Episode 40 – Get people hooked on your videos with the Video Engagement Timeline

Episode 40 – Get people hooked on your videos with the Video Engagement Timeline

About Salma

Salma Jafri is a YouTube Certified Video Content Strategist and an internationally acclaimed speaker. She is the Founder of the 90 Day Video Content Plan.
She is a Channel Partner and Contributor at Entrepreneur.com and hosts a weekly video show on YouTube called “Be The Media”.

Salma’s One Hot Thing…

  • Get people hooked on your videos with the Video Engagement Timeline (or VET Formula)

Connect with Salma


Salma uses her Video eEngagement Timeline (the VET Formula) to get people hooked on and watching her videos to the very end. Here, she takes you through the steps involved so you can do it too.

YouTube audiences are typically fickle and they want information right away – they want value right up front.

As soon as a YouTube video starts, the first thing people look for is whether the video content matches the title, because they clicked on the video looking at the thumbnail title. So as soon as the video starts, you’ve got to keep your promise.

This is important because one of the biggest metrics on YouTube is watch time. The longer somebody watches your video, the more YouTube thinks that it’s quality content, and the more likely it is to promote it in the algorithm and in your suggested videos, and also rank it well in search.

When you script your videos, it’s important to do it in a way that as soon as people start watching they know they’re in the right place, and to encourage them to keep watching for as long as possible.

This is the rationale behind Salma developing the formula.

The Hook

The first 10 to 20 seconds of the video is your hook. The hook is your promise.

“Let’s say the title of my video is, ‘How to Script Your Videos.’ My hook is going to be that I know how difficult scripting can be, so in this video I’m going to break down everything you need to know to get your script written. And I’m going to give you a template with which you can write your scripts,” says Salma.

The Title

This part is optional, you don’t have to have a YouTube title. But if you’re going for a branded look and feel, then you should use one.

There are two types of title. It could be the title of your entire show or, it could be the title of that particular video. Either way the maximum time limit is about five seconds, because viewers already know the title from when they clicked on the video. Repeating it here is really just branding for you.

The introduction

The introduction actually comes after the hook, and a lot of people don’t get this right. They introduce themselves right at the beginning of the video but this is a big no no because you need to give value up front.

Then when people know they’re in the right place and that you’re going to give them value, that’s when you quickly introduce yourself.

Salma likes to add in a ‘credibility factor’ to her intros and believes it’s important to say who are you, and why you’re qualified to present this topic.

She explains, “It could be as simple as, ‘Hey, I’m Salma Jafri from salmajafri.com. I’m a YouTube coach, and I’m here to help you grow your personal brand with video.’”

The intro is rehearsed and memorised and is something Salma suggests people say in every single intro. Also included in the intro is a call to action to subscribe and hit the bell button for notifications. “I know it’s kind of an over done thing, but it absolutely works on YouTube, asking people to subscribe after you have given them some kind of value upfront and told them this video is going to be really helpful for this particular topic makes them feel like they want to subscribe at that point,” says Salma.

“I used to feel like, ‘Why would somebody subscribe before I’ve given them the content?’ But we’ve tested it out over multiple videos, and it actually does help with subscriptions,” she explains.

You can also ask people to subscribe at the end as well, but having it upfront ensures more people see if, because there are more people watching the first couple of minutes of your video than there are typically the last couple of minutes or seconds of your video.

It just takes two seconds to ask people to subscribe and Salma likes to use a graphic which pops up at the same time.

She then has a lead in line, which is, “Are you ready?” which signifies the start of that particular video. It could be something similar like, “Let’s get started”, or, “Let’s dive in,” or whatever your signature phrase is.

All of these elements of the intro together should be under 10 seconds – every second counts on a YouTube video.

Step one of the content

Salma says, “I usually start with step one of whatever the content is that I’m discussing. And the way that I like to present the content is problem, solution, problem, solution. So, I will start with, ‘Okay, what’s the biggest problem they’re facing in scripting their videos?’ It could be for example they don’t know how to start the video.. I’m going to identify the problem, and then I’m going to tell them how to start the video, which is the solution, also step one.”
Salma likes to use steps and sequences, and have some kind of formula her audience can follow. Steps work particularly well for educational and how to videos to guide people through content.

And so what is happening is that this is the meat of your content, and I like to divide it into two sections.

In the VET formula, around the midpoint of your video … let’s say you have four steps. After you have given your first two steps, I like to have what I call an

The Engagement Hook

This is different from the first hook mentioned above. The entire purpose of your engagement hook is to stop people from dropping off that video, to encourage them to watch until the end, and to encourage them to leave a comment in the comments section.

“For example, if I’m doing the video on how to script your video, my engagement hook could be something very simple that they can answer like, ‘Keep watching until the end, because I’m going to give you a video scripting template. And I’d love to know whether you use a video script for your YouTube videos. Let me know in the comments below,” Salma explains.

This does two things. It encourages people to keep watching because they’re going to get rewarded if they watch until the end with a download that’s going to help them with the exact content they want help with.

It also encourages them to communicate with you in the comments section. Salma always makes sure she replies to comments and makes sure that people know that not only will she answer but that she’s reading every single comment. Commenting, liking, sharing and subscribing are all signals to the YouTube algorithm that people love this video.

Step two of your content

This is your step three and your step four. You’re done with the meat of your content by this point, and the next key element in your video engagement timeline is your

Call to action

“I like to drive traffic to two places, my email list, which is my top priority or, my Facebook group, which is my second top priority I guess,” says Salma.

Salma focuses on driving traffic from YouTube to her email list because, as with any social media platform, it’s not owned by us and we’re not in control of a lot of what happens on the platform. As a business owner it’s important to make sure that you have a direct communication channel open with your audience. And you can only do that by getting people on your email list – then you can stay in communication with them forever.

