This article originally appeared in the August 2015 edition of the Marketing GPS Newsletter.
Fueled by the rapid ascent of online video, a plethora of online video platforms have appeared on which brands can market. Many are aware that video has become essential to digital marketing, but are confused by the variety of options. This article provides a bird’s-eye view of what’s available, and some tips to keep in mind as you develop your video-marketing strategy.
Why Video is Important
Before we get started, here’s a quick reminder why online video has become so important:
Customers are more engaged by video content than other content – which increases sales and other desired actions;
Customers spend more time on site when viewing video, which improves brand interaction and can positively influence Google organic-search rankings.
Simply put, video helps you better connect with customers, and increases the likelihood that prospects will become customers.
There are two primary categories of online video, pre-recorded and live-streamed. While we are most familiar with viewing pre-recorded video online, live-streaming services have finally come into their own, providing new opportunities and challenges. For example, pre-recorded videos require a workflow similar to the following:
planning > shooting > editing > uploading.
Live-streamed videos revolutionize that process, however:
planning > shooting/streaming live > optional recording.
Their relative simplicity offer new marketing possibilities to those who can grasp their nuances.
Pre-recorded video can work for anyone, but live-streaming is still a specialty format best suited to brands with confident social media marketing strategies. We discuss both options below.
Pre-Recorded Video Platforms
There are now several major options available for hosting uploaded video, each with its own audience and advantages.
Facebook Facebook video grew 400% between September 2014 and April of this year, to 4 billion views per day. This was due in part to Facebook’s newsfeed video auto-play feature, which encourages users to watch videos – even if they hadn’t planned on it. You should consider Facebook video as an alternative to YouTube, as Facebook videos are perfectly integrated on the platform for social sharing. (YouTube videos take more steps for users to share on Facebook.) You can also pay for Facebook videos to be shown to Facebook users, while you can’t pay YouTube to reach Facebook users with YouTube videos.
YouTube Though YouTube hit four billion daily views back in January 2012, it hasn’t been growing as quickly as Facebook video. YouTube is the online-video platform most people think of first, but recent growth in other platforms may lead to it losing the leader’s position.
Snapchat With 100 million monthly active users in the 13- to 34-year-old demographic, and high engagement rates as well, Snapchat provides a highly lucrative audience – for some brands. Click this link for an introduction to Snapchat and the “Discover” brands feature.
Concise video – six seconds or less – is the “secret sauce” Vine brings to marketing: making a mark with your brand while entertaining viewers. That might seem gimmicky, but every month 100 million users watch Vine videos. Want to give it a try? Here’s what you need to know.
Twitter Although its standalone video service (Vine) is better known, Twitter has added a native video service as well. Native Twitter video allows marketers to reach out in a format more engaging than text, but in a lengthier and more personal manner than Vine allows.
Types of Video Content
How-to? Documentary? Fiction? The type of content you should produce depends on your brand’s personality and resources. Below are the main content categories to consider, arranged roughly from simplest- to most-complex to produce.
How-to / product demonstration This can focus on your product, or take on topics in the same industry. With a little creativity, these can even be fun for viewers.
New customer welcome / Customer thank-you Depending on your product or service, creating a custom welcome video for new customers could be an efficient and effective way to impress them. Alternatively, thank all of your customers.
Industry news / company update Let followers know what your brand has been doing lately, or become an industry news source. In this video, Deloitte predicts industry developments in a humorous format.
Customer testimonial Find satisfied customers/clients and ask them to describe their success with you, along with how and why they chose your brand. Don’t worry if you can’t get endorsers in front of a high-quality camera; the important thing is to capture the testimonials. Here’s an example from our 2014 Marketing GPS Workshop.
Interviews Consider creating customer or client case studies, taking an inside-look with employees, or interviewing industry professionals.
Short documentary The documentary doesn’t need to be about your company or industry, as long as it builds on your brand’s ethos. Take this video from Chipotle as an example. This kind of content is most effective as part of an extensive social media effort.
Fictional narrative Think of a mini-TV series – for example, the Film Riot YouTube channel teaches viewers digital effects techniques. Each of their videos opens with a two-minute, soap-like episode in which they demonstrate the digital effects they teach in that video.
Live Video Platforms
Here are several of the most popular live-video tools in use today.
YouTube live streaming / Google Hangouts On Air YouTube heads the list because it’s free, and it’s familiar. But what are Google Hangouts On Air? There are many differences, so check out this page to help you decide. The quick explanation is that Google Hangouts allow you to add guests or additional team members to the feed, creating a live video roundtable. Whichever option you choose, make sure you enable live events in your YouTube account first!
Ustream, Livestream While YouTube is a perfectly good (and free) platform, these are suitable alternatives, with different audiences and technical specifications.
Meerkat, Periscope This pair of apps is making all the news in 2015. Meerkat and Periscope have fewer frills than other platforms discussed above. They also broadcast only from smartphones. But that’s what makes them so exciting to viewers and marketers alike: a relative intimacy and spontaneity that portable, easy, live video engenders.
Marketing With Live Video
Watching live video is exciting in a way that recorded video will never be able to match. Viewers are drawn to live video by its sense of urgency and energy, which separates it from pre-recorded video. Its visual nature, on the other hand, differentiates it from other live mediums, such as Twitter and chat rooms. Live video content should make use of these two key features. Here are some suggestions:
Live Q&A sessions – Answer questions viewers ask – on Twitter, or elsewhere.
Behind the scenes – Give your live audience an exclusive look at how your organization operates.
Introduce new products – Big brands tend to show off new products at their own conferences. Now smaller organizations can do the same, virtually. If your brand has cachet in a market, there are probably quite a few fans who would like to see the unveiling of your latest product.
Stream live events – This is not necessarily the best application for Periscope or Meerkat, but the other live-streaming platforms are well-suited for live-event use.
Whichever video platforms and strategies you choose, your content should be authentic – both to your brand and to the platform. Before creating content, get a feel for the community of the service you will be using. Keep technical considerations in mind, as well. Snapchat, for example, stands out for its portrait-oriented video format. Vine has a history of memes content styles unique to the platform, which can be built upon. Learn to use the platform’s features to your benefit. With some practice, your brand can be successful in the world of online video!