“Video killed the radio star”, according to Buggles in 1980, but it doesn’t have to kill your business. As the world switches to video as primary form of communication, here are a few strategic marketing insights on how to adapt to this mega-trend.
Obviously, YouTube is the 800lb gorilla and needs no further introduction. It has challengers though, which might also be a good fit for your business if you want to cater to a particular niche rather than attempting to take over the world all at once.
Vimeo attracts over 100m unique visitors per month and performs particularly well if you want to cater to a more artistically-minded audience. NicoNico has become inescapable in Japan; Youku Tudou is the go-to-platform in China; and in France and Russia, DailyMotion and RUtube respectively have established solid positions.
Streaming platforms are also on the rise, with Twitch being the flagship of that fleet. Rising on the explosion of eSports, Twitch boasts over 55m monthly active users from 100m accounts, and was the subject of a bidding war between Google and Amazon, the latter eventually taking away the prize for $970m. There’s competition in this field too, with DailyMotion recently opening up live-streaming functionalities, and the rise of mobile apps such as Meerkat, Vessel or Twitter-acquired Periscope.
The mobile eco-system has also enabled the boom of short-form platforms, which should be considered especially if your target demographic includes teenagers and young adults. Facebook-owned Instagram has been on an insane growth path and is seeing incredibly high engagement from its community, while Twitter-owned Vine has broken the 40m accounts mark and is also a very lively community. Then there’s SnapChat betting and growing on the concept of “ephemeral content”, and boasting exceptional engagement rates from the teen and young adult demographics.
And let’s not forget Facebook. Yes, it’s primarily a social network, but you’d have to be blind not to notice its recent ambitions to grow as a video platform. After making video auto-play in news feeds, Facebook has now enabled embeds of Facebook videos on external web sites, and is in the process of seducing top YouTube stars to produce exclusive content for its network. With its billion-strong user-base, Facebook may be the one network that can pose a serious challenge to YouTube’s dominance and you’d be well advised to factor its video efforts in your overall strategy.
It’s All About Rhythm
For any web site, TV program, blog or magazine, steady growth on video channels greatly depends on frequency of communication.
One to two videos per week is a good pace on YouTube and similar long-tail platforms. On short-form platforms, one to two posts per day is the minimum. Given the fickle and instantaneous nature of these networks, the more you can put out here, the better. On streaming platforms, be prepared to turn on a camera as often as possible once you activate your account – these are essentially about converting your act into a live show.
Although online content is available on demand by nature, scheduling your broadcasts still helps a lot when it comes to retaining an audience. Weekly events on a given day help your audience remember and look forward to them. If you run a recurring daily feature, sticking to a fixed time triggers the same effect. This is true for both uploaded content and live-streaming.
In this hyper-connected era of ours, it has become almost impossible to keep any secret. This puzzles or even frightens many old-school executives who have been trained to value confidentiality. As always, rather than resisting or fighting the trend, embrace glasnost with both arms and you will thrive.
Making-of videos, “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) sessions, behind-the-scene looks, work-in-progress reveals, voluntary leaks, teasing, self-derision, feedback gathering, addressing concerns, insider reveals of how you do business and why your policies and rules are what they are, showing the inner guts of your company or product – all of this works wonders in the age of content marketing, and it greatly helps humanising your brand or corporation, which in turn makes it easier for consumers to relate to you and form a bond. Phil Hickey, Head of Marketing at Seriously and formerly with Nokia and Rovio, neatly calls this “Marketing the Marketing”.
If you catch your failures on film, it’s Comedy.
Embed Videographers With Your Marcomms Team
If you consider the number of relevant platforms, the rhythm thingy and the radical transparency approach, you’ll quickly realise that fully supporting video represents a significant workload. Furthermore, if your content marketing team mostly consists of visual artists who are used to working with static creatives, you cannot ask them to acquire these new skills on the fly. Video director is a job, and like any other requires technique, practice, experience, passion and talent.
Nowadays Hollywood superstars like Kevin Hart are followed by a full-time videographer all day long to keep their Instagram feeds and social media alive. In my opinion, it’s time for brands to embed not one but at least two full-time videographers as part of their marcomms departments; one in charge of long-form for channels like Twitch or YouTube and another in charge of short-form, for Instagram, Vine and the like. One for whom you’ll buy a couple of GoPro Action Cameras, and the other who’ll be wandering around holding a tablet or smartphone in an upright position all the time.
When your CMO or CEO goes on stage at a big trade event, you want your long-form videographer focused on streaming the main-stage event, while the short-form videographer covers the backstage bloopers and blips in six-second segments. Whenever you have limelight, you want coverage and engagement on as many channels as possible.
In routine mode, you want the long-form videographer to schedule regular vlogs and plan out important presentations, while the short-form videographer is free to wander around and catch glimpses of daily company life, teasing out what’s in development, showing the human side of your operation as it unfolds. Doing so, they feed different platforms and become intimately proficient with different formats, netiquettes and audience groups.
Make sure you don’t treat them as documentary makers; they are actual team members and you must treat them as such. Have them attending key department meetings and brainstorming sessions. Let any member of the team contribute ideas to work-in-progress material, or concepts for their video team-mates to research and execute. Have the videographers listen to other people’s plans and schedules and let them propose what they could do to help and when. When not following a specific lead or event, videographers work in the same dynamic open space as all other marcomms team-members.
Besides nurturing and growing your own channel through content marketing techniques, another big opportunity is to get exposure from prominent YouTubers, video-casters and streamers who have already garnered a loyal following. And it’s also important to facilitate content generation by your users. But it’s vital your online video efforts are not executed in isolation. Instead, it is important to consider online video an integral part of your cohesive marketing strategy. Embed YouTube clips on your web site, cross-pollinate your video content across all your social media, add video channel subscription CTAs everywhere you can, add the logos and URLs of the digital channels you own at the end of your TV commercials – solid marketing is all about connecting the dots. If noise is well orchestrated, it becomes a symphony.
Your PR and communications department could and should use the video content pipeline to enhance their relations with press as well. Journalists and editors are always on the lookout for good content and exclusive stories, so a strong video presence multiplies the amount of occasions to interact with them, and allows exploring more varied angles.
Video has become so pervasive to our global culture at such a rapid pace that it can no longer be ignored or considered a side-project. Successful consumer-facing businesses have an obligation to consider video a key pillar of their marketing; it’s only a matter of time before B2B companies face the same pressure.