More than six billion hours of video watched each month (almost an hour for every person on earth), 100 hours of footage uploaded every minute and millions of subscriptions every day…YouTube is an online phenomenon.

Little wonder online videos are now part of the communications mix for many organisations.

My colleague and experienced video producer Cathy Reid has written a series of short articles about producing successful online videos. Here’s the first article in the series. 

YouTube snooze or YouTube star?

bigstock-Five-Stars-39773338If a picture is worth a thousand words, just imagine the potential of YouTube.

But with 100 hours of footage uploaded every minute how can you stand out from the crowd?

Clear purpose
While it’s a myth that successful online videos must have humour or feature cats and dogs, YouTubes do need to have a good narrative and sense of purpose.

To achieve this, here are five questions to ask up front:

  • Who do you want to talk to (your audience)?
  • Why should they watch (their motivation)?
  • What do you want to say (key messages)?
  • How can you hold their attention (interest level)?
  • What’s the call to action (your objective—to inform, engage, motivate, influence)?
Engaging content

As well as having clear narrative and purpose, good online videos quickly capture and hold our attention. Worthy but dull just doesn’t cut it, so here are five keys to producing an engaging YouTube:

  • Keep it short—two minutes maximum.
  • Entertain—add a dash of creativity and keep it pacey.
  • Humanise—make it easy to relate to (peer-to-peer is one powerful way to communicate).
  • Tell a story—stories are much more engaging than raw statistics, so personalise your message for greater impact.
  • Use good visuals—our brains respond to visual information, so choose the right images for your story. Emotive, strong, simple, creative, beautiful, funny, real or animated…whatever tells your story best.

We’ve only got a few seconds to grab our online audience’s attention and keep it. When we get it right, online video is a powerful communication tool as illustrated in The Power of Video.

But remember, just creating a gold-star online video in isolation is rarely enough. Better to create and promote your video as part of a strategic communication approach. Stay tuned, we’ll cover that aspect in another article…

Need to create an online video? Contact us to talk about how we can help.


Cathy Reid has produced numerous YouTube videos for government. Both Cathy Reid and Cinden Lester are former broadcast journalists who have both produced hundreds of television news stories—researching, interviewing and working with camera crews and editors to create these short, sharp videos. They draw on this experience when producing videos for government and private sector clients.


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