As a writer, this scares me. But, as we’ve previously pointed out on the Content Standard, good video storytelling starts with a script. No, video is not outright replacing other mediums like blog posts, eBooks, podcasts, and infographics. These content types provide unique benefits and won’t become extinct anytime soon, and marketers are blessed to have such a choice between storytelling formats. But how can they choose? What purpose should videos serve?
I was able to speak with a number of marketers and directors at leading brands about why they are embracing video and when to use video over other formats. Here are five of the best reasons to choose video content to tell your brand’s story.
Before planning new video content, brands should consider existing stories that would translate well into film. Not only will this save time and money by eliminating the ideation process, but it can serve as an opportunity to reimagine a successful story, inviting fans back to re-engage as well as enhance SEO by link building.
Shutterstock, a global marketplace for images, video, and music, recently used this strategy to turn a high-performing blog post into a fictitious TV commercial. A few years ago, an in-house designer created a corporate identity around the noble houses from the ultra-popular HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, reenvisioning them as modern corporations. Days before the show’s season three premiere, Shutterstock published Game of Brands on its blog—complete with brand backstories and original designs. It was an instant hit, creating huge engagement around a unique adaptation.
Recognizing the opportunity to continue this storyline, Shutterstock decided to create this series of TV commercials for its Game of Brands companies, drawing from its libraries of footage and music:
As Shutterstock’s Director of Footage Derick Rhodes, told me, “That’s a case where it was something we knew had done well as an article, and it was easily translated into a video. We had the content, and we knew the kind of engagement would be similar—that topic was already doing well. So that’s one potential criteria [for choosing video]. If you know that something has done well outside of the video space, that’s sort of a no-brainer for a lot of brands.”
It might go without saying, but there are video formats that you can’t equate to a style of writing, such as certain cuts, transitions, or effects that would be hard to emulate in writing or other media.
For Moleskine, a company that produces notebooks, diaries, journals, and other “nomadic objects” people keep close at hand, video is one of the main ways it tells its brand story and connects with its creative community. “We often use videos for launches of new collections like our special edition notebooks where we can connect with the narrative world of our brand partners,” said Erik Fabian, Director of Brand & PR at Moleskine America. “We use a lot of stop-animation, which is a compelling visual approach and very representative of the creative spirit behind the Moleskine brand.”
In this 14-second bit, Moleskine introduces its special edition Star Wars notebook, in anticipation of the series’ seventh episode that’s in theaters December 18, The Force Awakens. Out flies a paper airplane on steriods—a Star Wars X-wing fighter.
At the end of the (very) short video, Moleskine’s call to action isn’t a link to buy the notebook—it’s a link to make your own origami X-wing fighter. They know its audience can find the place to buy its products when the time comes. Linking to an interactive page that emphasizes entertainment and personalization encourages viewers to further explore the brand and make Moleskine’s story a part of their own. In this case, a quick stop-animation video conveys the brands’ core qualities: imagination, creativity, and quirkiness.
“A notebook is inherently a time-based experience and a platform for imagination,” Fabian told me. “You flip forward and back, you fill it up over time. Our fans fill their notebooks with lots of amazing work. Before the stop-motion animation approach, we created a lot of flip-through videos where a pair of hands would flip through a notebook to show off its contents. Stop-motion lets us get the hands out of the way when they are extraneous to the story and to create a more immersive experience. The limited edition videos just continued that exploration through creative iteration.”
Ironically, it isn’t the written word that brings to life a company that’s famous for producing notebooks. But that’s exactly the point; Moleskine shows off its core values first, its notebooks second, and stop-motion video is a unique way to do so.
If your brand is in an industry where few brands are taking advantage of video marketing, then you have an enormous opportunity to stand out from your competitors. Jay Baer, President of Convince & Convert, a digital media consulting company, points out in one of his video marketing blog posts how different Life Technologies (acquired in 2013 by Thermo Fisher Scientific) is from other biotech companies. Its videos cover a variety of subjects relevant to biotechnology, including ” A Better Way to Test Drinking Water,” which describes and displays its high-resolution, accurate-mass spectrometry tools. What now? It also produces humorous content, with music videos documenting the lives of fictional, animated characters Ph.Diddy and Ph.Diva.
