Got the ‘Citizen Kane’ of online videos? It still needs to reach the right audience.
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Digital marketers have been creating videos since the dawn of their job category. But because most people would rather watch a video than read paragraphs of information, the novelty hasn’t worn off. The downside of the popularity of videos, though, is that when everyone makes them, any particular video — yours, perhaps — becomes harder for people to find.
Your company’s videos, then, have to be more than just a passive experience for viewers.
The major players are already taking action. Soon, Facebook will allow users to create challenges and quizzes with their videos. Instead of using the site merely as a hub for friends to watch cat videos, Facebook is gamifying its video experience to make it as interactive as possible. Instagram also is adapting: The company is considering a change to allow users the ability to post hour-long videos, a 60-fold increase from its current one-minute threshold.
Introducing innovative strategies like Facebook's or Instagram's is essential for any startup hoping to weather the competition. According to the CMO Mobile Marketing Guide, 85 percent of digital marketers it polled said they intended to use video to expand their mobile marketing efforts this year.
So, the clear message is that, given the plethora of content flooding the internet and social media, the need to understand proper video distribution is becoming more important than ever. Otherwise, you could have the Citizen Kane of videos on your hands with no one to show it to.
Learning from the greats
Utilizing proper video distribution means more than uploading a video to YouTube and hoping people find it. Doing so wastes more than just time and money — it squanders the video's marketing potential. Too often, producers channel all their efforts into making the perfect video without trying to distribute it properly.
Successful producers, on the other hand, recognize the need to adapt to their audience. Tasty, for instance, became Buzzfeed’s signature food channel not just by creating quality videos, but by understanding how users consume content. Tasty capitalized on Facebook users’ scrolling habits to create its distinctive overhead, time-lapse style. Plus, instead of keeping the camera on the chef, it focused on enticing close-ups of the food itself, knowing this was the footage that would catch viewers’ attention.
Tasty could have tried to be the “Food Network of the internet” and emulated popular cooking shows on its social media channels. The company realized, however, that you can’t watch an hour of Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray while waiting in line at the DMV. Adapting your content to the appropriate platform, then, is the first step to separating yourself from the millions of other content creators out there.
Maximizing your videos’ potential
Learning the hardest and most overlooked part of the video-marketing process is a challenge. As when you develop any other skill, it helps to take things step by step. So, before you bust out the legal pad and jot down your brightest ideas, see if these strategies can ensure that the effort you spend on your videos isn’t for nothing.
1. Connect the content to your brand.
When you’re working on an eye-catching video, it’s easy to forget its purpose beyond getting everyone’s attention. People may click on your video of 20 dancing clowns, but unless you’re selling clown makeup, they won't remember your product.
The lesson here isn’t to avoid creative ideas. It's to master the trick of connecting your engaging concept to your brand. Consider taking the Allstate approach, and having a talking head explain a relevant situation (getting rear-ended, receiving a speeding ticket, etc.) before cutting to a re-enactment of the situation. That way, you’ll be grabbing users' attention while simultaneously getting them to realize how much they need your product.
2. Trust the platforms.
Of course, users will realize how much they need your product only if they actually need your product. Yes, everyone knows the first rule of marketing is to know your audience, but too many marketers take a one-size-fits-all approach to attracting viewers. Unless you’re looking for ways to waste money, don’t bother showing your luxury jewelry ad to 16-year-olds working at Wendy’s.
This is where social and streaming's “big brother” stereotype works in your favor. For better or worse, social media platforms and streaming services know who their audiences are, what these people like and what activities they tend to engage in.
Using that knowledge to your advantage can help you target the right people and maximize the return on your marketing investment. Roku, for example, recently announced its Audience Marketplace initiative, which will allow marketers to use first-party data to target specific groups via Roku's platform.
3. Keep it visual.
Perhaps the biggest asset you should use to your advantage is your video’s visual component. While videos are multimodal creations, it's their visual sense that makes them unique. On-screen graphics and motion design always catch people’s eyes, and making sure that whoever’s on camera looks presentable can go a long way.
Closed-captioning is also a great way to translate words into images. It’s not only helpful for the 5 percent of the population who are hearing impaired or deaf, but it grants you access to situations when listening isn’t an option. Users scrolling during a meeting aren’t getting anything out of a picture of someone’s mouth moving silently.
4. Use professional production values
Just because you’re creating videos to be watched on a phone doesn’t mean you should shoot them with a phone. Professional production values are one of the first things viewers notice, regardless of whether they’re conscious of it. Everyone’s more attracted to a thumbnail with three-point lighting and high-quality footage than a grainy selfie.
At my company, Rocksauce, we use a multi-camera setup to enhance each video’s professional quality. This lets us edit footage seamlessly, so if something goes wrong from one angle, we have multiple shots to choose from. Cutting among various angles is also more engaging to viewers and prevents them from scrolling for more exhilarating content.
With videos' increasing ubiquity, proper distribution is essential for any entrepreneur. Even the most informative, enlightening video is doomed if it's not marketed the right way. By taking the right steps, you can make sure the world sees the footage you’ve worked so hard to create.