Moving Pictures

By Colin Cather

“We want a really emotional video.”

Cool. Video is great capturing and stirring our emotions…but which actual emotion do you want?

Hmm. At that point I often find clients to be a bit more bashful or tongue-tied.

Here are a few suggestions for emotion-capture.

Create an Empathy Map

It was Omar from The Wire who said it best…”you feel me?”. For our clients, we use empathy maps (like below) to try and get closer to the audience – the emotional territories, the ‘pains’ and ‘gains’ of the real people we want to reach. Wall-sized, covered in stickies, workshopped (and researched, with social listening, snooping around in reddit threads etc), we do what we can to feel like our audience.

Get the Hero / Hub / Help thing

Hero, Hub, Help. Google thinks like this, and it’s always good to think how Google thinks (it probably has some part to play in their algorithm, for one thing). And, like so much of how we approach video-storytelling, the same principles apply to other forms of content.

This three-level structure doesn’t immediately say much about emotion, but it helps to clarify in your mind about which of these levels your video is going to operate.

To move it along, I take this hierarchy and badge-it with other labels: like I think about ‘hero’ as ‘differentiation’ – the chance to stand-apart from the crowd. ‘Hub’ = ‘relevance’, I want this content to make someone to feel that this content is ‘for people like me’. And ‘help’ is ‘intent’ and ‘loyalty’, the content has been useful; useful enough to make somebody stick with you, and maybe buy / subscribe to you.

So, hopefully, you can start to think about the kinds of emotions that belong in each of these levels.

Now, if only there was a helpful guide to all of the emotions.

A handy guide to emotions.

Somebody has already made this, so that’s handy. There’s loads of them.

If you’re aiming to make a ‘hero’ (head-and-heart-turning) video, you’ll be trying to get one of these emotional responses.

And if it’s really good, you’ll actually be hoping for a few of these…

…because the ‘hero’ video is going for wide-reach, and it’s gonna reach some naysayers – you’re trying to create a simple reaction, and a fork-in-the-road, and some people are actively turning away from you. Good. It’s all part of differentiation.

But, if your ‘hero’ video brief is actually leading-towards one of these…

Then, stop…and re-write, because you’re actually about to commision a ‘hub’ or maybe ‘help’ video.

When you have the video, test it by WhatsApp-ing it to somebody (maybe you have a good proxy for your audience?), and after all, in the real (digital) world, it’s likely that a lot of video social shares will actually be ‘dark shares’ in a platform like WhatsApp.

What reaction do they give?


Colin Cather is Creative Director at Bottle, an independent creative PR agency specialising in digital, content and social media. 

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