Friday, 20 July 2012

What Are We Trying to Achieve With Video?

If you use Twitter, there's a good chance that you've come across HootSuite.  I think it's brilliant - not only can you see your own tweets, the tweets of people you're following, your direct messages and the tweets in which you've been mentioned all clearly laid out on a single screen, but you can schedule your tweets, all of which saves a lot of time and trouble.  What's more, the basic version (which I use) is free.  So I have no hesitation in recommending it.

However, HootSuite has now introduced something called "Hootlet with AutoSchedule".  When I arrived at HootSuite today, there was an introductory video to promote this.  Now, we're constantly being told by the gurus to use video whenever we can, particularly on our sales pages.  Video, so they say, is a more dynamic, more impacting way of getting our message across.  Well, perhaps their videos are . . . but I would seriously debate that this applies to all videos.  HootSuite's video is a case in point.  I watched it - and was no wiser at the end than when it started.  First of all, it was accompanied by loud music with lyrics.  It's very hard, I find, to read what's on the screen when there are lyrics being belted into your ear.

So I watched it again with the sound turned off and read the five statements that came up, which were:
  • instant sharing while you browse
  • so you can focus on content
  • autoschedule for optimal impact
  • let autoschedule do the thinking
  • easy optimised scheduling

Ermm . . . yes . . . and how does this autoscheduling differ from the autoscheduling that is already available on HootSuite?  Instant sharing - OK, useful but not original - it's something you can get elsewhere.  So your unique selling point is . . . what?

For content, I think we can mark the video around 3 out of 10.  But there's more!  The video is 52 seconds long and is full - and I mean full - of animated graphics which moved so fast that I really couldn't see what they were meant to be showing.  Then I saw that there was a full screen option.  So I watched it yet again.  But the picture quality was so poor that, together with the speed at which it all moved, it was quite impossible to follow.  And all the rushing around made me feel quite giddy!

There's a lesson to be learned here for anyone who thinks that any video is better than no video at all.  If you're producing a video, the rules of good copywriting still apply - particularly the need for a unique selling point.   And if you're trying to demonstrate how something works, don't do so at a speed that makes it impossible to understand.  If you're going to use graphics, make sure they're clear because otherwise the whole thing just looks amateurish.  And finally, if you don't have a commentary and are going to use a music background, don't use something which will prevent viewers from concentrating on what is being presented in the video itself.

Underneath the HootSuite video there was a link to "find out more".  Perhaps the idea was that this would compensate for the lack of clarity - but I suspect there are others who, like me, didn't bother to click it because the video completely failed to grab our attention.

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