5 Ways The BBC Gets People Watching Their Videos

video_viewsWeb video content creators may pride themselves on their creativity and skill, but the truth of the matter is that when most people are creating videos for the web they have one main goal in mind – to get as many views as possible. How do you create a video that will entice viewers into clicking and compel them to watch? Mary Hockaday, Head of the BBC Newsroom, has the answers.

In a video interview with Andy Plesser of Beet.TV, Hockaday divulges a few great tips for video content producers dealing with the challenges of getting people to watch their online video content. While Hockaday and the BBC are dealing primarily with news content and online video journalism, these tips can be applied by anyone looking to create viral video content for the web.

Compelling Content is Key

When it comes down to it, a video will only get views if the content is compelling. Hockaday describes a compelling video as one that contains a must see moment, one that will have everyone asking, “Did you see? Did you see?”

From a journalistic perspective, people are compelled to watch clips of tragic or powerful events. For instance, video footage of a big earthquake hitting, footage from inside a massive protest or a clip of the most powerful part of a political speech are all very compelling and viral subjects.

If you are creating viral video content that is not news-related it has to be compelling as well. Something has to make your video special, be it a new style of animation, mouth-watering visual effects, a person or animal doing something that is outright hilarious, or something that is just so bizarre you can’t take your eyes away.

Before you begin making your video ask yourself, is this something that people will have to see? Is there a must see moment? Is there something that makes your video really special? If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions then you are on the right track.

Keep it Short

Online media consumers have short attention spans. If you don’t engage your viewer immediately and keep them engaged they aren’t going to continue to watch your video. For this reason, it is important to keep your videos on the short side. It’s a lot easier to engage your viewer for one to two minutes than to get someone to watch a twelve-minute video clip online. Don’t make your video any longer than it absolutely has to be.

Keep it Simple

Hockaday says that when the BBC posts online video content they keep things a lot more simple than when they create television content. Scripts and fancy editing go out the door, for the most part. When people watch video content online they are interested in the short and simple, here and now, without all the fluff. When you create your own content you should follow this rule as well.

You have probably noticed that many of the most viral videos on the Web are home videos, shot by amateurs on consumer-grade video cameras for fun. Many are recorded in a single take and have no editing at all. When people watch videos online they aren’t looking for high-end production value, they’re looking for entertainment. If you have your HD camera, your lighting kit and your green screen ready to go it may not be enough. The first thing you need to do is come up with a compelling and original idea and then get your idea across using whatever means are available to you.

Draw Viewers in With a Strong Image

When you upload a video to the web you have the opportunity to choose a thumbnail image to be displayed before the viewer clicks to watch. It is incredibly important to choose a strong and compelling thumbnail, in order to entice potential viewers to click. Most video sites will give you a choice of multiple thumbnails, taken from random frames of your video. Choose the thumbnail that is the most interesting. Some sites, such as Vimeo, give users the opportunity to upload their own thumbnail images.

Draw Viewers in With Strong Text

The words you use to describe your video are as important as the video itself. It is the description that will entice people to view your video. According to Hockaday, it is important to take the time to come up with a really great description that explains why people must watch your video. Try to keep the description short – three to eight words is the perfect length. Using popular relevant tags and keywords will also make it easy for people to find your video.

It is also important to be straight an honest with your description. Tell the viewer exactly what they are going to see. Hockaday says, “If you click on something thinking you’re gonna get blue and you’re offered red, the first thing you do is click away.”