I saw a very strange thing today. In response to Chris’s post about MySpace’s Digg clone, SearchAnyway replied using video. But if you listen to the whole one minute and forty seconds of the video, there’s nothing in it except for a guy talking, trying to explain to News Corp that removing the “Digg” button would be a bad move and would ostracize a user community.
After watching the video in its entirety, I couldn’t help but wonder if video was necessary for the points that the other Chris wanted to get across. It would make for a great written blog, but video? After all, it was just a monologue of a guy making an argument, which would have done much better in the written word with the necessary emphasis.
While online video is a “technological breakthrough,” I don’t think there’s much effectiveness when video is being used this way to tell a story without any engaging aspects. As I wrote in December, we are already heavily overloaded with multimedia, and not everybody is ready to embrace it. Further, it’s hard for individuals to take the time out of the day to immerse themselves in content that is not easily multitaskable (my new word for the day; I told you I could have used Quizlet). Blog video defies the nature of blogging (and RSS). Once I start watching this speech, I have to watch it in its entirety. Some folks might be inclined to go so far as to say “I want that 1 minute 40 seconds of my life back.”
So should video be used for a speech, or more appropriately, a “blog speech?” I don’t think so. Video is effective when it does the following:
- Is mixed with accompanying visuals. As I write this, I’m watching American Idol. I can see myself saying, just as Simon Cowell does, that this was a “boring performance.” There’s nothing memorable about this except that it was an atypical way of blogging. Accompany your monologue with visuals (beyond hand gestures), such as with slides — or do an interesting demonstration. The SearchMarketingNow webcasts do something like this (while you don’t see the speaker, there are plenty of incredibly useful visual aids). On the other hand, the SearchAnyway blog entry was simply a guy trying to make an argument, which will fall on deaf ears and isn’t textually searchable at the present anyway. Where’s my transcript? If you want to make an argument to News Corp, send something in writing instead. Do you think they’ll listen to your video?
- Is interactive. Let us hear from more than one person. Let it be a discussion. A dialogue, if you will. Let’s hear people debate! A guy speaking to a camera is a guy speaking to a camera. There’s nothing in it to draw me in. I can watch bloggers talking all the time but I opt to read what they say instead; it generally takes more effort to write a blog but that’s what most of us are looking for after all. There’s just too much content out there, especially in this industry. Stopping to watch video while wading through a great deal of reading material is difficult and makes me want to lengthen my days from 24 hours to at least 48.
A powerful video presentation needs to do more than the mundane: it needs to captivate an audience. If you opt-in for a video-type presentation, don’t leave your viewers hanging and wondering why they clicked Play. Give them something of value so that they feel more entertained or more educated than they were before they watched your video. Video still has a tremendous potential in the market, but it needs to be approached in a proper way with the ultimate intention to appeal to an audience. Without this, videos are lackluster and your users will look elsewhere to watch great content.
I assume this is only an experimentation with video, and hopefully this kind of “blogging” won’t be taken on as mainstream. In the blogosphere, most of us are electing to read content, and if we’re looking to watch something, our emphasis is on interesting content. There’s nothing wrong with using video when it’s used the right way. But above all, be interesting to me — captivate my attention — and I’ll remember you (and recommend you!), I promise.