It’s no secret that paid media is failing. With the rise of savvy consumers and the prevalence of ad-blocking technology, traditional paid media models are simply no longer viable. Instead, brands are increasingly turning to content as the go-to solution for media advertising. Content marketing positions products and services uniquely within informative and entertaining content that a consumer will not only relate to, but also seek out. As they say, content is king.
And if content is king, video is his queen. Content marketing has evolved beyond B2B whitepapers and B2C blog posts driven by SEO. While these forms are still valuable, video has recently established itself as the number one form of content, as brands find wild success with everything from documentary-style brand stories to full-fledged YouTube influencer channels.
While video storytelling is an established trend, the reality is that we’re just getting started. Today, video accounts for one-third of total online activity, and users on average watch 33.4 videos each month. What’s more, nearly 40 percent of online viewers find video ads credible.
The Secret to Video’s Rising Star
Facilitating video’s rise is the decreasing cost of production—a video that used to cost $10,000 can now be made for less than $2,000. There are also more homes for video content than ever before, thanks to consumers’ growing appetite for the medium. Facebook Live, Instagram, and Snapchat stories, and the integration of multimedia posts into everything from company landing pages to blogs, means that it’s possible to syndicate one piece of content in multiple places, stretching marketing dollars even further.
Beyond cost, the benefits of video are alluring. First and most obvious is the possibility to go viral and reach a huge audience. Even if video content doesn’t go viral, chances are it will still outperform paid media and traditional content marketing. The videos I produce, for instance, net far more views, engagement, and shares compared with blog posts or traditional email campaigns.
Finally, there’s analytics. With video, you can track retention and engagement far more closely than with blog posts or other written content. Measuring what time your users drop off from watching your videos can provide vital insight into how you can better refine your product, service, or story to improve the next time around.
Strategies to Guide Your Video Journey
Video has a strong effect on the human psyche, so some strategy is necessary to ensure brands select the type of video that best aligns with their goals. With produced content, brands have control over their story, but in a way that feels fresh and alive. It allows them to storyboard an aspirational world for the consumer to get lost in. Live streaming, on the other hand, offers the transparency and authenticity that audiences crave. It’s an effective tool in building trust between the consumer and the brand—the consumer perceives that there’s no advertising trick at play. What they see is what they get.
There’s no better way to build a strong brand community. So how can brands harness this powerful medium to tell their stories, build communities, and attract customers? Use the following three strategies to guide your video journey.
There’s no better way to build a strong brand community than video.
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1. Don’t Deviate from Your Soul-Level Story
Your soul-level story is the component of your brand narrative that is emotional, aspirational, and will hit consumers in the gut. It’s that intrinsic, hard-to-point-to part of the narrative that drives your company.
Airbnb’s soul-level story, for instance, is the idea of global community and that we can belong anywhere. With Casper, it’s the idea of sleep being the most fundamental need, and that when we sleep well and dream well, we can achieve anything in our waking life.
One way to figure out your soul-level story is to ask yourself what your brand offers consumers that your competitors can’t. Think beyond the features of your service, and dig to uncover the psychological benefit you deliver. Maybe it’s trust and security, or community and education. Another effective strategy is plugging your target consumer into a hero’s journey. For instance, if you are a financial services company and your consumers are in a rags-to-riches story, consider what they need to be a hero in their quest. When you identify what role your brand plays in their journey, you get to be the tool that helps them succeed—not unlike a magic wand.
Once you’ve nailed down your narrative, infuse it into every piece of content you create. Whether it’s a small meme, GIF, a Facebook ad that costs $10, or a billboard that cost thousands, don’t let anything out into the world if it doesn’t resonate and reinforce the soul-level story of your company.
2. Don’t Underestimate the Work It Takes to Go Viral
You might see a viral video and be tempted to think, “I can do that,” but it’s easier said than done. Just consider the amount of video added to the internet each day. Upwards of 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute—yes, every minute.
There are different benchmarks for what constitutes a viral video. Some experts say you need 100,000 views, and others say it depends on the rate of consumption. Either way, it’s important to know that viral content takes work—sometimes dozens of small tweaks and iterations to get it perfect. It is possible to have a big hit, but it rarely comes overnight.
To know whether you’ve got a potential hit on your hands, ask yourself if you’re engaged during every second of the video. If your attention drops off for even a moment, you’re not there yet. Also be sure to get others outside your industry and target demographic to chime in. To go truly viral, your video must have wide appeal.
3. Don’t Just Measure Views
Let’s get one thing straight: You can buy video views by boosting posts and promoting video content on social channels. This can be an effective method for seeding content and garnering impressive numbers, but at the end of the day, you’ll lose out on ROI because you won’t be getting those users through your sales funnel.
The whole point of content marketing is to get you in front of your users as organically as possible to make sure they are individuals who are truly interested in buying your product or service. Organic engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares is a good indicator that a consumer is in your funnel.
Once you have a consumer in your sales funnel, make sure you know the action you want the video to drive, whether that’s signing up for an email list or downloading an ebook. Brand awareness is great, but push it further by setting up the appropriate landing page or community platform (such as your blog or Facebook page) for people to navigate to once they watch the video. If you don’t give consumers an opportunity to learn more, you’re missing an opportunity to keep them engaged.
Video is key to achieving that inspirational and aspirational element that every brand strives for—and it’s far more compelling than any other type of content. We’re just starting to explore all the ways the medium can be used to entertain consumers, build authentic communities, and spread brand awareness. There’s no better time to bring your story to life.
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