Supercharge your strategy for video content in six steps
Lauren Pope • 5 minutes
Video is growing fast.
It’s attention-grabbing, it can sell, and it’s the preferred content format for many people. Fail to make it part of your content mix and you’ll be left behind. Video is important, we all know it.
But even though everyone knows it, a large number of brands still aren’t getting video right. What’s the problem? Why is it so hard when the incentive is so strong?
All too often brands tackle video without the focus they give the rest of their marketing. They take an ad hoc approach, with one-off briefs and unclear objectives.
Some look at video like they would do TV advertising. But TV ads don’t translate well to online video. (Dollar Shave Club is the exception that proves the rule.)
Others struggle because of team structures and skill-sets that weren’t built for video. In a traditional marketing set-up, it isn’t always clear who’s responsible for it. Advertising, digital and PR teams often share the load, creating confusion and a lack of ownership. And many marketers aren’t as experienced in video as they are other forms of content. So when the pressure’s on, it’s easy to default to the formats or tactics they know best.
If this sounds like your experience of video content, you need a more strategic and customer-centric approach. In this post, I’ll look at why it’s so important to have a strategy for video. I’ll also outline six steps to help you supercharge that strategy.
Do you need a more strategic and customer-centric approach to video content?
And you’re bound to know that forward thinking brands and publishers like Red Bull and Buzzfeed are investing heavily and setting the bar high for those that follow.
And yet many brands seem to be complacent about video. It’s like we’re so used to hearing how important video is, that we’re immune to it. Or that there are so many zeros on any numbers we see about the size of the audience that they stop having any real meaning.
The real imperative for investing in video shouldn’t come from an intimidating stat or an impressive case study though – it should come from your users.. The likelihood is that they want video content, and that they’re coming to expect it from brands. If you’re not acting on that, you’re not meeting their expectations, and might be opening the way for a competitor.
The real imperative for investing in video should come from users, not impressive case studies
Another important factor to consider with video is the opportunity it offers for deeper engagement with users. Done right, it provides a more immersive experience than other forms of communication. Viewers can remember up to twice as much information from video as from written material. And it’s a more passive, low-commitment kind of engagement than reading. For a user who’s in browsing mode, rather than with a specific goal in mind, a video might be more tempting than text. This makes it great for driving awareness and advocacy among otherwise unengaged users, as this case study shows.
Case study: Volvo Trucks Volvo Trucks ran a successful a six-video campaign, including the infamous ‘Epic Split’ featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme. (I’m assuming we’ve all seen that one, so here’s another in the series instead.)
The campaign grew Volvo’s YouTube subscribers from 3,500 to 91,000. Unique visits to its websites in Europe increased from 175,000 to 300,000 per month. It generated earned media value of €126m ($172.6m). A survey also found that almost half of truck buyers who had seen the campaign were more likely to choose Volvo the next time they purchased a truck.
Video offers an opportunity for deeper engagement with users
Six steps to a stronger strategy for video content
So how can you start to capitalise on the opportunity and break bad video habits? The following six steps will strengthen your strategy for video content:
1. Write (better) briefs
A strong brief, with a clear challenge and objectives, will produce the best results. You should spend a significant amount of time writing your brief to make sure you get it right. Don’t prescribe solutions – leave it open for creative, unexpected solutions.
2. Plan distribution from the outset
Don’t overinvest in production and underinvest in distribution. Be clear about your audience and what you want them to do.Make sure you think about it as part of your brief and write a distribution plan upfront, rather than as an afterthought.
3. Design for the channel
Consider how video is consumed on different platforms when designing your strategy. Facebook auto-plays videos without sound. This means you need a strong opening three seconds, which don’t rely on audio. Meanwhile Twitter can support advertising schedules with videos promoted to audiences who are likely to have seen a TV ad.
4. Be bold, think differently
Out of the millions of videos in existence, only a small percentage make it big. It’s important to find the balance between standing out and pushing creative boundaries, and staying true to your brand. Chipotle boldly invested in the production of a comedy series about industrial farming called Farmed and Dangerous, which subtly communicated its brand beliefs, while being entertaining and informative.
5. Keep the video flowing
A study by Pixability shows that the best-performing brands on YouTube publish content on a regular basis. A regular schedule of videos encourages people to return. Planning for a more even flow of video means you can distribute budgets to provide consistent support to all marketing activities. It also allows you to react to market changes or new product launches if you need.
6. Test, learn and optimise
Video is one of the few channels where testing and experimenting with creative ideas is achievable. This is due to the relatively low cost and high volume of data available. It’s common practice for top video publishers to create multiple videos for each brief. This allows them to optimise towards the best performing one. It doesn’t have to be a completely different video. Testing thumbnails, opening frames, music and calls to action can all refine the video, making it work harder.
Developing a brilliant video strategy isn’t rocket science. But it does require commitment, creativity and a willingness to learn.
Be clear about the role video can play for your brand. Make sure there is responsibility and resources in the team to develop and deliver the plan. Plan for distribution from the start, and don’t stop once a video has launched. Learn from analytical insights and improve next time. Be creative and bold, useful and entertaining. Video is a powerful way to earn attention, but only if the audience is willing to watch it.
Anyone who struggles with content consistency and efficiency—and who doesn't?—will greatly benefit from this course. If you want to get smarter about content planning, creation and delivery, start here.
Lauren is a freelance content strategy and digital transformation consultant, working with organisations that make the world a better, fairer, more beautiful place. She’s been working in content since way back in 2007 with some of the world’s biggest brands, including adidas, American Express, Microsoft and Tetra Pak. She loves in Brighton, loves the Downs, the sea, dystopian fiction and bold lipstick. Check our Lauren’s site or find her on Twitter.