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For the Love of Video: A content marketer’s view on getting viewed

For the love

Here’ the thing about a brand video – you should have one. The idea of a beautifully orchestrated moving message seemed like a nice -to-have just a year ago, something that may or may not have been worth the investment. But it’s now a necessity. The people (and the data on the people) have spoken. They’ll read some blogs, they’ll glance at a picture. But the most effective way to capture and hold your audience’s attention is through a video.

A lot has changed in the10 years that I’ve spent in and around the world of marketing. Over the past two years I’ve spent as a content marketing director I’ve watched video explode right before my eyes (pun intended.) It now serves as the number one  marketing content asset. Its little sister, on-demand video, and younger brother, LIVE video, are also growing up fast. YouTube is the number one video hosting platform so I’ll use their success as a benchmark. The platform was originally embraced by teenagers sharing whatever it is that teenagers do. It has since evolved to as many as 30 billion views each day. The average YouTube visitor spends 40 minutes a day watching videos. Not 4 minutes, 40 minutes. That’s a lot of online video. Regardless of topic or demographic, the demand for video is undeniable. This isn’t me pitching you video; it’s the videos saying, “We’ve already won the award.”

What’s going on here?

Over the past few years the concept of content marketing has emerged as the sweetheart of marketing and communications. It is a  simple concept that promotes the use of information to educate, inform and entertain your way to a consumer’s business. It’s done through blogs, social media, webinars, white papers, etc. For some companies, like Red Bull, content marketing worked so well that they actually became their own media company. They articulately segment their market and embed video in almost every single post. They are the poster child for content marketing and a beacon by which many companies, large and small, can navigate through the world of content.

Today, video sits atop the summit as most effective asset that a business can use. That’s because it’s the best way to truly connect to an audience. A veneer of sales jargon and empty adjectives doesn’t get the job done. If your business isn’t using video to tell your story then people may not actually know your story, and if you’re using video to talk about yourself then people don’t care about your video.  This is a very important distinction and it can serve as a bruise to the marketers ego if you’ve been making videos that brag. But you know what they say about egos – they get in the way of development. Your brand may want to be young and hip but your and audience wants to see that you have your stuff together.

How does that make you feel?

Take a look at your own content consumption, for instance. In both our personal and professional lives, each of us produces and consumes content on a regular basis. We do this mostly through social media. Social platforms were created as micro-blogs for people with short attention spans, which is just about everyone. We’re bombarded with pieces of content on minute by minute, but what are the things that tend to jump out at you, to make you stop and pay attention? Was it the spam email from that company whose newsletter you signed up for without realizing it? Is it the recent stock photo that came through your Twitter feed? Probably not. The last time a piece of content stopped you in your online tracks was because you felt something, a connection to either your mind or your heart. It could have been a positive emotional response to a brand or made you feel connected to a product. Odds are that such a reaction happened through a video.

One phrase that I’ve heard time and time again from corporate marketing teams is “We should make a video.” Great idea. The next question should be “Why?” and “What do we want people to know/feel/do at the end of it?” But in their excitement, they tend to skip this crucial step. Instead of pausing to ask these questions they often run to their employees and customers with iphone or GoPro in hand, sitting them down in an executive office and handing them a script that talks about how great they are. My view? The Talking Heads were an American rock band and it should stay that way. Contrast this approach with the brands that are using video content so well that viewers actually go into fan mode, sharing it, tagging others to watch it, commenting praises, leaving reviews. They become invested in what you’re doing, which is the most valuable marketing ROI there is. Sometimes paid placement ads will have a place in you marketing strategy, but if you’re looking to make a splash, to have your market sit up and pay attention, its not going to happen through a banner ad.

Did you ever see that video?

