The explainer has been the video flavour for a while now. If you wanna jump on board the explainer express, here’s a few tips to ensure next stop: success-town.
What are they?
Explainer videos are short online videos. They explain complicated information in a straightforward, visual way (and are usually supported by a voice over).
Explainers describe companies, promote products, showcase services and troubleshoot issues.
They pop up on company websites and video hosting platforms such as YouTube. They are shared and promoted via social media channels.
Two minutes tends to be the agreed optimal length for these babies and over the last few years their popularity has exploded.
If you need to know about something, ‘there’s an explainer for that’ …
Why use one?
- They are an engaging way to present information. Engaging equals social sharing—people love to share creative, clever or helpful video content.
- Google has a thing for video—video content has a far better chance of being ranked on the first page of search results over text-based pages.
- They are easy to re-purpose. Whack them on your website, post them on your social media channels to address FAQs, insert them into your presentations, use them when pitching potential clients. And if everyone is using the same content, hello consistent on-brand messaging. Ooh we like that.
- People are more likely to retain the info—short, straightforward video is much easier to digest than pages upon pages of Times New Roman.
- You can get creative and use language and visuals that support your company’s brand.
How to do it?
There are three key things to think about: style, script and audio. But there’s no hard and fast rule on the order to go about it. If you start with the script, this will help you decide on the audio and style. If you have an explainer style in mind, you can script around it.
Let’s start with explainer styles. Now me typing away and describing these really defeats the purpose of this post; instead check out this neat little explainer about explainer video styles:
Cartoon = the story behind your product
Screencast = how to use your product
Whiteboard = breaking your product down into simple terms and concepts
Motion graphics = overview or summary of your product
Real life / testimonial = how your product has solved a problem or had a positive impact
Back to the definition of an explainer—it’s about presenting information in a straightforward way.
Make sure you use plain language (no jargon, technical terms or acronyms please) and tailor it to your audience.
Stick with one key idea—we don’t want info overload. Problem and solution format works really well for explainers.
Have a clear call to action—what do you want the audience to do with the information?
Buy something? Link to an online store.
Share with their networks? Include sharing buttons or an incentive for sharing.
Sign up to a mailing list? Link to the sign up form.
Make it easy for people. We don’t like thinking or trying too hard.
And don’t be like everyone else.
Be bold. Be different. Be memorable.
As if I’d end this post without my thoughts on explainer voice over. Most explainers (apart from live action) will generally be accompanied by a voice over (except some whiteboards that rely on you reading the text as it is written but we’ll ignore those. I’m crap at reading things as they pop up on screen. It stresses me out).
The voice over age, gender and tone can vary depending on the audience and product—but more often than not, I see ‘conversational’ spring up in explainer descriptions.
While most explainers aren’t convo scripts in the true sense, the general consensus is a natural, relaxed, medium to slower pace voice over. A style that is engaging and authentic. ‘Real person’ is a common descriptor. Basically no hard sell, shouty, over the top, ‘I’m so excited I’m about to pee’ style voice overs.
Here are a couple from my explainer archives (gratuitous self-promotion time. Heck, it’s my website so deal with it.)