Here's a list of buzzwords for you: social, video, and marketing. But if you put them together, they create something that can powerfully engage customers and greatly improve their online experience.
It's a combination that works very well for online marketing: the grassroots, viral environment of social media; video's ability to engage; and a strong marketing strategy.
You're likely well aware of video's value in bringing your brand and messages to life. But simply posting video isn't enough to change consumer behavior; you need to do extra work to encourage people to interact with your content, contribute their ideas, and give it the thumbs-up. As social media changes the rules about marketing and relationships, conversation must be a part of any content you produce.
Social video marketing can encourage prospects and customers to help get your message out and reach a wider audience. Study after study has found that the vast majority of consumers trust "earned media," including word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, over any other source.
Here are some easy ways to get started with social video marketing:
- First step: posting. Populating your social networks with fresh, relevant video is a critical first step. Doing so will not only make your content shareable but also pay off in terms of SEO rankings. In our work with clients in the retail space, we know that enhancing natural search via social network links has helped raise those retailers' rankings.
- Include a call to action. Ask viewers to comment on, like, and share your videos on their own social networks. Those functions are often built into social networks, but don't assume that viewers will take these steps on their own. Add a clear call to action and make sure that sharing icons and links are readily available.
- Show some emotion. Consumers find how-to and product videos quite helpful, but product videos don't usually capture people's hearts. Consumers are more receptive to authentic, personal messages about companies. Think about ways to bring your company messages to life, and show how your products make a difference, or illustrate how consumers use your products in unique ways. The videos that do so don't have to be highly polished; it's the message that matters.
- Put customers in the spotlight. Professionally produced and user-generated video can work together to provide an even more share of voice. Think about how to incorporate user-generated content into your video channel; for instance, allow customers to upload videos about their experiences with your products. Or let them compete to sing your jingle in a fresh way.
- Encourage sharing. Adding sharing options helps your customers tell other people about your videos. Put sharing tools next to every video, everywhere on your website where videos appear. Automated video solutions can make this process easier, reducing the time and work involved in posting videos and adding social network sharing features.
- Do your measurement. What are your priorities: Are trying to boost views and thumbs-ups? Or do you want more sharing, comments, links, and social buzz? Quality engagement usually does more good for your business than lots of views. Millions of people might watch a clever viral video, but if it doesn't budge people's opinions about the product or brand, it's not worth much. The point remains: Although social video marketing is useful in producing brand awareness, it should also help strengthen relationships and increase sales.
The overall impact of video on the bottom line can be measured, but some factors are tougher to measure—though they can be enlightening. Video makes your online storefront look more professional and trustworthy, which gives shoppers more confidence to buy. There is also a social marketing benefit, since video is often shared and liked on social networks. In addition, the presence of relevant video on your site contributes to better search engine ranking, which can draw more traffic; visitors are also shown to click on SEO links when a video image is present, so you get a double benefit.
- Be careful with humor. Many brands that want to go viral do try by being funny, but humor can backfire on you. Humor can help build interaction and get your content shared, but it can be tricky to pull off. It's more important to be real and to connect with your targets than to simply generate laughs.
As you think about implementing the suggestions I've outlined, remember this old adage: "It's all about the customer." Letting them guide and contribute to the conversation will earn their trust, their loyalty, and, ultimately, their business.