“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
These words, spoken by Matthew Broderick in the 1986 instant classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, sum up marketing in the last few decades perfectly. Certainly, wherever you look right now, content is king, and it comes in all shapes and sizes, but video as content has now moved front and center. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute’s 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America reports show that both small businesses and enterprise marketers are focusing on video as a key tool in their content marketing arsenals. B2B enterprise marketers, in fact, use video more than any other tactic, and 71 percent of small business marketers are using it as part of their content strategy.
Fueling the fire of the video content marketing revolution is the growing use of mobile devices by Americans. According to a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, more than half of all Americans now own a smartphone, and 34 percent own a tablet, up from four percent only two years earlier. Mobile Internet use is through the roof, with more and more consumers turning to their mobile devices for all kinds of things — to engage with brands and businesses, connect with friends and colleagues, make purchases, seek information, play games and even document their lives.
And with mobile comes new, powerful ways of telling stories and communicating, many of them visual. As more people use their smartphones and tablets, they’re discovering that pictures and videos are often quicker and easier to digest than text-heavy content. Visuals also enable your content stand out in the vast sea of information. On this point, the data is clear: a study by ROI Research reports that users interact with content that incorporates heavy use of images or video at twice the rate of other forms of content, and 44 percent of respondents are more likely to engage with a brand if they post a picture.
So what does this mean for your company? To be most effective with your content marketing and reach the millions of mobile users nationwide — billions worldwide — you need to learn how to use visual storytelling mediums effectively and incorporate them into your content marketing strategy.
Luckily, it turns out that many of the things that go into making great visuals are the same things you’re already doing to make your other content remarkable. In this post, we’ll hone in on one of the most dynamic, wide-reaching uses of visuals in the mobile world — video — and provide ideas for the types of videos you can create, plus tips on putting together a strategy for your next great video. In our next post, we’ll continue the conversation with some of the applications your company can use to create and share video and other visual content. We’ll also offer ideas on how to leverage social video apps to reach new consumers, drive leads, and increase engagement with your audience.
What makes good video content?
Let’s start with the kinds of videos you can create, and how you can think outside the box about video content.
Given the range of tools on the market to create and upload digital video, it’s important to keep in mind that not all video needs to be heavily produced (though it does need to be polished and aligned with your brand messaging). Think of video as an integrated part of your content marketing strategy, and consider these ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
- Create a visual representation of your brand. Rather than a typical boilerplate or “About Us” section on your website, consider using videos to create a visual version of an elevator speech. Sharing what you do with the benefits of sight and sound can build an emotional connection with your audience in a way that’s harder to establish with text alone. Try using video to introduce audiences to your core team, to capture customer testimonials, or even to showcase some of your company’s values.
- Provide an insider perspective. Sharing behind-the-scenes footage exclusively with your fans can create a sense of inclusion in an exclusive community of your followers, many of whom are early adopters or heavy users of your products or services, or can serve as advocates to share your company’s message with broader audiences. TED Talk did one a couple of years ago called “Behind the TED Talk” that’s just brilliant. It follows two speakers around and captures highlights of what they’re thinking, doing, and saying as they make their way to and from the stage.
- Relay important messages to your customers. Email marketing messages aren’t the only way to share information with your audience in the digital era. Ease up on the inbox onslaught and try mixing things up by making announcements or sharing pertinent information using video (and other forms of visual content) instead. You can embed video just about anywhere – in an email, web page, blog post.
- Explain a concept. Videos can serve as excellent teaching tools by fully embracing the philosophy of “show, don’t tell.” Use them to illustrate things like industry news and how-to tutorials. The home improvement store Lowe’s, for instance, has a great series of videos (along with text-based explanations) to walk customers through the steps of things likereplacing a faucet and using mulch in your garden.
- Launch a contest. Keep in mind that your customers and fans can pretty easily create and share video content, too, so the onus isn’t entirely on you. Contests, in fact, can serve as a great way to crowdsource some original content and get people involved. Provide prompts that motivate and inspire your audience to action. Then share submissions to drive engagement. Consider this example from the German technology company Siemens. They launched a highly successful contest called “Changing Your City for the Better,” and invited anyone from anywhere to create and submit a short video on how technology can improve life in urban areas. The result? Siemens garnered 118 videos from 26 countries and six continents. Imagine the content marketing possibilities with that video library!
- Document events. Mobile video allows your company to play journalist by documenting events and happenings. Your audience will feel as though they’re part of the action, which creates a stronger bond with your brand. Think beyond press conferences and media events to ordinary things like conferences, seminars, workshops, and even meetings. All of these make great fodder for your audiences. Whether your team members are presenting or just on the sidelines, you can use video to capture your involvement and impressions.
What’s involved in a good video strategy?
Now that you have some ideas for the kinds of videos you can create, let’s look at how to plan for and strategize your videos. Many of the steps in creating killer video content probably look familiar because they’re the same tactics you use to create other types of content in your marketing strategy. However, creating great video requires a unique approach in a few key ways. Here are some of the strategies you’ll want to deploy to make your video content remarkable.
- Plan ahead. You knew this was coming, right? It’s true: Just like every other marketing tactic you execute, your video content must be carefully planned and serve a purpose in your overall strategy to be successful. One thing to keep in mind is timing. As we’ll discuss in our next post, most video applications have strict time limits, so plan exactly what you want to shoot with the precious seconds you have available, especially if you’re incorporating multiple shots in one video. Fine-tune your messaging, draft your script, share it with everyone involved in creating your video, figure out wardrobe and organize your props — all ahead of time.
- Make it high quality. There are certain steps you must take to ensure your blogs, case studies, and webinars are top notch by the time they reach your audience. The same thing goes for video. Just because you’re shooting in real time from a mobile device doesn’t mean you can get away with sloppy execution — it will be apparent in the final product. Your video quality will improve if you address concerns about shaky or jerky filming (a tripod is a great solution), take steps to achieve the best lighting for your shot and reduce the amount of background noise so viewers can focus on your message.
- Optimize it. You wouldn’t publish other items in your content arsenal without making sure customers and clients can easily find and access it. It’s equally important to do the same for videos. Make sure you choose a great title for your video (one that includes keywords!), and pick a fun or intriguing “cover frame” (a still shot from the video that will appear as the title screen in users’ newsfeeds). When relevant, add the date and location of the video. And be sure to include hash tags, which serve as a great way to reach audiences searching specifically for content related to your area of expertise. Think of them as keywords for app users.
- Distribute it. As with blogging and other pieces of content, unfortunately, the mantra, “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply. If you’re going to spend time creating a carefully planned video, make sure you take the proper steps to share your content so others can find it. Don’t hesitate to repost the videos you create using a mobile app on other properties like your website, blog and other social networking sites.
- Be compelling. The best way to make your videos effective is to make them compelling. The content of your video needs to grab viewers’ attention and be interesting, fun, humorous, informative, entertaining, creative, original or engaging in some way. Users invest time to watch your content, so don’t bore them, or they won’t click and invest their attention in your message again.
A note for B2B marketers: While it’s true that visual content lends itself easily to B2C marketing, B2B companies shouldn’t write it off. Brainstorm ways to build your brand presence and tell your stories visually. As we all know, a picture has long been worth a thousand words, but now it’s also one of your most valuable content marketing tools. Don’t squander your opportunity to stand out in the crowd. Make sure your video content is remarkable — like all the content you create — and be thoughtful about the strategy you put behind it.
Any good video strategies I missed? Feel free to share them in the comments.