Sponsored article: Video and brand marketing are all about engagement. Break down "engagement", and you get a potent mix of attention, awareness and understanding. Let's unpack all of this.
There's a lot of excitement about AI in the air right now. But one aspect that gets neglected in the AI feeding frenzy is how similar - or not - AI is to us. Is it really conscious? If it is, does it think? Is it "aware"? What does it mean to really know something?
Curiously, once you start asking those questions about AI, you quickly realise that we don't even have answers to most of those things about ourselves.
Most of the time, that doesn't matter. We know how to get on with each other, how to understand other people from their language and gestures, and, above all, there is little need for a heavyweight theory about how our minds work in our daily lives.
But sometimes, it's helpful to pause and consider how we understand and react to the things we come across as we work, study and play. And it matters most to people who try to sell things.
It doesn't have to be complicated, and a lot of this seems obvious. The only problem is that people typically don't think about it.
When you make a video, it goes without saying that you want people to watch it. But that's not enough. You can watch a video, pay absolutely no attention to it, and forget about it instantly. That's obviously pointless. To get to the next stage, we need to talk about engagement. And that's easy to measure. If someone's engaged with your video, they will tend to:
- Watch the entire video
- Share the video with others
- Click on your call to action
- Become customers
That, if you like, is the macro view. If you watch for those four things, you can detect engagement without knowing much else about it.
But what does it actually mean? And, critically, how can you increase engagement? The first thing to understand is that engagement isn't a simple substance like water. It's made up of several interdependent parts. First, there's awareness.
What is awareness, and how do we achieve it in the person we're selling to?
In everyday terms, you can make someone aware of your message by jumping up and down, waving your arms and shouting their name. But that misses a crucial point: awareness is the gateway to consciousness, and hence understanding.
Inside our heads, we're not biological television cameras. Nor are we cinemas, seeing the world projected on a screen and somehow "understanding" what's happening.
The mechanisms through which we understand the world are complex and still quite controversial in that there is no theory of consciousness that everyone agrees on. But unless you're aware of something, you're not going to understand it, and you're certainly not going to buy it.
A dull, repetitive, predictable video could easily miss our threshold of awareness. We're very unlikely to engage with it. But there are hundreds, if not millions, of ways to make videos engaging.
Make them funny, surprising, entertaining, beautiful, or overwhelmingly honest. Live action is good, as is animation. Today's audiences expect decent production values. Only make a low-fi video as a creative effect.
Even if there were a formula for making an engaging video, the best approach is almost certainly to not be formulaic. Aim to surprise and delight your viewer but also to empathise with them. Try to be authentic and honest. If you look like you can be trusted, that's a big win in video marketing.
Mixing rationality - facts, figures and clear arguments - with emotions is a good idea. That's simply because we do the same in our own lives. You can add up the bill in a restaurant while feeling happy that you and your partner have had a fantastic time.
It's tempting to say there's a hierarchy of emotions you should try to invoke in a video campaign - without being too obvious about it.
You can appeal to every emotion you can think of, although try to avoid all of them at the same time.
And don't overcook your message. In the study of Aesthetics, there's a famous example called the Book of Beauty, a single volume where you'll find the most beautiful pictures, incredibly moving poems, the best-ever literature, and stories of the kindest acts. And the result? You'll probably feel nauseous. It's all too much. You need contrast and moderation. Only go for the Book of Beauty approach if you do it ironically.
So, there's a massive spectrum of feelings and emotions. But there's one you should aim for specifically, and it's arguably at the top of the hierarchy.
It's desire. It's "I want that". It's the highest level of enlightenment about your product or service.
Once your customers reach this ultimate emotional state, keep an eye on your inbox as the orders start flowing in.