Online video is one of the most effective content marketing tools. The challenge is doing it well.
That is why books like The Art of Explanation, by Lee LeFever. are a welcome addition to my bookshelf. LeFever is founder of Common Craft and producer of the ‘In Plain English’ series of explainer videos. His new book, The Art of Explanation: Making your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand, is must-have tome for online content marketers.
Common Craft’s ‘In Plain English’ series became the benchmark for top-notch instructional videos in the early 2000’s. They have spawned countless look-alikes and adaptations (whiteboard videos, etc.). In Art of Explanation, LeFever shares the secret to his company’s success with instructional videos in a familiar, approachable style. As a result, the 200+ page book feels like the printed embodiment of their video format.
LeFever shares simple and effective tips for planning, packaging, and presenting instructional content with video. In the ‘planning’ portion of the book, he talks about ‘lowering the cost of understanding’ by implementing good explanation tactics. Too often, he said that videos take context for granted. The result? A poorly planned video does not account for the needs of the audience. It uses unfamiliar language and examples and is not focused on solving a problem.
That is why, he said, Common Craft videos often start from the beginning with a four-part story format:
- Meet Bob; he’s like you
- Bob has a problems that makes him feel bad
- Now Bob found a solution and he feels good!
- Don’t you want to feel like Bob?
Packaging an explanation is all about writing, according to LeFever. It’s a process of taking a bunch of facts and ideas and assembling them into an explanation that’s designed to solve a specific problem.
“Like a script for a movie, explanations begin life in the form of the written word. By writing out an explanation, we can take a step back and look for ways to improve it before it becomes a video. This includes the used of analogies, stories and context,” LeFever told Social Meteor. “Without a focus on the script and content of the explanation, a video can easy appear to be poorly packaged.”
In the book, LeFever shares lessons learned, best practices, and easy-to-implement tips. He also identifies resources, such as the Common Craft Cut-Out library that make the process easier for video creators.
I consider LeFever’s book a must-have because online video skills are essential for content marketers. Consider these stats:
- More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, spending more than 4 billion hours watching videos (YouTube).
- 2 billion video views per week are monetized on YouTube, and every auto-shared tweet results in six new YouTube browsing sessions (ReelSEO).
- Online video production will account for more than one-third of all online advertising spending within the next five years. (Borrell Associates)
- Globally, online video traffic will be 55 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2016. (Cisco)
- 52 percent of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions. (Invodo)
- 76 percent of marketers plan to add video to their sites, making it a higher priority than Facebook, Twitter and blog integration. (Social Media Examiner)
- 92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with others. (Invodo)
- Mobile and tablet shoppers are three times as likely to view a video as laptop or desktop users. (NPD)
- Online video now accounts for 50 percent of all mobile traffic and up to 69 percent of traffic on certain networks. (Bytemobile Mobile Analytics Report)