Content and brand promise

I have been having conversations over the past few months. with a number of people who talked about video as the panacea of social media, many of whom struck me as being driven by a televisual vision of the future a la Max Headroom, or that bit in Back To The Future were the 1950s Doc Brown sees a 1985-vintage JVC camcorder or “portable television studio” as he puts it and realises why they would need a movie-actor like Ronald Reagan as a president in the future. Text was derided as old hat and images have never had the degree of respect that they deserve.

My own view veers towards pragmatism. Video can be extremely powerful, especially in conveying emotion and telling a story.  However as with every other touch point for stakeholders I view socialised content as having an implicit brand promise for stakeholders.

When we speak to our bank or IT technical support we have a certain expectation about how long we will be kept listening to hold music before speaking to someone who can help. We will only tolerate a certain length of queue in a bank branch but will put up with a longer queue for a major sporting event or cool nightclub.

text versus audio versus video

We have similar expectations of socialised content in terms of its utility and or entertainment value. We can browse a magazine article or scroll through emails. If something grabs my eye I read it. Using RSS I surf almost 700 feeds for something of interest. It is harder to do this with audio files, but you can listen to them and do something else. I often do house chores whilst podcasts play in the background.

Video however is the most demanding of content. It demands my complete attention and time since the content by its nature is both immersive  and tricky to skip through to find interesting nuggets. Consequently, I have a higher expectation that the content on the video is sufficiently interesting or entertaining to keep me engaged.

A failure to provide me with a sufficiently engaging experience, not only leaves with an unfavourable feeling towards the video, but I also assign a negative mark against the brand that the content is from. This means that video content is a high risk, medium-to-high reward proposition.

Thinking about the appropriate medium for content requires asking the following questions:

  • Is there anything in the video which could not be done with audio?
  • Is there anything in the audio which would make it more interesting than in print or as a blog post?
  • Can the content be made more understandable, grasped more easily using an infographic rather than reams of explanatory text?

On the other hand you could get it very, very wrong.

A great example of this is Mr T ‘putting the T in IT’ for Hitachi Data Systems.