Many of the videos you produce will be informative and practical, to give your audience and inside look that helps them better understand products and services,  This is especially  important for the large global company selling enterprise software but it also benefits the small company selling a new idea on Shark Tank. But where the real value lies is tapping into digital filming to create emotional equity. This is why video wears the Triple Crown of Content. Feelings, messages and easy comprehension can be packed into such little space and time. That’s exactly what your video watching, short attention span audience wants. But when all is said and done, what makes a well-made video most effective is when they have such a strong and interesting message people can remember it. If your video doesn’t pack this punch then you’re essentially making content with a very short shelf life. Content moves fast enough as it is, don’t compound the issue by spending time on something that you can only post in one place or post one time. If that’s your approach then it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to invest in a digital reel. But that shouldn’t be your approach, because you’re a great marketer. Make something that is so good that people say “that video is really good, we should also share it: at this conference, training session, on our website, on social media in whole, on social media in clips, at recruiting evens, in sales meetings, at customer events, at trade shows, in our storefront window and lobby….anywhere. The world is jockeying for position in an environment of content bombardment. It’s more important ever that the content you spend time and money on be worth the investment, that it has legs that take it beyond your website. And lest we forget, the rule of 7: People need to see a message in some form or another 7 times before it sinks in. In fact, it should be in different forms. Your video content and all other content needs a common thread that weaves them all together and all the end makes a designer sweater.

Sending the message through video makes a head to heart connection like no other medium.

I would venture to say that the last video that left a strong impression on you didn’t include talking heads of corporate executives or the word “innovation” flashing across the screen. The intent of a brand video is to give your audience something in which they see a reflection of themselves, not a dissertation of your company. The “Let’s talk to our customer about ourselves and all the great things we’re doing” is a common objective of videos, especially corporate ones. Sure, it’s no secret that companies invest in marketing to sell their product, but transparency can also come back to bite you – blatant self-serving content is tuned out immediately. Creating a video that simply talks about yourself and the things most important to you means that you’re ignoring your audience and their needs and wants. Your audience doesn’t want to feel ignored. They want to feel understood. They want to watch something that makes themselves feel great. Content marketing is all about them. The companies who figure this out are the ones that will see a difference in the number of people and other companies that want to do business with them.

Frankenstein gets it

The 2017 Apple Christmas commercial aired on TV a few weeks ago. It follows Frankenstein, (just in case you forgot, he’s a scary monster) spending time by himself, lonely over the holiday season. But this year Frankie decided to embrace the holiday spirit and he used his iphone to make it happen. The smartphone only appeared in the video for about 3 seconds total. There was no sales pitch. While running on TV the spot was also posted on YouTube and to-date has over 8 million views. People love it. They’re sharing it and watching it multiple times. The feeling is subconsciously associated with Apple, whether people realize it or not. Apple doesn’t have to bang people over the head with their products or how great they are. They know who they are and they infuse it into every video they make.

Sending the message through video makes a head to heart connection like no other medium. Brand loyalty is increasing as more brands are working to segment audiences and create new start-ups to serve them. Niche brands and lifestyle products are emerging every day, cutting into mainstream markets and turning the old idea of marketing on its ear. Consumers, particularly millennials, are looking for brands that represent themselves and their lifestyle. It’s now about personality over products and a video is the best place to start for companies who want to showcase their personality. It’s hard to do through other forms of content: music, imagery, brands in action: when video marketing is done right people want to be part of it. We all want to be entertained and feel a sense of confidence in doing business with a company that’s a reflection of us. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling a consumer product or a business product; it’s always a human with emotions on the other end of your content.

Get Real

Of course, the amount of time and money invested in a video should be scaled in proportion to the communications objective, and the outputs should be realistic. Take the time to research your competition, similar companies and unrelated companies that you admire. Pay attention to the things that pull on your own heart and mind, in both your personal and professional life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling street shoes or business enterprise software. If your audience has eyeballs they want to be inspired and educated. Do this through video and do it well. Stay true to your brand and your message. And, always, always, stay in tune with your audience. If they see themselves in your videos you’ll see them in your sales.