Here, Ph.Diddy struggles in the lab. C’mon, Ph.Diddy, clear the biohazard bin! (That chorus, though…)
Since others in the biotech industry don’t produce video content nearly to the extent Thermo Fisher Scientific does, it stands out and comes across as a thought leader in the space. As Andrew Green, Global Marketing Development Leader for Exosomes, RNA Sample Prep, Cell & Molecular Research told Baer, “Our company—more than any other in life sciences—believes that building interaction and emotional bonds with our customers is important in our ability to understand their needs.”
Naturally, some industries are ahead of others in the video content marketing game, and some are inherently a better fit to tell stories through film. In the sciences, peer review guides the publishing process, ensuring a standard of quality before and after publication. Scholars authenticate research and vet manuscripts before ultimately deciding whether or not to publish the findings in a scholarly journal. Then, they are up for scrutiny within the scientific community. The roots of the peer review process stretch back hundreds of years. Depth and validity are paramount.
Content marketing blogs? We like to think our work is thoroughly researched—but the majority of content floating around the Internet isn’t. In reality, with the breakneck pace of media sites publishing content, in combination tight budgets and a decreasing digital attention span, marketers simply don’t have the time to take a jackhammer to an article. Instead, we grab the closest tools in the shed and start swinging.
Still, just because scientific industries have a well-established procedure for publishing its thought leadership doesn’t mean it cannot also embrace content marketing. They are two noncontradictory means of expressing expertise. In one, we deliver comprehensive studies, often after years of research and writing; in the other, we offer a taste for the consumer and encourage him to explore the topic further by downloading an eBook, watching a webinar, or engaging in a different next step.
For the biotechnology industry, which involves the scientific study of living organisms, what better way for brands to imagine their work than through video?
Your brand has a new product coming out, and you’re considering creating content to show people how it works. You have a couple of options. You could:
Many brands are starting to choose option two, and for good reason. Almost every metric that you look at shows higher engagement rates with video, especially when production quality is high. And with a unique personality—a memorable character—acting as a spokesperson, brands are seeing success with creating tutorial videos. “If I think about my daughters—they’re both teenagers—they watch a lot of video on YouTube,” said Shutterstock’s Rhodes. “And in the vast majority of cases, they’re watching videos of people talking directly to them, to the camera. It’s a lot less likely that people will stop watching if you’re speaking to the camera and you’re engaging, because they feel a connection with the person speaking.”
Michael Netsch, Director of Marketing at German computer software company MultiBase, echoes Rhodes, encouraging brands to show how their products work through video by putting the ultimate advocate behind the screen: the person who leads the company. “If you record a statement of your CEO, let him say something interesting,” Netsch said. “It should convey emotion and not be something an anonymous narrator could have told the viewer.”
One of the most famous examples of a CEO testimonial in recent years is Dollar Shave Club’s Michael Dubin. Here, Dubin tells people about his company’s product in a way that sticks in the viewer’s mind. Does he convey emotion and say something an anonymous narrator couldn’t have told the viewer? Is he a memorable character? You decide for yourself:
It’s a common refrain from video proponents, but it’s true. People are migrating to mobile and reaching for their smartphones now more than ever. Video is the perfect format to reach on-the-go audiences who don’t have the time or patience to read a 2,000-word blog post.
If brands understand that their audiences’ preferred mode of consumption is through mobile (retail, travel, and hospitality brands come to mind), they would be remiss not to serve them video optimized for mobile.
“As content marketers, we all know social media marketing is a great opportunity to share and promote content,” said David Waterman, Senior Director of Earned Media/SEO at The Search Agency. “Since social channel usability is skewing mobile, it only makes sense to leverage content that is mobile friendly…video being a primary mobile-friendly format (with video player and bandwidth considerations in mind).”
Spend some time with your brand’s analytics and determine if your users are on-the-go. If they are, creating video they can watch in line at the grocery store or waiting to catch a train can be a terrific idea to capitalize on the format they prefer.
Video quality gets better every year, though we may only notice the change when we watch clips from years past. Last week when I was watching the MLB playoffs, I saw a replay of the last time the Mets were in the World Series—the year 2000—the famous Subway Series in which the Yankees defeated them in five games. I felt like I was watching film from pre-World War Two. Was that really only 15 years ago?
It’s a breakneck pace, and marketers have saddled up for the ride. I’m excited to keep up with the video marketing game and watch as more and more brands tell their story on the screen.
What are other good reasons for marketers to utilize video? Let me know in the comments below. Want to create original, engaging video at scale? See how Skyword Video can help tell your brand story.