YouTube was built on video content that was cheap and cheerful to produce - I’m talking vertical cell phones, scratchy audio and 320x240 video that looked so bad 360p was considered high quality. Now, as users race to acquire the latest and greatest technology to stay ahead of the pack, something can be said for hanging near the back.
Certainly being an early adopter of 360 degree video, and (if bandwidth limitations can ever catch up) 8k video, could distinguish your content from your competitors, but as creators opt for an ever more produced look and sound, getting back to YouTube’s roots could actually help set your content apart from the rest. Exceeding expectations is a powerful marketing device, and you can absolutely use it to your advantage when it comes to video production and marketing. By managing and setting the expectations of your content, you may just find the viewer responds way more.
More Informal Video = More Authentic Content?
Take for example this video, shot as a support piece for the movie “The Martian”. The majority of the video is shot from a vlog-type point of view and while it isn’t an official trailer, this style of content gives the content a more “real” feel. This in turn makes it a more relatable piece for audiences to digest.
The official trailer for the movie has generated around 11.3 million views, 63k likes and another nearly 10k comments. Meanwhile, this little informal piece is at over 1.1 million views and despite being 10x lower in views, the engagement sits at over 8k likes and nearly 1200 comments. If you do the comparison, the informal version is getting about 40% more engagements per view.
Jenna Marbles sums it up nicely in one of her recent vlogs, which isn’t actually talking about video but it completely applies to video in this content.
“I think that having low or no expectations is one of the most powerful things that you can do if you use it to your advantage”.
Jenna is an absolute expert in this area. Yes, she has recently started upping the video quality of some her content, but large a portion of what she does was filmed on a webcam. You don’t have to get fancy when you focus on making great content.
Setting the Bar Low Can Lead to Higher Engagement
When viewers come to YouTube, they have a certain level of expectation. Perhaps they think video should have decent audio, be at least 720p and maybe even be edited with some fancy aspect ratios that make it look like a movie. Imagine the shock to the system when your content is none of the above. Sure they could click off for the very same reason, but curiosity is a strong emotion and you’ve now set the bar really low for what’s about to follow. Imagine a viewer’s surprise when that content is actually very well done and entertaining.
Low Tech Quality Doesn't = Low Creativity
It’s one of the reasons why videos shot in low audio/video quality can do so well. Not only do they feel more authentic, which is something that ReelSEO's Greg Jarboe pointed out has been more important since Lonelygirl15 tricked the tubes, but the lower quality sets the bar very low for success.
Take Greg Benson and his channel Mediocre Films. Assume for a moment you don’t know Greg’s content. Based on the name all you know is to expect mediocre from his channel. Now imagine the surprise when you get anything but mediocre in return. Jackpot!
If you can neutralize the expectations of the audience, it allows everything that happens to be a surprise and if you’ve done the video well enough outside of the video/audio quality, that surprise will be a good thing. Not worrying so much about the video/audio quality can also help you focus on the most important aspect of video, the content.