4 Best Tips for 15-Second Video Storytelling

Adding short, 15-second video to your marketing can be smart, given that video storytelling is a powerful marketing weapon across so many social media channels. 

Short videos capture our attention and curiosity. But how do you tell a story in just 15 seconds? 

4 Best Tips for 15-Second Video Storytelling
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4 Best Tips for 15-Second Video Storytelling
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Stopwatch by Shutterstock

Nowadays, in the era of numerous digital marketing solutions, we are empowered to tell stories in an even more effective and compelling way – with video.

It’s not a secret that video beats all the other types of visual formats in terms of viewers’ engagement. One of the main reasons for that superiority is the fact that a single video is capable of encompassing all visual and auditory content forms.

Just think of it: it is possible to simultaneously show, tell, and express your story in a single video. If done right, even a 15-second video story can have an outstanding effect on the audience.

Quote from Michael Wood, Founder of Helium Video 4 Best Tips for 15-Second Video Storytelling
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But as we know, many platforms have certain limitations on the length of the uploaded videos, and human attention span is relatively short when it comes to perceiving online content.

According to Vidyard, an average video retains only 37% of viewers all the way to the last second. It means that on average, more than a half of the audience leaves before the video ends.

Let’s face the truth – your video has to be special to make people watch it till the end, and, what is even more important, to encourage them to act in a certain way. Considering all these facts, it has to be noted that the process of video making is not as simple as it may seem at first.

But let’s make the task even more challenging. What if you only have, let’s say, 15 seconds for a video? What can you possibly create with a 15-second video? 

This scenario is not even hypothetical as 15 seconds is a common video length limitation on various social media platforms. Telling a story in 15 seconds is difficult, but certainly possible.

So to help you out, I have prepared 4 crucial tips that will help you succeed in 15-second video storytelling.


4 Best Tips to 15-second Video Storytelling

#1  Focus on one message

I am sure that you have a great number of inspiring and persuasive insights to transmit to your audience. Unfortunately, you don’t have enough time for all of them when creating a 15-second video.

Choose one core message that you want to tell your customers and build your story around this message.

You can certainly enrich your 15-second video with additional details (such as music, color scheme, etc.), but they should not distract the viewers from the main point of your story.

Think of what will resonate with your audience the most – this should be the core message of your video.

What makes your brand unique? What problem can be solved with your video?

Here's a great example from Apple's series promoting the iPhone. With all the chat about privacy at the moment, this is a great example of how to use 15 seconds to tell a story effectively:

Apple also did a great job with presenting key features (one at a time!) of their apple watch in a series of short videos:


As you can see from the videos, each short 15-second video poses a problem that only the apple watch can solve – protecting your privacy, finding your phone, checking heart rate during sport or checking your eBay bids while playing piano!

#2  Stick to the structure

It is essential to have a clear structure in mind when you’re creating a video in such limited conditions. No matter how good your story is – if it looks chaotic, viewers won’t appreciate it.

The classic structure of storytelling consists of 3 acts:

  1. Setup – the introduction of the characters and the setting;
  2. Confrontation – the establishment of the story and the conflict;
  3. Resolution – the denouement of the story (ie the final part of a play, film, or narrative in which the different strands of plot are drawn together)

A Story in 3 Act - 4 Best Tips for 15-Second Video Storytelling
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Taking into account that you have to fit your story into a 15-second video, it makes sense to split these 15 seconds evenly.

Five seconds for each act should be enough to present the setting, bring up the confrontation or the problem, and to show the final resolution. This approach will guarantee that none of these parts are left behind and the structure is complete.

#3  Bring out emotions

The best thing that your video can do to its viewers is evoke emotions. Joy, sadness, surprise, anticipation – if your story can pull any of these on, you’ve succeeded. And it's possible in a 15-second video! 

Emotions make people relate to the story on a personal level – and this is exactly what allows you to build a connection between your brand and your audience.

Emotional value is what a story is all about, it has to be something that affects us. Consumers will feel and know that if it’s done properly.
David Watson, executive creative director of a video marketing agency Aspect

When you have just 15 seconds to affect viewers, it is important to be specific. Think of your target audience – what makes them laugh and cry? What will make them empathize with your story?

An effective thing to do is to choose story characters that are similar to your customers. This will make people relate to the story more as they will be able to put themselves in the characters’ shoes effortlessly.

Take the following Moen ad as an example of how to add emotional details to a 15-second video. Instead of a regular product review, the video shows a child telling a story about his grandfather and his experience with the product. What can be cuter than grandparent-grandchild relationship?


#4  Optimize for ‘sound-off' and different social platforms

The main purpose of any story is to be heard and/or watched by as many people as possible. It goes the same for video storytelling – your story can be a masterpiece, but if nobody sees it – it’s a waste of effort. Optimizing your video for different settings and platforms is crucial on the stage of distribution.

Research has shown that 85 percent of Facebook video is watched without sound. Ignoring the fact that a large number of your video’s potential viewers prefers to watch videos ‘sound-off' is a common marketing mistake.

Therefore, it’s a great idea to add subtitles along with your visuals to make sure that your message is delivered in full.

Don’t overload your video with text – people will not be able to comprehend too much information within 15 seconds. Whenever possible – show, don’t tell.

Optimizing for various social media platforms is even more important for a 15-second story – you’re already limited in time, and being limited in visual representation can be fatal. You can optimize your video story for different social platforms with a tool like Wave.video – it lets users change video formats with a single click.

Want some 15-Second Video Templates?

Socially Sorted partnered with Wave.Video to create a whole series of templates that you can use to create video. Check them out in this post.

There's templates for:

  1. Breaking News
  2. Top Tips or Lists
  3. Behind the Scenes
  4. Blog Post Promotion
  5. Limited Time Giveaways
  6. Instagram Story Takeovers
  7. Testimonials
  8. Event Announcements
  9. How-To Videos
  10. Inspirational Quotes

Use any of the templates above as a starting point to try taking your storytelling further with 15-second videos. You'll be surprised what you can create!

Summing Up

So, how to tell a great video story in 15 seconds?  Do these things:

  1. Choose one core message
  2. Frame it with a clear structure
  3. Add emotional details
  4. Optimize the video for various social platforms and settings.

Also, remember that the story itself is the central element of your video – make it exciting and unique in the first place.

Do you have personal hacks and tips to video storytelling? Share them in the comments!

4 Best Tips for 15-Second Video Storytelling
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4 Best Tips for 15-Second Video Storytelling
  • Save
Stopwatch by Shutterstock

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Maria Rozhdestvenskaia

Content Marketing Specialist at Wave.Video
Maria Rozhdestvenskaia is a content marketing specialist for Wave.video. She gets inspired by video marketing, IT, and La vie est belle.

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