What we
think and do.
Using corporate films online
14th May 2018 By Katie Clark

It’s a trap lots of companies fall into.  You’ve managed to get the CEO in front of a camera, he talks for 20 minutes and you think ‘hey, every member of staff needs to see this!’. You stick it online and then wonder why viewing stats are so low and the drop off so brutal.
Well, it turns out that as a species, we’re pretty easily distracted. And never more so than when we’re online.
At home, we love to sink into a good bit of telly. TV is a medium for relaxation, where the viewer sits back and becomes immersed in whatever the channel directors decided to air. Even the word ‘viewer’ highlights the passive mode of engagement.
In contrast, online users sit forward and drive their own experience through a continuous set of choices and clicks. 
‘Because of the fundamental difference in user experience, broadcast TV feels boring on the web. There’s nothing to do, no choices, no user control,” says Jakob Nielsen, author, researcher, and consultant on user interfaces.
So, we like to be in control. Turns out we get bored easily too. An eye-tracking study of users on CNN.com found that, during a 24-second talking head film, users’ attention was almost constantly diverted elsewhere on the page and even elsewhere in the frame…. lots were trying to read a road sign in the background!
And of course, there’s an even sharper focus on quality online because our audience can switch off more easily.
Communicators need to adapt, as more than 57% of trailing millennials (14-25) consume their video on a device – they’re coming into the workforce with some pretty high expectations for online content.
So, how can you engage an audience with film online? Our top tips:

  • Keep it simple – which doesn’t mean un-ambitious. Keep distracting elements out of the frame
  • Keep it relevant - think of your audience
  • Keep it short - frontload the first 90 secs with the important points because after that, attention really starts to wane
  • Keep it visual – this is still a visual medium. If the content doesn’t take advantage of the medium’s dynamic nature, maybe it shouldn’t be a film!
  • Be creative – be different to what they might expect and push for creativity. Remember you’re competing with a lot of other stimuli
  • Take advantage of the fact that we’re programmed to be distracted and give the audience other things to look at – things that are relevant to your message
  • Write a good blurb to hook them in and make it easy to find

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