“People around the world are posting 75% more videos to Facebook than they did a year ago,” explains Tim Peterson forAd Age.
According to the Zuck himself, “people [on Facebook] went from watching 1 billion video views each day to now more than 8 billion” in the last year. Online video viewership is expected to grow even more in the next few years – “accounting for 80% of the world’s internet traffic by 2019.”
How can you make your brand videos irresistible and engaging for online viewers?
A Lesson in What Not to Do
In early January, Huffington Post announced that it was shuttering its HuffPost Live video streaming news network, to focus instead on“shareable video content and long-form, documentary-style productions.”
Asthis Observer.com post explains, HuffPost Live didn’t work because the media company was producing the same content as competitive cable TV news networks.
But if the average Facebook Newsfeed scroll (where Huffington Post will grab most of its attention) looks like this…
Image via Institutionalized Love
...It’s no wonder it just wasn’t capturing people’s attention.
We have shorter attention spans, and content is getting blasted at us constantly. For a video to stand out, it doesn’t just need to be targeted to the right people, it should be tailored to the landscape of the feed in which it lives.
Who’s Attracting Online Video Viewers and Why?
“The future of video can be anything. There won’t be one answer. It can be one-dimensional or three-dimensional. It can be full of sound or silent. It can be six seconds or two and a half hours long,” saysJeff Jarvis, a professor at the CUNY School of Journalism.
But many of the videos that are heavily watched and shared on social networks today do have some key things in common:
- They’re typically brief (although we’ll discuss long-form a little later on).
- They engage directly with audiences, as part of a conversation (similar to a blog).
- They grab your attention in busy feeds by telling stories without sound (for optimal mobile viewership), while also inviting you to press play.
1. News Examples
i. NowThis News
APew Research study revealed that more and more people are discovering news and entertainment content from their Facebook friends’ newsfeeds than ever before.
So, to cater to that growing audience,NowThis News offers a new online video platform that focuses heavily on creating Facebook-specific news content – with videos that are often under a minute in length.
“When video is watched in a fast-moving social feed we believe you can’t waste someone’s time. You’ve got to make every second count if you want to make their thumb stop next time they see one of your videos,”says Sean Mills, President of NowThis.
In fact,the company made the decision to eliminate its website last year and create content that caters to specific social media platforms only.
The Facebook-specific news stories offer subtitles so that people can watch the videos without sound if they prefer.
ii . AJ+ News
Have a look at the video below from AJ+ News (Al Jazeera’s new online news network that’s self-described as a “fresh experience, designed to inform and engage people – wherever you are”).
Notice anything different about how they’re presenting a news story?
It looks more like a John Stewart (or Rick Mercer if you're Canadian) rant, doesn’t it?
That’s because AJ+ is trying to start a conversation about the topic on social media, rather than just giving you the facts. They’ve produced the video specifically for an online audience.
The video was edited for a Facebook-specific audience; it’s a bit shorter than the YouTube version which offers a more detailed story. Plus, the video takes cues from silent films and uses text to tell the story without sound. There are also signals throughout the video to entice you to press play as by listening; you get even more out of the story.
2. Entertainment & Media Example: Jimmy Fallon
What’s more, the show regularly engages with social media audiences through the very popular “Hashtags” segment, which gets the audience to write the jokes for the show by responding to a Twitter hashtag with funny anecdotes.
Not only does this tactic keep viewers engaged when the show isn’t on TV, but it gets people who contributed jokes on Twitter to tune in again to see if their tweet was chosen.
Jimmy’s team also uses animated GIFs on Facebook and Twitter as a preview of the full-length video on YouTube. Check out the GIF of puppies predicting the Super Bowl outcome from a recent Jimmy Fallon show below.
Image via Tumblr
Finally, the show creates fantastic music videos (with the help of famous musicians) to promote future shows, using “classroom instruments” performed by The Roots (the Tonight Show band). The close quarters, joking looks, and use of “common” instruments helps to demystify the celebrity and help appreciate their talent all that much more.
Adele’s Hello promo has received the most video views so far with over 32 million views and counting.
Applying Best Practices for Your Ecommerce Website
1. Newsworthy Content
Following in the footsteps of AJ+ and NowThis, you can offer newsworthy stories (about product safety, recalls and more) via your social media feeds to keep customers entertained and informed.
For example, Shopify Plus customerSpiritHoods provides informational product videos on itsYouTube channel,Facebook Feed and via Instagram to help its customers stay on top of the latest and greatest from the brand.
The video formatt is quick, upbeat and educational.The company also features a lot of musicians (via short video clips) playing tunes while wearing their Spirit Hoods to showcase the lifestyle associated with the brand.
2. How-To and DIY Tips
How-to and DIY videos are extremely popular online. You can create compelling videos on your own, or recruit an employee who looks like your target audience to host the videos for you.
Lauren Stokes, CEO of thepopular southern-girl-inspired fashion line LaurenJames.com created an excellent demo video for her customers on how to properly tie the bow on her iconic dresses. The video is relatable because Lauren looks like her target customer, and educational because she comes across as an expert.
Lauren James Co. - How To Tie A Bow from Lauren James Co. on Vimeo.
Examples from sites like Facebook, Instagram and Vine have some key things in common:
- An attention-grabbing opening shot
- Getting straight to the point
- Engaging viewers with the sound turned off
3. Unboxing, Enhanced Product Descriptions, and Reviews
Unboxing and product review videos help customers understand what your product looks like and whether it offers exactly what they are looking for.
For example, Walmart.caembeds toy video reviews and more in the “description and features section” of its product pages. Check out the “Designer Desk” video below created by Hasbro for its Star Wars toys:
A great way to learn about toy unboxing and review videos is to check out celebrity/influencer content. Here’s an unboxing video fromBluCollection ToyCollector:
Starbucks recently created a documentary-style video series called“Meet me at Starbucks”. It features 11 short videos that give the viewer an intimate look at the lives of real Starbucks customers and who they meet when they visit the global coffee chain stores.
This style of filmmaking builds an emotional connection between customers and the brand in a way that cannot be achieved in a 30-second TV spot.
6. Virtual Reality and 360-Degree Videos
Last year, bothYouTube andFacebook announced the launch of new virtual reality 360-degree video ad formats.
The benefits of using these formats is that brands can create more detailed views of their products and develop more creative and engaging brand experiences – making customers feel right there, inside the video.
Check out some recent examples below of 360 degree ads on both platforms.
Facebook: AT&T Racing ExperienceYouTube: Clash of Clans 360 Raid
As virtual reality ads and experiences mature online, brand videos will become even more engaging, and the story opportunities will be almost limitless.|
Brand Case StudyAfter creating 1800+ product reviews and informational videos over the past few years, Revzilla.com, a motor cycle gear company, has “accumulated over 9 million customer views on their website.”
No matter which platform was used, all Revzilla videos are short, informative (with a goal to help customers make the right choices versus just selling products), and encourage conversation.
Plus, Revzilla videos on Facebook and Vine begin with the sound turned off, with the aim to entice the user to click and listen in.
A Final Note on Longform Video Content
While I would argue that brands should use shortform videos for the majority of your video content marketing efforts, there are instances where longer form video content is suitable for promoting your brand.
For example, not only are more brands starting to make full-length feature films (e.g. theLEGO Movie franchise), as isexplained in this Contently post, but many businesses are now opting for longer form documentary-style videos as well.
LEGO has also done a great job of creating documentaries as well with its Story of LEGO video available for viewership on YouTube.The benefit of creating longform video content is that it enables you to own the story and message about your brand in a way that cannot always be achieved in shorter video clips.
It’s clear that video content is increasingly helping brands to build a stronger connection with customers online. As long as you tailor your message for specific audiences, grab their attention right away and engage them in a conversation, you’ll be able to gain their brand loyalty and keep them coming back for more.
About The Author
Andrea Wahbe is a freelance B2B marketing strategist and corporate storyteller who writes about Canadian SMEs, marketing, and digital media trends. Follow her on Twitter.
Immerse yourself in Ben Albano’s 360° racing experience, and hear how he uses the AT&T network. #StrongCan #adPosted by AT&T on Wednesday, November 11, 2015
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If it were five years in the future, would you be reading this article or would you be watching it? As online video continues its inimitable rise, it's an interesting question to ponder.
By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Video-on-demand traffic alone will have almost trebled. Leafing through a swathe of statistics on the subject, I'm hard pressed to find any indicator that doesn't suggest rapid growth.
With online video quickly becoming a key means for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs, small businesses that fail to include it in their internet marketing strategies will do so at their peril.
Video is the future of content marketing. That is, if it's not the here and now. Various studies show more than half of companies are already making use of the medium – a figure that's predicted to rise as more and more realise the possibilities. Nielsen claims 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their strategies in the near future. It's not difficult to see why.
When it comes to potential reach, video is peerless. YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month – that's more than any other channel, apart from Facebook. One in three Britons view at least one online video a week – that's a weekly audience of more than 20 million people in the UK alone. Video can give you access to all this. Video done well can give you a slice of it. What other form of content can do the same?
The success stories of videos that have gone viral are legend. A recent campaign from Volkswagen, for example, saw a trio of its videos viewed a combined 155 million times. If such numbers seem out of reach for companies without 12-figure revenue streams, they at least demonstrate video's inherent shareability. Engage viewers and they will share the video with others. They will spend longer on your website and more time interacting with your brand. For any social media campaign, any SEO exercise, video is without doubt one of the best tools in the kit.
It is naturally engaging and, in an age of information overload, it's vital for small businesses to offer content that is easy to digest; if not, consumers will simply move on. Video does this very well. If a picture paints 1,000 words then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million, so say Forrester's researchers. Little wonder then that Axonn Research found seven in 10 people view brands in a more positive light after watching interesting video content from them.
But is video really possible for small businesses? Absolutely. Production costs have fallen significantly in recent years and you no longer need to be a technical whiz to work out how to use it. Apps such as Twitter's Vine, with its six-second maximum clip length, have dramatically increased the opportunity for businesses on a limited budget to get stuck in. Nevertheless, if you're to realise a decent return on your investment, you will need to bear the following in mind.
Always consider the audience you are trying to reach and ensure the video is relevant to them. If it's not the most appropriate means of getting your message across, you are probably wasting your time.
Do not neglect social media and be sure to promote across multiple channels. If you want to fully realise video's potential, you must make it easy for users to find and share it. Don't neglect mobile either. Ooyala has claimed a tenth of all video plays happen on mobiles and tablets, and it's an increasingly important segment, with mobile phones holding 41% more share of video consumption at the end of June 2013 than at the start of that year.
Finally, be creative, not only with the videos themselves but in the campaign strategy you build around them. As my head of marketing likes to say, creativity wins over the cost of production every time. Get that bit right and video won't just be the future of content marketing, it'll be the future of content marketing for you.
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Chris Trimble is director of content at content marketing agency Axonn Media
- This piece was originally published in January 2014
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