Video Branching Narrative or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Storytelling
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me” Aretha Franklin
Don’t you hate watching a video that completely misses the mark, or even worse, clickbait? It’s a waste of time. The way we consume information is evolving; we expect to engage with almost everything we do on the internet, even better is having control. We tap, swipe, listen and watch content like never before. We have access to millions of videos and unbelievable amounts of information. All we need to do is ask Jeeves or go to Google for answers in a matter of seconds. If you want to navigate the internet, you need to click and engage with it, communicating and conveying what you want.
As a video producer or creator, your goal is to create high-quality video content. Content that is both informative and engaging for each viewer. Truly engaging your viewers with text alone is nearly impossible. Video is more engaging than text because it combines audio with moving objects. These days, with all the thumbs up or down, tapping, and swiping on social media, the impact of video gets diluted. One way to create even more engaging content in 2018 and 2019 is with interactive video. Interactive video is all about respecting your audience and creating the best viewing experience possible for each viewer.
How can you incorporate interactive video into your marketing or communications strategy?
One feature you can take advantage of is video branching. Branching scenarios are a great example of how marketers, trainers, HR professionals, educators, trainers, content creators, and video producers can show their viewers how much they are respected. Branching, or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story, has been around for a long time and will undoubtedly continue to play a major role in the way we educate and engage with others.
What is Branching or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure?
Branching, or Choose-Your-Own-Adventures, allow your viewers to personalize their journey through your content. At certain points, the viewer is given a choice, similar to a menu, and has to make a decision based on their own interests. In books, choose-your-own-adventure is done by saying skip to page X for this or skip to page Z for that. With video, when the viewer is given two or more options, it’s done by clicking on and engaging with the video. No two individuals on this planet are exactly alike, so it’s nearly impossible for a video producer to know exactly what each viewer is looking for. The best way to resolve this dilemma is by creating top quality content and giving viewers multiple options.
Whether we’re talking about marketing and sales, customer service, eLearning, or training, giving viewers options not only allows them to create a better user experience, but it also gives you valuable insight into that individual viewer. Think about marketing and the buyer’s journey. Someone interested in buying a new car by the end of the year has different needs than someone buying a new car by the end of the day and shouldn’t necessarily be viewing the same content. For learning and education, some people are just starting out while others have mastered a particular craft or subject.
“I Am Who I Am Today Because Of The Choices I Made Yesterday” Eleanor Roosevelt
Video branching is about considering all of your viewers and giving them options to accommodate where they are at in their personal journey. Whether for education or entertainment, giving your viewers options is a neat way to personalize the movie or video to simultaneously align with what an 18-year-old female vegan wants to see next and a 54-year-old meat-loving male hunter desires. Given options and assuming it’s not a life or death situation, chances are they will choose differently when asked things like what the character should eat or something more intense.
Currently, you can engage with branching experiences on many different platforms and websites. YouTube offers video branching capabilities, or Choose-Your-Own-Video, with their End School Annotation where video producers can decide if they want to present their viewers with one or two other videos to watch next. Netflix has a few shows that offer choose-your-own-adventure including Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout. Hulu and YouTube have Choose-Your-Own-Ad experiences. These Choose-Your-Own Storytelling experiences are all about creating personalized and relevant experiences for video viewers.
Moving forward, I anticipate more educational institutions and organizations will use video branching for marketing and sales, learning, customer support, and HR needs. YouTube and Hulu will continue to offer choose-your-own-ads. This fall, Netflix and Telltale Games will release the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure show Minecraft: Story Mode. Fox also has an upcoming interactive movie in the works based on the 1980s book series Choose Your Own Adventure. Imagine being in the movie theater and influencing the storyline of the movie with the touch of a button – well it’s coming.
Video Branching for the Win
Like I said at the beginning of this post, it’s about respecting your audience, not misleading them or outright wasting their time. It’s nearly impossible to know exactly what your audience wants to watch, so giving them options is the best solution. Video Branching, or Choose-Your-Own-Adventure storytelling, has quietly snuck into mainstream America, but it will really pick up momentum in 2019 and 2020 as more people recognize how often they are already engaged with it, and how easy it is to apply to their video strategy.
Let me know if you are interested in getting a walkthrough on creating a branching scenario or anything of the sort. As I continue to develop the site, I’ll eventually have examples, instructional videos, and more. One piece of advice I can share with you right now is to consider using software like LucidCharts or Google Forms to help structure your branching experiences. love being able to jump into my account and quickly come up with an idea from scratch or using one of their templates.
Click here if you are interested in learning how to make a branching questionnaire or choose-your-own-adventure outline inside of Google Forms for free.
Now I’d love to hear what you think about video branching or the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure experiences. Do you think video branching experiences will pick up steam over the next year or two? Comment down below with your thoughts!
Let’s connect on Facebook, and of course, I hope I was respectful of your time. Rest in peace to the legendary Aretha Franklin.