Following a handful of stakeholder meetings, one of my coworkers recently gave me a heads up that we should concentrate our content creation around video. I was a little surprised to hear that, since we hadn’t spoken to end-users yet. As we discussed the situation, it became clear that there were three main reasons the client felt we should focus on video content:
- Their team had already invested a lot of money in videos.
- It’s easier to track user engagement on videos than for articles, because you can see both the number of views and how far into the video they watched.
- Someone high up in the organization had expressed the strong opinion that videos are more fun than other forms of content.
None of these are good reasons.
Why Should You Use Video Content?
How do you decide if you should be creating video content? Here are several excellent ways to make that decision.
- Your target audience consumes most of their content through video, as opposed to articles, images, or other content formats.
- The information you’re sharing is complicated and difficult to explain through any format other than video. Bonus points if your target audience has directly told you this.
- Your overarching content strategy already has content that could be effectively converted to video. Again, bonus points if that strategy is built on user research.
Let Your Audience Decide
Perhaps the most challenging job requirement for being a content strategist (or anyone in UX) is the need to advocate for the user. It’s a skill to hear a statement, and not accept it as fact. Instead, we question “where is this information coming from?” It’s easy to hear someone say “we need to create videos” and follow up with “ok.” It’s much harder to ask “why?” and to do so without causing offense.
That’s not to say that we ignore what the client or higher-ups are saying. In this case, the fact that the client has already invested a lot in videos, and really likes the idea of using videos, makes the use of videos something to validate. We can then use user research to tell us:
- How does the user tend to take in information?
- Where does the user tend to find information online?
- What devices do the users have, and how good does their wifi tend to be?
Content Opportunities and Constraints
It’s possible that video content will end up being the content-of-choice for our audience. And if it isn’t, then the client’s attachment to video becomes a constraint we can work with. We can look for places where a video will be relevant and useful, or we can direct users to video content farther down the user journey, after they’re already engaged.
Balancing user needs with project constraints is an ongoing project. Finding the right content medium is just one way that this balancing act manifests itself, but it’s a key one. The next time you find yourself assuming that a user will respond to a certain type of content, ask yourself: where is this information coming from?