The following article is from Jason Thibeault, Sr. of Limelight, a platform that manages all aspects of video publishing. They are one of our sponsors at this week's Reel Summit taking place July 25-26 in San Francisco (Don't miss out – Register Here Today!). Thibeault was kind enough to provide us with an article about video engagement, complete with science!
Finding A Deeper Connection with Video
What does digital mean to marketers? Is it just another way to amplify messaging? Does it provide a way to deliver more messages to users faster? Unfortunately for too many marketers, the answer is yes. And when a marketer sees digital only as a way to amplify broadcast messaging, they miss the biggest benefit that digital provides—engagement.
In the yesteryears of marketing, it was pretty much impossible to engage directly with users. You had print ads and magazine spreads and television all of which were unidirectional channels. Sure marketers could hold a focus group or have some event but they still couldn’t engage one-on-one with individuals.
That’s how digital is fundamentally changing marketing—by empowering marketers with technologies that enable real-time, bi-directional conversations. And as marketers are beginning to spend more time engaging with people rather than talking at them, they are also exposing the fact that their audience has very little attention to spend with them. There’s so much going on in consumers’ 24/7/365 always-on, always-connected lives that they have precious little attention to give. Marketers have to do something to get above the noise that has become the digital world. So they look for a solution, a way to grab attention.
As marketers have realized that digital enables them to develop relationships, they have begun a sometimes glacially slow migration from publishing content about them, about their company, and about their product to developing stories that speak about the customer. Stories that have characters, that follow a narrative arc. Stories that evoke an emotional response. Because forming a relationship all starts with emotion.
But, again, attention is a challenge. Audiences are still flittering about like fireflies on a warm, summer night. Marketers need something more, something that appeals to the way we are wired.
The Science of Video Engagement
As a form of content, video is a multi-sensory experience. Movement, images, colors, words, emotions. It would seem only logical that we would find it more appealing than just the written word. But would you be surprised to know that there is real science as to why we are drawn to video? Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. — also known as The “Brain Lady”—has uncovered four core, very human reasons we are drawn to video:
- We focus on the face. Okay, Dr. Weinschenk puts it a little more scientifically than that. According to her, the Fusiform Facial area makes us pay attention to faces. This is an actual brain function that makes us hard-wired to use a human face as a centralized point for information and believability.
- Voice makes more meaning. No, not your internal voice. When we hear a human voice speaking, we are more apt to convert the information into meaningful content.
- Seeing is believing! When we see people have emotional experiences (versus reading about them and trying to imagine them ourselves) we have a greater connection. That’s right; body language is a powerful feature of human-to-human interaction.
- It’s all about the movement. Since the Stone Age, we’ve survived by noticing the moving things around us. Fail to notice? Get eaten. This peripheral vision is deeply ingrained in our anthropological DNA. We are drawn to things that move.
And Dr. Weinshenk’s research may also account for Cisco’s predictions about the growth of video over the next few years (exemplified in the graph below).
So let’s recap:
- There’s a lot of digital noise right now
- Your audience has a finite amount of attention they can provide you
- You need to get their attention in order to establish a relationship (so that you can use digital technologies to engage with individuals)
- We are wired to like video and it’s becoming increasingly popular online
To answer the question that is the title of this piece? Video is critical for marketers because it enables them to show and tell their stories in a format that grabs attention.
But, dare I say it…there’s more!
The Levels of Digital Relationships
There are a lot of levels to digital relationships. We’ve identified five, in fact:
Awareness is just that—your audience knows your brand. Maybe they saw one of your videos? On the other side of the spectrum is intimate. This is when your audience is providing you information. They share their stories with you. They have made such an emotional connection with you that the selection process in a typical Buyer’s Journey is dominated by your brand. Every marketer wants their audiences to become intimate with them. Without video, though, moving audience members through those stages of relationships takes a lot of touches. Remember, your audience only has a finite amount of attention to spend! When you use video to show and tell your story, you accelerate the movement through those stages because the emotional connection is made faster…and stronger.
Smart marketers understand that audience engagement requires a variety of content. It can’t all be video. Sometimes the kind of relationship that an audience wants is very utilitarian. They don’t want a story. They just want facts. The goal of all marketers in the digital age is to not only establish relationships, but make them positive by giving people what they want (i.e., making it about them, not you). Even with that said, though, it’s clear that in the future of digital marketing, video plays a critical role to not only gaining audience attention, but establishing and accelerating the relationship between audience and brand.
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