Last night I had my first opportunity to participate in a video discussion using Google Hangouts On Air (an impressive service which will be the topic for a future post.) The topic was Contagious Content in Healthcare and it was organized by Kathi Browne with the video hosted on her BrowneKnows blog. My fellow guest were Brian Ahier, Dr. Patricia Raymond, Dr. Val Jones and Todd Hartley.
One of the interesting questions we discussed in creating "contagious content" was the "right" length of videos. Generally received wisdom is that videos shouldn't be more than three minutes long, and preferably should be shorter, to avoid "losing" viewers. I pushed back against that a bit because of our experience with videos like this one on myelofibrosis, which clocks in at 10:28 and yet has racked up nearly 14,000 views on YouTube as of this writing.
My point was that for unusual, serious or life-threatening diseases and conditions the rules of thumb for video don't apply. People facing those situations are looking for all the information they can get, and so they welcome longer videos.
As a health care provider, you'll (almost) never get a million-view viral hit, but that probably shouldn't be your goal.
Don't drone on needlessly, but you really don't need to worry about the casual viewers: they aren't your audience.
Ironically, our conversation finally came around to this point as the doctors hanging out with us talked about their limited time and the typical seven-minute appointment, and that patients are frustrated by not having enough time. That led me to observe that it isn't the patients demanding shorter videos - their attention span is just fine when it comes to a topic that concerns them. So if office visits aren't going to get longer, videos provided in advance (or as a prescription afterward) can be a way to focus that in-person discussion by providing important background and general information.
With all that said, I'm embedding the YouTube video from our Hangout (as Kathi did on her blog). It's about 53 minutes long, so it's way outside the parameters of what the general public will find compelling.
But if you work in health care and are interested in patient communications, it might be just what you need.
What do you think? Are there different kinds of messages that need to be shorter? What's your customary target length? Share your thoughts below.