Youtube is the third biggest website in the world which means a massive potential audience, but only if you get your content right. Here, John Ploughman, Digital Communications Manager at the Driving Standards Agency explained how GDS values inspired a re-evaluation of their content, and the big difference it has made to their audience.
Simpler, clearer, faster. Ever since I heard those aims of GOV.UK, they’ve been ringing in my ears. It’s what we all want from every service we use. Everyone working on GOV.UK so far has done an amazing job in starting to make this a reality for the content on government websites. But here at the Driving Standards Agency we started to think about how this applied to social media.
I got the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) YouTube channel off the ground back in 2009. 5.4 million views later, and I’ve learned a thing or two about what works well as online video - and what doesn’t! But I’ll be the first person to admit I’m still learning.
Trends are changing too. More and more people are watching our videos on mobile devices but it seems that attention spans are getting ever shorter.
Why bring ‘simpler, clearer, faster’ to video?
The DSA has just published a new video explaining how the driving theory test works. It replaces one that was filmed about 5 years ago, that was just over 5 minutes long.
YouTube analytics showed we were losing viewers during the old video. In fact, in the first 20 seconds a quarter of all viewers had browsed away, and 2 minutes later half of all viewers had disappeared.
That’s actually not that bad for a video of that length – but it does mean hundreds of thousands have missed out on really important information later in the video. Ouch.
Creating a new version of this video wasn’t just a chance to freshen it up – it was a fantastic opportunity to apply the GOV.UK aims to make it better for our viewers.
Our new video – the GOV.UK way
We’ve approached the new video in the same way as GOV.UK content. It’s:
- shorter, a lot shorter, 3 minutes 54 seconds to be precise
- focused much more clearly on the user need – how to pass the theory test
- optimised for the common case – not the exceptions that apply only to 1 in every 5,000 people
- had the jargon removed – we write in plain English, and now we’re speaking it too
- been much better search engine optimised – the old video was called ‘Official DSA car theory test - Are you ready?’ and the new one is ‘How to pass your theory test’ – the language our audience is using
Another key point: we wrote the script within our digital communications team. Previous scripts have ended up being written by committee. It was inefficient, unproductive, and didn’t work for the customer.
The new video was produced entirely in-house. I must mention Richard Northern (who did the video production) and Liz Court (the voice of the DSA) for their amazingly hard work in making the video happen.
Well, see for yourself.
If you can’t see the video above because of your network settings, I’m sorry. If you do get chance, head over to www.youtube.com/dsagov on a PC where you will be able to see it.
So what’s the outcome? The audience retention has improved. Here are the latest analytics from YouTube showing how well the two videos hold the audience’s attention.
Old video – 38% still watching at the end
New video – 57% watching at the end
We’ll be watching the audience retention report for the new video very carefully over the coming weeks to see if it holds at this level.
We will focus relentlessly on making any future videos simpler, clearer and faster than they have been. Meeting user needs will continue to drive our video creation - we will continue to review our users’ feedback, and their behaviours through analytics to make sure we are meeting them.