We all know the basic message: “put down your phone” “talk to a real person,” and “pay attention.” And we’ve probably all noticed the irony of people use social media to post videos that contain these messages and warn about the dangers of social media.
As I’ve been watching these, I noticed that some struck me as quite powerful while others as predictable and even boring. Why is this? Is there a simple reason why some of these videos more effective than others? Why do some make us stop for a moment, but others are easy to dismiss?
Below is a small sample of a few of these videos representing the various ways they use video: direct speaking messages, some use infographics, and some are wordless stories. Watch them, and see which you think are most powerful.
Look Up (4:59) – Lyrical Presentation
The second half has a heart-tugging story element with a strong A/B storyline. It felt a little long and a tad predictable, but the lyrical style kept me interested.
Innovation of Lonelineness (4:20) – Infographics
The animations and graphics on this video are incredibly well done. They kept me watching even when I felt like the message was too strong and one-sided.
I Forgot My Phone (2:10) – Wordless Story
I think this video is the most powerful, because it was short, it told a story, and it avoided an omniscient narrator. To me, this made the message clearer and the emotional impact deeper.
Video as a Visual Medium
I appreciate each of these videos and want to thank the creators of each for their hard work. But I think the reason the final video seemed most powerful to me was that it uses video as a purely visual medium and communicates through images rather than propositions.
In the first two videos, the narrator tells the story, and he tells you what to think about the story. That means the visuals are secondary. The images, video, and graphics are only a supporting element to the statements the speaker is making. But if you didn’t have those statements, you’d still get mostly the same message. [tweetable]In the final video, everything essential is communicated visually, through the main characters eyes[/tweetable].
Even when there is a particularly powerful visual element in the first two videos, the narrator breaks in with statements and propositions, forcing your brain to enter into a more logical mode and making the video secondary. I think this is why the narrators chose a lyrical presentation rather than a more direct style of speech, because they intuited that they needed something more compelling that direct propositions.
And yet, I think [tweetable]the final video is still more powerful because the message is communicated entirely without words[/tweetable]. The power of that video is derived solely from its visuals, and the audio is secondary and supportive rather than the other way around.
Let me know if there are videos you find more or less powerful and how the medium itself contributes to that power (or lack thereof).