Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Video: Why?

David Reich's MarketingProfs piece on blog video makes a great point: blog videos are often a great way to lose the attention of your audience.

Is it any wonder, then, that I find my mind wandering as I watch a blogvid that runs on? How many of us have the time, ability or budget to produce a slick video to post? Most of what I've seen so far have been talking heads, perhaps with some props, but still basically talking heads. Deadly on TV and, to me, hard to watch on a blog if it runs too long.

What's too long? To me, much more than a minute or perhaps two is it. Even if the verbal content is good and well-delivered, it becomes a challenge to watch as it gets longer. I start looking for the toolbar to try to zip it ahead.

For my online friends who have been doing vids, I say this with all due respect and ask your understanding. I'll still watch your vids, because I do want to hear what you have to say.

BUT, why can't it be said the old-fashioned way of blogging...in writing? If it's written, it's easy to re-read a sentence or paragraph for clarity, before I post a comment.

I'm with David. The written word is an amazing tool. You can use words to communicate all kinds of complicated ideas. They get subtle shades of meaning across. They can be printed out for later reference. They can easily be emailed to colleagues. You can read them on a plane. You can read them on your mobile phone. You can read them during tedious conference calls. You can read them without disturbing the person sitting four feet from you.

And they're a random access medium. The reader can skip ahead, go back and re-read something. She can skim at high speed or carefully focus on every word. They put the user in control and as a result are probably the most user-oriented medium there is.

Video has its place. Video can show you things that would be hard to follow in a written description; the video that Apple put on its site as a promo for the iPhone is a great example (it convinced me to buy one because it made it obvious how many features worked, and it served as a quick start guide when I got the phone home). I'm not saying video is bad.

I'm just suggesting that if you can't figure out why you shouldn't be using a simpler, lower-bandwidth, more flexible, and more user-controlled medium for your message, then you shouldn't be making a video.

At the risk of sounding judgmental, it's highly self-indulgent. Look, I can make a video! Look, I didn't have to bother to organize my thoughts and write them down; I'm just going to talk at you! When I'm on the receiving end of that stuff, my strongest reaction is that this communicator has no respect for me or the rest of his audience, and I usually stop watching.

Video has its place. It's just turning up in a whole lot of other places lately. A good maxim: use the simplest possible medium for everything. You will probably still find yourself using video - but the videos will be better and more meaningful for your audience.


Mary said...

Excellent points. Actually to make a good video requires a lot more planning (and scripting) than writing a blog post (and writing a good blog post - as you well know - can involve sweating blood.)

In any medium, you've got to have something worthwhile to say - and say it well.

I am planning to add some video to my site this year, but it will only be after a lot of planning (and involvement of others...and not just talking heads.)

You might also want to check out Beach Walks with Rox. (A friend of mine, but still - she works at being different and thought-provoking - all in a video format. She also keeps it short.)

fiat lux said...

I agree completely, and added a few thoughts of my own here.