Corporate video makers: Here’s YouTube, and here’s you.
When you watch a YouTube video, you watch it for one of four reasons: You think it’s gonna be hilarious, death-defying, adorable or touching—or ideally all four at once. If the video you’re watching doesn’t begin to deliver on those promises in the first 10 seconds, you go on with your life.
But when you make videos, you make all sorts of excuses, list all sorts of reasons that your audience will watch it despite the fact that it’s not hilarious, death-defying, adorable or touching.
But there it is: Two weeks after release and the social media blitzkrieg, promotion, you’ve got 141 page views.
Because the people who would watch your videos are the same people who watch hundreds or thousands of YouTube videos every year. They don’t have time to watch your logical, thoughtful, strategic corporate video! They’ve got more videos to watch!
And they’ll be damned if they’ll forward your non-hilarious, non-death-defying, non-adorable and non-touching video to their friends. Which is what you need them to do if your video is to have any viral potential at all.
The good news is, companies and other organizations are starting to make strategically smart videos that do reach the ever-rising standard of YouTube Gobsmacker.
I know, because I’ve been collecting a “Video of the Week” at StrategicVideoAwards.com, the website of the world’s leading corporate video awards contest.
Let’s compare some classic YouTube videos some of the corporate stuff I’ve been finding.
Let’s start with hilarious.
Now, everybody knows that the funniest YouTube ever made was the quadruplets laughing. That’s an undisputed, emperical fact.
How could a corporate video compete with that? Okay, no video will ever compete with that. But if you’re going to do video that’s intended to be funny, you must do more than impress people about what a whimsical, “edgy” thing you got through the corporate approval chain. You’ve actually got to make them laugh.
Well, Twitter made a strategically smart, highly communicative recruiting video that had almost a million people laughing for three minutes on YouTube—two minutes longer than the cackling quadruplets.
Death-defying is hard.
What corporate attorney is gonna get the company’s logo anywhere near a thing like this?
The answer? Volvo’s corporate attorney, who signed off on the notion of having a tightrope walker move between two moving Volvo trucks approaching a tunnel—and posting the resulting film at VolvoTrucks YouTube channel. The risks are obvious. The reward? Six million views and counting—and a lot of attention for Volvo Trucks.
Adorable? A corporation?
Can a corporation make something as adorable as Marcel the Shell?
Actually, corporations have been doing adorable for years. And more concisely.
What about touching?
Corporations are notoriously cold entities. Into the 1960s, General Motors forbade its advertising agency to represent the company with the royal “we” in the advertising, because they thought it was too namby-pamby. So instead of “We believe …” the ads had to read, “General Motors believes …”
Corporate mores have shortened those stilts, but the impersonal instinct remains. So how in the world can a company create something as heartfelt and sweet as this, which moistens the eyes of every dad and son worth his salt?
Well, how about this one, launched in advance of the Olympics by Procter & Gamble? This will make your mom weep, and your roof leak.
So not only can you make truly hilarious, death-defying, touching, adorable videos to sate voracious video viewers, now you must make them, just to compete with your corporate colleagues.
So get to it.
David Murray is program chairman of the Strategic Video Awards, which are accepting entries through Oct. 26. The editor of Vital Speeches of the Day, he also writes for magazines and newspapers. And he blogs about his work and his life at Writing Boots.