How to Hook Viewer Retention and Keep them Watching (5 Tips)

Do you have the attention span of a Goldfish?  Well… apparently you’re not alone. And when it comes to video you know you need to hook your audience’s attention quickly in order to get them watching and keep them watching.

The Hook – the hook in your video is those critical opening seconds, in which you either engage your audience and keep them watching or you lose them. When it comes to online video, attention spans can be pretty dismal. All you need to do is have a look at one of your audience retention graphs on YouTube or Facebook.

I’m sure you’re familiar with that cliff – that massive drop-off seconds after people watch a video – that’s what we can control if we’re strategic about what we do at the very start of our videos.

In this article I’m going to share with you my 5 tips to hack the hook in your videos and grab people’s attention right from the outset of your videos and keep them watching as long as possible through your videos ideally right to the very end.

1 – Remember it’s about the viewer (Not You)

You see the reality is that people don’t want to watch your video. What they want is they want to be entertained or they want to learn something. They’ve come to your video or to the video distribution platform that your video is on for a reason. So, when you recognise that in order to grab their attention, you need to do something that’s relevant to them and where they’re at right then and there, at that moment that you’re trying to hook their attention.

No matter the platform when people are engaging on a social media platform they’re all about W-I-I-F-M – that’s “what’s in it for me?”. That’s what’s going through your audience’s head at any given time. So in order to hack this hook my tip here is:

You really need to get straight to the point. Tell them why they need to keep watching and how this video is going to benefit them in some way.

You can either do this directly through the scripts, through the opening words that you say, or you can do this through the promise that is contained within the video, so that people know why it is that they want to watch this video and keep watching.

Importantly never start your videos with some kind of animated logo opening sequence, because that’s all about you. No one cares about your logo. They care about the reason why they’re there to watch a video in the first place. So don’t start your video with your animated logo.

2 – Use Intrigue

Intrigue is such a powerful concept that attracts human attention in all sorts of areas. So if in the opening seconds of your video, you can inject something unexpected, or open up some kind of big idea that people need to find an answer to. Another good idea here is to be somewhat provocational. Say something or do something that makes people kind of sit up and pay attention and they want to figure out what’s coming next.

A great strategy to use here is to tap into the idea of open loops. Now by open loops I’m referring to the idea that if you can open up an idea or start a thought processes in someone’s head what comes with that is a sort of tension that they need to close that loop. Your audience will want to know what happens next or how this story ends. Make sure to check out my other video all about open loops which you can find right here – How to Increase Your Video Watch Time Using Open Loops

3 – Human faces matter

Where you can, have some kind of a human face in the opening seconds of your video. You see the reality is, is that your audience are people and people engage with people and online video as opposed to broadcast video or traditional video marketing is all about one to one.

People are watching videos either on their smartphone device or on their computer screen. It’s a one-to-one kind of an experience so where you can, if you can open with a human face that is close to the camera or within that personal space area. You’ll actually find that people engage with your video on a deeper more human level.

4 – Use story cues

Now story like I talked about before with open loops has an innate ability to engage people on a different level. So by story cues, I mean if you can start your videos by making people feel like there’s a story to come. So you can use story cues with words such as:
“Once upon a time…” or,
“Let me tell you about something that happened to me recently…” or,
“I have a funny story for you..”

These are the kind of things that people sit up and pay attention and they’re like “Oh, I want to hear a story!” so they’ll keep on watching.

Another way to use story cues if it’s not a verbal story cue is to use visual story cues and you can do this through b-roll sequences. So an often effective way to open a video is by using a sequence of b-roll or shots in your video that move people into the story. Maybe you can show a quick sequence of shots which bring people into a room, or a sequence of shots that kicks people off on a journey. When you can tie in these visual story cues around the idea that I shared before around using intrigue so that people are watching the sequence of shots and thinking where is this going what is going to happen here. It can be a really powerful way to hack the hook

5 – Leading Structure

Use a leading structure to your videos. The idea here is, if you can hook people in the opening frames of your video, then you’ll have them for the opening seconds of your video. And if you create a leading structure to your videos here once you’ve got them for the opening seconds, your goal is to get them for the opening minute. And once you’ve got them for the opening minute your goal is to get them to the second minute and the third minute to create a structure for your videos that people want to keep watching and they can’t pull away from.

A simple way to do this is to use a recognised framework or structure such as I’m doing in this video where I’m breaking down five tips. So if you’re interested in tip number one, chances are you going to watch tip number two. And if tip number two is valuable to you then you’ll keep watching tip number three. And if you get to tip number five then you’re nearly all the way through the video.

But there’s more to a leading structure than just having a framework that steps people through. You want to actually encourage people to stay to the end. So it’s important to tease the ending or create a structure that makes people really want to watch something that is potentially going to happen at the end. And when you get to the end ideally you’ve done a good job at packing the hook there and keeping people engaged all the way through your video so that you can get to your call to action.


By being strategic about your creating hooks in your video structure you’ll be setting your videos up for success on any video platform. So in your next video… which of these 5 Hook Hacks will you be using?

You May Also Be Interested In:

Your Video Production Toolkit To Grow Your Business

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Your Video
Production Toolkit To Grow Your Business

This eBook outlines the framework I’ve learnt  and have implemented for hundred’s of our  video agency clients over the last 7 years…  and I want to share it with you.

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