We regularly have discussions with clients about ways to present their insights beyond the written word. Two of the more popular formats are videos and podcasts: the former has been a go-to for some time; the latter has raced up the charts with a bullet over the past few years, spurred by the spread of NPR-like storytelling, as well as the pandemic. Indeed, recent research found 66 percent of B2B marketers reported using preproduced video in the past 12 months (down two percentage points from the previous year), while 29 percent had created podcasts (up three points from the previous year).
While they are both worthy options to bring additional depth to your insights, each is suited to different kinds of storytelling. Understanding their strengths and limitations is critical to ensure that ideas are brought to light in the best possible way for the target audience.
Let’s take a look at each.
As we’ve discussed before on this blog, video can be a powerful vehicle for humanizing the person behind the insights. Particularly when you’re seeking to establish your senior leaders and experts as thought leaders to support brand building and business development or give a glimpse into an organization’s culture, video is the medium.
One current challenge: after 18 months of the pandemic, people have grown mighty tired watching a talking head on their screen. Thanks to video calls, it’s what many of us do for hours a day now. So, unless a senior leader oozes charisma and is an engaging presence, viewers are likely to tune out after 30 to 45 seconds. The bar has been raised quite high.
In my mind, one of the more compelling uses of video is to visualize complex ideas in ways that are accessible and intuitive. Explainer videos, whether motion graphics or stock footage, can cover a lot of ground. If a picture tells a thousand words, moving pictures can help you understand the applications of blockchain in the marine industry far faster than you can read it.
A caveat with video: I was talking with the head of a B2B strategy firm who said, “Everyone wants to make videos about thought leadership, but I don’t know any CEOs who get their information by watching videos.” While there are surely exceptions out there, it’s worth considering who your audience is and how they digest content before you decide to spend money on a video production.
What videos allow you to do:
• dig into complex issues in 90 to 120 seconds
• combine different storytelling elements
• humanize thought leaders
• get people thinking about an idea or provide an avenue into a topic that people may explore in more depth later
• connect to an audience on a more emotional level
The meteoric rise of podcasts reflects our thirst for great storytelling and the art of conversation. There’s something alluring and even intimate about listening to an engaging host tease anecdotes and nuance out of their guest.
The beauty of the podcast is that it allows for a deeper exploration of ideas, and a well-moderated conversation peels back the layers of an idea in a way that provides listeners with a 360-degree understanding of an issue.
Podcasts can be grouped into three categories: the unedited conversation, the curated podcast, and scripted storytelling. If you have two-and-a-half hours to kill, you can listen to Joe Rogan meander through digressions, non sequiturs, and conversational cul-de-sacs. (Who says you can’t be wildly successful without any real preparation?) The benefit of this approach is that it allows guests to share their insights in an intimate, authentic way. In the hands of a skilled host (think Terry Gross on Fresh Air), this format can be really effective.
But for my taste (and time), the curated podcast is a better fit: an edited recording with music and other elements woven in to give the conversation some shape and highlight the most interesting parts.
Scripted storytelling is used less frequently by companies seeking to reach a business audience, in part because it takes more thought and production time to craft engaging episodes. However, podcasts such as Business Wars have done well.
What podcasts allow you to do:
• explore trends and factors shaping a certain topic in depth
• offer detailed recommendations
• hear from multiple voices and give them a forum to interact
• reach the C-suite on the treadmill or their morning commute
If you’re currently relying on the printed word alone to get your ideas into the marketplace, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Videos and podcasts can be vital in giving your audience another—engaging—way into your insights.