Video for the small screen — online, on mobile, or in an installation — works. Study after study has shown that video for the small screen beats traditional TV advertising for engagement and awareness. And the money is following the research — spending on video for the small screen is growing by leaps and bounds.
But it takes more than simply recognizing a trend to produce a memorable video. While the fundamental rules of design and storytelling never change – designing for the small screen is a challenge. Simply repurposing traditional TV advertising rarely works as well as crafting something uniquely suited for this new medium.
Here are six tips to create powerful work for the small screen:
- Know your audience, and know where to find them. Video for the small screen dovetails with a move away from mass communication to a more personalized conversation. For us, understanding who we’re speaking to – and the best ways to reach them — starts day one. The solution is often a mix of approaches – from connecting with the right bloggers, to making sure the message appears on the right feeds. Add the importance of finding the right people at the right time, and it becomes clear why careful thought is needed. Try not to overly focus on Twitter, Facebook,YouTube, and the other major social networks. Take the time to find focused online communities where your message with resonate.
- Keep it short. Resist the temptation to produce an epic. Many clients come to us estimating run times based on a fear of leaving something out, or on a budget number. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Always keep in mind that the small screen is full of distractions – and it’s easy to follow up on an alert mid-watch and never come back. Exercise caution in going over a minute.
- Video is the start of a conversation, not the end of it. This is why we can keep it short. Watching video online makes it easy to get distracted, but it also makes it easier to follow up. Why not make it even easier? Make sure to see a video for the small screen as the beginning of something great – tailor unique content to offer to your audience that continues the message begun in the video.
- Design for the small screen. Trying to simply repurpose work originally conceived for television can be problematic. The rules of good design never change, but details that worked on a larger scale may become lost or muddled, undermining the larger design language. Design and animation can play to the special requirements of holding viewer interest on the small screen. Embrace surprise and the unexpected to keep people interested and engaged. Great storytelling always wins attention.
- Sharing is important — but it must be the right type of sharing. We all appreciate the feeling of fame that comes from seeing a huge number of views or likes for a piece of work that we’ve done. But that number can distract from the most important thing – reaching the right people. It may seem odd – after all, what could be wrong with being popular? But it’s important to keep in mind that if the people who are sharing and watching your work aren’t the people you wanted to reach in the first place, than the effort is wasted. Understand what makes your message unique to the people you want to reach, and highlight it. People share something that they see is new, genuine, and well executed.
- If you’re selling something, make it easy to buy. Create a natural path from your video to a sales opportunity. This goes hand in hand with the idea that video is only the start of the conversation. Follow up a well-designed message with an easy way for viewers to take action.
Creating a powerful story is always built on the fundamentals of great design. But understanding how to apply those universal foundations to the new world of the small screen is the key to success online. At Invisible Light Network, we’ve had great success in applying these six simple points to helping our client win on the small screen.
This post is by Elliot Blanchard of Invisible Light Network.