We’ve become impatient consumers

We’ve become impatient consumers. In an age where there’s more and more online content, people are tuning out more than ever. In fact, video views drop off dramatically after the first 20 seconds which means if you haven’t intentionally used a method to keep your viewers engaged, most people won’t last until the end.

To prove my point, how many times have you done any of these things?

· Checked out how long a video was, before you even hit play.

· Listen to the first few seconds of a video, then scrubbed your way through to catch the “gist”.

· Scrubbed to the end of a video, hoping to just get to the important stuff.  

· Tuned into a live video to say hello, then bounced after a couple of minutes to check your email.

It’s okay. We all do it. But to maximize the power of your marketing, you can’t treat videos like a written blog post where the focus is merely on the words. It’s an entirely different medium that needs to be treated that way to capture and retain viewership. But when videos are used properly, you tap into a wildly entertaining and engaging method of communication that wins the hearts and minds of your audience. Even though the odds are stacked against us, it’s not impossible to win; I’ll show you how.

But before we dive in, let’s take an honest assessment of what most video marketers are up against, so we can create a plan of action.

· Video views drop off dramatically after the first 20 seconds.

· 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound.

· Only 5% of top videos retain their viewer’s attention until the very end.

emmy wu empiher
emmy wu

Ouch. Even with social media’s most popular medium, there are serious roadblocks that online marketers need to pay attention to. Your videos might reach your audience, but unless they consume the content, the impact of your marketing is approaching … zero.

So what can we do about this? How can we transform the traditional “talking head” video into something that’s dynamic, grabs your viewers’ attention, and holds it? How can we use this medium to it’s fullest capacity to create content that your audience can’t ignore because it’s so entertaining and speaks to our human instincts to pay attention? It begins with understanding the human brain: we are wired for pattern                        recognition.


When we hear the alphabet song, “A, B, C, D …” there’s no second guessing what comes after D. When we witness a gory movie scene, we can’t help but cringe because our bodies are reacting to the stimulus. When we see the postal truck pulling up the street, we can anticipate that the mail’s going to be dropped off. These are all bits of information about the world around us that we take for granted because the relationship between “cue” and “reaction” are so deeply ingrained in our psyche. Simply put, we don’t question why a match with gasoline is a bad idea because these patterns become a web of information that’s helped us to navigate the world     efficiently.

By understanding that we are all wired to simplify information, to tune out unless you’re specifically cued to react, you actually have an edge in your marketing. If people are not engaging with your videos, it’s not that your content is inherently boring. Instead, it’s opportunity to disrupt the patterns that your viewers have grown so accustomed (and bored!) from, and the moment when you take your video marketing to the next level so your message and brand stands out.


The human eye is designed to track movements. How many times have you put something down right in front of you: a pen, your purse, then completely lost sight of it? Momentarily scrambling around for whatever’s missing, only to discover it was exactly where you’d left it. This is another quirk of the human brain to simplify the stimulus around us: objects that remain still tend to “fall out” of our field of vision. We don’t “need” this information for survival, and thus, it becomes a moot point for us to take notice.

You can use this to your advantage by using movement, particularly within the first few seconds of your video to really “grab” your viewers attention. Whether that’s simply a stock video of an unusual time lapse, someone walking onto screen, or better yet, walking down the street as you’re speaking into your camera, by incorporating movement, you’re much more likely to grab your viewers attention in a newsfeed populated by text and still images.

Quickly moving images with fast cuts also helps to grab the viewer’s eye and holds their attention. Ever wonder why movie trailers are all cut in fast editing styles? This fast-succession of images creates the feeling of excitement. Other elements like the soundtrack and the story, of course, contributes to the overall feeling of anticipation, but without making the viewer feel like their eye is tracking through different events spanning a short period of time, the trailer loses impact. We need fast-moving and compelling clips to create tension and intrigue.


The human brain is also accustomed to social frames: a system of meanings associated with specific images and sounds that we’ve inherently learned from our surrounding culture. To illustrate this, picture this: you’re walking back to your car through an underground parkade and hear a man’s voice shouting your name from behind you. If you turn around and realize that it’s actually a friend, your social framing causes you to ease up and smile. But if you turn around and realize that it’s a policeman walking in a fast pace towards you, it’s also our social framing that causes our face to flush, hands to sweat and your mind to start whirling in worry. That is the power of social frames: how specific culturally-understood images causes a reaction.


We can’t forget the important role that sound plays in human perception. Just like with visuals, humans grow accustomed to sounds that we hear in our everyday life. Sounds like birds chirping in trees, cars and trucks rolling by, people talking in the distance are often “ignored” because they’ve become so common. Create interest and tension with interesting sound design: using audio and images that your audience wouldn’t normally expect together. Thunder rolling in on a seemingly peaceful vista, rustling of approaching steps against a closed door, or even speaking footage that’s interrupted by the sound if coins flying from a winning slot machine, all help your viewers to stay engaged and anticipating what’s next.

If you have the opportunity to work with a videographer to capture custom b-roll (that’s the supplemental, illustrative footage), you can greatly enhance your brand experience for your audience. Try to avoid the temptation of only using talking head footage. When you can make the viewer switch their perspective from close ups, to long distance shots, to dynamic tracking shots, to unusual shots that shake up their social frames, this is when you can truly create a multi-sensory experience for your viewers.

At the heart of this is understanding the state of your audience as they are scrolling through social media: they’re being hit by a barrage of content all vying for their attention. Humans are programmed to simplify information, so as the marketer, you need to find unusual images that break the pattern to elicit a response. Not just any response. The response you want them to feel to begin engaging with your content. Remember, people actually want you to surprise, entertain and delight them, so don’t be afraid to step out on a limb to try new ideas that your competition hasn’t even thought of yet.

Emmy Wu



Emmy has been slinging professional and broadcast cameras in the film industry for over 15 years, even before high definition existed. She’s helped clients like MGM and Paramount Pictures bring their vision to life on the big screen, but found her passion in helping   entrepreneurs tell their story to spread their brand message and elevate their online presence with branded videos.