instagram-vs-vine-feat1Will Instagram video kill Twitter’s Vine app? Will short form video be the way of the future? Is there a need for YouTube anymore? These are all things I’ve heard people buzzing about since Instagram made the announcement that it was adding the ability to record and post 15 second videos to its service last week.

While the usual over-reaction from the online world continues, I’m thinking about how people are going to use these tools. There’s already so much bad web video out there, I’m sure adding one more tool to the arsenal will only increase that. But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are plenty of ways to make sure that the video story you’re telling is going to be one that’s compelling to people. Here are 3 questions to ask yourself before you dive into the world of web video, no matter what tool you choose to use.

What’s Your Goal?

It always comes back to this. What’s the goal of your web video? Is it to promote your brand? Get people to buy, sign up, donate, or subscribe? If so, who do you want your message to get to? These are the most important questions to answer, and they need to get answered well before you hit the record button. So stop and think hard about why you want to use video. Then move onto the next questions.

How Can I Tell a Story About My Product or Service?

This is where you can start to get creative. Creating a compelling video isn’t just about rambling off a bunch of features and benefits of your product or service. It’s not boring narration and generic product shots or smiling customers. It’s about figuring out how you’re going to tell stories about what it is that you’re promoting.

What is the nature of your story? Do you need to provide a lot of context and background information? Or can it be summed up in a few seconds? Video is not a brochure – it’s a storytelling tool. Figuring out how to wrap a story around what you’re selling is critical to success in video.

Take a look at BlendTec, if you aren’t familiar with them. Their “Will It Blend” videos aren’t your typical sales pitch for a great blender. They show the power of their blender by blending unconventional things – iPads, Justin Bieber Dolls, you name it – and have racked up millions of views and a huge increase in sales as a result.

As for short form video, Gary Vaynerchuk is killing it on Vine. He does amusingĀ 6 second responses to people’s Twitter questions (good thing he talks fast!).

He’s providing entertainment value to people, nurturing his community, and promoting his brand creatively all at the same time. He’s also doing 6 second wine reviews. Creative and clever, and fun. Nothing wrong with fun!

How Can I Make an Emotional Connection?

Ikea is another company that does a brilliant job of telling stories about their products. This video is from a few years ago, and basically, the set up is this – Let’s let 100 cats go free in an Ikea store and film the results, and make a commercial out of it. But it was more than that. Cat owners (and dog owners too) know that there’s something very special about the way an animal makes him or herself comfortable in a home.

The cats are curious and aware when they are first introduced, and then gradually as they become used to their surroundings, they settle in. By the end of the commercial they are relaxed and happy, some of them already napping. You get a sense of peace and comfort, which is exactly the goal of the video – to show people that Ikea’s products make your home a happy and comfortable place.

Not to mention, who doesn’t love a good cat video?

This is an awesome use of video – and you can see the final product below, as well as the making of the commercial.

When it comes to doing web video, my advice is simple. Focus less on HOW you’re going to do the video. That part comes later. Certainly try out the tools and look at lots of examples and think about creative ways to use them. But don’t do anything until you’ve answered these three things: What’s your goal? What’s your story. How are you going to make an emotional connection? The rest will flow from there.

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