We’re toying with the idea of creating more video content for the Econsultancy blog, so I’ve been investigating what it takes to come up with vaguely interesting content. 

To justify the time spent reading around the subject I’ve put together this blog post which looks at some of the issues I’ve been debating.

This is really aimed at content marketers working with a small budget or no budget at all, rather than advertisers.

What are you trying to achieve?

While we’ve been chucking around ideas about what type of video content we might want to do, we keep coming back to the same questions:

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • Will anyone actually want to watch it?

There’s obviously no point in creating video for video’s sake, but to be honest part of our motivation has been simply to try out a new content channel and see if it works.

We know people watch a lot of video online, so we want to see if it’s something we should be doing more of.

For us on the blog team that means coming up with something that’s either useful or informative, or ideally both.

Several times it was mentioned that we should use Rand Fishkin’s whiteboard Fridays for inspiration.

These are really useful to Moz’s audience and it’s an easily repeatable format, so this type of content could work for almost any industry.

The obvious sticking points are that I’m not as charismatic or knowledgeable as Rand, but we can at least try to borrow/copy his format.

From an ecommerce point of view, the most obvious angle would be product demos or perhaps discussions around a particular trend that’s relevant to your shoppers.

We’ve highlighted them several times before, but Simplyhike has created more than 1,000 videos showcasing its different products.

They’re short, well produced, and give shoppers a comprehensive look at products that could never be achieved by photos alone.

And the fact that Simplyhike creates so many video demos should be a clue to their impact on sales.

An employee from a US ecommerce site that sells massage chairs commented on another post that they’ve had the “biggest success with how to videos, and demonstration videos.”

Each chair has several videos explaining how they work. They’re generally no more than a minute or two long, but it enables the company to compete more effectively with brick-and-mortar retailers.

It’s no coincidence that this and the Simplyhike example come from ecommerce sites that sell complicated products.

What’s the point of your video?

Our own Video Best Practice Guide emphasises the importance of coming up with a brief.

Briefing is the single biggest point of failure in most online video projects for a frustratingly simple reason: people mistakenly brief based on what they think should be in the film, rather than the change in thinking, motivation or behaviour they want it to effect in their audience.

So in other words, the key is that your video has to be something that your audience wants to watch and that fulfils some kind of business goal.

There is no point in coming up with quirky ideas that you hope will go viral. The main reason being that it’s hugely unlikely to happen, but equally, what’s the point?

Chances are you’ll end up with something awful, like this number from Sapient Nitro.

A more sensible and useful agency video is this speed test from Qubit.

It’s a product demo that pits its software against a barista, something that its audience can easily understand and identify with. 

Short, snappy, mildly entertaining, and fulfilling a business need. It ticks all the boxes.

Another example from the world of ecommerce comes from Zady.

I’ve previously written about the company’s content marketing strategy, which includes some excellent videos.

The homepage features this short video that shows where the wool comes from that goes into its sweaters.

It appears to have a lot of money behind it but the idea is one that can be copied by other brands regardless of budget.

By showing the heritage and origins of its sweaters Zady is able to improve the perception of its products, reinforce its image as a company that cares about sustainability, and improve its conversion rates.

We can’t really do product demos at Econsultancy as people don’t need to be shown how to thumb through a best practice guide.

Instead we’ve considered making video versions of some of our regular features for starters, to see if there’s any appetite for video content in general, and this seems to be the most sensible place to start.

The Friday stats roundup is an obvious candidate. But then is that what our audience really wants? I suspect that the appeal of the stats roundup is that it’s easy to scan it and pick out data that’s relevant to your business.

In written form it can also be copied and pasted elsewhere, which isn’t possible if we just narrate the whole thing on video.

The only way to find out is to test different ideas and formats, which we will do, and we’ll of course share the results.