In an era rich with fake body parts and CGI effects, who would have thought that the biggest trend to come along in online video creation would be the truth? That’s right — we, the YouTube watching public, can’t get enough of folks venting their problems, telling off their boyfriends, confronting celebrities and generally speaking their minds in confessional viral videos. The recipe for these videos is a simple one: Add one YouTube poster with a chip on his/her shoulder, place in front of a video camera, stir and enjoy. The simplicity is almost embarrassing, but clearly it’s effective and incredibly popular. So we wondered, would folks actually watch branded confessional videos or does having a company behind them sort of defeat the whole purpose?
The power of the confessional video hit a fever pitch a few weeks ago when the world discovered a little video affectionately known as “It’s too damn hot.” The video features a woman who is fed up with summer’s insufferable heat and is filled with one liners now popping up all over your friend’s Facebook feeds. This world-class rant was removed from YouTube due to language, but lives on in social media infamy. It isn’t hard to see why. We responded to the video because the woman said what many were thinking and because she was talking about something timely. Without using expletives involving the Devil’s nether regions, every brand can tap into this kind of frank and funny talk as long as it is timely and stays true to the brand’s general messaging. Confessional videos are also widely used to talk directly to a celebrity or organization like this viral hit from Jim Parsons of television’s The Big Bang Theory. Brands can use this style of confessional video to talk directly to consumers and followers about new products or exciting news happening at the company.
Like all successful viral videos, confessional videos resonate because they feature content we relate to. Speaking the truth and speaking directly to viewers is an incredibly powerful way to deliver messages of all varieties. Popular confessional videos do share some commonality that is helpful for brands to remember. Keeping these videos under 3 minutes (1 minute and 30 seconds seems to be the real sweet spot) helps keeps viewers engaged. Also, while the confessional should be spontaneous and real, make sure you have a general plan of what you want to talk about before you sit down in front of the camera. Finally, remember that you can be real and honest without offending or blabbing on incoherently. Nothing turns viewers off faster than a brand that doesn’t know when to shut up.