What You Can Learn From Vimeo’s Staff Picks
For those who don’t know, Vimeo is, “a video-sharing website in which users can upload, share and view videos.” Fun fact: it was actually founded 3 months before Youtube.
Vimeo’s Staff Picks is a page on their website where staff members handpick their favorite videos. There are 5 categories: “Recently Added,” “Staff Pick Premieres,” “Best of the Month,” “Best of the Year,” and “A Decade of Staff Picks.” Of the thousands of videos uploaded every month, why have the experts chosen these as the best? What can we learn from these outstanding videos that we can apply to our own?
Throughout all categories of Vimeo’s staff picks, there are 5 recurrent trends.
One trend is that all of their videos begin with attention-getters. The human attention span is getting shorter and shorter and, according to Vidyard, is now estimated to be 8 seconds long. Vimeo doesn’t have a captive audience, therefore if viewers aren’t intrigued within the first few seconds, they will tune out and move on to the next video.
For example, the video “MOVE,” under the category A Decade of Staff Picks, has nearly 17 million views to date and immediately grabs your attention. In the first couple of seconds, we see the word “MOVE” superimposed in bold. A man stands within the “O” of the word and starts walking. His journey begins.
The 60 second video shows the man in 11 countries over 44 days. Within each second, we see him in different countries and places. He starts in the distance and walks forward step by step, the scenery surrounding him constantly changing.
Once you’ve started watching, it’s nearly impossible to stop.
Another trend apparent in these videos is the element of surprise. This video technique is typically used between the middle and end of the video, and it keeps the viewer engaged. You expect something – and suddenly, it’s not what you think it is, the direction changes, or you come to a realization.
For example, in “Somersault Pike,” a Recently Added staff pick, we are taken through the anxiety of a diver’s journey as she platform dives for (presumably) the first time. Towards the end of the video, we see her conquer her fears and jump off the highest board there. Right when the viewer feels elated for her, they’re suddenly jolted back to reality where she is still standing on the board and has not yet dove. This element of surprise gives the video friction, wakes up the viewer and makes the overall viewing experience better and more memorable.
Often in videos, you’re intrigued by what is happening so you keep watching, but you’re not sure what the point is until the payoff. The payoff is an ending where the viewer goes, “Ah, I get it. That’s what this video was about.” A video with a good payoff makes the viewer feel like they’ve made good use of their time watching it, and may even feel compelled to share it with others.
In “Life Cycles,” a Best of the Month staff pick, we are taken through the relentless cycle of one man’s life. This black and white, hand-painted video represents the monotonous numbness in so many people’s lives. Wake up. Shower. Work. Check Twitter. Bathroom. Home. Dinner. Watch news half-heartedly. Sleep. Repeat.
Throughout the video, we are shown snippets of the news each day. And each day, terrible things are happening. The terrorist attacks on Syria quickly progresses, and this man, a representation of so many others, goes about his life as a bystander doing nothing about it.
The payoff at the end of this video is the last frame. It’s a tweet of the (now famous) picture of the young boy covered in dirt and blood sitting quietly in an ambulance awaiting help. An innocent victim of the Syria attacks. It’s simultaneously a punch in the gut and ties the rest of the video together.
Concision is another important tool in engaging audiences. A video should be exactly as long as it needs to be. No longer, no shorter. For example, “Happiness,” a Best of the Year winner, covers the huge subject matter of the pursuit of happiness in exactly 4 minutes. This is shown through animated rodents as characters, putting a creative spin on the storyline.
If it were any shorter, the viewer may feel short changed from this very enjoyable video. If it were much longer, however, the viewer might lose interest. It is entertaining, engaging, and the perfect time length.
A large number of Vimeo’s staff picks contain powerful messages. “Boomerang,” a Staff Pick Premiere, explores one woman’s addiction to, and failure to quit, Instagram. On a macro level, it is a statement about our society’s hypocritical addiction to social media. We are all judgemental of it, but are simultaneously its willing participants.
A video with a powerful message draws in viewers because it matters. It’s an important or relevant issue, something that is applicable to countless people, and/or is emotionally moving. People enjoy powerful messages portrayed through videos because they can be shown rather than told. Visual storytelling makes issues easier to understand and more relatable.
Attention-getters, the element of surprise, payoffs, concision and powerful messages are exemplified in nearly all of Vimeo’s staff picks. These tools are great ways to keep your audience engaged and watching all the way through, as well as sharing with others afterwards. Consider implementing these to improve your own video marketing strategy.
Alanna Goodman is a marketing and communications intern for Green Buzz Agency. She loved watching Vimeo’s Staff Picks and examining patterns over many video viewings.