Video is a powerful storytelling medium: Not only can it serve as a prime proving ground for your business’ promotional campaigns, influential ideas, and experimental content efforts, video’s emotionally resonant combination of sound, motion, and visuals can also help you drive deeper, more satisfying relationships between your brand and its audience.
Video’s value proposition
Videos are among the most versatile tactics content marketers can leverage. For starters, they can be cooked up, loaded up, cut up, and served up in a wide variety of ways. They can:
- Work well in both long and short formats – from 6-second Vine videos to full-length documentary films, and everywhere in between
- Be timely, standalone statement pieces or ongoing serialized conversations that unfold over time
- Be presented as the main course or served as a pre-roll advertising appetizer
- Thrive in virtually any content platform – e.g., your website, blog, or other owned channels; in emails; on third-party video sites like YouTube; or inside SlideShare presentations and webinars
- Be well suited to being consumed on both the desktop and mobile environments
- Be repackaged, repurposed, and republished in conjunction with your other relevant content efforts
- Be archived for the ages or produced on the fly as live-streaming events on messaging platforms like Meerkat or Periscope
- Be imminently shareable on social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat
Of course, video may not always be the ideal format for your content. For example, as CMI’s Vice President of Content Michele Linn points out, there are times when your audience might prefer to read a brief article rather than watch a video since it’s faster and does not require as much of their attention.
Tip: How can you tell if creating a video is the right decision? Ask yourself if anything about your story would be lost if you tried to tell it without the benefits of visuals and sound. If the answer is no, consider starting with a format that requires less of a commitment (both to produce and consume). If the text version is well received, you can decide down the line if you want to repurpose the content as a video.
How they work
As is the case with any tactic, the decision to create content as a video should trace back to your marketing goals. Fortunately, from a marketer’s standpoint, video offers a range of creative and strategic options that can be applied to virtually any content marketing goal or purpose. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
The decision to create #content as a #video should trace back to your marketing goals says @joderama
Driving brand awareness and interest: Through video, you can offer a unique, entertaining, or immersive experience that helps viewers forge a positive, memorable association with your brand and what it stands for.
- Raise awareness of important social or community issues by creating a short film on the subject.
- Treat your audience to a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a popular industry event or other relevant activity that few people might get to experience in person.
- Leverage interactive features and technologies to your videos to enable viewers to participate in the story as it unfolds.
Example: Gatorade’s 360-degree Bryce Harper Virtual Reality Experience
Gatorade’s 360° Bryce Harper Virtual Reality Experience puts baseball fans in the middle of the action, offering them a realistic sense of what it must feel like to be a Major League Baseball player stepping up to the plate. Created using a combination of real-action video and computer-generated imagery, the video isn’t just immersive, it’s interactive – fans become Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper, clicking and dragging the screen to experience a clutch play from his perspective.
Promoting thought leadership or insights: Video can convey an appropriate emotional tone in a way that text alone can’t manage. This makes it an excellent platform for educating viewers on the issues important to your business and positioning your brand as a credible, trustworthy source of vital information.
#Video can convey an appropriate emotional tone in a way that text alone can’t manage says @joderama
- Host a video roundtable discussion to debate and discuss popular topics of interest from multiple points of view.
- Create a video case study that demonstrates your company’s expertise and/or the unique role your products play in an area of interest that your audience might share.
- Film your response to a sensitive public relations issue or controversial event to show the values your brand stands for.
Example: REI #OptOutside
With Black Friday increasingly becoming a heated battleground for consumers willing to fight (literally) for a few deals and discounts, REI decided to sit out the biggest shopping day of 2015 rather than contribute to the madness of crowds. The outdoor-gear retailer released a video of CEO Jerry Stritzke explaining why he felt the right choice for his company was to encourage (and pay) REI staff to spend Black Friday enjoying the great outdoors.
Helping your audience accomplish their goals: Beyond brand-building benefits, video is ideal for topic tutorials, product demos, process guides, and other practical resources that help you live up to the promises of value and service your brand makes to its prospects and customers.
- Simplify a complex process with a detailed explainer video that walks viewers through all the steps.
- Create a how-to video to demonstrate a hack for a more complicated solution.
- Compare and contrast products or solutions with a thorough review of their key features and functionalities.
Example: Evernote product tutorials
Evernote makes extensive use of video on its website, as well as on its social media sites and mobile platform. The brand’s detailed explainers help users understand – and get the most out of – its suite of tools for managing their information, their work, and their lives. It’s an excellent example of a visual marketing utility.
Video’s key challenges
While video offers a lot of marketing muscle, it’s not the easiest technique to master or manage.
