3 Tips for Writing Great Copy for Your Marketing Videos

Ann Handley


This post is written by Ann Handley, best-selling author, keynote speaker, and the world’s first Chief Content Officer.

Ann Handley Writing Copy for Marketing Videos

Video is getting more play (ha!) in all of our social feeds.

Facebook says it’s going to get even more play (and they’re dissing the written word, but that’s an issue I’ve already weighed in on).

I don’t think that text and video are on opposing teams, though. At the risk of sounding like a 2006 Jack Johnson lyric (yeah, it’s always better when we’re together), I’d say that writers and videographers really are better together.

If you’ve read my book ( or heard me speak, you know I believe that everyone is a writer.

Simple tools like Animoto and other platforms also make anyone a video creator — if they want to be. So how can we combine these two forces – great writing + stupid-simple video creation to effectively grab attention on social media?

Here are my tips on how to make text and video truly better together.

Think before the ink

I developed a system called The Writing GPS to help writers craft their word in a reader-friendly way. The ideas apply equally well to any kind of content creation — including video.

So: Establish what you are trying to achieve with your video. Defining a business goal is important no matter what content you’re producing – a blog post or a video or an email. That’s step 1.

Then, figure out how to convey what you want to say in a way that will resonate with others.  Step into your customer’s (or prospect’s) skin and ask yourself, “So what?”

Reply with “Because ___________,” until you run out of legitimate answers. Why should your customer care? An audience is a privilege. So respect your audience’s time and speak to its direct needs and wants.

That Ugly First Draft (TUFD)

Once you’re figured out what you want to say, go ahead and say it. Create your first ugly first draft, and let it wallow in all its ugliness: Don’t worry about fluid ideas and fully formed coherent ideas. Don’t fret that it’s not perfect.

The best video tools will allow you to save your TUFD, so you can later review and shape it into something more presentable (and maybe beautiful).  And that copy you’re including in your video? Same thing. Just write something. Anything. You can go back and fix it later.

The people you think of as good writers are often terrible writers on their first drafts. But here’s their secret: They are excellent editors of their own work.

The same goes for videographers.

Preview your video without sound

Most videos on social media autoplay on mute — half the time, I don’t even realize the video I’m watching actually has sound until I’m into it! Make sure your video makes sense without sound, especially in the first minute.

Here is a great example of a social video made by Clark’s Elioak Farm, a petting farm. It works with or without the music on. And the words clearly communicates why you should bring your kids for a visit — sometimes with a little cheek.

So there you have it: Video and text are enemies no more! (Cue the Jack Johnson soundtrack….)

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