What makes a good video? This is a question that I get asked a lot by clients and by audience members at presentations I give about video marketing and video production. The honest answer is – its very hard to say.
This might sound a bit odd, but stay with me on this. I mean I know how to structure a video and what content to consider and all of the other factors that need to be taken into account but do all these things contribute to making a good video? First of all how do you class what a good video is? Is it something that makes you laugh, is it something that entertains or informs or holds your attention? Does it look good with stunning shots, great actors and cinematic scenery? Perhaps its a video that goes viral and is shared thousands if not millions of times. Maybe its all of these things.
The reality is we can craft videos that are fantastic, tick all of the boxes – look good, have high production values, are well scripted and have great content. But sometimes they just don’t hit the spot for whatever reason. Maybe its trying too hard, maybe it misses the point or its too slick, too polished and the viewers see right through it.
Then there will be something that just has got it, and by ‘it’ I mean that Je ne sais quoi, the ‘X’ factor, the missing link that we are all searching for. It might not have cost anything to make, it may not be a big production, it probably isn’t scripted, it could well be a throw away video that someone filmed on their phone. But it just hits the right note without even trying. Think about the baby that bit his brother’s finger or the guy asking to leave Britney Spears alone.
A Woman In A Chewbacca Mask?
Imagine being in a production meeting and the creative director says this is my pitch: Its filmed on a phone, from the dashboard of a car. It shows a woman sat in the driver’s seat and she puts on a Chewbacca mask – you know the big hairy, walking carpet from Star Wars. When she puts the mask on she will laugh, a lot. And that’s basically it.
As you forcibly eject the creative director from the building and ask for your money back from the production company you’ll probably be thinking more and more about what an absolutely awful idea that was. But that video exists and is out there at the moment. It currently has more than 145 million views on Facebook (on 25 May 2016) and is the highest viewed Facebook Live video ever. The woman in the video (Candace Payne) has appeared on national TV in the US with James Corden and JJ Abrams no less as well as on pretty much every news outlet going as a result of the video being shown on Facebook.
And it is funny. Candace’s laughter is infectious and you can’t help but smile and keep watching. Granted, its not a corporate video and its not been made to try and sell anything or communicate key messages but it is a video that has resonated with a lot of people – 145 million of them in fact.
So its worth noting that for all the so-called ‘experts’ out there that profess to know about making the perfect video sometimes its the natural, unintentional, unscripted, accidental stuff that people want to see. This video breaks some of the rules in terms of what makes a good video but it just works. If any company (like Hasbro, the makers of the mask or Kohls, the store she bought it from) had tried to make this it would probably have fallen flat, if it had been planned then people would have seen through it straight away but it just hits all of the right notes and people love it for its naturalness.
Its worth bearing this in mind when you come to making your next promotional video. Don’t try too hard and don’t try to be too clever or sophisticated. Just keep it simple, remember what you want to say and don’t deviate too far from it.
So its not that we don’t know how to make a good video but sometimes things just happen that you can’t explain, where the rulebook is thrown out of the window and it shouldn’t work but it just does. Its worth remembering that just when you think you know it all, you probably don’t and you have to take a step back and acknowledge something that is a one off and is just brilliant. In the meantime, its back to trying work out how to make a really good video and don’t even think about a Chewbacca mask, its already been done.