Content developers and marketing agencies need to figure out when the appropriate times are for creating videos or creating written content.
This quick run-down shows you the benefits of each and when to use video versus when to use written content like case studies, white papers brochures, data sheets, solution briefs and so forth. (We’ve also produced a handy chart down below.)
Visual “How Tos”
Videos are great for “how to” content that shows people exactly how to do a particular thing like create a recipe or solve some kind of iPhone issue or mobile app issue or some problem with software. You can use demonstrations with screenshots and actual software screens to show people exactly how to create something from scratch, troubleshoot an issue or master a skill.
Videos are also great for capturing the interest of the viewer with personality, humor and visual content. Any subject like food, art, slapstick gags, beautiful scenery or colorful animations make sense for video. Moods and visual impressions are much easier to capture on video than in print.
Interruptions and distractions work better with video, as well. Think about your social media feeds. Striking images and videos pull you out of your work and into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. There’s something irresistible about compelling video.
Writing and Deeper Dives
Written pieces are much more valuable when you’re further along in a sales cycle. This is especially true in businesses where sale cycles are long and a lot of thinking has to go into exploring a solution before a client or a prospect makes a decision about a purchase.
When you need to explain benefits, features and advantages in detail, it’s much better to do that in a written document that can be saved, copied, shared and referenced by the prospect or customer.
If you think about it, written content is useful in much the same way a contract is or an educational text is. When you read, you remember more of the written content. The way we’ve been conditioned as students academically lends itself to much more detail and memory recall when something is read.
Video tends to be more leisurely. It’s low impact and can be discarded easily in terms of memory. If you read an in-depth document, however, you’ve focused for a long period of time, and you get the feeling like you’ve done work or accomplished something. Think about when you read a book when you were a kid. We were always rewarded for for reading thick books, comprehending complex plots, identifying with characters, and memorizing facts.
This type of learning and processing will always be more valued than watching TV. As kids, we were all discouraged from watching TV (or YouTube) and encouraged to read, even if even if it was a stupid, mindless book. TV was forbidden fruit, and it was considered vacuous bubblegum, not nearly as important as a book or a reading assignment for school like current events from a magazine or a newspaper.
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words and video can capture attention very quickly, but sometimes the recall of a video is fleeting and not as indelible as a written document that goes into great detail about a certain subject.
Complexity and Exposition
Written content is also preferred when developing complex philosophies or explaining sophisticated topics. If the audience needs to study or closely examine difficult concepts, written articles and brochures are much more appropriate. C-Level prospects, for example, need to base their decisions on substantial documentation when making B2B purchases.
When people read something in print, they hear the words and see them. (This is one reason why it’s advisable to “subtitle” explanatory videos on Facebook and YouTube.) Pure video, however, is a bit different. It’s more topical and superficial by the nature of the medium. Most people, for example, won’t spend a lot of time with a video. Thirty second and one-minute videos are common because they can capture attention quickly. They rarely, however, sustain attention over long periods of time. The exceptions are things like Ted Talks and feature-length movies that cost millions of dollars to produce.
One thing that’s advisable is backing up a superficial video treatment of a subject with a longer form document that explains things in more detail. The two mediums can work in tandem to achieve more meaningful results.
Finally, video and copy work great as a single project when you’re interviewing a subject matter expert (SME). If you’ve heard of the Oracle Pillar approach, you’re probably familiar with this. If you start with a long form interview, you can generate up to 269 different pieces of audio, video and written content from that single sit-down interview. A 20-minute interview video, for example, can be broken up into short format videos, made into a podcast, transcribed as a transcript, modified into a PowerPoint, and re-written into multiple blog posts. All this content can live on every conceivable social media channel, including SlideShare, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and all the rest.