Why Video and Images Is Overrated

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There’s no denying that video and images can be powerful, and many businesses use them as a primary marketing strategy allmapsvideosimagesnewsshoppingbooksflightssearch tools. Videos are often used to drum up interest for a new product or service and videos can help your audience see the benefits of your product or service. But when it comes to creating content, there is an easy way to take your audience by surprise.

1. The Power of Silence

In the book, ‘The Storytelling Animal’, authors Clay Shirky and Yesim Sayin found that even when we are presented with silence, we tend to fill it with our own thoughts. Our minds seem to ask us the same question repeatedly, “What’s going on?” This “thought loop” is so powerful that artists and musicians will often use silence to create a powerful effect. (For example, listen to the beginning of this piece by Philip Glass. It starts off as a slow, lilting melody until it breaks into a white noise passage, which immediately goes back into the melody before breaking it again. It works on both sides of the brain to create a powerful effect.) Rather than injecting your video with noise, silence will help give it more of a weight and impact.

2. A Visual Turnaround

Often we associate visuals with emotions, but with images our brains sometimes have to pause and take in the message before they understand what’s happening. For example, when was the last time you heard a headline that shocked you or surprised you? They don’t work like that anymore. For example, if your headline is, “New Ex-Wife Commits Suicide” we assume that this has been going on for a while and it isn’t really new at all. People want to see people getting off a train before they jump off themselves.

3. Simplicity

While simplicity is one of the most powerful tools you have as a writer it is also one of the hardest to get right. Often we are asked to create a complex idea that is difficult to understand and we’re always tempted to include too many words. The simplest ideas are often the best because they are easier to understand, and by using shorter sentences and images your audience will be able to absorb them faster.

Once you’ve found an idea that works, paint a picture in your audience’s mind (or their minds) of what the story is about rather than explaining it in words. 

For example, take the time to watch this video. It takes less than a minute and it’s powerful.

It only takes one image to create an image: a silhouette of a man standing on the edge of a building looking down on the ground. We know that something has happened and we know that he’s thinking about taking his life, but we don’t know what or why. (You’ll find out in the next clip.)  

Watch how the news report doesn’t say anything other than what we already know. The reporter never says, “And then he jumped”. He simply says, “The man fell to his death.” That’s all you need in order for your audience to understand that he killed himself. 

It’s a powerful example of how simple and direct your message can be.

Other than using video and images, here are some other reasons why your audience might not engage with your content:

1. They didn’t understand what you were saying. They weren’t sure what you meant.

2. It was too boring for them to continue reading or listening to it. 

3. The timing was wrong for them to hear about it (to quote Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message”). If that’s the case, then this means that someone else might be a better fit for it (someone who might actually have an interest in it).  

4. They didn’t like you (your tone, your attitude or the way you presented it). 

5. The topic was too boring for them (or maybe it just wasn’t their “cup of tea”).

As you can see, even if you put all the effort in the world into creating an amazing piece of content for someone and they still ignore it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your message isn’t compelling . It might just mean that they weren’t interested in what you were saying. Never assume that people who don’t respond to your content or engage with it are stupid, deaf or blind when they should have been paying attention to what you were saying.

It’s important to remember that your content is only as good as your audience can see and hear it.

I hope these tips help you create better content for your audience. If you have any questions about this or any other marketing tips, please leave me a comment in the comments section below or contact me on LinkedIn.  


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