If there’s one thing that’s just as important as your YouTube video’s audio, it’s the structure.

You can have the best story to tell, but if the way you present that story isn’t structured correctly, it’s not going to be seen by many people.

The good news is that there’s a tried-and-tested method for hooking viewers in, keeping them engaged, and even convincing them to do something that benefits your brand or business.

It’s known as the HIVES framework, and it’s something that I’ve used in every video I publish. I’m not the originator of this framework, nor am I a master of it, but I’ve learned enough from its intricacies to help you build HIVES into your own creative process.

What is the HIVES framework for YouTube?

The HIVES framework stands for:

  • Hook
  • Intro
  • Value
  • End screen
  • Sales pitch

The beauty of this framework is that it is both simple and customisable. You can use it in pretty much any way you see fit, as long as you stick loosely to the pattern.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a quick look at what each stage means, and how you can make the most of the framework.

Hooking them in

The hook is, arguably, the most important part of your video. It’s the bit right at the beginning before you get into the meat of the topic.

It’s the first few seconds of interaction you have with both new and returning viewers. While the latter might be inclined to hang around to see what you’ve got to say, the former is a notoriously impatient bunch.

You have seconds to get the hook right. It therefore needs to be super short, to the point and laden with value for the viewer.

What’s the video about? What problem does it solve? How are you going to help your audience?

If you can, distil that down to one sentence. That’s all you need for the perfect hook.

The intro

Now you’ve hooked them in, you need to keep their attention.

The intro is where it can all go hideously wrong. I know that because I’ve been there on multiple occasions.

It can be tempting during the intro of your video to waffle on. Maybe there’s a back story you want to tell, or perhaps you want to reveal all of the ways people can follow you, get in touch, or smash that bell until it bleeds.

That’s totally the wrong way to handle your intro. You see, this is basically an extension of your hook; you still only have seconds to keep the audience engaged. They need to know more about what’s in it for them, and they need to know quickly.

Over time, I’ve continually worked on reducing the length of my intro. If anything, it’s still a little long at times – but that reveals how hard it is to keep the intro under control.

While writing and editing your intro keep in mind the importance of getting to the point as fast as possible. Build on your hook; the problem and solution you revealed back then can be expanded upon now, but don’t tease it with endless preambles and waffling which you think sets the scene (it doesn’t).

There’s no harm in asking for a cheeky subscribe during your intro – that’s exactly what I do – but it should be a lightning-fast request.

Oh, and finish your intro with a cliff-hanger – always.

Delivering value

This is the meat of the video. It’s where you deliver the value you’ve been promising during your hook and intro.

It’s the bit where you had better live up to everything you’ve cliff-hangered thus far, basically.

The value part of your video will be the longest section. It’ll probably be made up of several chapters and take you the longest time to edit. But that’s exactly how it should be.

You’re not off the hook, though (if you’ll excuse the pun). During the value section of the video, you still need to work hard to retain your audience’s attention.

That means continuing the strategy of getting to the point quickly. Paint the picture of a problem your audience is experiencing, then deliver the solution. Then, repeat that process until you’ve covered every pertinent sub-topic within the main topic.

During the editing process, be sure to make cuts whenever it feels like things are getting a bit flabby. Basically, if you’re boring yourself, you’ll bore the audience, too (I talk more about this in my video editing basics Skillshare class).

Encourage action with the End Screen

Ready for a hard truth?

Very view people will watch your video all of the way through.

This is normal. Retention rates on YouTube are notoriously difficult to maintain at high levels. All but your most ardent fans will drop off either at the start or somewhere during the value section of the video.

That’s ok, though. In fact, it benefits you as a creator.

You see, the people who are left watching at the end have clearly developed an emotional connection to the video and, possibly, you. That means you can leverage that connection and their high level of engagement by tempting them to watch another video.

It’s why you should never wrap up a video. Phrases like “thanks for watching” and “I hope you enjoyed this video” shouldn’t be uttered by a YouTuber (unless it’s the very last sentence).

Instead, tell your remaining audience that if they want to learn more about Topic X, they need only wait a few seconds for a link to a video you’ve made about Topic X. That will lead them to your carefully-crafted End Screen, complete with said link.

YouTube rewards channels that keep viewers on the platform for long periods of time, and there’s no better way to do that than to encourage a binge session of your content.

Pitching your wares

Whether it’s a Skillshare class, eBook download, or your newsletter subscription, you’ve probably got something you want to ‘sell’ to your audience.

This is where the sales pitch element of the HIVES framework comes into play, and it’s the one with which you need to be most careful.

Technically, you can place the sales pitch anywhere you like within the video, but it needs to be natural.

Yes, that’s right – if you can find a way to naturally insert a sales pitch into your intro in a way that directly benefits the viewer and doesn’t take the focus off the rest of the video – do it (this requires loads of practice and experience, mind).

Equally, if you think it’s best placed at the end of the video for those super-engaged viewers – do it. It might even slot perfectly into the value section of the email (this is my preferred option).

Don’t have a sales pitch yet? That’s fine! You can ignore this part of the framework.

To see an example of the HIVES framework in action, check out my review of the iPhone 13 mini, which is my most viewed video to date, with over 378,000 views:

Now, go forth and create!

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