How To Leverage Online Video For Your Brand
It’s hard to believe there once was a time that YouTube didn’t exist since we’re so used to seeing every major news outlet covering stories — every day — that were captured on YouTube. It has only been 7 years since the platform launched, and just as it changed the way news is reported, it has changed the way consumers consider and interact with brands.
There is an unfortunate trend among brands to “leverage” video online by simply reposting news stories or TV spots to a “branded” YouTube channel or Facebook page. In reality, online video offers a world of opportunity. Experimental brands have been using video as a customer acquisition channel. Your brand could build a loyal customer base (or serve the one you already have) in a better way by using video.
YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world, and its results get priority treatment on Google. You can greatly increase your product’s discoverability by leveraging online video.
Adding video to your online presence is fairly low cost, but it does require time, effort, and planning. It’s not something your brand will necessarily want to embark on as part of a short-term, one-off campaign. The one exception to this rule is if you are looking to test video as part of a campaign for a new product line, and you are testing it against other promotional methods.
Before you think about buying or renting a camera, you need to find a natural fit for your brand, which video can augment. This could be anything from unveiling a new product, to a behind-the-scenes video of what your company does, to customer stories, or even troubleshooting videos (many companies that manufacture electronics make these videos). Video can actually save you costs in customer care if customers can do their own problem triage.
The strategy is the key point before you ever begin to plan one video. You will need to be clear on what the goal is (increasing engagement, lowering call centre calls, celebrating users, etc.) before you go to the next step.
Planning Your Video
You don’t have to buy screenwriting software or read Robert McKee’s book on screenwriting before you begin to shoot your video. What you do need is a one-page outline of the goal of the video, followed by a shot list detailing what exactly needs to be in each shot.
Try to keep your videos shorter than 2 minutes. Extensive studies have been performed that indicate that your viewers won’t watch any video longer than 2 minutes all the way through. This does not mean you should cram as much information into your video as possible. Viewers will turn off quickly if there’s too much going on.
The tone of your video should always follow your own brand guidelines, but it also should be approachable, human and informative. You might choose to leverage humour, but if you do, please ask a disinterested third party to read your script to make sure your jokes are getting the desired reaction. Also, please be aware of any sexual or racial implications your humour may have.
If you have copywriters in-house this is the time to leverage them. Their job is to tell a story in the fewest words possible, and this is what you need to do with video.
Be aware that narration is not a good way of explaining your product or getting your point across. Many users watch videos in places where the sound is turned down, or there are distractions. The goal of video storytelling is to show – not tell – your story. If you can make it visual, do it. Your viewers will thank you.
Once you’ve got the basics pulled together, it’s time to plan your shoot.
Depending on the subject matter of your videos, you might need different gear. If you want a fully produced, high-production value shoot, you should look to hire experts to help you achieve your goal.
However, if your intent is to demonstrate your product, or reach out to your customers, or show the behind-the-scenes of your company, you can invest a few hundred dollars in a handheld HD camera and a low-cost tripod.
Remember, light is your friend, and you should strive to have as much light on your subjects as possible when shooting (if it looks like a J. J. Abrams movie, you’ve gone too far).
Be honest with how long it will take you to shoot your video. If you have simple set ups and a minimal shot list, it can still take you 5 or more hours to shoot (depending on variables such as light, actors, and set availability).
Set up your shots in the following order:
- Shoot the outside shots first, unless it’s inclement weather.
- Shoot in the order where common resources (break rooms, hallways, meeting rooms) are least disturbed. You might have to shoot these scenes at the beginning of the day before people have arrived.
- Shoot wide shots first, moving in for close ups later (this allows those involved in the wider shots a break when the close ups are being shot).
Once you’ve shot your video, hire someone (internal or external) with video experience to edit it for you. Yes, you may be an expert in iMovie, but this is the time to make sure your video looks professional.
Distribution and Viral Lift
The most important choices you will make about your video are where and how to distribute it.
When creating a YouTube channel, you have the ability to thoroughly customise the page, making it fall in line with your branding elsewhere. Spend a few hours doing this. It will make the whole experience more professional to your audience.
When uploading your video to YouTube, do a bit of research on SEO and YouTube to help your video show up more often in search results, “related videos” and stumble traffic. You might find your story resonates with a group you didn’t think to target, or one you’ve tried unsuccessfully to reach in the past. Make sure you tag and categorize your video correctly.
You absolutely must upload it to YouTube for it to get the best chance of distribution, but there are several other sites you can upload to, depending on the audiences you want to reach. You might also want to distribute your video through your other social media channels. Consider building an email campaign around your video.
In addition, consider working with your partners to help distribute your video. If you have been nurturing your blogger relations, pitch them your video (remember: tailor your message to each blogger). This is a low-cost, low-effort way to get targeted audiences to view your video.
To help spread the message of your video, you might want to consider buying Facebook ads, YouTube ads, or even Google Adwords to help drive views and penetration. The best part about these platforms is that you can track exactly how someone found you, some demographic information, and how much of the video they watched.
Analytics are where the rubber meets the road for your video. Everyone who has been on YouTube knows there is a view counter that tells you how many times a video has been watched. When you open a YouTube account, and begin uploading, there are several useful tools available to you:
- Estimated time viewed: This will help you gauge whether your message was received and whether your content was engaging. If you see early drop offs, it’s time to rethink your video scripts.
- Engagement: Did anyone “like” or “dislike” the video? Were there comments? How many? How many times was your video shared? These are all excellent indicators of how well your video was received.
- Demographics: Where in the world is your video being watched? What gender are most of those who are watching your video? This can help you gain insight for future videos.
- Discovery: As you continue to make videos, it’s important to keep your eye on this analytic. You’ll want to know where your audience is coming from (and what they are watching your videos on) to help inform your choices moving forward.
There are additional metrics available to you, but these 4 will help you optimise as you continue to make videos.
It’s impossible to create a viral video. Things become popular on the web for many different reasons, most of which you don’t want associated with your brand. What you can do is do your best to create a story that will resonate with people, execute your video well, and make sure you distribute it to the widest audience possible, leveraging your social web and influencers along the way. Just because you video doesn’t reach 1 million hits doesn’t mean it’s not effective. If your video is delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience, you have done your job, and you will be rewarded with engagement, shares and brand loyalty.
Video can be an indispensable tool to connect you to your existing customers, or to foster relationships with new ones. Planning and careful execution are key to maximising your views and engagement.