How do you know if video or text is the best media for your topic?

Text video comparison

Is text or video best for your message? Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Are you a blog writer who is thinking about adding video to your plans? If you don’t have any experience with different media, it can be hard to decide how to put text and video to best use. What are some tips to decide what content to put in writing and what to put on video?

In online communication, you have several choices of media to use to convey your message. Two of the biggest ones used are text and video. Which is better? Each medium has its advantages and disadvantages. You have to determine which one is best for your message.

When I was teaching, I used to discuss with my classes which medium they preferred. The room was usually split between print and broadcast. After we discussed the plusses and minuses of each medium, we concluded that one is not inherently better than another. You want to choose the type of media that is best for your message.

To help you decide what to put in text versus video, let’s compare those two media.

With text, you can give details, depth and context. You can explain. The reader is able to take their time to digest what you’ve written. The reader can also pace themselves and jump ahead or back in your story or post. The disadvantage of text is that you can’t show the reader what you’re talking about. You have to hope your explanation is enough to help the reader visualize your topic.

Video’s main advantage is that it is alive and real because it shows people and images. It shows the viewer what’s happening. It is the most accessible and least demanding of all media because it doesn’t require much imagination. It’s good for showing actions, emotions and experiences. However, the disadvantage of video is that it’s not as good for in-depth explanation.

Let’s say your blog is on food and cooking. If you want to do a post about the importance of good nutrition or an analysis of diet myths, choose text so you can explain. If you want to do a post about proper use of knives or how to make chipotle tartar sauce, choose video so you can show your audience.

An important point about online communication is that search engines still look for text. Even if you use video for your topic, you still need a headline and a few sentences of explanatory text so the search engines will find it.

Readers, have you added video to your blogging plans? Let us know in the comments.


How do you know if video or text is the best media for your topic? — 24 Comments

  1. I have a personal preference for text, but generally because its easier to do than a good video :) but I know both have value. We are highly visual learners and some things simply work better with images. I quite like the way you have broken down the pros and cons of both mediums.

  2. I’m a little partial to video seeing as I have been an editor for close to 25 years but I have to agree with you that both and their place and the best practice is to use both mediums in your communication. Not everyone learns the same way. Some are visual learners and best served by text, others are auditory learners and do much better with audio clips and video. And most of us enjoy a combination of both. One of the most powerful aspects of video for me is that it instills trust. When you can share honestly and allow your passion to shine through your audience will connect in the most powerful way.

  3. Jennifer, I would agree that one can use both to their advantage. When I was in college, I used video, pictures, and text for my power point presentations. I think it is all in how you lay it out and promote your self. Great stuff! =)

  4. I do believe it all boils down to content. Even in writing, does non-fiction lend itself more to video or are the ever popular book trailers the next best thing for fiction? If so, do you think that apply to literary fiction? Or perhaps suspense or children’s books? Some of this is hit or miss right now, I believe. Excellent topic:)

  5. I think both are important for communication. You have mentioned advantages and disadvantages of both.
    Some people are more in watching video then reading and some emphasis on reading.
    But what ever is the case , if the content is interesting surely it will hold reader or viewer.
    It was a nice read.

  6. excellent discussion on the topic. Personally I rarely use video in my blogs, but then it’s partly because I don’t find the time to find them, and I don’t always have the patience to watch them. I think it depends in what you are trying to show. If I’m looking for instructions on a particular picking style on a ukulele, you would lose me if it was all in text. In that case, I’ll take all the time in the world to watch the video.

  7. I think the medium of communication is multi-faceted and depending on the message the best result can be garnered in many and varied ways. For me, I like a good read so I use video sparingly. Imagination is the ultimate trump card.

  8. Hi Jennifer,
    Your question automatically limits one to exclusive “EITHER-OR” thinking.
    Perhaps try BOTH a short video AND your text and see how that works for you. :)

    Kind Regards,

  9. I think video can bring more emotion into a message as the sense of sight pervades the others when one wants to convince someone. Seeing is believing they say and so it is easier, I think and more effective to get word of mouth from someone who has seen than from someone who has read. It is harder to forget something you see than wat you read.

