Should you use a headline in your video?

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Making a video with a headline, is self-evident to some, while others want to throw the viewer right into an event, to catch their attention. Has the headline played its part?

The desired answer to that question would have been a straight “yes” or “no”. But something that makes one type of video or format successful, can mean failure for another.

Firstly – what is a video headline? It’s a short copy that will summarize the video you are watching. It should entice the viewer to watch more of the video. Most often the headline pops up directly so that you as a viewer will get an indication of what you are looking at.

That sounds like the perfect way to go, right? But if you google the question whether it is the right start of a video or not, you might find as many answers as you find people talking about it.

One expert says that you have to have a headline, another will argue that headlines are in the way of your content. The answer probably lies in between.

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Credit: Christian Geijer

– A headline is great. It’s clear. But it doesn’t fit all stories, says Christian Geijer, Motion Director at Storykit and former distribution manager at KIT.

Christian draws a parallell to the regular conversation you might have with a friend over a beer.

– We don’t talk in headlines in a regular conversation, instead we start the story somewhere where we know that the person listening will be more intrigued, and wants to hear more, he says.

Try it out!

So how do you know what works best for each specific video? Of course, it’s not possible to know a hundred percent before publication, but it is possible to try it out.

– Produce the video like you always do; script, pictures, headline, music. When you are done, redo the intro three times, and in two of them you force yourself not to use the heading.

That way you have to start thinking creatively and maybe ask questions you didn’t initially know you had.

– When you have three different ideas, you can start asking others about the best alternative, how it goes along with the story you want to tell and – never forget – how it fits with you as a company.

It may turn out that some stories need a headline to frame and explain what the viewer is about to see, while there are other times when your video really wins with something else.

Try it out – and remember that on social media, your video is usually framed by several messages in your post. Maybe the message in the post is enough?

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Checklist – 3 questions to ask yourself:

– Do I need a headline to make the viewer understand what the video is about?

– How would I start talking about this topic with a friend over a beer (or a coffee)?

– If I had to make the video with/without a headline – what intro actually works best? Asking colleagues is always a good choice here. 

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