Video content marketing is the new normal for brands and agencies that are eager to find relevance in a cluttered and ever-evolving landscape.
The promise of sight, sound, motion and story—along with guaranteed viewership—is a promising alternative to the engagement shackles that we’ve chained ourselves to for the past two decades.
What makes this format so promising for anyone from the largest of agencies to solitary PR pros?
In a nutshell, the industry is maturing and realizing that we have other tools out there that are affordable and easy to execute.
Meanwhile, we’re questioning the efficacy of traditional ad-based digital media, such as banners and pre-roll content. There are valid concerns around who is actually viewing them and how well they reach their intended audiences.
It’s also pretty easy to launch a video content campaign these days. You no longer need to rely on a multimillion-dollar budget or wait the equivalent of the gestation period of a human baby to launch the whole thing (the campaign, not the baby).
The trick, however, is to do so successfully and without falling into the same bad habits seen across other media.
Tell a good story
It’s a simple thought on paper that’s hard to execute.
The delicacy of the branded video combination is to figure out how to take that leap of faith into good storytelling. It’s easier to play it safe and tell a bland story than it is to risk the controversy and emotion that comes with good storytelling.
Yet, one only needs to look at their own viewing habits to realize the difference between a story and a good story.
You see stories all the time. You’re walking down the street, someone walks past you, then they’re gone forever. There was a beginning, middle and end—it’s not a very good one, but it’s a story.
Take that same narrative and inject personal emotion into it. Maybe that person is running past you holding a briefcase and being chased by someone else. You feel a bit of adrenaline and now you are just a little more vested in what is happening and curious to see how it unfolds.
Tell a good story. Don’t be afraid to spice it up with some adventure.
Make your logo smaller
We have the unfortunate tendency to see the world through the bubble that we have created around ourselves within the communications industry.
We operate inside of this bubble with the belief that people will respond to our call to action or care about the size of a logo. We spend hours poring over brand style guides with exact color schemes and logo-sizing guidelines.
We try to stuff our viewers with as much of our brand essence as we can in the belief that if audiences see this familiar combination three to six times a month, they will create some sort of association with it.
The best pieces of branded content don’t even need to mention the brand. Let the story do the work of conveying your brand essence.
Think about screen size
We’re still making one-size-fits-all videos, which are a real shame when there is research about how videos are consumed on tiny screens on buses or in bathrooms as much—or more—than it does on big screens in living rooms.
Modularity and video length are two important components to any video campaign.
Know your audience. Do they do everything on their phones? What platforms and apps are they spending most of their time on?
Once you answer these fundamental questions, make sure your content reflects them appropriately so you can create authentic connections with your audience.
Depending on where your video content strategy is today, this can require experimentation and risk. Don’t let it hold you back; the risk of not adjusting is much greater.
Place your content where people can find it
After investing so much of your time and money into telling a great story (and re-sizing the logo a few times), find a way to get it into the hands of the people you want watching it.
Through a combination of “influencer” marketing, data targeting, social media and native formats, you can present your content as a story—not as an ad or pitch.
If you’ve done the hard part of telling a great story in such a way that will either create intense emotional triggers or is directly interactive, getting people to watch and share should happen naturally.
Video content marketing is not a strange new landscape.
Rather, it’s a marriage of advertising and storytelling, much like radio, television and newspaper.
Its evolution is due to the maturation of Western audiences who have become desensitized and immune to the same ways of marketing that have been prevalent throughout the past century.
As the landscape changes, it’s up to us to figure out how to change with it and not try to force old world thinking.
Learn how to tell a great story and show your audience that you understand and respect their attention and time. They will respond in kind.
Garik Goldsheyd is an executive with Philo Media, a Chicago-based digital startup that produces and syndicates branded video content.