you would describe your business if you bumped into an old friend on the street. What are the qualities that make you special? Remember, you are the expert on your business. You are the expert on what you offer. And you are the expert on your customers. Take yourself out of the mindset of how to express the ins and outs of your brand through video. Just think about what makes your business what it is, like the people, or the care you take in creating your product, or the place your business calls home. Once you’ve identified a few key differentiators, you can move on to putting it in video form.

Telling these more personal stories reminds people that they’re not making a purchase from a faceless organization, they’re doing business with a person, and one who understands their unique needs.

How do you translate expertise into storytelling?

This can be the tricky part, but as Irina notes, one of the advantages of Animoto is the ability to create a series of videos in short order, which will allow you to experiment with different kinds of stories.

Remember, you are an expert on your field. Even if you’re just getting started with your business, you have insights that the average person does not have. A few different categories of videos from Alexa and Irina that you could get started with include:

    • Explainer videos: Peel back the curtain on an aspect of your business that most people don’t have access to or don’t know about at all. Our Wellness Explainer Storyboard makes for a good example of this kind of video.

  • How-to videos: Video provides a highly relatable format for sharing a step-by-step guide with your audience. Our Step-Based Tutorial Storyboard might come in handy here.

  • Personal stories: How did you start your business? What was your inspiration? These sorts of videos allow you to truly introduce yourself to your audience and give them a person to connect with. Check out our Product Story Storyboard for inspiration.

It’s scary, but don’t rule out getting in front of the camera for these sorts of videos. It can go a long way toward establishing trust with people who have never met you in person.

It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t have to be literal. Irina gives the example of a business with an environmental focus. Not every video that business creates needs to pertain directly to their offerings. By stepping back and keeping watch for environmental news in general, they can create videos that show how they contribute to the larger community, generating brand awareness without “advertising”. “Your brand is about so much more than what you sell.” Rescue Chocolate’s video on the Montreal pit bull ban is another good example of a brand making this sort of connection.

“On social media, you don’t have the luxury of knowing that your audience will be sticking around until your last word,” but fortunately, Alexa and Irina also provided a number of valuable best practices for grabbing the audience’s attention and holding it.

  • Use a hook: Ask yourself what the most important or compelling aspect of the story that you’re telling is and lead with that.
  • Open with a strong visual: Those first few seconds are essential to keeping your viewer’s attention. If you have a particularly impactful image or video clip, put it at the very beginning of your video to make sure it gets seen.
  • Ask a captivating question: You may be noticing a theme here. The first battle is getting viewers to stick around. Asking a question and then unpacking it over the course of the video is a tried-and-true way to do so.
  • Call out a statistic: Leading with a fun or surprising statistic is another useful entry-point for a video.
  • Keep feeding the viewer information: Once you hook your viewer, you have to keep them there, so make sure you continue to leave breadcrumbs of information throughout the duration of your video.
  • Use a storyboard: Our storyboards are templates designed specifically to help you stand out on social, and our three newest additions , masterminded by Irina, were created specifically for storytelling videos.

Any questions?

Ready to get creating? As you get started, remember Alexa’s advice on shareability: “Think about the stories that you want to share with your audience, and take it one step further and ask yourself why your audience will want to share the video as well.” Don’t be afraid to “embrace the imperfections,” as Jason said.

If you have any questions for us, let us know in the comments! For access to a community of fellow video creators, join our Facebook group, the Animoto Social Video Marketing Community, by clicking the button below!

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