The Ten Myths of Creating Web Content

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The PR industry has been in the business of “content creation” for quite some time, and the demands for content creation will likely continue unabated. Brands want custom, compelling content, and they want it to spread to their targeted audience. Can you deliver?

College Humor founder Ricky Van Veen — a man who knows a thing or two about web content — presented his “Ten Myths of Web Content” today at the Mashable Media Summit in New York.

Van Veen also recently launched a web/TV production company, Notional, funded by InterActiveCorp (IAC). See our video interview with him at the company’s launch party. After the jump, Van Veen’s “ten myths” and how your brand or agency can get past them.

Myth #1: People Will Watch Your Branded Content

If you can’t come up with a good reason why people will want to watch it, “don’t make it,” says Van Veen. The more layers of legal and PR you have to go through, the more sterile it will be. Ask yourself: why will people watch this?

Myth #2: People Will Be Patient With Content

“You can’t make people sit there and watch stuff,” says Van Veen. Deliver it to them fast and easily. While watching TV is passive, when watching web video, you’re competing against a lot — IM’s, pop-ups, banners, etc.

Also, make it as easy as possible to access. “Take down any barriers to your content.”

Myth #3: People Will Find Your Content

People will not find your content, says Van Veen. Oh, and don’t waste time with lots of video platforms. “95% of your views will come from YouTube anyway,” he says. Lastly, don’t just upload your video to as many platforms as possible, and assume the views will “add up.”

Myth #4: The Internet Is a Level Playing Field

Nothing can be further from the truth. While social media may “democratize” content in some ways, it does not make things a level playing field.

“It’s not true because of the way those sites are used with subscribers and followers,” says Van Veen, who encouraged brands to “team up with power users.”

Myth #5: We Have No Idea Why Things Go Viral

Van Veen doesn’t believe that there are no rules for making a viral video. He says there is one commonality with viral videos: you have to give the viewer a reason to pass it on.

“When someone passes on a video they’re saying something about themselves. Don’t concentrate on the video itself as much as the person watching it,” says Van Veen.

Here are CollegeHumor’s tips:

–Only put your best work out there. The web doesn’t care about anything else.

–The duration length should be two to three minutes maximum.

–The “hook” comes within 20 seconds.

–Have a clear title.

–Be topical, because the web is topical.

–Or, use what Van Veen refers to as “candy corn.” Candy corn is an analogy used at College Humor because it’s an example of something that everyone “knows about,” but they don’t always think about it. What are other popular and mass cultural references that you can use, like candy corn, in your content?

Myth #6: Experience Leads Documentation

It’s really other way around. The new generation actually puts documentation ahead of the experience. People at concerts or events take pictures to document things, which they care about more than the actual experience.

Myth #7: Lets Build Our Own Community and Tools

“It doesn’t work,” says Van Veen, who said to use the platforms that are already where people are spending their time. “If you want to share photos, just use Facebook, use Flickr,” he says.

Myth #8: Lets Keep Things Professional

When corporations produce content, they often don’t want to show people behind the scenes, says Veen. On the contrary, he thinks that being more loose and showing the behind the scenes works very well.

“I was scared people would find out College Humor was run by people in an office in Manhattan,” he says. “Once I got over that it made it easy, because personality drives the brand.”

He mentions how the “talent” in College Humor’s videos often read the advertisements themselves. People are much more likely to view this pre-roll ad than they are a normal advertisement, because they have a connection with the person.

Myth #9: Traditional Media is Irrelevant to the Web

“Sometimes the internet world forgets about star power and how important that is,” says Van Veen. Brands like Saturday Night Live provide a “stamp of approval.”

Myth #10: People Will Create Good Content For You

Van Veen calls this the biggest myth of all. “Getting people to create content is hard, getting people to create good content is really hard,” he says.

“Doritos did it, but it was a Super Bowl commercial, which is much different,” he said. Most brands don’t get any kind of quality response from content creation contests.