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How to Avoid the Battle of Boring in Your Videos

Both B2B and B2C marketers continue to increase their use of audio/video content, including videos and livestreaming. It’s no surprise. The question is are you creating video content good enough to move the needle for your organization?

Are you creating #videos that move the needle for your organization? @AmandaSubler Share on X

As we are working through these issues at CMI, it’s a great time to look for some inspiration and best practices for quality videos. What better place to mine for ideas than some of the best video-related sessions at Content Marketing World. From creating videos that people want to watch to finding ideas for those videos to following best practices for social media, here are some of the key takeaways from my favorite sessions about video.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: The 5 New Rules of Video Marketing Success

Curiosity Factor: The Psychological Phenomenon Creative Content Marketers Employ to Earn and Own Attention in a Noisy World

Andrew Davis, Author, Brandscaping & Town, INC.

In the way that only he can do, Andrew offered a high-energy, entertaining keynote presentation that was all about creating curiosity in your content. While this concept can be used for all types of content, he focused on video.

Andrew’s premise is that while we’re told that our audiences don’t have time to consume our content so we need to create shorter, snackable content, those same people will spend a Saturday binge-watching their favorite Netflix show like Stranger Things. He argues that by making our content (videos) shorter we eliminate the elements that make it interesting.

Forget snackable videos. That eliminates elements that make #video interesting to your audience. @DrewDavisHere Share on X

Andrew’s solution? Create content that will grab and hold the audience’s attention. Create content like Stranger Things. Think like a reality show editor when creating videos. How do you do this? By creating what he calls a “curiosity gap” – the gap between what your audience knows and what they want to know.

Andrew took his advice and showed a video (originally a live event on Facebook and YouTube) in which BuzzFeed staffers decked out in full hazmat gear spent over 40 minutes putting rubber bands one at a time around a watermelon. They created a curiosity gap – hundreds of thousands tuned in (and stayed) to watch how long it would take for the melon to explode. Why? The staffers built tension with each rubber band. Viewers couldn’t wait to see what would happen and they stayed to watch because of their innate, psychological need for closure.

But, there’s one caveat and it’s a big one. As Andrew explains, the payoff must be proportional to the tension you build. In the watermelon case, the payoff was worth it. But don’t create tension – if your payoff is a dud. That’s like writing a clickbait headline for a story that you can’t deliver on as Andrew explains in this clip from his presentation:

My takeaway

How do you do this with your videos? First, stop creating tons of testimonials and case study videos with absolutely no tension, no curiosity gap. Many times, even the title is boring, with labels like “customer testimonial.” Create videos that spark curiosity and remember that your headlines should do the same. Don’t waste or squander that opportunity.

Create #videos that spark curiosity & remember your headlines should do the same, says @AmandaSubler. Share on X

As Andrew says, raise the stakes in your videos. I love his suggestion to think like a reality TV show editor. Watch some reality TV and observe how they build tension throughout the episode. (Andrew used an example from Ice Road Truckers, but any reality TV show would work.)

Show the audience something they desire and then threaten it for as long as possible. For example, in his presentation, Andrew took a boring testimonial video by a B2B accounting software company and re-edited the testimonial to create tension and curiosity. You can see the original video and Andrew’s edited version at In the edit, instead of giving away the name of the company and how the customer uses its product at the beginning, Andrew uses sound bites to show the audience (entrepreneurs and small-business owners) something they desire (more money and more time) and threatens it for as long as possible (by explaining all the obstacles the testimonial subject faces that keep her from making money and saving time). These small but important changes create a curiosity gap. So even if you think you’re in a boring B2B industry, you can (and should) create a curiosity gap in your videos.

Think Like a Filmmaker: Learn How Documentary Films and Their Storytelling Techniques Can be a Powerful and Captivating Way to Tell Your Brand Story

Denise Roberts McKee, COO, About Face Media Inc.

Documentaries seem to be all the rage these days. As Denise explains, the rise of streaming services has made documentaries more accessible. People love documentaries because they are compelling and authentic stories.

She shares some great techniques of documentary-style storytelling that marketers can use to tell their stories. Many marketers, especially in the B2B space, struggle with how to find and then tell compelling stories about their organization. As I touched on above, many think their industry or product is too boring and aren’t sure how to tell their stories in an interesting, even powerful way. Using a documentary-style video can be a compelling way to do this.

Before you get started, as Denise points out, you need to have a strategy behind your video project. Here are three questions you need to ask:

  • Determine your objective (the what) – What is it you want this video to accomplish?
  • Identify your audiences (the who) – Who is this content for? (It’s likely for more than one audience.)
  • Assess the audience vs. the objectives (the why) Why would your audience watch it?

The key, according to Denise, is the AUDIENCE. If you don’t reach your audience, you will never reach your objectives. If you don’t see a connection between your audience and your objective, then you need to start over.

If you don’t reach your audience, you will never reach your objectives, says @drmckee. Share on X

Story landscape

Once you know your audience and your objectives, where do you find stories? Denise suggests figuring out your setting or “story landscape.” On one side, look at the issues, values, and expertise your company cares about or can offer. On the other side, consider the issues, values, and expertise your audience cares about. The cross-section is your story landscape. That’s where you can find stories to produce.

