September 6, 2011
by Tim Schmoyer
Finding an audience for your online videos can be difficult enough — the last thing you want is for the few that find it to click away shortly after the video begins. To understand why we may prematurely leave your video, it’s important to critically think through, “What makes me leave a video online before it’s finished?” The next time you abandon a video, pay attention to what you caused you to leave. Make a mental note of it and avoid giving the rest of us that same reason in your next video.
For a while now I’ve been paying attention to my own behavior when viewing online video. Here are a five common reasons why I may click away from your video, and why others may do so, as well.
1. Your Video Is Too Long
We do not consume online video the same way we do TV. If the video is under 3 minutes long, we are much more likely to remain engaged with it until the end. We may even be forgiving of the next four points if the video is shorter than two minutes. But if we have even an inkling to click away and we feel the progress indicator has too much time remaining, we won’t hesitate to leave. (The exception to this length principle is Hulu and a some popular vloggers).
2. Your Video Lacks Passion
Passion draws people in. It’s intriguing and often contagious. It’s also impossible to fake. Talking loud, sincerely or even waving your hands around with excitement does not convey passion (it may cause you to look pretty ridiculous, though). Passion is something we sense just by hearing you talk from your heart. When the passion is real, we’re usually interested.
3. Your Video Has No Clear Direction
Some videos are fun just because they are absolutely pointless. That’s very different from the video that seems like it should have a point but we’re not sure what it is or where the video is going. From the very beginning, set us up for a climax or a gem toward the end of the video (and then get us there quickly). We need to feel like watching the whole video will be valuable for us somehow. Sometimes that just means crafting a good title for the video.
4. Your Video Quality Is Poor
People viewing online videos are typically pretty lenient when it comes to video and audio quality. In fact, many of us are drawn to places like YouTube just because of the more amateur and authentic video content there. However, if there is an annoying buzz in the audio, the sound is out of sync, or the video is pixelated, we’ll move on to a different video. The quality doesn’t have to be professional, but it should at least be good. Take a couple minutes to learn proper lighting techniques and how to frame your shots.
5. Your Video Is Not Unique
Let’s be honest: with the millions of videos available online, most of them tend to all blend in together. In some regards, if you’ve seen one vlogger, you’ve seen them all, with the exception of a few who are truly unique. They each have something different about them that causes viewers to gravitate toward them, whether that be their outlook on life, sense of humor, or their family.