How can you make your brand’s video stand out from the crowd?

May 21, 2020
SCMP Insights
People are now watching video more than ever – and it’s not only because of the many hours spent in lockdown as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, Covid-19.

Our appetite for video has continued to grow as more people get access to bigger mobile broadband packages, and the number of video-based social media apps increases.

Just look at the consumption on YouTube alone, for example. The platform, which added 200 million users in 2019 to reach 2 billion monthly users, clocks an average of 11 minutes a day per user.

For marketers and video creators, such as Goldthread – The South China Morning Post’s culture publication exploring trends and human interest stories in China – standing out in an ocean of good content can seem insurmountable. So, let’s look at what has worked for us.

Make native videos for each platform

User patience differs across platforms, and that’s not an attention-span issue.

As an industry, we used to think about video consumption in terms of  two binaries: lean-forward with a device, suggesting active engagement with a phone or a laptop, and – in contrast – lean-back, large-screen consumption, which conjures up images of mindless consumption, where you simply let the television talk “at” you.

However, it turns out that the reasons people become engaged in something are far more nuanced than this.

While you might feel OK about sitting through a short intro credit roll on Netflix or YouTube, anything beyond half a second that doesn’t get your attention on Instagram or TikTok gets a tap to skip. This is less about the device you’re using, andmore about user expectations on each app, and the mindset you’re in when you’re interacting with it.

On short-form video platforms, we’re conditioned to expect to be entertained the moment a video starts up, and not have to wait for a narrative to unfold. Perhaps that’s why IGTV, Instagram's longer-form video offering, has struggled in comparison with its quick-bite IG Stories feature, which sees a huge daily active user (DAU) rate of 500 million – roughly half of its user base.

For Goldthread’s Instagram account, we post excerpts of our long-form videos straight to the feed, to draw attention to our longer videos using bite-sized moments that the casual scroller can appreciate. We put a link to the longer version in our bio, so that people who are interested can watch the full thing.

If you don’t want your brand to be glossed over in the feed you can direct your  videos to Instagram Story, so you can stand out among the posts of a user's friends. Grab attention first, before telling your story.

Be real and sincere

It is natural that people are trained to expect a biased message coming from an advertiser. But you can promote your product and still be real at the same time.

If your brand identity allows, consider the value of showing outtakes, or your employees working. By pulling back the curtain to reveal your business operations, you can increase the appreciation of your brand. For example, you can show the individuality and humanity of the people making the product, or help buyers see the journey you took while getting here.

To accompany our series on YouTube sensation Dianxi Xiaoge, we published an episode featuring only candid outtakes from the shooting trip, which immediately racked up about 200,000 views in the first week.

Adopting a more casual tone of voice also gives you the chance to inject some personality or humour into your brand identity. Who knew a razor-blade subscription could spawn one of the funniest marketing videos? The Dollar Shave Club start-up burst onto the scene with this legendary video.

The viral video paved the way for its eventual billion-dollar sale to Unilever, the company’s founder has said.

Be useful

If your brand or product can’t entertain, then try to be useful. Video is especially helpful for retention and learning, which helps customers recall your brand.

Additionally, it also helps customers to find you when they’re doing research on a topic to which you’re connected. Consider what search terms people are keying in that are related to your product, so you can target the relevant audience.

Look at Seattle Coffee Gear's instructional video on making coffee. It’s got an attractive title, it’s to the point – and gets the job done in about five minutes.

Even at Goldthread, some of our best-performing videos are informative. People leave comments saying they’ve gained value from them, and tend to remember them afterwards because there was a takeaway.

That’s also what prompted us to launch an explainer series, answering questions that people google about Chinese people. The questions are not always easy to tackle, but we try to add value to the conversation in the video