Wondering how to increase watch time on your YouTube videos? Want to become more memorable to your viewers?
In this article, you’ll discover a seven-step story framework for creating effective YouTube content that inspires action.
Why Stories Are So Effective in YouTube Videos
Stories offer a powerful way to create an emotional connection between the viewer and the content. Or rather, stories create an emotional connection between the viewer and the storyteller’s experience. And really, if the best way to experience something is firsthand, then listening to a really good storyteller is the second-best way to have that same experience.
As marketers, when we tell a story well, it lowers our viewers’ defenses. As soon as a viewer clicks into your video, their guard is up against ads, promotions, and the catch. Telling a really good story helps people relax. They can lean back in their chairs and listen and simply enjoy the content they’re consuming.
This experience has a huge impact on brain chemistry. Listening to a great story releases certain chemicals in the brain that create the reactions we hope our audience will have.
For example, dopamine is associated with suspense and an invitation to novelty, which often helps people to focus, feel more motivated, and better retain the content they’re consuming. All of these things are positive impacts that we want our audience to feel. We want them to focus on our content, remember it, and feel motivated to take action after consuming it.
Stories also release oxytocin, which is associated with empathy, vulnerability, and pity. So if you can build a story around empathy, people watching your video often become more trusting and generous. Vulnerability helps the audience build a deeper bond with you as a creator or with the person in the video.
Storytelling also releases endorphins, which are associated with laughter and having a good time, and phenylethylamine, which is the happiness drug. When people are feeling happy, they want more of it.
When someone hears a good story from you on YouTube—or really on any social media channel—they’re reacting exactly how you hope they’d react. They’re focusing on your content, remembering it, and wanting more of it because it makes them feel good. They’re becoming relaxed and empathetic toward you because you show vulnerability, and they’re motivated to take action. All of this leads to a deeper bond between you and your audience on YouTube.
The Key Elements Every Story Should Include
Your YouTube video’s thumbnail and title should be the hook of the story, the piece that grabs the audience’s attention and leads them to make that click and watch the video.
Then, the first few seconds of the video should pick up where the hook left off. Many times, marketers will repeat the title of the video in the first few seconds, but this can actually lead to a higher abandonment rate.
Instead, you should weave your story’s hook into the title and thumbnail of the video and then lead off the video with the seven elements of story we’re going to cover next to keep your audience’s attention.
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You’ll notice that a lot of these elements are also prevalent in just about every movie or novel out there, and for good reason. They help create a story that the audience can get invested in and want to stick around to the end. Rather than merely listing a sequence of steps or explaining a new technique or concept, storytelling creates a more personal connection between you and your audience by building relationships, revealing possibilities, and influencing consumer behavior.
And the best part is that this can all happen fast—sometimes within just a few seconds. That’s why this format works so well, whether you’re producing long-form video for YouTube or shorter videos for YouTube Shorts. Either way, including these seven key elements is sure to keep your audience invested in your video, which will keep your channel growing.
#1: Who Is the Character of Your Story?
First and foremost, who’s the character of your story? In most cases, the character is going to be the person recording the video or talking in it. It may be you as a business owner or marketer. It may also be the version of you that matches your audience, but the most effective videos will feature you as the main character.
For this element of your video, it may be as simple as introducing yourself (in the present or past) and flowing right into the next element, which is your desire. For example, you can say something along the lines of you’re a new business owner, which would immediately identify you, the character, and who the video is for.
#2: What Do They Want?
The next element is the key desire the main character is after. This might be something basic like more sales, a larger business, or knowing how to do something. It doesn’t have to be very complicated; in fact, the simpler the better.
This is often a continuation of the introduction of you, the character. It can even be in the same sentence in the video. To use the example from above, you could introduce yourself as a new business owner who’s looking for a way to increase sales.
#3: Why Can’t They Have What They Want?
Think about what’s keeping the main character from being able to have what they want. In other words, what obstacles are blocking them from achieving the results they’re after?
For example, you want to increase sales but don’t have any more hours in the day to dedicate to your business. Or you’re trying to grow your following on social media but are getting stuck behind the confusing algorithms and contradictory advice you find on the internet.
Again, these don’t have to be huge or complex obstacles. They can be external obstacles such as a low budget, lack of resources, or even distractions around the home. They can also be more internal obstacles such as self-doubt, time management, or even a mindset block.
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And while you do want to keep the obstacles simple and easily relatable, you can also stack more than one obstacle into a single story. Often, listing more than one obstacle helps create more attention within the story, which naturally makes the story more engaging and the viewer more invested in what will happen.
#4: What’s at Stake?
What’s at stake refers to what happens if the character is unable to get what they want. In the movies, this might be something as dramatic as millions of innocent people suffering. What’s at stake for you doesn’t have to be life or death.
In fact, it can be something as simple as getting embarrassed or feeling guilty because it’s something that you should’ve known before. It can be something more serious such as losing your life savings or business.
