First impression is the last impression – this saying hasn’t held more true in any other age than the current age we live in. The internet is over flooded with video content in all forms – Documentaries, travel videos, short films, comedies, music videos, explainer videos, marketing videos and the list goes on. Online distribution platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo have made it possible to upload your videos and reach millions of viewers worldwide. The easier the opportunities become, the tighter the competition gets. So how do you grab your viewers’ attention with so much content out there for them to choose from?
With access to millions of viewers online and free distribution platforms in place to reach those users, filmmakers and marketers adopt certain techniques to make sure their content is placed above everyone else’s and watched by maximum viewers for a prolonged period of time. There are a lot of marketing tips to get high viewership, maximum viewer retention, high social shares etc. and we will cover all those tips and techniques in the forthcoming posts, but in this post we focus on the one thing that matters the most – capturing your audiences attention the moment they hit that play button. Your goal must be to capture your viewers attention to the video immediately from start so that they stay on it till the end.
So what are the necessary elements to grab your viewers’ attention immediately?
1. Strong Title
Before watching your video what really makes the viewers click on your video is the title. Statistics show that the quality of titles plays a huge role in the Click Through Rate (CTR) of the video. A video with a good title gets clicked on much more than a video with a bad title. There are a few factors that determine the quality of a video title:
- Relevance: It’s very important to make sure that the title of your video is relevant to the content in your video. If the title of your video is “Top 10 things to do in New York” and your content is only focused on restaurants and clubs, that will make the video absolutely irrelevant to the title. This will annoy the viewer and will make them shut the video without a second’s thought. If your video was only focused on restaurants and clubs in New York then a more appropriate title would be “New York’s must-visit restaurants and nightclubs“. While this seems obvious, there are many videos out there that are misleading due to irrelevant titles and therefore do not get any views.
- Length: A lot of people make the mistake of writing titles that are either too short or too long. Many travel videos on Vimeo have just the name of the city as their title. For example, This beautifully shot video in Istanbul is called “Istanbul“. It is not clear what exactly in Istanbul this video is about. The video captures only a mosque and a palace, but by naming it just ‘Istanbul‘ it gives the potential viewer the sense that this video probably showcases various locations, people, lifestyles and cultures of the whole city. Something like “The Blue Mosque Of Istanbul” would be more relevant and long enough to spark interest in the viewer. Also, having a very long title can turn viewers off and prevent them for clicking on your video. By keeping your titles to the point and not too long, you have a great chance for a high CTR.
- Special Characters: Usage of special characters in videos should be avoided at all costs. The usage of special characters comes off as trying too hard and desperate for attention. It is advised to use nothing but words to form titles that spark interest in viewers.
- Curiosity: This is the #1 tip to boost your CTR. Human psychology suggests that we are naturally drawn to things that we are curious about. Things that have an element of mystery instantly draw our attention. Popular blog Upworthy has used this technique and crafted all their blog titles with an element of curiosity in them. This is what made their posts go viral in a short span of time and helped them become the fastest growing media startup. Adding curiosity to your video titles could definitely help you get more viewers to your video. You need to make sure that the content is relevant to keep them watching.
2. Custom Cover Images
The image that comes up before viewers hit the play button has to be 100% effective. This is just as important as the title. Studies show that cover artworks play an extremely important role in the sales of music albums and books, and videos are not an exception to this case. That’s why Hollywood spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on creating posters for their films. A movie poster alone can spark interest and curiosity in the viewer. In the case of online videos, the same rule applies. The artwork of the video is a very high determining factor in whether or not the video will get played. Here are a few tips on creating custom cover images that get high Click Through Rates:
- Landscapes: On Instagram studies show that pictures of landscapes and beautiful scenery get maximum likes and opens. There is an emotional element attached to scenic pictures that make people want to look at them. It is probably the inherent desire in human beings to travel and explore new locations or the curiosity of a new location that people have never seen before that makes landscapes popular. Try using these images to your videos cover image and you will be able to immediately grab your viewers’ attention.
- Animations: Animated images are widely popular over the web. Their usage in cover photos for blogs have been known to attract readers in large numbers to blog posts. On YouTube, videos with animated cover images get a high CTR. This is another good tip to draw attention to your video.
- Text over Image: The title text written over the cover image, or a shorter version of the title if the title is too long, grabs the attention the viewers more quickly. What is important here is the fonts used for the text. The impact a font plays to drive viewers to click on your video is very subtle but it is very important for your font to convey the same mood as your film. Some cool fonts being used right now are Lucida Fax, Bauer Bodoni, Adobe Garamond, Futura, Bembo and Neue Helvetica.
3. Emotional Storytelling
Do you know what some of the greatest companies like Coca-Cola, Apple and Google do to capture their audience’s attention to their videos? The use emotional marketing. Every single campaign by these companies have a powerful emotional storytelling component in their videos. Why? Because people respond to emotions and it leaves a lasting impressions in their minds. Emotional storytelling is messaging that builds your ego. It makes you feel smarter, bolder, more sophisticated, or just about any other emotion that is fundamental to your self-esteem. By making you feel better about yourself, the video transcends mere product status and becomes a friend. This is what gives your video that special something that builds attachment. By identifying the emotional component of your video’s message and implementing it right from the start, you stand a very high chance of grabbing your viewers attention immediately.
Watch this Google video below to get an idea of emotional storytelling:
4. Music That Connects With The Story
Last but not the least, the choice of music can make or break your video. This is directly related to all the points mentioned above. Your music has to convey the same mood of your story, brand, locations, fonts and emotions. If the music is even slightly out of sync with the overall mood of the video, viewers will lose interest quickly and close the video. It is surprising how many filmmakers do not take the background music of their videos seriously and just add music for sake of wrapping up their project. We cannot stress enough how much of a driving force the background music of your video is in terms of viewer retention.
Lets look at some ways of successfully choosing the perfect music for your videos:
- Focus on the mood: This is the first step in selecting the perfect background music for your video. You have to start by focusing on the mood. You need to ask yourself over and over again how you feel when watching the video. What kind of mood does it set? Is it a happy and uplifting mood? Or is it a calm and relaxing mood? Based on the mood of the video you will need to start looking for tracks in the same mood.
- Analyze the pace: The next thing you need to look at is the pace of the video. How does the edit flow? Faster edits would need faster tracks whereas more easy going slower edits would need slower tracks. The pace of the tracks would depend on different genres. For very fast paced edits, tracks in the Drum & Bass or Dubstep genre would go well. On the other end of the spectrum, if your edit is very slow paced and focuses on things like landscapes and nature, then ambient and soundscape tracks would do well.
- Analyze the color grading: Music in films has a very strong relationship with the colors used in the film. Videos based on a darker tone would do very well with some elements of Electronica in it. On the other hand, day light shots in brighter colors could do well with Rock and Acoustic tracks (depending on the pace of the video).
Once you’ve chosen a background track for your film you need to acquire the appropriate licenses to use them in your projects. Platforms like YouTube and Vimeo have content ID systems in place that take videos down that use copyrighted material without permission. It is also important to note that licensing music is not as expensive as previously thought of. To understand music licensing for videos in detail you should check out The Complete Filmmakers Guide To Music Licensing. The guided explains how to license music at very affordable rates in a very easy to understand manner.
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