The alternative is relying on YouTube to push every video, which they’re not going to do. Not everybody will get notified and not everybody is going to have a direct communication channel with you.

“Here’s where your engagement hook is really valuable, because remember I said, ‘Keep watching until the end for my video script template’? So, now in your CTA you tell people where to go to download that template,” Salma explains.

Salma asks people to go to salmajafri.com/subscribe and writes it on the screen with a little graphic for how the template looks. That’s CTA number one.

Salma also alternates between asking people to join her Facebook group and to her email list. Which one she promotes depends on the video because YouTube doesn’t want you to drive traffic off the platform.

“You want to make sure that not every person is going to go and download your lead magnet if they’ve already downloaded it, right? So you want to keep using the same lead magnets. What I like to do is use one lead magnet per playlist. So, if I have a playlist on scripting and on whatever the topic is, every video I make, I’ll plug the same lead magnet. So, people who’ve already downloaded it will not go off the platform. They’ll stay on YouTube, maybe watch another video of mine, or somebody else’s.”

In doing Salma is making sure that the algorithm doesn’t punish her for sending people off the platform all the time. At the same time, she’s using the platform to build her own business.

End screen

In the end screen, again, Salma uses a minimum of three elements.

First, she directs them to a video to watch next. “Especially if that video is part of a series, because again, that is going to give me favour with the YouTube algorithm, because I’m keeping people on the platform, which is what they want,” she explains.

Secondly, Salma encourages people to subscribe to her channel. “At this point I usually don’t say it, I just have the subscribe button up on screen. It’s kind of subtle, go and do that. And then I will be like, ‘See you in the comments.’”

Thirdly, Salma has her closing line, which is, “Remember to go after what you want and build a brand you love, because you can be the media.”
When it comes to directing your audience to different places/platforms and the effect this has on your favour with the YouTube algorithm, Salma suggests looking at your analytics to see what works best.

“For me, videos were working better than playlists. And when I looked further into my analytics, whenever I chose best for viewer, which is where YouTube suggests what video they should watch, that particular video was always performing better. So, I kind of leave it up to the YouTube algorithm to decide what video people should watch next – 90% of the time I choose best for viewer.

How to script your videos

“If it’s one of your first 50 videos and haven’t really got it down yet, I would say go detailed. Write down all the stuff you want to talk about. And if you’re a pro at this, then maybe you can just have a draft or an outline and you can just have talking points, and you already know what you’re doing. It depends how experienced you are,” suggests Salma.

It also depends on what kind of video you’re creating. If it’s a ‘how to or an educational video, that typically requires more scripting, because you want to make sure you get all your examples in there. You make sure you give the right explanations for everything. If it’s a vlog, or a recipe video, or a day in the life type video, or something, that is much harder to script. So, for that, you typically want to just have a basic storyline. Okay, what’s my main story going to be? So you plug that right at the beginning. And then you have all of your elements of a story, which is your introduction. Then you build up to a climax, and then you have a problem which you are facing and you’re solving that. And then you have a solution, and a resolution.”

You’re aiming for a typical story structure, which has a beginning, middle and an end. This is a loose way of making sure that you have all the elements of the story in place. But this script works really well for educational videos.

How to read from a script

You can’t possibly memorise everything so Salma’s trick is to film in sections.

“Let’s say I have my four points, and my hook. The only thing I will really memorise is my hook, because that needs to be bang on. And it’s typically just 10 seconds. So I’ll memorize my hook, and then cut. That’s the edit point. And then I already have my intro memorised, which is the same for every video. I’m going to just say my intro and then cut.”

“And then I’m going to look at my script, and so this is where I usually hold my phone in my hand, because my script is on my phone. And if you watch my videos, it’s become part of my brand. My phone is always in my hand, my script is there. So, I look at my … okay, what’s my point one? Okay, I’m going to talk about this topic. Okay, what do I want to say? Okay, this is what I want to say.
And then I might just say it out loud a couple of times, and say it to myself, sort of get comfortable with what point one is. And then I’ll look out, either put the phone down, or I’ll look at the camera directly and I’ll be like, ‘Okay, I’m ready.’ And then I’m just going to say point one. Whatever that is. So, I’m not worried about the rest of the video, just getting the first point done.”

“As soon as I’m done with the first point, then that’s the next edit point. So, I’m going to pause and then look again at my script. I’m filming in sections, I’m not trying to memorise everything. And I’m also being natural, because I’m not reading from a script. So, I know the point in my head, but I’m talking about it in the moment. It makes the video seem so natural, and it doesn’t let me ramble on.”

How long should YouTube videos be?

Every time Salma makes a tutorial video, where she shares her screen and guides people through a process, it almost doesn’t matter how long that video is. “If people want to learn it, they will watch the entire thing, because it’s a tutorial and they need to know all the steps to get to the end. So, for tutorial videos, I typically have longer videos,” she explains.

“For content that is more theory based, and I’m talking about a concept, I try and keep them short, typically under 10 minutes. I have experimented with this before, so I think the best answer is the video should be as long as it needs to be to get the value across. You don’t necessarily have to worry about the time limit. You do need to worry about audience retention. So, once you have a few videos up, look into your analytics and see where people are dropping off.”

“Let’s say you’re making a 10 minute video and everybody drops off in the first minute, you’ve got a problem, the video is probably too long. If everybody is watching let’s say up until five minutes, then that’s really good for YouTube, it’s like 50% retention. And that means that 10 minutes is probably a great length for you to have for this style of content, because people are watching halfway through, which is a great retention, again, for YouTube.”

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