Going with our working example, you’re trying to boost your sales but you don’t have enough hours in the day, your family is starting to feel neglected, and you’re feeling guilty that you’ve poured so much of your time and money into a business and you fear you’re about to lose everything.
Stories that expose your fears awaken the empathy inside your audience. They have the same fears and can relate to you on a deeper level. In a way, watching you come through these struggles feels like a win for them before they even get to your answer.
#5: Who or What Helps Them Get What They Want?
Once your audience knows what’s at stake and they’re starting to feel empathetic toward you—they’re invested in your story and want to see you come out the other end—it’s time to introduce the person or resource that helps you out of the struggle. This might be a guide or mentor or it can be a book, formula, discovery, motivational quote, or some other tool that helps you find the answer you were after.
To continue with our working example, you’re looking to increase sales but you don’t have any more hours in the day to dedicate to your marketing, your family is starting to feel neglected, and you’re worried that you’ll fail, but then you attended an event where someone was speaking about sales in your industry. They gave you two pieces of advice that would change the way you looked at sales forever.
#6: How Do They Finally Get What They Want?
So what was a piece of advice that this speaker gave to you that changed the way you looked at sales forever? That’s exactly the question your audience will be asking next. How did you finally get what you wanted? How did the main character finally get whatever it was they were after at the beginning of the story?
This is where the explanation, demonstrations, or tutorials come into play within your YouTube video. The story might be interwoven all the way through the content or it can be split up into a couple of sentences at the beginning and the end, but this is the meat of your content that people are after. They want to know how you attained your objective.
#7: How Is the Character Transformed?
And finally, people want to know how achieving that objective transformed you as the main character. Did it enhance your life? Boost your sales? If it did boost your sales, how did that impact your family or your business?
This is the part of the story where they reach the conclusion—the emotionally satisfying ending that shows viewers not only what’s possible but what they want to see as a happy ending. This is the part where the hero saves the world, the workaholic saves their family, and the business takes off and all of their dreams come true.
And if you’ve told the story well through the other six elements, then even if this conclusion is semi-predictable, your viewers will still want to stick around to the end to see it play out.
Tim Schmoyer is a YouTube strategist and founder of Video Creators, an agency that helps established YouTube creators rapidly grow their YouTube following. He’s also host of the Video Creators podcast and his course is called Video Labs. Connect with Tim on Instagram and Twitter.
What do Meta’s New Safety Initiatives to Protect Women Really Mean for Women in India?
Meta, formerly Facebook, announced a series of initiatives aimed at the protection of the women users on the company’s social media platforms. The initiatives include the launch of stopncii.org in India — a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII) and Safety Hub for Women that will enable more women users to access information about resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience. Meta has also appointed the first Indian members in the company’s Global Women’s Safety Expert Advisors.
“Safety is really core to our mission at Facebook,” Karuna Nain, Director of Global Safety Policy at Meta Platforms told reporters on Thursday, while announcing the initiatives. She further elaborated that the social media behemoth works to keep the platforms safe in three segments — by implementing clear policies, building cutting edge tools and technology, and by working with organisations on the frontlines on the issues around the world.
How does stopncci.org work?
According to Meta, Stopncci.org empowers victims who are concerned about their intimate images being abused, and gives them control over such content.
“If someone threatens you, you can report it so that we can take action on that content,” Nain said. Stopncci.org has been developed in partnership with the UK Revenge Porn Helpline and 50 other organisations around the world. Stopncci.org has been built with feedback from victims, victim advocates, and privacy and safety advocates.
What is striking though, is that despite the large number of teen users on Facebook and Instagram, stopncci.org is not accessible for users under the age of 18. If you are under 18 and want to register a case, the platform displays a message saying, “We are sorry, but we cannot help with your case,” and leads the user to a list of NGOs that can be contacted for help.
Also, at this point the Stop NCII platform is available only in English, and Nain said that it would take a few months more before the platform supports Indian languages. Given the widespread use of Facebook in a number of Indian languages, this will limit the scope of its impact, something that has been seen in the past with the company’s efforts to combat misinformation as well.
A safety hub for women
Women’s Safety Hub is a part of Meta’s Safety Centre. The Women’s Safety Hub is a centralised resource where the company tries to capture all the information that women would need to be able to navigate the social media platforms in a safe and secure manner so that they’d be empowered to know what tools they have at their disposal.
The Women’s Safety Hub contains information including Meta’s policies around different issues, tools, and on-demand training. The hub is available in 12 Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Gujarati, and Assamese, among others.
Meta has a Women’s Safety Experts Group in place, who the company consults on an ongoing basis regarding their policies, product, and resources that they should be offering on the platforms.
Bishakha Datta, Executive Editor, Point of View — a Mumbai-based non-profit and Jyoti Vadehra, Head of Media & Communications, Centre for Social Research — a Delhi-based advocacy group for women — are the first Indian members in Meta’s Global Women’s Safety Expert Advisors.
The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programs to better support women on its apps.
Would women be safer on Meta’s social media platforms now?
