If your content marketing strategy resembles this cartoon, step away from the white paper you’ve just uploaded and spend a few minutes with me.
All content is not the same. This may seem obvious in theory, but in practice, many companies seem to have a “one content fits all” approach. To deliver your message successfully, you have to realize that writing for video and writing for print are not one and the same.
There are two main concepts to keep in mind when writing a video script:
Be concise and write for the ear, not the eye.
Let’s look at script length first.
As I discussed in my last post, before the scriptwriting process begins, there is a previous step called the script outline. This is often the time when a client first sees the difference in writing for video and writing for print. The primary goal of the script outline is time allocation. We’ve found that 60 seconds of video is equal to between 140-160 words. That’s how much time you have to tell your story. Think about that for a minute. This post is at 190 words already.
So, let’s take a look at how to break up that 60 seconds, shall we? If you figure there’s about 10 seconds for a bold opener and about 5 seconds for a concluding call-to-action, that leaves you with 45 seconds for the “meat” of the video: your story. Still think that long list under the “Features” tab on your website can be regurgitated here in 45 seconds?
In a narrated video, 99% of the time your story will be told via voice over. This is what I mean by writing for the ear. The words used must not only make your point quickly, but they have to written to be read aloud. “Ubiquitous”, for example, may be a great Spelling Bee word but it’s deadly for video. Not only could it tongue-tie the voice over artist, it’s one of those words that seem to stop you in your tracks. You think you know what it means but you’re not sure, so you keep thinking about it and by the time you stop thinking about it, the video is over and so are the chances that you heard anything past “ubiquitous”.
Whether you’re writing your own scripts or having a company like RocketWheel write them for you, always keep an eye on the word count and read the script aloud and see if anything sounds off or trips you up. If it does, that means there’s a better way to say it.
About the author: Kelly Reiterman is the lead copywriter and content producer at RocketWheel. She disseminates information from creative briefs, marketing materials and client conversations into crisp, understandable and engaging copy.