Video is the New Way to Tell Stories

By Anna McDermott

Ruth Jackson, the vice president of communications at Colby College

The recent stats for YouTube are pretty astonishing to a Gen X gal like me. As of 2019, 75 percent of millennials prefer watching YouTube to watching television and one billion hours of YouTube videos are watched every day. That is a lot of YouTube. The topic of videos came up on The PR Maven® Podcast with Nancy Marshall when she interviewed Ruth Jackson, the vice president of communications at Colby College. As a veteran communications pro, Ruth has seen how videos have changed the way we market to people.

Ruth said that the heart of what do we in marketing and PR remains the same, generation after generation, and that’s storytelling. Stories have always been the best way to communicate – they capture people’s imagination and evoke feelings. Nancy said that you remember stories and that is power when it comes to marketing. The brand you know, or remember, is often the brand you buy.

Videos are a wonderful way to share stories. You can capture quite a lot of life in as little as 15-60 seconds, too. The power behind video is that you can show emotions, not just use words to describe them. The videos Ruth shares on Colby’s social accounts show what life is like on campus. Many colleges can say, “Our campus is beautiful, and the students learn so much,” but a video demonstrating that will carry more weight.

We can all record our stories and share them on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat or YouTube. For social media, short videos that are less than a minute are best. You’re competing against so many others for a share of their time, so you want to make it short and snappy. Think about the videos you watch – what made you watch the whole thing? What caught your attention? How did you feel? If you pay attention to what works, you can incorporate it into your own video marketing. Social media platforms also make audience segmentation easy – you can choose exactly who you want to target and direct the video just to that portion of the population.

Longer videos are great for a captive audience, at an event or lecture. You then have the opportunity for longer-form storytelling over a few minutes to a group that already has an interest and, therefore, a longer attention span. These days, there are many tools available for the layperson to create videos that look professional and don’t take a ton of time. Some are designed to work with a specific camera, like GoPro, others with any video format, so see what will work best for you and your business.

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