A running joke on the TV show Schitt’s Creek is the massive, multi-page menu at Café Tropical.
We’ve all probably dined at a restaurant with menus too big for everyone at the table to open comfortably, featuring an overwhelming number of choices. Instead of being pleased with the variety, we experience decision fatigue. Too much to read, and too much to consider; we feel like we’ve been assigned homework.
Sometimes a shorter menu with limited choices is better.
If we’re not careful, we can overwhelm our viewers with too much information in a single piece of content on social media. Captions, graphics, narration, sound effects, and music are key elements of a viral video, but too much at once is…just too much.
We call this communication or visual hierarchy. Your audience needs to know what to pay attention to when they land on your content. It should be clear what the main focus is, and it definitely shouldn’t feel like work.
Captions help a viewer understand your message, but we overestimate how quickly people read. Think about it from the user’s perspective. Scrolling through their feed, pausing on their friends’ baby / wedding / puppy videos, then they land on your content. Have you made it very, very easy for them to consume your content?
To establish visual hierarchy, always set your priorities before you create content. Determine what is the single most important idea you want a viewer to absorb when they stop on your video. Begin there, then add the other elements carefully with enough breathing room for your viewer to grasp them before moving on.
Sometimes this means you have to leave a “great idea” on the cutting room floor because it would overwhelm the viewer. That doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea; it just means you can’t use them both at the same time.
You can’t eat a hot dog and ride a roller coaster simultaneously either. Well, you can, but you probably won’t like the results. Pick which one you want to do first, and save the other for later.
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