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2 min read

Why Your Video is Nothing More than a Cheap Commercial

Think about the last video you watched. How did you find it? Were you actively looking for it? If that’s your answer, we call your bluff. Chances are that video ­– the one that made you drop everything you were doing and indulge in distraction – was one you stumbled upon during a habitual newsfeed swipe through one of your many social media apps. You probably swiped past dozens of videos before landing on the one that stole your attention. So why did you stop there?

The truth is, in this era of abundant media, users are more selective than ever. Seldom do consumers click on videos because they want to be sold something. So falling under that “cheap commercial” umbrella is essentially a death trap for businesses hoping to reel in more business. Separate your video from commercial status with these three essential takeaways.

Video is a tool, not a crutch.

While video is an un-paralleled medium for some extraordinary content, it isn’t always the answer. Don’t just use video for the sake of using video. Sometimes a story doesn’t have, nor warrant, a ton of visuals and would be better told through the written word, for instance.

When considering video for your story, it’s important to ask yourself: Is video the most effective way to reach my target audience?

Jargon is jarring.

Unless your video is intended for someone in your profession as an instructional tool – or is targeting someone at the bottom of the sales funnel inquiring about brand specifics – avoid using words that only those in the industry would understand. Use plain language.

The news media does a great job of this. You would never hear a reporter say, “The H. F. 30 legislation amending Minnesota Statutes section 340A.504 subdivision four is under review.” (Be honest, we know you didn’t even read those numbers.) Instead, they’d say something like, “Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota are back on the table.” Because that’s what viewers want to know. This goes for both direct and organic traffic. People are more likely to stumble upon or search topics using “everyday” language that they can easily digest.

Emotions are the essence of viral video.

Now, for the crème de la crème. The meat and potatoes. The heart of storytelling. The single most important element that serves as the distinction between a compelling story and a cheap commercial, is emotion.

Whether a political movement that strikes a chord, or a ridiculous GIF that resembles your college prime – the driver behind shared and “liked” content is relatability. Relatable content stirs emotion. Emotion propels content sharing. See where this is going? How many times have you shared a video with a friend simply because you thought, “omg, that is totally us!” Sometimes it’s as easy as that. Other times, it’s about gripping an emotion viewers least expected. Who can relate to a commercial that’s constantly plugging itself? Truly captivating video should be able to market itself without even mentioning the brand aloud. To create excellent video content, you must tell a story and create characters your audience will resonate with.

Check out these examples below to see what we mean:

In this video by Dove, they don't plug their products, they show what they stand for.


This Oreo commercial ties tradition to the power of family and acceptance, and what their brand supports.


 This next example from The Aim Higher Foundation showcases the power of education through the experience of one student.


Now these are videos worth sharing! And yes, the brands are shared along with them. Tell the story that aligns with your brand’s core values. Make it personal. Make it emotional.

While there are many technical elements to enhance video quality, remember this: Your message is best understood using plain language. If you’re over-selling yourself, you’re not selling consumers. And if your video doesn’t give people “the feels,” you’ve missed the mark.

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