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Going through the emotions: better videos, better connections

Social & Digital

Going through the emotions: better videos, better connections


Marketing speaks with Michael Langdon, who’s written a book about the age of emotion and how marketers can use video to build better connections with their audience.

Video has cemented itself as a primary tool for both B2B and B2C brands to foster better engagement, loyalty and connection with consumers. A quick look online, however, and it’s clear many brands are falling short when it comes to using video to its full potential.

Most of those who do it are doing it wrong. According to Michael Landgon, director at Levity and author of Welcome to the Age of Emotion, it’s not just about merely offering up video, it’s about developing content that attracts buyers and connects with them on an emotional level. Langdon walks Marketing through the science behind the emotional connections, and sheds some light on how brands can do video better.

Special offer: until 30 June 2019, readers who purchase a two-year print subscription to Marketing magazine will receive a FREE copy of Langdon’s book!


Marketing: What does the age of emotion mean to you?

Michael Langdon: This is actually something I’m deeply passionate about. Obviously we know that through the ages of being, ages have marked humanity. Like the Iron Ages, the Middle Ages, the Space Age, the Information Age etc. I truly believe that right now we’re in the middle of the age of emotion.

For me, emotion is what drives the human beings. And more specifically in business, emotion drives businesses. Even if you think about large B2B corporations doing transactions, these deals always tend to happen, at the end of the day, between human beings. So even if you’re picturing a huge boardroom with big cheeses in a big company and they’re making transactions that are worth millions of dollars, the CEOs would still be reading each other and going off gut instinct to broker those sort of deals. And they’re being guided by emotions.

With the proliferation of video and social media, we still at our cores are driven by emotion. And [this resonates with] people. People are attracted to other people wearing their heart on their sleeve, telling it how it is because it taps into that emotive side of themselves. People relate to that. It drives them as human beings and it drives them in business. I thought it was very apt to call the book Welcome to the Age of Emotion. Perhaps, now that it’s been out for a few months, the name should be more like ‘Let’s Ride this Wave of Emotion’ because I really do believe that we’re bang in the middle of it.

What’s the science behind it?

There’s a lot of science to back this up. When I was working for Appliances Online, I was lucky enough to work with Katharina Kuehn, a German neuroscientist who specialises in neuroscience in retail and in business. And I learned a lot, especially around the buying decisions the customer takes.

Essentially, all the scientific research points to the fact that it’s taken by the limbic side of the brain. That’s the side of the brain that gets emotions. Your brain processes something like 11 million bits of information every single second. And only 40,000 of those are picked up by our conscious mind. So a vast majority of information is processed internally, and this is what’s tapping into emotions.

There have also been experiments done by a leading brain scientist called Michael Gazzaniga. He treats patients whose brain hemispheres are disconnected and there are only a handful of patients in the world who are in that position. He essentially found out that people make decisions, and then when they think they are making a rational decision, it’s actually not a rational decision. What they think is rational is actually the conscious side of the brain justifying what the emotive side of the brain has done, or the action it’s taken. It’s really interesting. It taught him that essentially the emotive side of the brain drives the rational side of the brain. But the rational side of the brain thinks it’s in charge when in reality it’s just justifying the actions of the emotive side of the brain. So there’s a lot of science behind it as well.

Why are videos better for harnessing emotion?

Videos stimulate every sense in you. Even your subconscious is being stimulated. So you can trust. Trust is a big one actually; you can trust someone based on a video a lot more than you can do by reading, or by just listening to podcast. The scientific reason is that, essentially, it stimulates so many more places in your brain. You can pick up on little nuances on video. You can see the way people look. You can pick up little mannerisms. And all those little things add up to you being able to trust someone a lot more. So video just stimulates you more than just reading or listening to something.

How should brands determine what type of videos work for them?

The most important thing is knowing that you need different videos at different stages of the marketing funnel. If you know that then you’re on to a winner because, believe it or not, a lot of people still think that one video can solve all their problems with a silver bullet. But it’s not quite like that. Once you know that different videos work differently at different stages in the funnel, then devise a clear strategy for your brand. Top of the funnel videos like social media videos always generate brain awareness. So keep them short and concise but have them drive traffic somewhere. Make sure you have a call to action.

At Levity we specialise in videos that convert. We do a lot of videos for ecommerce sites because we’ve found that the conversion of levels of those videos are outrageous. We’re really in the educating and the trust-building stage of the funnel. Once people know the brand and traffic has been driven to the brand, we’re at the stage where we make very human connections with customers and essentially encourage them to buy. It’s very important that you know what type of video would work at different stages of the funnel.

