Once upon a time on August 1, 1981, a video music channel called MTV was born. Ironically, the first music video ever played was “Video Killed the Radio Star.” When this first video was broadcasted, it marked a significant turn in the consumption of content. This technological leap forward signified the inevitable decline of radio’s auditory heydays. In its place, video offered both an audio and visual feast for the senses.
Video content is an unstoppable force today. As a writer — whether you are a full-time consultant, a moonlighting freelancer, or a content marketer at a growing organization — you’re rightfully wondering where you stand in this video lovestruck world we all live in.
I’ve been slinging words as a content strategist for several years now. So, I can totally relate to the glimmer of dread that creeps in after watching a gorgeously branded video that makes you question your entire existence at the 1:13 timestamp.
Have content writers become the washed-up radio star? Is written content finally being killed off? Are we being unseated by video production teams? The answer is no. As long as you stay relevant and don’t get left behind. And, as long as you realize the irreplaceable value of content in video marketing.
The state of video marketing… It’s getting real.
Writers are a fragile bunch — emotion and empathy come with the trade, making us the creative geniuses that we are. Fear is never a motivator for us. So, we haven’t been listening to all of the scary video marketing statistics over the past few years about video taking over digital marketing as we know it.
Okay, so now it’s time to listen. Because it’s getting real with video marketing in today’s landscape…
- “For the fifth consecutive year, over 80% report that video is becoming more important as a form of marketing content.” – Demand Metric and Vidyard
- “When marketers were asked how they’ll change their future content activities, 77% said they plan to increase their use of videos and 63% will increase live video.” – Social Media Examiner
- “Globally, IP video traffic will be 82% of all IP traffic by 2022, up from 75% in 2017. Internet video traffic will grow fourfold from 2017 to 2022.” – Cisco
- “On average, using video content has a significant positive impact on both open and reply rates. Teams that use video see a 16% increase in open rates and a 26% increase in replies.” – Salesloft
- “94% of video marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service. 84% say video has helped them increase traffic to their website. And 81% of marketers say video has helped them generate leads.” – Wyzowl
Video marketing is happening. It’s not a fad. It’s a trend.
Video content is the social equivalent to being in the same room with another person. Successful organizations are capitalizing on these interactive elements to attract, educate, inspire, and retain prospects and clients. So, how do your writing skills fit into this equation?
Ways to bring written content into a video content project
Video is a type of content, not a disruptor of content. Obviously, video content marketing can’t work without content marketing because they are one and the same. Rather than thinking you don’t have a place in video projects as a writer, know that written content is a critical component (before hiring a videographer).
Also note that it takes a village to pull off a video marketing project. Collaboration between creatives is not optional but required. Besides the expertise and execution required on the production front by a videographer, graphic designer, and audio engineer, content specialists infuse the project with what they do best… creating engaging content.
Naturally, the script you mastermind depends on the video strategy. An explainer video requires punchy content about features and benefits for a product, or offerings and relevant testimonials for a service. A video case study involves a set of interview questions that pulls out experiential highlights straight from the source, the voice of a client or customer.
Video production teams will lean on content writers for script creation, because they provide storytelling expertise and a deep understanding of messaging strategy. As with any content marketing endeavor, the same messaging techniques apply to scripts.
- Remember your personas: who they are, their goals and challenges, and how you help them be successful.
- Tell a story, even if you’re weaving together a script for some ho-hum brand (Anyone else written content for a self-storage company? Let’s have a beer sometime and talk about our feelings.)
- Keep the conversation center stage as you write. Video content is meant to be interactive, so avoid talking at people with in-your-face, market-y language.
Often transcription is a big miss in video marketing projects. Transcribing a video is a must-have for repurposing content into a blog format. Even if the video is embedded within the blog post, at the very least a transcription should be right below for SEO brownie points and to appeal to the diehard reading audience who will never watch the video anyway.
If you take this a step further, video content is incredibly rich and you can build multiple standalone blog posts from a single video asset. Transcription comes in handy as you pull out soundbites and themes.
And, here’s a bonus… Transcribing your video content is an incredibly useful tool for working through edit decision lists. A video production team and content strategists will improve their workflows and make easier decisions with a transcription. (And transcription services are really affordable. We’ve used Rev.)
A perfect example of demonstrating how video truly does not work without written content, it’s time to talk about captions. Captions are critical for social media feeds. People scan feeds without sound when they’re “supposed to be working” or want to avoid disrupting others (say, in a coffee shop or airport). Captions allow your message to be heard by anyone, no matter where they are.
Raise your hand if you’ve seen bad captions before. Automated technology is a gift and a curse sometimes. Having human content writers or editors involved in the captioning step is a smart approach. A combo works well here. Technology does the heavy-lifting with some automation, then a detail-oriented wordsmith keeps an eagle eye on the video content during the final editing stages.
A video that fails to move someone to take action is not a good content investment. Video is the most expensive type of content to produce, so you want to squeeze everything you can out of it. The call-to-action is where written content plays a key role.
Click-worthy thumbnails entice someone to watch. Visuals with text overlay throughout a video guide the viewer as you tell your story. The goal is to keep them watching all the way through, then drive engagement and conversions. A strong CTA message should be present throughout a video.
YouTube is a crowded place these days, showing no signs of stopping. By 2021, the online viewing audience is expected to be a cool 1.86 billion. That’s up from 1.47 billion in 2017 in case you were wondering.
Data source: Statista
To wave your bright branded flag on YouTube, a brilliant video won’t suffice on its own. You need brilliant copy and CTAs to support that video asset. Titles, descriptions, and tags play important roles in the algorithmic equation. They should be written with care, on-brand but also optimized for YouTube’s search algorithms.
YouTube has commandeered substantial real estate on the internet, but not all of it. For people to see that amazing video you created, they need to be able to find it first. So, here is yet another place where written content helps a video project get better results… SEO.
“Time on page” is one of many SEO ranking factors and video helps tremendously with keeping people amused and interactive on your website. From keyword targeting to the strategic creation of URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, and on-page content, optimized content is necessary for the ultimate success of any video marketing project.
After the video masterpiece is complete, it’s time to share it with the world. And, I really mean “the world” because you want to distribute this video E-VERY-WHERE. Again, written content swoops in to save the day with video content distribution efforts.
Distribution of videos means content, content, content: blogs, social media posts, emails, website pages, and the aforementioned YouTube descriptions. As you can see, there is no shortage of content creation that needs to happen with video projects.
It’s the content that makes the video…
…not the other way around.
Apologies in advance to the gluten-free audience here today, but hear me out: Video is the vehicle, the bread delivery truck if you will. Content is the bread that feeds someone. The design, visuals, and writing are the ingredients.
A video might be eye-catching, but what if the storytelling is weak? You’ve seen it before. A flashy video distracts you when you’re poking around someone’s website. When it ends, you pause, say “meh,” and move on. The video doesn’t stick with you because it lacked conversational warmth.
To distill the definition of content down to one word: content equals conversation. Video content should tell an engaging story that elicits a connection from an audience. If you’re a writer, you can change your fate and avoid becoming the washed-up radio star. Know your value in a video marketing strategy and bring your skills to the table.