Great Videos from Ordinary Businesses - Modcloth Presents: NYC street life

Would you like your website users to spend more time on your pages? According to Forbes average internet users spends 88% more time on websites that include video. So obviously you are using video on your site! Now let’s see how other businesses are using video.

Last week we started a ten-week series about how ordinary businesses are using video. One important feature adopted by firms who have successfully embraced online video is to reject the temptation to sell in their videos for the simple reason that viewers will click away. Instead they have to be more creative in their use of video. That’s not to say you have to come up with the most creative executions when it comes to making your own videos, you just need to give your viewers what they want or make your content relevant.

Modcloth presents: NYC street style

In the second of the series we look Modcloth, a fashion retailer in New York City.

The sound isn’t always perfect in the video and I’ve seen better interviewers but that doesn’t matter, this is street life where the people and what they say and do is important. The technical ability of the interviewer to correctly position the microphone is secondary; we can hear enough of what’s necessary.

Now this is not a world I inhabit, a fashionista I am not, and yet I had to watch to the end of the video. I’m a 55-year-old bloke with, as my wife frequently points out, no dress sense, yet I found myself wanting to watch Modcloth’s editor, Rebecca Brown, talk to young women about style, makeup and pizza! In fact, I went on to watch their next video as well! Perhaps it was a voyeuristic desire to see in to a world that is alien to me. In fact, you could say the Modcloth video is a mini reality TV show, and we all know how popular that genre is right now. We all like looking behind the scenes and into other people's lives, especially if they appear to be larger than life.

Actually, the secret to this being a fabulous video is their ability to get the right people to interview and throw in an unexpected question. Notice that Rebecca initially asked Anayo from about her thrifted jacket but then comes back with the out-of-left-field question, “if your jacket were a dance move, what would it be called?” That’s so weird even I want to hear the answer!

All of the interviewees are engaging, fun and spontaneous, making them very watchable but the editing also helps. We do not see the whole recording from each interviewee before moving on to the next person. The editor has cut out the boring bits and then chopped up the answers from each person and inter-cut them with the answers from the other interviewees, creating a patchwork of answers. The effect makes the content appear shorter, more interesting and accelerating the pace of the video. In a sense keeping the shots a little shorter and inter-cutting with the other interviewees is similar to the fast cutting of an action sequence in a movie, it drives the story forward and makes it more exciting.

Also notice the editor has included handheld footage of New York street scenes, taxi interiors, and superimposed light leaks to help give a trendy contemporary feel, which reflects what Modcloth is about. But those street scenes also give the video and Modcloth a geographic location - undeniably New York City.

Key takeaway from this video

The Vox Pop Video is definitely one of the easiest styles of video to make, yet it can be very effective. Even if your shots are a bit wobbly and your exposure a little off, the grungy look might be ideal if you want to present your business as being modern and a little edgy.

Grab a mic, get a buddy to point the camera, grab lots of people and keep asking questions, even strange and bizarre ones. If you don't have anyone handy to hold the camera, put your smartphone on a selfie stick. When you get to editing the footage, keep the most interesting and funniest comments and ditch the turgid moments. Plus, if you do something stupid of daft keep it in, your viewers will love it. They will switch off if presented with the mundane, it’s the unusual or unexpected that keeps them watching.

The key to getting some really great material in a Vox Pop is not to warn your subject about your questions in advance. Even better, introduce an unrelated question that will catch your interviewee off-guard. Without time to think they will seem spontaneous, revealing and entertaining. If the questions and answers are quite contentious you may even spark a strong reaction in your viewers and stimulate a good amount of comments and debate.

Next week’s video

Next week we take a look at a video made by a craft brewer based in Aberdeenshire, and how appearing in your own videos can be a smart move.

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