In this post I want to pull back from equipment and production technique to reflect on program content. It goes without saying that someone must watch what you produce for all of the time, effort, and expense you’ve invested to be worth while. In addition, you want to have your video elicit some positive change, however large or small, in the person who watched.
It’s a media jungle out there with broadcast television, YouTube, web sites, video on demand, cell phones, tablets, DVDs, and other emerging delivery platforms. To be effective in communication via video, it is absolutely essential that you first consider your target audience, where they hang out, their viewing habits and platform(s), and what interests them. You must attract them to watch your video in the first place, and then they must receive some intrinsic “value” proportional to the time they have invested in watching. If they don’t, they won’t be back. The concept of throwing many video programs out into the sea of media and seeing what floats is at best inefficient and at worst a total waste of your time and resources.
By way of example, let’s apply some of these principles to the process of evangelism — reaching the unbeliever with the message of Jesus Christ. I’ve selected this area because of its importance and because I feel it is underserved and offers great opportunities for creativity.
Let’s take a look at some common characteristics of the target audience. First, they are lost, whether they consciously realize it or not. Many fill their lives with work, activities, pleasures, friends, and noise in general to avoid the quiet times when a still, small voice asks, “Why am I here?”, “Is this all there is?”, and “Does my life really matter?” Their perceptions are being increasingly affected by the negative attitudes toward Christianity conveyed by the secular media, and by systematic efforts to remove Christian influences from the public arena. A tough crowd to be sure.
If they have successfully suppressed their need for true purpose in life, we must find out what they think they need and attract their attention by first meeting that perceived need.
Let’s consider for a moment today’s ever-changing viewing habits. These are not that different between believers and nonbelievers. How have your habits changed? Many of us are spending less viewing time seated in front of a television set and more time viewing content on a computer, tablet, or smart phone. How often do you make on-line viewing decisions based on how long the video is, rejecting anything that will last more than 3 or 4 minutes? Our busy, short attention span lives are not necessarily a good thing, but reflect reality. Bottom line, long videos may not be viewed in their entirety — or at all.
Finally, the likelihood of any significant number of viewers stumbling across your video is slim to none. You must promote it and lead others to it. One way is by cultivating a “following” of those in your target audience in the various social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and even Word Press or other similar site if you are a blogger. Link to your video with posts to those sites. Perhaps followers who are believers will help promote your video to their personal “universes”.
To summarize, a concise well produced video, with content adding value to your target viewer, and well promoted will provide the foundation for effective outreach.
A final thought on reaching the unbeliever — the process is rarely accomplished in one step. Every video message does not have to contain an altar call. A caring relationship between people is the best model of a relationship with God, and these take time to build.