Using Videos to Complement Stories Can Spur Engagement and Drive Views

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I was curating our other morning newsletter last week where we post the top media stories of the day and came across a Washington Post article on the imminent sale of The National Enquirer. I clicked on the link to the story and up popped the headline with a big photo and then the article.

But wait, that's not a photo. There's that magic forward arrow in the middle that is just so tempting to push. Yes, this was a video, four-minutes long with the Washington Post logo in the top left and a confident female narrator talking as various news clips and photos flash across the screen.

I shouldn't be surprised. Sites like Yahoo have been doing this for a while. Their videos are not fancy; they just take advantage of our love—compulsion?—for watching videos.

The subject also came up on the SIPA Discussion Forum. "We've had success with embedding YouTube videos we make into our online articles," wrote Ben Reynolds, founder and CEO of new SIPA member Sure Dividend. "There's a synergy there, as in-article videos increase page time which may help with more search traffic. At the same time, it gives your videos more exposure."

When I emailed Reynolds to get more information, he pointed me to this page on their site. "The article covers AT&T generally, and then we embedded a video on AT&T's dividend safety, which is a topic a reader of the article would care about," he wrote to me.

I was a little surprised to hear that the video conception actually comes before the article. It makes sense but my thinking was still with photos not videos.

"We typically don't make videos specifically for individual articles," Reynolds continued. "Instead, we now make videos around topics we think will do well on YouTube. Once the video is made we think about what articles we can embed the video in to increase viewership. At the same time, an embedded video is very likely to increase time on page for an article. By combining content like this, the video gets more engagement and the article becomes better which will likely drive more views over time."

The video is five-minutes long and very professionally done with a smooth-talking narrator. That's not a coincidence.

"I don't actually make the videos myself; one of my employees does (Nick McCullum)," Reynolds said. "He does them in batches, and I think he's gotten the time down to probably a few hours or less per video. We also pay a voiceover person to record the videos, and have freelancers who do the transcripts, etc. We try to be as efficient as possible with the whole process."

In a post last month on the site Themeisle titled, How to Use Video in Blog Posts to Increase Engagement, other ways to engage with videos are given:

Video tutorials. Almost two-thirds "of the population are visual learners, making video tutorials extremely effective. They're also some of the easiest video content to make."

Video summaries and/or vlogs. "Anything worth writing a blog post about is probably worth creating a video about. Summarize the main points of your article in a video, then expand on those points in writing. This approach works particularly well because short videos get the most engagement, and you can post your summary on YouTube and link to the expanded version. Or you can simply post a transcript."

"About us" videos. "The About Us page is usually the most visited page on any website, directly after your home page. A short video sharing who you are and what you do is a great way to give it some personality." Money-Media does this with their excellent recruitment video—Why Should You Work for Money-Media?—on their home page. These videos should be relatively short and focused on the story behind your brand. A great example of how to use video in blog posts is Hubspot's one-minute "Our Story" video from their about page.

Video reviews. "If you run a service-based business, you can [use] video testimonials. These don't need to be high-production videos, and they can be posted on both your About page and your Testimonials page." EB Medicine does this on their homepage. "Want to be featured here? Send us your video about why you love EB Medicine."

Finally there's this piece of advice: "To build a large YouTube presence, you can experiment more and get away with lower production value on individual videos, but you need to upload something at least once a week."

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…