“Make Me a Viral Video!”—Tackling Video Content the Better Way

Video content and other forms of multimedia are often proclaimed the “way forward” for content marketing—more engaging, more shareable, and more effective than large blocks of text. In fact, more video is uploaded to the Internet in a single month than network television has produced in three decades, and it has been predicted that as of this year, 74 percent of all Internet traffic would be video.

Armed with this knowledge, your CMO cries: “Make me a viral video!” Like it’s that easy—especially when your budget is decreasing amid the need for more content at all stages of the funnel, and your team is burned out as it is. That simple cry for video could be the straw that broke the team camel’s back.

In this environment—heck, in any environment—it’s so easy to produce poor quality video, something that can be even more damaging to your brand than no video at all.

Video marketing trends aside, video—sad to say—is essential for your content mix. Just make sure it’s good video.

Does the Medium Suit the Message?

“With the whole ‘pivot to video’ that’s going on in modern media, there’s a danger in losing a lot of great storytelling tools and methodologies,” says Steven McCann of Shearwater Films, one of Skyword’s own video contributors. “Some content just isn’t supposed to be a video, and relentlessly trying to shoehorn it into a 16 by 9 frame is going to make it suffer.

“I think it’s important that brands are smart with how they use their budgets when it comes to video, and they should have a valid compulsion in making content in video format rather than just doing it because it’s vaguely zeitgeisty at the moment.”

So, lesson number one: Don’t just make it a video because it’s cool. Think: Does this message suit the format? Or would it be better as an infographic, a slide show, or an e-book?

Video camera in foreground with blurred library and interview subject

Image attribution: Sam McGhee

Continues McCann: “I think part of the reason why video is so dominant in media consumption at the moment is because it requires a certain amount of focus and clarity in the process of being made. It can’t really be half-assed. The language of video is one with clearly defined rules and grounds, so content that is produced as video needs to conform to those rules.

“Having said all of that though, I think what I’d expect to see over the next few years is a move to a more disposable, less polished content form. It’s already begun to happen with Snapchat and Instagram stories, which have devolved the format to an even greater extent than what had already happened from the beginning of web video. Brands have obviously already started to get into social video as an advertising format, but I’d expect to see a greater move towards ‘real’ content. Over the last few years, there’s been a huge spike in interest in documentary and I’d expect to see advertising move in this direction as well as it is cheaper to produce and the format is more forgiving.”

Lesson number two: Play around with your formats to find something that fits your brand and your budget.

And while we’re at it, lesson number three: You have to put in work to make it work. You could’ve made the best video the world has ever seen, but if you don’t get it in front of your audience, no one will know about it. Include distribution as part of your initial project plan and content strategy.

“I’ve had clients who’ve put tens of thousands of dollars into a project and when we’ve handed it over to them they’ve said to us, ‘So what do we do now?’ The end goal of who the video is targeting, and how it will be watched by those people, should be firmly decided long before the camera is even turned on,” says McCann.

The Content Is the Key—Not the Production Value

That all sounds really, really expensive, right? Maybe you’d be better off just bashing something out on your iPhone and using it on Facebook . . . Which brings us to lesson number four: Preparation at your end makes the whole thing smoother—and more cost-efficient.

“It’s a common misconception that video is extremely expensive,” counteracts McCann. “The reality is that video is time-consuming to produce and edit, but a lot of that can be soaked up by the client in-house, which will drive down the total billable hours of the videographer/editor.

“The reality of content production is that the equipment required to shoot it and the talent of the videographer is secondary or even tertiary to the clarity of vision and the effectiveness of the message. The popularity of videos like ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ or ‘Keyboard Cat’ is based on the content, not how well they’re produced.

Man behind video camera

Image attribution: Gabriel Matula

“There’s an unfortunate predilection for brands to throw money at a project and expect it to be a smashing success, but if the concept is poorly conceived from the jump, it’s doomed no matter how much money you’re willing to throw at it. If a client has a clear idea, a well-written script, and has their act together so that when we arrive to shoot everything goes swimmingly, we can produce the video in a half day and have it edited in about the same amount of time, which greatly reduces the cost to the client and makes for a fantastic little bit of content.”

Great! Your video content strategy just got a little easier. But here’s your final lesson—perhaps the most important one of all. Make sure video fits seamlessly into your content strategy. As Google says, “Before making corporate videos, create a content plan to ensure that your content both meets your brand’s goals and engages your intended audience.”

Video Is Not an Island

You need to look at video as part of the whole strategy. There is no single channel that gets treated as separate; each post, each video, each podcast, each photo shared all must tell part of the same brand story. This will also help you to create even more content on a small budget; create one large asset, then carve it up for multiple different formats. Think of that brilliant video you’re about to create:

  • Get your editor to make several smaller clips of around 30 to 60 seconds, perfect for sharing on social media.
  • Add subtitles to those smaller clips for those who’ll come across them during a commuter social scrolling session and might not be able to use sound.
  • When you post it on your website, add a transcript—it will help your SEO. Do the same for YouTube, too, as well as add some keywords.
  • Take that long transcript and create a series of articles, taking some key messages and expanding deeper—or write some smaller blog posts designed to promote the video itself.
  • Are there any facts and figures in the video content that could make a great graphic? Or maybe some pull quotes you could use with a still, for sharing on social?

It all sounds like an awful lot of work, right? But actually, this approach is designed to make less work for you while actually maximizing ROI on your video spend—it’s right on track with video marketing trends. As Dreamgrow reminds us: “The new era demands a focus on ignition, not just content, on trust, not just traffic, and on the elite people in your audience who are spreading and advocating your content. Video does it all.”

It’s also a handy mobile-first strategy: YouTube reports that more than half of their views come from mobile devices.

As for the buzzkill of branded content ruining a perfectly good funny video? More than three-quarters of consumers surveyed by Wyzowl said they would share a branded video with their friends if it was entertaining.

If done well, video is easily accessible, easy to digest, appeals to people’s visual natures, builds audience trust, and gives your brand some personality. It’s only as expensive as you let it be, so put in the prep work and really consider how it fits into your overall strategy and story. Just remember, you’re not creating a viral video; you’re creating multimedia to tell your brand story visually, in a way that fits your total content strategy. Right?

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Featured image attribution: Jakob Owens

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