Videos: Why Social Media Marketers Frontload and Storytellers Backload the Brand Message

Channel Battles

So you’re looking to create a video to use in various digital marketing activities. How long should it be? What content should you include? How should it be structured? 

The answers to these questions will vary depending on which digital marketing expert you ask. Different channels will have different requirements, which could lead to conflicting advice. We asked two of our video-savvy Passionistas to argue the toss between two different approaches to video production. 

(Don’t worry, we also came up with a compromise… read on for the good stuff!)  

Using Video for Digital PR

Rob, Content Strategist:

“It’s a bit cliché, but the best brand video content tells a story. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 seconds, five minutes or an hour, it has to take customers on an engaging journey that will resonate with them. If it doesn’t make them laugh, cry or think about things in a different way then it’s failed – usually because it hasn’t told a story that captures the viewer’s attention. 

In digital PR, you often have to be one step removed from the product you are selling. This means that plastering brand logos all over the content will hinder it getting coverage as it will look like a TV ad instead of a vehicle to tell a story that is connected to the brand. 

It’s always tempting to mimic a video format that has worked before, but you should always try to put a different spin on it. This is dependent on budget of course, but content with a difference will always shine through.

For example, if you’re selling life insurance and you want to interview customers on video about why they bought cover, it’s usually the same answer: “to support my family/kids if the worst happens”. So instead of interviewing the parents, why not interview the kids? Ask them what they want to do when they are older, what will their house look like? Where will they live? Now instead of film, why not animate their answers to really bring their imagination to life? That’s what will help separate your video content, sell your story and ultimately encourage users to engage with it and journalists to want to write about it.”

Using Video for Social Media Ads

Helen, Paid Social Account Manager:

“Social Media video ads have very little time to get their brand and message across. There are two key reasons why…

First, it is well proven that people have short attention spans that are getting shorter. A 2021 survey by Microsoft concluded that the human attention span has dropped to eight seconds – down from 12 seconds (wow…). On social media you have even less time to catch people’s attention, so you have to get your message and branding out there quickly before you are scrolled past – bye!  

Second, in Daniel Kahneman’s & Amos Tversky’s book ‘Thinking Fast & Slow’ they outline that the brain thinks in 2 systems: System 1 refers to fast reactions and System 2 to slower processing. In System 1 you are working via shortcuts, impulses and intuition, while System 2 is slower but reliable. When browsing social media, people are viewing in System 1 – they are scrolling from one thing to the next and not lingering to think through every post. People thinking in System 1 will react more positively to seeing a trusted brand and recognising it before their attention span runs out. 

If it’s an e-commerce product, I would always recommend starting an ad video with a three-second shot of the product being held. Hands show tangibility, it clearly outlines what the product is and gives social proof that people are using it. I would also include a flag of the country ideally (people love flags – hello high CTRs!) and have the brand clearly displayed in the corner. This will capture the attention of the System 1-ers on social, allowing you to then jump back to the story for any System 2 viewers who are more engaged already and may pay attention longer to see the whole story to the end.”  

Some Video Best Practice Recommendations

If you’re planning to create some video content, keep these points in mind at the planning stage:

  • Consider whether you want your video to appeal to System 1 or System 2 thinkers – if you are intending to disrupt them and catch their attention, take Helen’s tips for shorter-form video. If you want to engage them with a meaningful story, take note of Rob’s advice.   
  • Think about where your video is going to appear Pinterest recommends that video ads are 6-15 seconds long, for example, whereas best practice on YouTube is to make your videos a minimum of 10 minutes in length for retention purposes. Try to adhere to platform-specific guidelines to get the best chance of achieving your objective.  
  • Don’t forget captions – they are always important in any video content you create to make sure it’s accessible to anyone who wants to watch it.
  • One size doesn’t fit all – don’t repurpose your brand content video as an ad just because you have it at your disposal. Use the footage, by all means – we’re all about maximising your content – but edit it to adhere to the guidance set out above. 

Get Our Expert Advice

We don’t mean to brag, but here at Passion we’re skilled all-rounders. We’re proud to be a performance marketing agency with imagination, bringing both data-driven rigour and out-of-the-box creative thinking to all of our work. If you would like to chat to one of our paid social experts or content marketing professionals about a project in the pipeline, please get in touch