I am so excited that the focus of marketing in the current era is video. I’m positively giddy at the prospect of how this medium will help us transform the popular view of libraries. The power of video is mind-blowing. It’s easier than ever to create a video. The hard part is compelling your viewers to watch it and to keep coming back for more.

I want to encourage you by sharing tips I learned from an extraordinary marketing expert.  Andrew Davis is CEO of Monumental Shift and author of the book Brandscaping. He is a former journalist and producer for The Muppets and Charles Kuralt. He’s a brilliant storyteller and a gifted speaker. He spoke at Content Marketing World this year about the power of video marketing and how to make sure your videos are working at their fullest potential–engaging viewers, building compelling stories, and getting your whole message through to your target audience. His talk was energizing and I want to spread some of his enthusiasm around!

Davis says we need to change the way we think about engagement. Most libraries declare engagement victory when we get a certain amount of views, impressions, shares, or likes. But the social media landscape is so saturated that those numbers really have no meaning anymore. We need to shift our definition of engagement to audience retention.

Audience retention is, simply put, the amount of time our cardholders spend viewing our content. This translates to watch time on YouTube and Facebook and page time on Google Analytics. A compelling video will persuade people returning to those platforms to view your content over and over. Davis says we must stop blaming our viewers for having the attention span of a goldfish. It isn’t that our viewers can’t pay attention to what we are saying. The problem is that what we are saying is boring.

Create videos that your cardholders really want to watch. To do this, you’ll need to get inside the mind of your viewer. Start by creating a series of “how to” videos, which have high audience retention. How-to videos are low-hanging fruit for a library. Your librarians can be your guide–ask them to name the questions they are asked most often by cardholders and then help you create a simple video to explain the answers. To prove the power of the how-to video, Davis played this video, which is one of the most watched how-to videos on YouTube.

Davis says your next video marketing challenge is to create suspense by raising the stakes. The best way to explain this concept is with this video from the Slo-Mo guys.They inserted a firecracker into a watermelon. It takes 18 seconds from start to finish for it to blow up. I admit it’s kind of exciting.  But it’s over in less than half a minute–not the greatest way to create audience retention!

Davis says there is a better way to do that video–and the example comes from Buzzfeed. They did a Facebook live where they burst a watermelon with rubber bands. It took forever to make the watermelon explode but tons of people were watching when it finally blew up. At the 20 minute mark, they had 375,000 viewers. By 40 minutes, they had 800,000 viewers. In all, more than 11 million watched it on demand after the fact. So the lesson is… DON’T INSERT A FIRECRACKER INTO A WATERMELON.

Next, Davis says, teach your audience to chase answers. The pursuit of the answers builds momentum. Your videos need to occupy your audience’s desire to know more over time. Davis says you need to stop worrying about how long a video is. Rather, ask yourself if your entire video worth watching. When someone says your video is too long, what they’re really saying is “I have no more questions.” Make sure there are questions that need answering and keep the audience constantly asking what’s next.

Remember that building suspense isn’t just part of the story line of your video. The title and the thumbnail you choose is part of the equation–don’t give it all away in those two elements. To demonstrate, Davis shared this video from the ancestry research company 23 and Me. Honestly, if you just read the title and look at the thumbnail, you will already know what’s going to happen. There’s no suspense and that translates into no real reason to watch.

A more compelling example of building suspense through the title and use of video is this Dove Choose Beautiful spot.

Finally, Davis says when you are creating drama with your videos, it is important to remember to pay it off. Make sure you deliver a catharsis or an emotional release our audience craves. If you don’t, you risk alienating your viewers. For example, Billy Gene The Wolf of Advertising made the following video. Watch it and see if you can guess why it was widely criticized.

There is no resolution! You must resolve every question you raise by the end of the video. Be sure to provide answers to all the questions in your video, so you avoid frustrating your audience. A frustrated audience will not come back to watch more of your content.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.