Once upon a time…
In the same way that a novelist needs to “hook” the reader with the first sentence, videos need to grab the viewer’s attention in seconds. The average attention span is eight seconds, so if you want to see success with your content, you have eight seconds to attract and engage your viewer. Viewers will only click on a video if the thumbnail is intriguing and relevant, and they will only continue watching if the opening frames hook them with intrigue, suspense, and value.
So how do you intrigue your viewer in the first few seconds? How can you grab their attention in a way that will improve your engagement and conversion metrics?
A 2015 Facebook/Nielsen study found that even if a viewer watched a video for only one second, that single moment still increased recall, brand awareness, and purchase consideration. Build your video’s hook as if it were the only few seconds that your viewer saw.
How can you deliver the greatest amount of information and value in the shortest amount of time? How will you make your brand voice known instantly in a way that will soft-sell your brand?
If you focus on providing value, your video will innately engage them to watch further. Your video should have an immediate payoff. If the viewer gets some sort of gratification in the first few seconds, they’ll feel invested and want to continue watching to get more of that satisfaction.
“What if you could travel the world on less than three dollars per day?”
“What if you never had to talk to your boss again?”
Questions naturally pique curiosity. Ask the question that the video will answer. If the question is interesting, viewers will stick around to learn the answer. For many companies, this means posing a question related to the product or service, “What makes our pillow the softest in the world?”
Some companies, however, are finding success by posing rhetorical or philosophical questions that then relate back to their brand voice later in the video. They may ask, “Why is the sky blue?” and relate the perception of the sky to building a brand perception, for example. Posing a series of rhetorical questions to get the viewer’s mind buzzing can also work well to pique interest.
Make sure that the question always relates back to the body of the video in some way.
Like starting with a question, opening with an interesting and startling fact can immediately pull in the viewer. This can be a statistic, a reference to a historical event, a fact relevant to your product, or just something strange and weird—as long as it ultimately ties into the rest of your video.
Humor works in most videos if done correctly. Think of this hook as an opener to the main act; the joke “warms up” the crowd. Humor helps break down the walls between the subject and the viewer. You’re laughing together, so the customer instantly feels a connection to and rapport with your brand voice.
Use a sound bite, catchy phrase, or quote to introduce the video. It can be a foreign proverb, a quote from your CEO, or a one-liner from a play; whatever it is, it should instantly grab the attention of your viewer in a specific, empowering, and emotional way.
One of our favorite opening one-liners is, “Once upon a time…” It’s an age-old storytelling trope that will attract your viewer, because they have been taught from a young age to listen to and engage with this type of fairy tale opener. People like this kind of opening because it’s predictable in a comforting and ironic way.
As discussed in our article, “The Face In The Video: Why Use People In Marketing,” viewers are drawn to faces. Your audience will empathetically relate to an intense emotion that they see on someone’s face on the screen.
The best emotion to use in a video introductory hook is awe. The word “imagine” builds an emotional appeal that subconsciously directs the viewer to think deeper about your brand: “Imagine a world where you never had to touch a dirty dish again.”
Our brains are hardwired to look for motion. Biologically, our eyes are programmed to spot motion amongst stillness as a safety and defense mechanism. You can use this ingrained behavior to instantly pull subconscious and conscious attention to your video. Having some sort of extended movement in the first 15 seconds of the video will instantly capture the attention of your viewer.
Animations work in a similar way as motion. Graphics pull people into a video by varying the focus, which fires off different areas of the brain at once. Use 2D, 3D, and motion graphics to highlight your brand in a casual yet professional way. These work especially well for explainer how-to videos.
What does your target audience care about? Why would they watch this video? In the first few seconds of the video, pose or address their pain point directly:
• “Are you sick and tired of getting the flu?”
• “Looking for a new way to make your bed?”
• “Do you want to stop worrying about your electricity bill?”
This asks a question directly to the audience in a way that has some sort of personal and emotional involvement. If the question addresses the pain point, they’re instantly hooked to hear the solution.
Start by talking about who you are and what you do in an interesting and captivating way. This ensures that you create an impression, even if your viewer doesn’t continue to watch. The best way to hook using your product or service is to start by explaining your unique differentiator.
For example, Dollar Shave Club tells us in the first fifteen seconds that they send $1 quality razors right to your door. Their service is unique, so they “hook” with their product differentiation. They then continue to maintain the humor and intrigue throughout the video to improve engagement and conversion rates.
You’ve got the perfect hook—don’t lose the momentum. You can’t have a strong opening and then fizzle out. The video should continue to engage the viewer using the four building blocks of video creation. The hook should flow naturally on your storyboard based on the narrative your video shares with the viewer.
The Bottom Line
Like the six-second ad, video today is often short and sweet to maintain the attention of its viewers. Even with long-form videos, you have only a few seconds to pique the curiosity of your viewers in a way that will encourage them to continue watching your video for its entire length.
Do you want to improve your play and engagement metrics?
Consult with True Film Production to see how we can grow your marketing strategy and expand your reach—with the perfect hook, line, and sinker!
HQ 220 W 30th Street 2nd Floor New York NY 10001
154 Grand Street, New York NY 10013
HQ 220 W 30th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001
154 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013