🔎RR#14 - This technique will save your hook
Breaking down retention like a flimsy garden fence in a strong wind.
We’re back at it again!
This week we’re starting off with a cooking tutorial that has 6.1 million views. But the most mouthwatering part?
It’s the technique that’s used in the hook…
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Title: Chinese Takeout Fried Rice Secrets Revealed
Creator: Jason Farmer
Average % viewed: 37.2%
What to repeat:
audience avatar (IMPORTANT)
The moment I started watching this video, I was sure Jason had created an “audience avatar” before writing his script.
An audience avatar is a fictional character representative of the kind of person who regularly watches your content. So why was I so sure Jason was definitely using one of these?
Because this video’s hook perfectly overcomes his audience's objections.
I messaged Jason on Twitter, and this is what he said…
He went on to tell me exactly how he approaches writing specifically for his audience, even down to the cultural references he includes! It’s pretty mindblowing…
So Jason identifies the primary worries associated with cooking an amazing meal - that we’ll either need to have crazy ingredients, specific tools, or niche cooking techniques - and reassures us immediately that we shouldn’t worry
By doing so, he also sells the result right at the start of the video - super important in any tutorial.
It pays to create an audience avatar - literally, imagine 3 different types of people who might watch your videos. Then figure out their common pain points.
It’s so much easier to tailor what you say to keep people interested if you already know exactly what their objections/fears/hopes/dreams are.
What to improve:
I’m not sure we need the caveat about this being only Jason’s preference for how to make the meal - it almost feels like he’s anticipating pushback in the comments if the audience disagrees with his method.
I doubt people really care. The video already acknowledged that the way he figured out which rice regular takeouts use was “unscientific”, so we know this is all through Jason’s lens.
By spending time caveating this at the end, we see the biggest dropoff across the whole video, which is a wasted opportunity to get people watching another video of his next.
On which point, he could have been more specific about which video we should watch next and why it’s something we, as people who enjoyed this video, would benefit from.
The easiest way to keep people watching is by directly addressing their objections / concerns / presumptions in the hook. How? Create an audience avatar and figure out what those objections would be, either by looking through your comments, asking your audience directly, or brainstorming.
Title: I Quit My Job After Playing Dark Souls: Here's Why...
Creator: The Gareth Woods
Average % viewed: 31.5%
What to repeat:
I’ve often said that a more interesting way of presenting your points is by using metaphor.
In this case, the entire video is a metaphor for the philosophical point the creator is making.
There are ways it could have been improved (which we’ll come on to), but for the most part, presenting a video in this way is incredibly compelling.
I was doing a script review for a client this week, and one thing she told me is that she always tries to make the audience feel smart.
This video does exactly that - by gradually revealing the relevance of the metaphor, we get the chance to figure it out ourselves, which is super satisfying.
Particularly when the reason for the metaphor is revealed near the end, music is used brilliantly to elevate our emotions at the realisations we’re having.
This video is packed with varied music, B-Roll and even the tone of the voiceover changes from scene to scene to pack a punch.
What to improve:
The metaphor feel just a little bloated because the script had one too many elements for me.
Comparing Dark Souls to both real-world events and the idea of quitting your job felt slightly unfocused.
By trying to fit both in, it occasionally felt as though I’d understood the meaning behind one metaphor, but then we’d spend another 30s seeing how that also fit with the other metaphor.
Conversely, the hook was gripping in its own right, but wasn’t related to either Dark Souls or quitting your job (the two main elements of the title), and this is where the majority of the viewers were lost.
The video could have started with a more immediate reference to the topic in the title, and then focused on one clear metaphor, rather than mixing in two.
Using an entire video as a metaphor for the point you’re going to make is incredibly effective, but the video is at risk of becoming bloated if you overuse it (or try to include multiple metaphors).
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Title: Table Tennis Pro Tries VR
Average % viewed: 35.2%
What to repeat:
Watch this video to see some serious (touching!) character GROWTH.
I love how Mike starts with the aim of “destroying everyone”, but ends by losing (and doesn’t care).
He goes from wanting to win… to realising that the kind strangers he met along the way were more important
One little thing to emphasize more (or even reword) was the moment at 5:45 where he almost has the realisation that winning isn’t making him happy. It’s currently too vague and isn’t clear what this realisation relates to.
Instead, Mike could have signposted that this was a feeling specifically related to the game itself.
Currently: “But I started to realise something that I couldn’t quite describe what it was. Anyway…”
Reword: “But I realised I was starting to feel something… unexpected. A feeling that was only getting stronger the more I played. A feeling that I… couldn’t quite describe yet.
What to improve:
The shaky the VR footage is unavoidable here but, because of this, Mike could have cut away from the game footage a little more often.
Perhaps to the footage of him recording voiceover (which we see a lot).
Or to A-Roll of him dressed in the VR gear (which we rarely see by itself).
Had I found this video cold, I’d have been 50/50 about whether to continue watching after the first minute because the VR camerawork is a little sore on the old eyes 😂 And that first minute is where all the dropoff happens.
I’d also aim to improve the lighting in the non-VR setup. (I guess you’d call it “real life”)
More voiceover needed on the gameplay. A few times we were watching shaky VR footage in silence. Needed to fill a couple of those silences with some more of that beautiful storytelling VO 😍
The most powerful storytelling comes when a character changes by the end. Crucially, that change has to come from the events within the video, driven by the character’s choices/actions.
That’s all for this week!
Talk soon 👋