Nain said that Meta has invested over $13 billion (roughly Rs. 97,640 crore) in tools and technology to keep the platforms safe and give people security since 2016 and are on track to spend more than $5 billion (roughly Rs. 37,555 crore) on safety and security in 2021.
“Our commitment to making our platform safe and secure isn’t just something that we talk about. We put real investment behind these efforts. We have around 40,000 people who work on these efforts across the company.”
When asked about the specific initiatives the money was spent on by Meta, Nain only said that the money is being spent on, “…people who work on this space, the technology that we are building, for example, the initiatives that we will announce today or that would come as part of this.”
What do you do if someone is threatening to share your intimate images?
- Go to https://stopncii.org/
- Click on the Create Your Case button
- Confirm if you are 18 years or older
- Provide details about the image including who is in the picture by clicking on the drop-down list.
- Select the image(s)/video(s) on your device that you would like to protect
- A unique “hash,” or a digital fingerprint is generated and shared with the participating companies (Facebook and Instagram)
- Create a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to use to check your case status
- Check the box consenting to your hashes being shared with the participating companies.
- Click Submit.
WhatsApp Beta Testing Skin Tone Combinations for Couple Emojis on Android, Sticker Store on Desktop
WhatsApp has started beta testing skin tone combinations for couple emojis on Android. The update comes a long time after the instant messaging app has allowed iOS users to pick their preferred skin tone combination for couple emojis on the iPhone. Separately, WhatsApp has reportedly started testing a new feature to let users explore the Sticker Store and find relevant stickers for their chats directly from the WhatsApp Web or desktop client. Stickers are already an intrinsic part of the messaging app and are gaining popularity among users.
As initially spotted by WhatsApp beta tracker WABetaInfo, WhatsApp has started rolling out skin tone combinations for couple emojis to select beta testers on Android. The change is a part of WhatsApp for Android beta version 18.104.22.168.
Gadgets 360 was able to independently confirm the rollout on the latest WhatsApp beta release, though it may take some time to reflect for all beta testing users.
If you are on the eligible beta version, you can look for skin tone combinations on the couple emojis by tapping one of them on the app.
WhatsApp was initially spotted testing skin tone combinations on WhatsApp for Android beta 22.214.171.124 that was released in October. Beta testers were, however, not able to see the change.
On iPhone, WhatsApp has allowed changing skin tone for the preloaded couple emojis for some time. You can tap one of the emojis to pick your preferred skin tone.
The exact timeline on when we could see skin tone combinations for couple emojis has not yet been announced. Nevertheless, considering historical records, WhatsApp may bring them for regular users in the near coming future.
WABetaInfo has additionally reported that WhatsApp is testing a new feature on its Web and desktop clients to explore its Sticker Store. It will appear once you tap the plus icon on the sticker tray, the website notes.
WhatsApp has been spotted testing a new feature for desktop and Web users to explore Sticker Store
Photo Credit: WABetaInfo
The Sticker Store on WhatsApp Web and desktop will work similar to how you can explore different stickers on your mobile devices, though you cannot download a sticker pack from the store and can only pick a specific sticker from the available packs to send it in a chat.
WABetaInfo reports that the feature is initially available to beta testers on WhatsApp Desktop version 2.2147.9, though it is planned to reach users through a public release soon.
Clubhouse Adds Support for 13 New Languages Including Bengali and Marathi, Rolls Out ‘Topics’ Feature
Clubhouse has rolled out support for 13 new languages on the social audio platform, bringing the total number of local languages to 26. Support for two more Indian languages – Bengali and Marathi – is now rolling out to users along with 11 other languages as part of the latest update. Clubhouse has also announced a new ‘Topics’ feature that users can pick from to show their interests on their profile. The platform pioneered audio social networking that has now been replicated by the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
Clubhouse announced via a blog post that it was adding support for 13 new languages – Arabic, Bengali, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Farsi/Persian, Hausa, Igbo, Marathi, Nepali, Somali, Thai, Turkish, and Yoruba. Users who want to use a localised version of Clubhouse should be able to switch to one of these languages. The Clubhouse app for iOS currently lists around 130 languages to choose from.
In November, Clubhouse had announced the rollout of support for 13 languages on the social audio service. That update brought support for French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Malayalam, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish, Tamil, and Telugu. The latest update to the app brings the total number of Indian languages supported on Clubhouse to seven, with the addition of Bengali and Marathi.
The new ‘Topics’ feature announced by Clubhouse appears to be a rebranded ‘Interests’ feature and allows users to pick from thousands of topics, including cities, universities, sports, or even music genres. These will be featured on their profile, so followers can see what a user is interested in. Clubhouse says that users will be able to keep their favourite topics private by hiding them from their profiles.
The ‘Topics’ feature will also appear on other sections of the app, including Topics pages, which will show users related rooms, clubs, and other users who are related to that topic. Similarly, rooms can also display Topics to explain to participants what the room is discussing, and creators will be able to add and change these even when a room is live. Clubhouse may soon begin testing the ability for users to create Topics of their own on the service, according to the company.