Video Takes Over the Social Realm: How to Tap the Phenomenon

Is online video big with social media users?

The answer appears to be a resounding yes, if views of online video advertisements are to be believed. Every year, we know that people love to share funny super bowl videos, and increasingly they use social networks to do so. But there’s more to it than just sharing humor. Video is interesting and engaging, and people remember what they saw.

I’ve been saying it all along: video increases retention. That’s why marketers as well as online trainers use it. Viewers know it, too, as they are more likely to click on a video, even knowing it’s an ad. The underlying promise of social media, that people are more likely to take an action if they are prompted by people they know, seems to be working.

A recent study from eMarketer and Visible Measures reveals that views of video ads in social channels are up. Way up. First quarter to first quarter growth in views nearly doubled from 2011 to 2012. This is for videos that people know are ads, and they actively have to click to view.

This means several things: That more people are sharing video ads, people like to self-identify through sharing, and that people are willing to trust brands because their friends do.

It also suggests something a bit interesting to content marketers; people like honesty. An ad is an overt brand message asking people to take action, while a lot of marketing content is covert, sometimes a thinly-veiled ad, and sometimes a truly useful thought-leadership piece meant to help the viewer (or reader) learn something new, while associating the content with a brand. The fact that people click to view something they know is an ad is very telling.

To to get in on the action, know the primary attributes of a highly-shared video ad:

  • Simplicity. An online video that is meant to be shared must be short and to the point. One point. Sometimes I see a link to a shared video that is 7 minutes long, and I hesitate to watch it. But 30 seconds? 60 seconds? That’s easy. I have that kind of time. And the point should not be too convoluted. An ad is often saying “buy our tasty pretzels” and nothing more. Your video should explain what you do and one reason you’re the best at it.
  • Entertainment. Most people want to be entertained by something humorous or uplifting before they will share it. The sad truth is that most of us can’t always create something that viewers will deem sharable based on its humor. It takes agencies a long time to perfect the perfect punch line, and more than half of their attempts flop. At the least, you should keep your message light-hearted and friendly, without getting into detail or being negative.
  • Quality. It’s been said that the quality of writing, video capture and editing doesn’t really matter. I disagree. Even the most raw branded online videos are carefully crafted to appear that way. The fact is, if the images are grainy, then clever writing and timing makes up for it. You should start with a script and read it aloud, then create a storyboard based on that timing. This will flesh out the production, and help you determine how to edit and produce the final video.
  • Usefulness. This is the ‘Why’ part of your video. Why are you producing it? The reason to create a video is to inform your audience about something in an appealing and memorable way. They need to know something you have expertise on, like tactics and ideas for their business or personal needs. They need to know why or how your products will deliver on those needs. If you give people something useful, they will share it with those they know are like-minded.
  • Purpose. Finally, the real reason your audience shares a video; the purpose. The video is more than a message about a product – it is built on principles shared by your audience. They’ll share your videos if your purpose matches something they believe. Maybe your business offers luxury products, clean technology, exclusive service, or hip and fun design. Whatever it is, your video should be dripping in it, so your viewers can relate and share it.

Video is one of the killer apps of social media, and clever ads are only part of the story. Social media users also share videos that are interesting in other ways besides being a funny branded advertisement. These tips will help you maximize your social media presence and gain mindshare from people who like to associate themselves with your clever, funny, well-written, useful and clear content.

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