Developing your business message for a new medium can seem daunting at first. I remember how strange it felt to write my first Twitter message, restricted to just 140 characters. It was almost embarrassing to refer to my message as a “tweet.”

As professional communicators, we are all learning to adapt our style to social media. These interactive environments require a different voice, one that is more personal, responsive, and helpful. The better we come to understand these new channels, the more effectively our voice resonates in them.

Audiences in social-media environments have different expectations. They don’t want companies to talk at them, whether in written form or through video; they want to engage with your organization.

More and more, I see companies incorporating video into their social-media strategies because of the unique power video has to engage people. We know that social-media audiences inherently resist direct marketing messages. Video can sidestep that issue by conveying information the audience needs and wants in a way that entertains while it informs.

People have been telling stories since the beginning of time and are naturally drawn into a narrative. That’s where video succeeds best, capturing and holding the viewer’s attention while delivering information. If you allow viewers to conclude on their own that your product or service has value to them, they will be far more receptive to your message than to a direct sales pitch.

The best video-production companies know how to use the language of video—point of view, action, dialogue, narration, sound effects, music, and graphics—to underscore your message without making it overtly promotional. They can create video that will stimulate curiosity about your company, subsequently driving visitors to explore your website or to request more information directly from your organization.

If you are thinking about creating a video for your business, here is the best advice I can give you. Save your organization time and money by thoroughly considering the following questions—long before you begin to collaborate with a video production company:

  • What do you hope to accomplish with this video?
  • What are your resources, in terms of people, time, and budget?
  • Who is your audience for this video? What do you know about their interests, attitudes, and needs?
  • Where and when will they see the video?
  • What are the “push-button” words and phrases for your audience? What motivates them?
  • What are the key messages you want to deliver?

I encourage corporate communicators to approach their video production company with a project brief that includes answers to the above questions. This will greatly assist in creating clarity of direction for your video. With the clarity that will come from this exercise, you’ll be much farther down the road to making a great video for your organization.