Should the styles vary too, or should brands be trying to develop a consistent video brand?

Always keep your brand consistent. That’s key. Know who your audience is and keep producing for that audience. Always know what feeling you’re trying to elicit, and what the key message and key terms of the video are. But keep it within brand. So if you’re quite a modern brand, keep your language conversational. Keep your style of presenting, if you’re using presenters, casual. Always stick to the same brand. I’d never say change your brand. Just incorporate it into the different parts of videos that you use in your funnel.

How should video fit in a broader marketing strategy?

Nowadays, video is crucial to any marketing strategy. It’s a question of ‘how do I implement video into a set part of my strategy roadmap?’ If your company’s roadmapped for the next 12 months, I would advise that you always have one bit of collateral in terms of video for each campaign. Because that’s what’s going to generate the most results at the end of the day. Again, I’m not saying that videos are the silver bullet that will solve all your problems. But it will definitely help you in generating better results and faster results. So with any sort of marketing campaign that you have for your brand, just make sure you’ve got an adequate bit of video to supplement it. It just means that you’re going to get better results and faster.

What are common mistakes brands make in their video material?

A lot of the places where brands are going wrong with their videos is that they lack strategy or direction. When devising a video strategy, start with the problem you’re trying to solve. Don’t produce a video for the sake of it. Even ‘just-for-fun’ video that some brands do have a purpose, a target audience and they usually post videos aimed at customers they’re trying to develop into loyal fans. So always think of your strategy, your direction and what problem you’re trying to solve. As I said, it’s crucial to realise that there’s no one-size-fits all solution for where your video lives. Think about the different platforms that you’re going to be placing your video in. Choosing the right platform should be part of your strategy.

How can brands do video better?

Another big one is storytelling. People often tell me that there’s a lot of noise on social media, that no one is going to watch a ‘talking head’ video because that’s all that we see on LinkedIn and Facebook nowadays. The answer: you’ve got to really focus on telling a good story. People remember stories a lot more than they remember stats, facts and figures. So whenever you want to produce a video, tell a good story. If you can’t tell a good story about yourself or your brand, get a customer to do it. That’s why customer testimonials are so powerful in converting, because people remember a story more than they remember a list of things thrown at them.

Also, if you’re producing videos, lead with a hook. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. So always place your most important message at the beginning of a video. That way you know if you had people clicking away from the video, they weren’t the right audience to start with. Leading with a hook is very important. If you’d asked me this question two years ago I’d say that maybe there’s a place for flash page videos or website videos to buy themselves time to lead into the hook. But nowadays it’s evolving so quickly in video I think you always need to lead in with a hook.

Put a bit of emotion in there. Your sole mission when producing a video is to elicit an emotion from people. And it could be anything really. It could be humorous, you could intellectually stimulate someone, you could be controversial. Whatever it is, just make sure that people feel something, because emotion is what’s going to increase engagement and connectivity. If you’re not trying to generate emotion, then really you’re wasting a valuable asset that you have with video – you may as well get someone to write something or record a podcast or an audio message.

Know your channels for your platform and the path that the people watching videos on that platform are in. If you’re doing something for Facebook, it’s not going to work as well as it is on YouTube. A video for Instagram will look out of place if you put it on a LinkedIn page, because of the format settings. Know how your platform demographic will consume your content, so you’re able to maximise the goal of your video. This all comes in at the pre-production stage of the process, by the way. It should not be in post-production that you think OK, where is this going to live now?’

Think before you even go into production: where is the video going to live? The production should revolve around where it’s going to live.

Lastly, don’t go for the cheapest providers. I know with the explosion of freelancers and uploads, a lot of people just go to the cheapest people offshore to get cheap video content. The truth is that telling a story is an art all to itself, and if you don’t get the best storytelling you can, you’re not really maximising the benefits of video. It may even end up being more expensive, because then you have to go back and get someone who is a good storyteller. So don’t always go for the cheapest providers because they won’t necessarily be able to tell a story.


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To receive a FREE copy of Langdon’s book The Age of Emotion, purchase a two-year print subscription to Marketing magazine before 30 June 2019!

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Image credit Jon Flobrant

Ben Ice

Ben Ice was MarketingMag editor from August 2017 - February 2020

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