Whether it’s for information, instruction, or pure entertainment, it’s clear that people love to watch online video. Just how popular is the format? Over 3 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube alone, and that barely scratches the surface when you consider all of its competitors — not to mention that videos are hosted on just about every other website created today. But with the staggering amounts of content being uploaded to the web, by both brands and consumers, it’s hard to get your video to stand apart from the crowd — and even harder to get it to make a real impact on your customers.
While there are no magic formulas for success, our Content Marketing World speakers have some great advice to share on how to create branded videos that consumers will find authentic, engaging, and useful.
The videos that get me to sit up and take notice are the ones that aren’t (or don’t seem to be) brand-related. They’re the ones I get something out of. The ones I learn something from or move me emotionally. The videos that I build relationships with are the ones that embody the core values of a brand (or multiple brands) and the things I’m passionate about. The videos that I share, forward, embrace, or even discuss, are the ones that take the audience’s needs first and the brand’s messaging second. Good brand videos don’t feel branded at all, they embrace a lifestyle, an audience and a need long before they address their brand.
I really like the new video from Eloqua and Jess3 – “What is revenue performance management?” – because it tackles a complex topic and visualizes it in a fun, creative, easy-to-understand way. But what else would you expect from this team?
Customer videos work really well. There’s a big difference between a marketer or sales guy telling someone your product is great and a customer of that product saying the same thing. It can be really powerful. I’ve seen two different types that work well. The first is a topical video in which multiple customers talk about a specific topic from their various experiences and perspectives. The other is more of a case study video in which one customer (or multiple people from the same company) discusses a broader range of topics as they apply to their specific situation. Another key aspect of videos that is often overlooked is having a solid call to action at the end. Don’t leave them hanging – wondering what to do next. Give them specific “next steps” to learn more, download something, or contact you in some way. The best method is to offer more related information at the end of the video, but ask them to fill out a form to get it. This way you’ve already given them something of value “for free,” but if they’re really interested they’ll generally be willing to give you their information to get more. Then you can follow up with them as a fairly qualified lead.
The ones that engage through storytelling, not selling.
The great brand-related videos are designed to inform, educate, or entertain, but NOT to sell, at least not directly. On the consumer side, Pepsi Max’s depiction of Kyrie Irving as Uncle Drew is one of the better videos I’ve seen in the last year. On the business side, although the original version is dated, the Social Media Revolution videos still do a great job of educating, informing and entertaining.
I think the most successful videos are those that are short – no more than 2-3 minutes. (In fact, I’d prefer 60 seconds if you can get your point across.) I don’t want to hear you pitch your brand, I want to hear the “so what.” Put the “so what” in a story format, compelling thought leadership quote, white board drawing, song and dance – get the picture? Even if you are on a limited budget and must work with a Flipcam, you can do this. But you have to think like the customer and not the salesman.
I appreciate when a brand understands that its interests are often served best by getting out of the way. That doesn’t mean no branding – it means understanding their audience and putting them first.
To highlight two well-known examples:
- It might seem surprising to talk about Red Bull as a brand getting out of the way, because it seems like there’s a logo on a helmet or a wing or a board about every six seconds. But they understood earlier than most that it’s about stories (and, in their case, spectacular footage of people pushing themselves to the limits). Their brand is present in the scenarios without being awkward; it’s a believable connection that doesn’t break the content vs ad rule.
- There are so many possibilities that will arise from combining social, mobile, local. You can just imagine the brainstorming discussions that must have taken place for the recent redux of Coke’s “Hilltop” ad, with people excitedly ticking off the SO-LO-MO boxes to make sure it was all covered. Despite the brand being absolutely everywhere, it’s not just an ad. It’s true to the brand values, but the story – and the audience – is paramount.
The kind of videos that get me to notice are ones that are not really about the brand but where the team tells a unique, creative or compelling story. Video offers an opportunity to entertain or to educate in a real human way. So we need to use those opportunities to highlight real people, with interesting challenges.
It’s really a Venn Diagram. The video has to be transparent (if it’s from a brand, I need to know that up front), unexpected (unusual design, surprise twist, counterintuitive concept), and short. Nail all three, and I’ll take notice.
As these experts assert, branded videos work best when they are brief, communicate transparently, and leverage storytelling principles rather than pushing a hard sell. But there are likely as many views on this topic as there were web videos uploaded in the last five minutes. Care to share your thoughts in the comments below?
Want more guidance for meeting your content marketing challenges? Our CMI Consultants would be happy to help. You can also learn more on measuring content marketing success if you attend Content Marketing World on September 4 – 6 in Columbus, Ohio, where you can listen to and meet many of our consultants.