Far too often, I see web series, comedy shorts, or fundraising videos fall short of success. Whether it’s due to a lack of views or failure to attract the right audience, creators often get disheartened and give up. This happens most often to people who don’t fully understand the Internet’s ecosystem. I don’t pretend to understand it either, but I have picked up some tips on how to better create online video content…mostly from my own mistakes and those of my friends. Here are the ways you might have also gotten it wrong.
1. You didn’t know your audience.
If you are making an episodic show for YouTube, be prepared: your audience will most likely consist of teenage girls. Your core audience (and any repeat watchers) will almost always be people who have too much time on their hands and who don’t own television sets. Therefore your first question shouldn’t be “How do I appeal to teenage girls?” It should be “Why should I appeal to teenage girls?” Rather than attempt to satisfy the current online audience, wouldn’t it be better to find a medium that fits the content you want to create?
2. Your editing was too slow.
In the first 10 seconds of any online video, the total viewership usually drops about 10%. For some particularly horrible ones, that goes as high as 90%. Look at your video as a whole and see if every single second of the video is critical to getting your point across. That means no minute-long takes where character stare into space. That also means no lengthy monologues. If you want to challenge yourself, sign up for Vine and try making some 6-second narratives. You’ll realize that every frame of video is precious. If you’ve uploaded any videos to YouTube, you can also use YouTube’s native Analytics feature to see exactly when in your video your audience decided to click away.
Here is the retention graph for my film reel, for example. It shows that people watched an average of 1:03 minutes out of my 2:56 minute video and that there was a spike in interest around the 1:37 mark (where I mention my special effects graphic work).
3. You didn’t market your project properly.
There are a million things to watch on the Internet. What with the latest Kardashian scandal to catch up on and a new season of Orange is the New Black on the way – who is going to even find the time to watch your video? Don’t expect that just because you posted something thoughtful, relevant, and well-made that people will watch it. If you’d like some in-depth tips on how to do a proper online marketing campaign, read my blog all about it.
4. Your production value was terrible.
This is 2015. Any video shot on your laptop’s webcam is unacceptable (unless it is of cats, of course). Think not only about the picture quality of your camera but about how you are recording sound and what is in the background. This holds true for no matter what you are doing – a Kickstarter talking head-type interview, a video blog, or a news show. People will be more likely to share it if it is well-done. For my rant on production value and some great before/after examples, check out this blog from February.
5. You didn’t host your content correctly
It is nearly impossible to get people to watch anything that is not on YouTube (unless you are Ellen DeGeneres, but we will talk about EllenTube later). CollegeHumor has tried it. FunnyOrDie has tried it. Remember Take180? Of course you don’t. Because they also tried it, and they failed. YouTube has just celebrated its 10-year anniversary. It is the go-to site to host your content if you want people to have easy access to it and know how to find it easily. This may change in the future. But for now, stick to YouTube.
6. Your content was not unique.
Nobody needs another iPhone unboxing video or eyeliner makeup tutorial. But people watch them anyway because why? The personalities who are unboxing products and putting on makeup are fun to watch. Even if you have an idea for a show that is exactly like Epic Rap Battles of History, as long as you make it different and engaging enough, people will watch it.
Hopefully that helped! To read more of my thoughts on how to survive in the world of digital media, check out the rest of my New Media Mondays blogs. Good luck with your next web project!