There’s a price to be paid: While the availability of smartphone cameras and low-cost editing tools have made the tactic more affordable than ever, if you want your video content to be seen as professional and authoritative, you need to maintain a certain quality standard. That typically means at least some investment in cameras, editing software, lighting, and sound equipment, as well as in the specialized expertise required to manage the production process from conception to completion.
The video landscape is noisy and competitive: According to CMI’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research, 79% of B2B marketers and 82% of B2C marketers in North America are using some form of this tactic. Considering how crowded the playing field is, just because your business has the budget and production resources to create compelling, high-quality video content, doesn’t mean your efforts will automatically achieve the desired brand recognition and marketing results.
9 tips to get the most from video investment
Considering the high costs and tight competition, brands need to be smart in how they plan, produce, position, and promote their video content if they want to see any returns on their investment. Here are some tips for making sure your offerings are as relevant, memorable, strategic, and purposeful as possible.
- Invest in the process, not just the product: Your video strategy should be considered part and parcel to your content marketing strategy – not an indie feature. Before you pick up that camera, think about the role you want video to play in your brand’s story, and what steps it will take to plot out, produce, position, and measure the performance of this content. Doing this legwork ahead of time will help you make smarter decisions about which video projects will be worthy of the resources you have to spend.
- Keep your end goal in mind: Whether it’s awareness, leads, or another goal, every video you create should have a purpose – and a means of fulfilling it.
Too often, video success is equated with views rather than with actions taken after the views or other desirable changes of consumer behavior. You can avoid falling into this trap by including a call to action that directs viewers to take the next step on your designated path, as well as by creating a landing page that will guide their journey toward conversion.
- Write a script your audience will want to follow: Video content runs the risk of getting bogged down by overly complex ideas, heavy jargon, or focusing on too many things all at once. If you want your video to communicate simply and brilliantly, remember these scripting guidelines:
- Use a conversational tone – it makes the video sound more natural, instead of stuffy or forced.
- Have your talent speak in short, concise sentences to emphasize key points. It makes it easier for your audience to grasp them.
- Avoid jargon like “optimum” or “accomplish” when simpler words like “best” or “do” will work just as well to get your meaning across.
- Read it out loud (or have someone else read it to you) before you hit “record.” This gives you a sense of any words or phrases the speaker might be likely to stumble on, and how long the finished project is likely to run.
- Know when to host and when to post: Before you distribute your video content, give it a home base. There are two main options, each with its own strengths and limitations:
- Host the video on your site using a video platform like Vimeo, Brightcove, or Wistia. While this method might limit your videos’ overall reach, the flexibility these tools offer means you can customize your videos to look, feel, and operate exactly how you want. It also makes it easier to publish video playlists that encourage visitors to spend more time on your site, as well as to gate your most valuable video assets as a means to drive subscriptions.
- Post it on a video-hosting site. Using popular video-distribution platforms like YouTube can help get your video in front of a larger audience. Not only is basic use of these services free, their tools are typically easier to configure than self-hosted options, which makes your videos easier to share across your other content channels and embed in your other content efforts.
- Set the right stage for social plays: Should you share your videos everywhere and anywhere, or only on certain social channels? Will it benefit your brand to get your video uploaded and running immediately when a new social network emerges, or would it be wiser to wait until others have tested the waters?
The answers to questions like these – and most other distribution channel decisions you need to make – lie in your buyer personas. Knowing who your audience is, how and where they like to spend their online time, and which channels they prefer for what tasks will help you choose the social networks that offer the best potential for engaging your audience’s interest in your video content.
- Include a transcript: Search engines aren’t as adept at indexing video content as they are with text. Creating a full transcript of the copy included in your video helps you overcome this SEO shortfall.
Creating a full transcript of the #content in your #video helps you overcome #SEO shortfalls via @joderama
- Tag your work: Add relevant tags, titles, and descriptions to the metadata of your video content. This will help get your videos associated with your target keywords and get them indexed to rank for relevant content searches.
- Push videos to influencers, subscribers, fans, and followers: A screen capture of your videos (along with a link) can be featured in an email that you send to the members of your mailing list. This alerts your audience that you have new video content for them to check out, and gives you a forum for requesting their feedback and asking them to help you spread the word.
- Track attention span to evaluate value: Engagement data can provide important insights on your audience’s preferences and behaviors, which you can use to refine and customize your video strategy. For example, if you notice that prospects are dropping off 10 seconds into your videos, your intros might need to be trimmed.
That’s a wrap
It takes a lot of work to position video as the high-performing centerpiece of a successful content marketing strategy. But with the right plan, a little creativity, and some smart decision-making, just about any business can benefit from its powerful potential to tell engaging stories and inspire audiences to take action.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
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