Sweet Thoughts



C3 and the video machine

By Serene Goh

Getting a video to act as your brand representative in the wide world of the Inter-webs can be delightful. There is no end to the visual storytelling palette or its potential to convey an idea. Just as there is no end to entertainment value of cat antics.

So what does that mean for your brand? Chief of the many considerations — other than, let’s face it, budget — when incorporating video into a content strategy, is an objective.

Else, telling creatives you want video in a campaign is like going to a restaurant and saying you want food. Yes, you’re in the right place, but um, exactly what are you hungry for?

That tension between wanting video and finding it the right master formed the basis of discussions at the C3 Series workshop on July 5 at the SPH News Centre Auditorium. The event had a turnout of 60 participants from media agencies and nine different industry sectors, all keen to explore fresh ideas.

Mobile technology has enabled more conversations than in human history to occur using visuals. Yet it strikes me that what ultimately, deepens the engagement and brand association a video achieves is still rooted in key fundamentals of compelling storytelling. What moves someone to share, or even click on a “like”, still rests on making a connection.

Me, I still get inspired by people, first and always. It’s the pride they take in their work, the lengths they go to get something done, their resilience, the ones who live out the courage of their convictions. In fact, most times, a narrative shaped from a life experience is merely the output of a storyteller trying to process universal truths, and experiences that everyone can relate to.

An understanding of treatment, mood, as well as the function of video within a campaign, can greatly enhance its effectiveness. But most critical to its power is finding it a purpose in the life of your target audience. What does it say about their beliefs if they share a video from you? How might it add to their understanding or discovery of a subject matter? Is it, in the end, useful to them.

And that’s when an idea becomes a content solution. Heads of SPH units involved in visual storytelling offered their expertise and insights, suggesting their takes on what makes a piece of video sizzle. Here are their takes.

  1. Short, sharp, shareable. Ms Karen Lim, Editor of the freshly rebranded AsiaOne, said: “Create a compelling story… If people are able to understand trends and insights are in the region, they are probably more compelled to share it.” Given shorter attention spans, a succinct message helps. “If you are able to hook someone in three seconds, I think that’s a great video to distribute on Facebook and if you’re looking at viral then that’s your distribution to other friends and friends of friends,” she added.
  2. Compel, don’t tell. Ms Cynthia Loh, deputy head of SPH Content Lab said: “A compelling story sweeps us off our feet, brings us into another dimension and enlarges our world, it also helps us to connect with people. In other words, it’s not exact, it’s not marketing …. It’s about getting in-touch with your audiences, and making an empathetic connection. It’s getting your audience with you. … storytelling is essential to human existence, it’s common to every known cultural. It involves a symbiotic exchange between teller and listener and exchange the negotiate, even as babies.”
  3. Unpack for discovery. At a practical level, a strong visual story line has to address time-starved, multi-tasking individuals, said Mr Ken Jalleh Jr, CEO of THINK. His operation, which specialises in interpretative journalism and infographics, with animation, exploits the knowledge-building function of a video offering. The impact of simple, quick exposition allows audience to immediately unpack, interpret and better understand just about any process or complex set up. “You need to connect through show, more than tell,” he said.
  4. Humour, with a context. For Mr Jeremy Au Yong, Editor of The Straits Times’ Stirr, said managing the product for millennials has been a matter of balancing the funny with usefulness. The nascent video-led channel, targeted at millennials, attempts different approaches to tackle stories in ways its parent publication is not known for, with the millennial audience in its crosshairs. “Our ideation process follows very closely how we operate the newsroom. Singapore is our inspiration, look at what’s happening in the country and we’re quite local,” he said. A recent example was when Stirr donned SAF uniforms as a social experiment. “We decided to do an experiment with economy rice and wanted to see if you wore your SAF uniform whether you’d get more food. So we had three people go to three different economy rice stalls, order the same thing and weigh the plates. And thus see if the SAF guy got more food.”
  5. Get your emo on. Mr Damien Bray, CEO of Brand New Media, noted that the most effective videos were case studies in the ability to understand and share the feelings of another — empathy. “The start of storytelling is to get that emotional engagement,” he said. “You can start to build a relationship with your customer and [get them to] start spending more money with you. Our consumers, human beings, they’ve all got emotions, we need to find out which emotions we need to connect with… I certainly encourage you to think about the emotional response you want to get from your customers.”


Serene Goh

Serene is the Head of Editorial Content at Sweet. She believes in the power of stories and their tellers.