You've heard all of the stats-demand for video content is growing rapidly, and using video in your content marketing strategy increases traffic and engagement. But how should you approach creating video content from the ground up? And-more importantly-how do you distribute it strategically?
Before diving in headfirst, take the time to document an actual strategy, including how you plan to produce the videos and secure approvals, and where you will distribute your video content. Your strategy will also help your team navigate the questions and challenges that arise in the video production and distribution process. A well-written strategy will also ensure the proper representation of your brand, as well as sustained engagement from your audience.
Regardless of the scale and budget behind your videos, before you grab an iPhone or hire a production crew, take a step back and be prepared to start creating video content with a "crawl, walk, run" methodology. Here are some of the best methods and considerations for each phase of your video journey.
Crawl: Time for Discovery
Your "crawl" phase should be a time of discovery for your brand. Before you begin crafting your video strategy, have you tested video for your brand yet? Testing how your audience responds to video content can help you build a great plan. What video length works best? What format? Which topics should you focus on? Consider trends within your industry to ensure that what you produce is useful for your audience in their journey. For instance, if you are a healthcare brand, then educational videos may make the most sense, but if you are in the e-commerce space, consider trying out product reviews.
Then, consider your own goals. What action(s) do you want your viewers to take, and are you prepared to carry that through in your video, descriptions, copy, etc.? According to Kim Larson, global director of the Google BrandLab, approaching video for any brand should start with two basic questions: "What does my brand stand for?" and "What does my audience care about?"
Image attribution: Avel Chuklanov
Consider your audience's micro-moments-where are they going to be in their decision-making journey when they discover this video? What types of questions would have led them to click on this video?
In your crawl phase you should also determine the level of production needed for your desired video type. If you need an external partner to help with high-quality production, this is the time to build an RFP.
Lastly, before you graduate to "walking," consider one of the most important factors in getting your videos live-approvals. Determine who will be reviewing and approving your videos and how approvals will take place. Ensure that you have the right tools or system to support review and that everyone involved in the process understands your workflow.
Walk: Iron Out the Details
Once you have determined a video content strategy and the team that will help you to produce it, it is important to spend much of your "walking" time checking all of the video creation and hosting boxes. More than 75 percent of video is viewed on mobile devices, so ensuring that you are optimized for the small screen will be critical. Consider mobile best practices such as making any on-screen text larger than you would on desktop or opting for square video so that you don't get collapsed and lost in social feeds.
Your video distribution strategy should align with your overall goals. If you are trying to drive viewers to a YouTube channel simply for awareness purposes, then consider the channel's unique needs, such as choosing appropriate tags. If you plan to host your content right within your own website, then your web page hierarchy will require attention. Ensure that your video isn't lost between banners, article content, or other assets. When you look at your website's mobile experience, how far do you have to scroll to reach your video?
During the video creation process, your distribution platforms are equally as important as your hosting platform. Based on the platform(s) you choose to distribute on-whether it be Snapchat, Facebook, or YouTube-make sure that you are aware of all channel needs from the get-go. If you are producing for Snapchat, then creating concepts that fit vertical video is a must. Eighty-five percent of social video viewers are watching without sound, so be sure to include subtitles. Additionally, for SEO and accessibility purposes, you should include a video transcript.
Speaking of SEO, how else can you ensure that your videos are just as search-friendly as your editorial content? Unlike editorial SEO, where you have plenty of text to optimize for searchable terms and questions, video content requires extreme tact to make the most of what little crawlable text you do have. At the most basic level, your video title and description should be approached just like the title and metadata of a piece of editorial content. Use keywords that are important for your strategy or brand. A great video thumbnail that includes descriptive imagery and text will aid in SEO and drive clicks!
Image attribution: Luke Porter
Run: Share and Optimize
Ironing out all of the details in your video ideation and production process will allow you to move seamlessly to distributing at scale. As Larson says, "The trick is to create content gradually, and build an engaging library over time."
Once you have a defined video strategy and are producing regularly, you will need to be ready to share your video content consistently. Just like you use an editorial content calendar to plan your written content strategy, you should have an overarching map for your video content as well. This way you can make sure to schedule your video releases and promotions around key product launches or timely events.
Based on your video distribution strategy and where you choose to host your video content, you will need to understand different measurement capabilities of video platforms to optimize video performance in alignment with your brand's goals. Hosting on YouTube will give you a suite of valuable metrics, such as viewer demographics and watch time. As you invest time in observing and analyzing your performance data, you can confirm whether or not your videos are reaching your core audience and where you may want to tweak your content strategy.
For example, if you continue to see drop-off in your viewer count after the first quartile, perhaps it's time to rethink your video length or how soon you choose to introduce your brand. Regardless of the platforms you use, ensure that you are aware of their measurement capabilities and can use what they offer to improve your video strategy over time.
If you're starting a video content strategy from scratch, this may seem like a lengthy checklist, but you will thank yourself in the long run for investing in quality video techniques the first time around. You're better off creating no video than creating bad videos. Ergo, having a unifying strategy for all your video content is a necessity. Once you've tested the waters of video and found an audience, you can keep refining your approach and making creative content that has viewers eagerly awaiting your next upload!
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Featured image attribution: Hermes Rivera