Video is the definite king of content right now. The average adult spends 6 hours a day watching videos, including YouTube and Netflix. If your brand can leverage that demand, you can create opportunities to create bonds with potential customers, establish your brand as a credible source of information, and give it a human face.
Among different types of video content, the long-form video seems to have the highest barrier to entry. There are many things to consider before producing a video. Shooting, editing, and producing long-form content is expensive, complicated, and time-consuming. Yet, long-form videos can help build brand awareness, inspire emotions, and educate your current and potential customers.
Whether you’re a freelance content creator or a web design agency trying to attract clients, you can’t afford to ignore this emerging medium. How do you create effective long-form videos? Here are a few key factors that could determine the success of your content. Let’s look at five best practices brands and content producers follow to create long-form videos that attract views and inspire action.
1. Define your USP and stick to it
You give yourself an excellent opportunity to clearly define your unique selling proposition (USP) by producing long-form videos. While you can define your USP using short video content, longer videos offer more chances to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack.
YouTuber Mr. Beast, for example, is so good at creating videos that blend formats that his videos have become a separate genre. A typical Mr. Beast video, for example, incorporates two or more of the genres just listed:
By defining your USP and sticking to it, it will be easier to think of new topics. Your viewers will also know what to expect of you. Even someone who’s never watched any of your videos before will easily identify your content after watching just one of your uploads.
Before you create the videos, sit down with your team and decide the USP you want to highlight. Pro tip: Use a scheduling app for your team to do this exercise regularly to ensure you stick to it.
2. Pay close attention to the title and thumbnail
Many people land on long-form videos by conducting searches on either Google or YouTube. Just like other forms of online content that should be SEO-friendly, your videos should be optimized for search engines and catchy enough for users to click through to them. This is where title and thumbnail optimization will help your video content generate views.
Optimizing video titles for searches is straightforward. Most YouTube content producers use keywords only on video tags, but the algorithm also searches for keywords in video titles and descriptions.
According to StrangerShow, YouTube generally puts more weight on keywords that appear at the start of the title. For instance, searching for “SEO for beginners” gives you the following results:
Do not stuff your video title with keywords. The most-viewed videos tend to be those with titles that are between 40 to 60 characters long:
YouTube replaces characters over a 70-character limit with ellipses, which results in users not reading the full titles for those videos. This increases the possibility of the user skipping to the next video.
Once you’ve helped YouTube find your content, you need to get users to click on your video when it appears in the search results. A good thumbnail will help you generate those clicks. We’ll discuss some ways you can make your thumbnails more effective in attracting views.
The top-performing channels usually add a description of the video in the thumbnail. While a thumbnail image can add context, it will not explain the video itself like a text description. The description should be easy to read, which means you need to use simple fonts in just the right size:
In addition, your thumbnails should use bright colors that pop out of the screen. That being said, you should avoid using thumbnails that predominantly use either white or black as they won’t stand out against backgrounds of the same color. Here are some top-ranked videos that follow this principle:
Of course, there is the possibility of not getting your desired number of views on the first try. To find a thumbnail/title combination that works, you can use A/B testing to isolate elements that might be keeping your video from reaching its full potential.
3. Use storytelling techniques that keep the user interested
Most short-form videos rely on getting the audience’s attention right from the first second and hoping that the interest doesn’t wear off before the video ends. Long-form video creators can’t rely only on that initial burst of interest to keep people watching until the end.
One of the techniques you can use involves following a certain structure designed to arouse the viewer’s interest, expound on the introduction, and set the viewer up for a grand finale.
Mark Rober’s storyboards, for instance, follow this formula:
- Hook, context, set-up: Here, Rober explains what he wants to do, why he’ll do it, and how he intends to achieve that goal.
- Conflicts: Here, he encounters challenges that could affect the outcome of the video. These challenges can be as trivial as the weather or failing to acquire a crucial part for a build.
- Payoff: In Rober’s videos, the payoff could be a glitter bomb explosion, a Rube Goldberg-type machine going into motion, or a squirrel making its way through a maze.
If this structure sounds familiar to you, it’s because you’ve probably discussed it in your English and literature classes. This formula is similar to a typical short story structure. It starts with an introduction, continues with an exposition, reaches its height with a climax, and goes directly into a resolution.
You may treat a long-form video like a crucial playoff game – your audience won’t just watch the last few seconds. Instead, you need to build up the excitement to get them emotionally invested in the subject.
Aside from using classic storytelling techniques, you can take a page out of Dude Perfect’s videos. The channel has videos that feature a series of clever, if not difficult trick shots, interspersed with two or three seemingly impossible ones:
This structure maintains the audience’s energy and engagement levels while setting them up for a huge payoff. Keep this structure in mind when creating your content – you don’t want your audience to know all the shiny, new features right away. Rather, it’s more effective to space them out evenly to keep their eyes glued to their screens for the entire length of the video.
4. Latch on to trending topics, but add to the conversation
Now, it’s time to address the elephant in the room. How do you grow your subscriber count while staying true to your brand identity online?
Trend-jacking is one of the most effective ways of attracting views and gaining new audiences.
Trend-jacking has polarized the video content creator community since the term was invented in 2006. With users becoming more discerning about the sources of content they consume, doing trend-jacking the right way is a lot like walking on a tightrope.
Audiences can easily tell whether you’re just riding on the trend to gain exposure.
One way to use trend jacking to gain credibility is to involve other content creators in your work. For instance, Airrack’s YouTube channel grew to one million subscribers in just a year partly through his strategy of finding trending content and referencing them in his videos.
His videos on Mr. Beast’s private island and Logan Paul’s $90,000 couches have racked up a total of 5.8 million views as of August 2021:
Airrack’s strategy works in two ways. First, his content attracts both Mr. Beast’s and Logan Paul’s audiences. Second, using trending keywords associated with the original content gives Airrack’s videos a good YouTube search ranking.
The examples above show how to leverage types of content from other creators to generate views and engagement. It’s not enough to call out or reference the content or the creator. You need to contribute to the conversation and engage your viewers, whether they’re part of your existing audience or you’re still trying to get them to click “Subscribe”.
5. Be consistent
You might think that predictability will work against your video marketing campaigns, but it could be a good thing, particularly if you intend to inform and educate your audience. While flashy graphics help you attract an audience, reliability will help you keep them.
Paddy Galloway’s channel is a good example of predictability at work. It has 265,000 subscribers, mostly consisting of content creators looking for ways to improve their work. His videos review different YouTube creators and discover what makes them successful. Each video identifies three main factors for the channel’s success – nothing more, nothing less.
By following a video template, Galloway ensures that his viewers can expect three pieces of actionable advice each time they watch a video on his channel. For instance, his review of Dream’s channel has three key insights:
Similarly, his review of SSSniperwolf’s channel features three main observations:
This pattern is consistent across all of his video content. Because Paddy Galloway’s viewers know what to expect from every video, they are confident that each video will give them the type and amount of insight they need to make their content effective.
Long-form video is no longer a niche genre. Brands and individuals alike are increasingly using long-form videos to attract new viewers, educate their audience, and build their reputation as a source of reliable information.
However, not all long-form videos are created equal. Effective long-form videos tend to highlight a specific unique selling proposition, have well-optimized titles and thumbnails, use storytelling techniques to keep the viewer engaged, contribute to existing conversations, and are consistent in terms of structure.
By following one or more of the tips above, your content can generate more views and reach new audiences, resulting in greater exposure for your brand.