A few months ago I interviewed at a super-hot startup. Among the five or six people scheduled to grill me that morning was the company video specialist.
This is a fairly new role popping up everywhere, apparently based on the information that video radically boosts the chances of social posts going viral.
The person lucky enough to fill this role is usually a fanboy who thinks he’s Tarantino because he did a five-minute short in college, or maybe an ex-radio jock or TV news reporter. He–it’s always a he–has access to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of expensive video hardware and software.
Well, I didn’t get the job, and I have a feeling it’s because the video guy gave me a lukewarm review. He asked me about my video experience. What he didn’t ask me about was my thinking experience.
Let me be very clear about this. Video specialists have no business having such a heavy hand deciding who’s going to be on the creative team and who isn’t. They have no idea what a concept is. They throw around words like “story” and “narrative,” but when push comes to shove, instead of taking the truth and making it fascinating, as a good filmmaker should, they make hackneyed PR videos with a few lame jokes thrown in.
The results are predictable. The videos get no traction, amusing though they might be to a few people around the office.
Now why is this? It’s because people are short on time. They want answers to their business problems. Answers that a jokey, goofy PR video won’t give them.
This presents a conundrum because only enormous companies like Adobe and IBM can afford to continuously produce the kind of content-rich videos that really go viral. It takes a lot of time, a lot of research, a lot of knowledge, and frankly a lot of real interest in the subject matter that your average film buff can’t fake.
But here’s the thing. You don’t have to produce the videos you post. You just have to find them. And there are relevant thought leadership videos out there that your audience wants to see, I assure you. They’re produced not by your competitors but by nonprofits, universities, think tanks and other organizations.
Save yourself a few hundred thousand dollars and post those videos, okay?
Oh, and that startup I mentioned? They just laid off half their staff. I wish I were lying.
Dave Dumanis is a 25-year San Francisco Bay Area copywriter, creative director and advertising veteran.