5 Myths of Visual Media Storytelling
A rapidly-changing digital landscape has changed what stories look like and how they’re shared, but the core principles of storytelling have held firm for countless generations. In order to help people understand something, or to deliver a memorable message, a good story needs to make an audience feel something. Short-form digital video has emerged as a dominant mechanism for organizational storytelling, especially as traditional TV’s dominance has weakened, along with the barriers to multimedia production. As a result, every organization, from tiny startups to large corporations are sorting out what it means to tell stories through visual media. A digital video strategy might range from a signature brand identity video, testimonials about a particular product or service, to a docuseries that connects with audiences through lifestyle and interest content.
To refine a digital video strategy, it’s important to confront myths and misunderstandings about video content creation. To help you sort this out, we’ve identified 5 debunked myths around visual media storytelling:
1. Videos need to be short.
We hear this all the time. The content market is saturated and people have short attention spans. Tik Tok is taking over the world. That means we need to only communicate with audiences in 15 second chunks, right? The truth is that people are actually consuming more long-from content than ever before, from 3 hour podcasts to multi-episode series. Long form content is also a powerful driver of brand loyalty. What does this mean for organizations creating video content? Understand who your audiences are and that they’re not monolithic. Some will be willing to go on a longer, more immersive journey with you. Others might only give you a few seconds of attention. But it’s possible to meet multiple demands, and to create multi-dimensional viewing experiences that vary in style and length. Do all videos need to be short? The short answer is no.
2. Videos need to be seen by a lot of people
A successful video needs to go viral right? Here’s the truth about viral videos – their impact can be fleeting. And for the vast majority of organizations, going viral doesn’t really meet actual strategic goals. Sometimes a message only needs to be communicated to a small (but influential) group, such as investors, partner organizations, or even internal stakeholders. At Opalite Media, we’ve developed both viral videos for mass audiences, as well as those that have been designed for an audience as small as 20 key decision-makers. It’s essential to hone in on a target audience, while recognizing that video can be just as impactful for small audiences as it is for larger ones.
3. Video production takes too much time
Good video production often takes time. Videos don’t create themselves and it often takes a lot of planning for a video to really shine. It’s true that if video production is rushed, the end product is likely to suffer. That said, sometimes speed is part of what makes a video valuable. Rapid response videos might allow an organization to quickly respond to events in the news, or to deliver a message in which time is of the essence. Good video production can also be done remotely, using a variety of techniques, and doesn’t always require a large production crew. Additionally, building up a library of existing footage means that future videos can be created much faster. In video production, there are usually tradeoffs between speed, quality, and cost, but that doesn’t mean that videos can’t be created quickly. It starts with prioritizing a set of goals and then designing a production approach that best serves these objectives.
4. My industry doesn’t really use video
When Opalite Media formed as a small company in 2018, one of the things we found was that many mid-size organizations had some inkling towards video but still weren’t sure where to begin. Sure, visual media is essential for multinational brands, but why does it make sense for my organization? The short answer is that video is more than an ancillary communication tool; it is now a dominant language for how people communicate and consume information online. This trend is only going to continue; 80% of all global activity is now video. The question for all organizations is no longer “if” but “how” video should be developed and shared. There’s also a growing trend towards using video in non-traditional ways, such as a more visually-engaging version of an annual report, research findings, or deliverables that are usually text based. Taking something that you regularly produce, and communicating that through a visual media story (rather than solely a 90-page document or slide deck) might be a high value project that aligns with how people are consuming multimedia today.
5. Videos have a short shelf-life
Some videos are designed to have a short shelf-life, such as content for a fundraising or kick-off event. But it doesn’t always have to be this way. One of the key starting points for a video project is determining whether the content should be evergreen or for short-term use. A well-designed video can often have a shelf-life of 3 years or more. But that doesn’t mean that these goals are always mutually exclusive. A produced video segment might be screened as part of a virtual event for example, but also serve as a piece of evergreen stand-alone content. In designing content like this, the details matter. For example, if the language used is time bound (“in 3 weeks we’ll be launching XX…”), it’s hard to extend the video’s shelf-life. But a strategic approach can ensure that multiple goals, for both the short and long term, can be met even within a single video production.
There are dozens of myths related to video production, which can be a confusing and difficult world for organizations to navigate. It doesn’t have to be this way. Strategy and creativity go hand in hand with developing an effective video portfolio. Having the right team and partners in place will go a long way to ensuring that your organization’s storytelling is compelling and moves the needle.