  10. I agree that it all comes down to what your message is as whether or not to choose video. I believe that there should at least be a balance using it but keeping the main focus of your message in text. (We have YouTube if you just want to watch videos :)

    I personally use images with my posts, still images can create an impact and compliments the text plus it helps create a break for the reader. For me personally, a video on my blog wouldn’t make much sense :)

  11. I’m a dinosaur Baby Boomer — started out with black and white TV. I don’t like it when a writer expects me to watch a video because I am frequently reading on line when it isn’t convenient for me to look and listen to a video. I don’t know where my headphones are and my husband is asleep. I am also a fast reader with good reading comprehension. However, one of my sons (a blogger himself) realized that he learned better watching and listening. If someone isn’t a lively speaker, then I really don’t want to be watching them on video. Just tell me what they said in your text, please! I think it’s best to provide both options to one’s readers because as you mentioned, people absorb information in different ways. When I was last at the doctor’s office, they had me fill out a form which asked how I learned information the best—i.e. reading, watching, listening, etc. So, clearly, people are starting to be tuned into this issue.

  12. I believe in a mixture of both. Video is the wave of the future and one easy fix is to record a video and then have it transcribed for the people who like to read. Many people are visual learners and not auditory. And vice versa. I think a healthy dose of both is just fine.

  13. Coming from a sales background and having done and ton of training, I found the mixing the media was very helpful. Anytime you can engage all the senses it does help to drive the main points home and are more liking to be remembered then not. All that said, In the online world I have tried to apply the same principles. Time will tell to see if that transfers well. :-)

  14. I think that a combination is best in most niches. I regularly ask my new clients which they prefer and about 1/3 prefer video and a little larger segment prefers text with the remainder wanting the combination. So if I am not tailoring the presentation to one particular person, I tend to prefer to combine.

  15. Super timely Jennifer! I’ve been focusing on HD video lately.

    I obviously think text is easier for the content creator – it’s what I’ve been doing for years. But video can be more effective to a much huger audience. The problem is the bar is set higher for videos. YouTubers are JUDGEMENTAL. You can get away with a mediocre blog post but a halfassed video will go nowhere.

    Just my thoughts…

    Hope you get to see my video from this week at BHB and would love to comment on yours!

  16. In the organization I managed, we did a lot of training and found multi-media worked best – text, video and hands on practice. Maybe the combined use would be best when moving forward.

  17. As a blogger I struggle with this issue. I’m more comfortable with just text
    but a certain amount of video and pictures definitely makes it more interesting. And with my Well Writer part needed when showing yoga moves for example.

    • I’ve been reading that images and video are also more shareable on Twitter and other social media sites. I think it helps to think about your posts as a whole package. Ask yourself: How will the headline, text, video, images, captions, and whatever else you’re posting work together for the reader?

  18. Thank you for this post about video against text which poses some interesting questions. In a lot of countries the bandwith and data is not a problem but we have also found whilst sailing around the world that data costs money. There is not unlimited downloads so for us to watch any video costs a lot of money. We have to be very careful with this otherwise we find ourselves with no internet left… just another thought and thank you for the post

    • That’s a good point. If you’re in areas where you can’t get strong signals or have data charges, video could be a problem. So providing a little text along with a video would help travelers like you still get some information.

  19. Nice to e-meet you, Jennifer. I saw your offer to check out websites and I’d appreciate your eye on my site. I’m not getting responses to my work and would like to figure out how to break through.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    • Hi Gail and welcome! I’m just getting started, so I’m still trying to breakthrough myself and promote my blog. My goal here is to provide advice to questions to people who write in. So if you have a specific question, write in and I’ll do my best to answer it.

      How much are you promoting your work, and where are you promoting it? Here’s a helpful link: I’m trying to implement one or two of these ideas each week. Maybe that will help you!