Finding stories

If you need inspiration, Denise suggests checking existing materials, like archival video footage, photos, voice recordings, etc. Go through those materials to find stories that already exist or even the beginnings of stories. Or the archives may just act as inspiration for another idea.

Below is an example from Capital Group Denise used in her presentation. Part of the footage and inspiration for the video came from CapitalSpeaks, existing TEDx-like talks the company presents with employees. Capital Group expanded on existing footage from an employee presentation, adding interviews and b-roll to make this extremely compelling video for recruiting purposes.

TIP: Note what the video is NOT. It’s not Capital Group talking about how great it is. It’s not an employee talking about how great the company is. It’s a great story showing you how the subject’s job helps her achieve the work-life balance she needs.

Don’t talk about how great your company is. Do tell a great story to motivate audience. @AmandaSubler #video Share on X

Hero’s journey

Now that you have a story, how do you tell it? Denise offers up a classic technique at the heart of any good documentary – the hero’s journey. You need to find a “hero” to base your story around. That hero then must go on a “journey,” facing and overcoming an obstacle(s). What makes a good hero? The person needs to have a clear goal. Something must be at stake – a need to overcome some obstacle (did I mention that?). That hero must be relatable and interesting and the best voice to connect with your audience. That hero may not be your CEO or your HR person who always does your company videos. Denise suggests you take the time to figure out who is the best voice for the story you want to tell.

Think genres

Another great tip is to think genres when trying to determine what kind of video to create. You know how you go to Netflix and search categories for something to watch? Think in those terms when creating a video. You could make a video using a historical, underdog, cult (your fans/customers), adventure, sci-fi, and even comedy genre. Denise explains in this clip:

My takeaway

All of Denise’s suggestions are helpful for those who want to create videos but don’t know where to start. Once you determine your video’s objectives, research content you may have in-house. Think about who could be your hero. Follow her or him on a journey to overcome obstacles (think curiosity gap). Thinking about genres also can really help you focus on the type of video content you may want to create.

Session: How to: 0 to 1 Million LinkedIn Video Views in 6 months

Allen Gannett, CEO, TrackMaven

Allen did something amazing over this last year. He started posting short videos on LinkedIn almost every day and racked up 3.5 million views. In his session, Allen shares practical tips he learned along the way, like how to increase your views on LinkedIn by working the algorithm. But I want to focus on the tips he offered specific to creating the video content.

Here’s an example of one of his LinkedIn videos:

B2B YouTube is what Allen calls LinkedIn, and I love that. As he says, now is the time to jump on the LinkedIn video bandwagon because not many organizations are doing it (or at least doing it well). Figure out LinkedIn video before your competitors do. He offers these suggestions:

  • Find a novel yet familiar idea. A lot of people post videos just like other videos on LinkedIn. Your videos should be familiar but novel. Put your spin on an idea or framework for a video that people are familiar with. Allen would love to see a company do an MTV Cribs-like video for its startup office.
  • Center on an individual. Someone in your organization should be the main character or star of your videos. People don’t really follow companies on LinkedIn, they follow people. Authenticity is important on social media. Make your videos with and about people and their stories.


This is what I really love about Allen’s videos. He uses basic equipment – his phone, an app (Deshake), and a window (for light). That’s it. Allen debunks the myth that video is complicated or expensive. He stands in front of the window when filming and doesn’t even use a microphone. (I like to use the Ampridge MMSP MightyMic S+ Shotgun Cardioid Video Microphone when recording on my phone.)

Now is the time to jump on the #LinkedIn #video bandwagon because not many orgs are doing it, says @Allen. Share on X

My takeaway

Now is the time to start experimenting with video on LinkedIn. What Allen has found, and I agree, is that you need to personalize your company or brand. You need a face for your company. (Think hero’s journey.) People are more likely to connect with a person than a brand.

Allen also offers good advice about where to post the videos – he says they should be posted from personal profiles. You also can recruit other employees to post personal videos as well. You can post the video from your company profile, but it likely won’t get as many views or engagement as if it came from a person.

How to Develop a Loyal YouTube Audience

Tim Schmoyer, founder, Video Creators

Finally, one of my favorite sessions was Tim’s. I’ve followed him for some time and have learned a lot about how to effectively use YouTube. He’s worked with many big companies like Disney, HBO, Time Warner, and Budweiser, but also with smaller creators to help them succeed on YouTube. I’m not going to go into his presentation because we did an extensive blog post on him here. Tim talks a lot about the importance of authenticity in your videos. If you need help on how to grow your YouTube audience, I highly you suggest read the post.

That’s a wrap

I learned a ton from these video presentations at Content Marketing World. I’m definitely going to be thinking about the curiosity gap, hero’s journey, and authenticity as we think about our video strategy at CMI.

And one of my biggest tips to anyone who is thinking about video is to get started. Don’t let fear hold you back. Use the equipment you have now and see how it goes. You can always invest more if it’s going well.

Don’t let fear hold you back from creating #video content, says @amandasubler. #CMWorld Share on X

I’d love to know how your video plans are going for your organization. What have you found that works? Or doesn’t work? What do you plan to try new in 2019?

Want to get really meta? Subscribe to watch the presentations mentioned above and dozens of others with Content Marketing World video on demand.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute