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4 things your brand needs to know about online video
26th Jul 2010 | Posted by Francesco Paciocco
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then perhaps a video is worth a thousand times more. There’s no doubt that online video has become an essential tool for marketers. From website intros to product tutorials, and from live streaming events to episodic entertainment, brands have made video a central part of their digital marketing strategy.
Recent research from comScore tells us that online video is growing at a rapid rate with 84.8 percent of the total U.S. internet audience tuned in. Quite an interesting figure to consider, but how should brands approach online video and in what format should it be executed? Below are 4 tips marketers should keep in mind when looking to grow their brand with online video.
1. Keep It Short & Sweet
One of the biggest errors I come across when looking at YouTube channels for major brands is the length of their content. Online video is a medium that lends itself to brevity. Sure, YouTube removed the 10-minute limit of video uploads long ago, but there is no reason video content should exceed 2-4 minutes. There are certainly exceptions, but recent studies show 90% of the audience’s attention span of online videos wanes after 10 seconds. The goal should be to make your point quickly, provide digestible nuggets of insights and/or entertainment, and trim the excess.
2. Avoid the “Viral” Mentality
Working with clients that are excited about executing online video strategies, we are continually faced with the “viral video” question very early on in the planning stages: “We have some video content and would like to make it viral.” The reality is that branded “viral videos” are often comprised of a secret sauce which includes heavy entertainment value supplemented by robust media buys within YouTube to drive visibility, not to mention months of planning (have a look at this case study which explains how the popular Nike Write the Future video was produced).
The “viral video” mentality, however, is indicative of a larger strategic issue that appears to favor the quick burst of views vs. the sustained video strategy that sees a consistent stream of engaging video content. The online video race should be thought of as a marathon and not a 100m sprint; favor a long-term content structure and editorial calendar vs. the quick hit.
3. Be Entertaining Or Provide Value
Are you entertaining or insightful, or both? Each direction is equally viable but not having one will bring out the cricket noises upon upload to the masses. Here are some examples of formats that tend to work well online:
- Subject matter expert reporting on trends in an easy-to-understand fashion (economic trends from MasterCard, a Cohn & Wolfe client)
- Taking user questions on a certain subject (BP allowing users to submit questions to their executives)
- Behind the scenes access (iJustine at the Barbie factory for Mattel)
Before upload, ask yourself this crucial question: “Why would a consumer really care to watch this?”
4. Envelop the Community, Don’t Just Speak To It
The recent success Old Spice has had with putting its Old Spice man character into the hands of online user requests reaffirms the importance that online video should not be viewed as unidirectional, but rather, as a two-way medium. When YouTube founder Chad Hurley conceived and later developed the YouTube platform, he envisioned an online community that would bring users together around shared interests: “What people miss is we built a true community around video. These hundreds of competitors are dealing with the same problems but they’re not having the same growth.”
The key takeaway is to not view YouTube and other online video platforms as a dumping ground for static video content. Pose questions, enable and respond to comments when appropriate, and monitor the community for ideas and feedback on what to produce in the future.
The A-List: Brands Setting the Online Video Standard
And now, a red carpet of brands cruising the vanguard of successful online video. While some of these may be familiar, each represents how a different strategic approach that ultimately fulfills value or entertainment can mean big results when engaging online consumers. Have a look:
- Home Depot YouTube Channel: DIY videos that not only provide value but also speak to the brand's values
- LG Life in A Day YouTube Contest: Perhaps the most epic online video production for all times—LG recently partnered with YouTube and filmmaker Kevin Macdonald for the first user-submitted feature film starring, you guessed, the YouTube community
- Intel YouTube Channel: While it’s hard to be all things to all people in the online video world, Intel’s YouTube channel comes pretty close and does so with a near flawless execution. All of the brand’s social media channels are linked to and while there may seem to be an excess of playlists for almost any type of Intel content you can think of (TV spots, engineer interviews etc.), four are spotlighted on the top navigation making for a smooth user experience. Flashy?, no. Effective?, yes.
- Lexus Darker Side of Green: How do you make a hybrid car sexy? An immersive, online video experience that puts the online user in the driver seat of course! It’d be interesting to see if a brand will take the immersive approach and adapt it for YouTube using the annotations feature…we shall see.