Monday, January 30, 2017

How to Use Video Content to Create a Loyal Audience


How to Use Video Content to Create a Loyal Audience


These days, it seems there is so much video content that it's hard to get viewers' attention.

When a brand creates a video channel, it's competing with not only other brands' channels but also everything else that lives online. Still, some brands seem to have a loyal following. So, what video content gets people engaged?


Let's say an auto company launches an online video series for a new hybrid car. It repurposes a series of stunning ads from its TV campaign that highlight the car's high-powered performance and low price. It posts the video ads on its online channels, shares them on social media, and waits. Two weeks later, there are few likes, shares, and comments. Why didn't the videos get any traction?


Because video content in marketing works when it provides value—asks questions and provides answers and interacts with the target audience in a meaningful way.

In short, video marketing content isn't about making the sale, it's about creating a conversation with its audience.


Your Brand and Content

Whatever kind of videos you create, they should be consistent with your brand voice. That means your content should be truthful, genuine, and true to your brand. Consumers are savvy.

They won't engage if they feel the content is inauthentic or forced.


For example, if you run a fast-food chain, chances are making a high-quality cooking show video series won't resonate with your audience.


Tip: You can save a lot of time and money by looking at what your competitors and independent creators in your brand category are doing. Try to figure what works for them, and what doesn't. You can get good insights just by looking at the comments section.


Video content works when it's about a subject or interest that both your target audience and your brand care about.


That sounds easy if you're an airline ("woohoo, travel!"), but what if you're a dishwashing liquid brand ("boohoo, cleaning up...")?


The key is to get specific. Find an element in your product or service that your audience finds useful or entertaining.


For instance, people often go online to look for videos that offer tips and tricks, so you can make a series of how-to videos, anything from "the 8 things you can clean in your dishwasher" to a cooking show (after which there's the job of cleaning up pots and pans).


By focusing on such themes, you're offering practical value to the audience and the dishwashing liquid becomes a natural part of the narrative.


Tip: Not everyone is interested in your entire video library. Some might want to see just a specific video. Think about how your content works for those interested in the entire theme of your channel, and for those who are interested in just individual videos.


Production Considerations

Got your idea? Now it's time to make some videos. So lights, camera... wait up! Before you start filming, there are a few things to consider about production.


One-hit viral videos are great, but they're not something that will sustain an audience's attention in the long run. Instead, aim to create a consistent video series to maintain and increase engagement with your audience over time.


Accordingly, you should be uploading videos on a regular schedule. Imagine your favorite TV show airs an episode today, and then two weeks later, and then only a month after that... By then, it will most likely not be your favorite show any longer.


Invite guest stars to widen the appeal of your content and attract new audiences. They don't have to be A-list celebrities. You can feature bloggers or key influencers in your industry—anyone who can present your brand in a positive light.


Decide how many episodes to produce, and how long the content would be relevant on the channel. A series can only run so long before the concept gets old, so think what future content will help to maintain audience engagement.


Get the most out of your video production. All those lights, camera, action, and people don't come cheap. Try to shoot multiple episodes/videos at a time to maximize resources.


Tip: To get eyes on your videos, publish on popular online video platforms, such as YouTube and Vimeo. You can also embed your videos on your social media channels.

Once you have your content ready, it's time to launch. But before you hit "publish," lay the groundwork.


Prepping for Publishing

Before people see your video, they see a thumbnail. It's helpful to think of a thumbnail like a movie poster. It should be eye-catching, it should show an exciting moment in the video, and it should look good on desktop and mobile.


The first thing people read is your title, so come up with a catchy name for your video to draw them in. Research keywords and tags that are popular with your audience to make sure your titles can be found easily on search engines.


Viewers see the top 2 sentences in your video description area before having to click to see more, so this is prime real estate for highlighting your call to action (CTA), such as a link to your website, social channels, or related videos or playlists.


After you publish the video, show you're listening to your audience by replying to comments. Treat your most active users like VIPs. Highlight their comments, give them rewards, and invite them to appear in your videos.



In the end, understand that what people value most is entertainment, utility, and personal interaction. By engaging with them and talking about what's important to them, you increase your brand affinity and build a loyal audience.

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If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or e-mail me at john@x2media.us.

X2 Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it is not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month….remember, “you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”. Always make it a good one!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.


John E. Hornyak

X2Media, LLC

Goat Rodeo or Gantt Chart: Five Better Ways to Creative Content


Goat Rodeo or Gantt Chart: Five Better Ways to Creative Content


A common myth is that the development of creative marketing content happens in a smooth linear fashion, thanks to the toil and ingenuity of an inspired designer, writer, illustrator, or other such right-brain maker. That idea is especially appealing to project managers and heads of marketing who'd like to oversee that ostensibly straightforward process with their spreadsheets and Gantt charts.

But the reality is less Gantt chart and more goat rodeo.

Ideas, drafts, and iterations are tossed around almost at random. Feedback and approvals go back and forth—and sometimes sideways. Unanticipated obstacles knock progress off course, and too often great ideas are thrown onto the dirt and trampled into dust. Inevitably, the goat wins.

It isn't easy to find a balance between the two extremes of super-efficiency and chaos.

Creators typically like to work on a more ad hoc basis, and understand that the twists and turns that creative projects take are often necessary to produce something great. Imposing an overly rigid structure might help tame the goat-led chaos, but it stifles the creative impulse. Yet not having a process at all leads to a mess, because creating great content is not just about that core creative services team.

From Simple to Complex
The most critical stage of any creative project is the collaboration stage. Creative collaboration begins when that initial brief, idea, sketch, wireframe, photograph, video footage, or other visual elements are shared and discussed with the wider marketing team. What was at first an insular, individual period of creation is now a team effort, and suddenly effective progress becomes much harder to manage.

Running the entire gamut of marketing programs and campaigns that can include videos, websites, print ads, email marketing, social media promotions, and so much more, requires way more input than a typical marketing department can provide. Marketing is more like the nucleus around which erratically orbit internal creatives, external freelancers, agencies, and production houses—not to mention the project clients from Product, Sales, and the exec team who will demand input and approval.

You're thinking about that goat rodeo again, right? But if a Gantt chart isn't the solution to taming this chaos, how can you impose enough order on creative collaboration to help the process run more smoothly that doesn't kill ideas at the source or dampen the enthusiasm of the creative team?

The Path to Creative Content Success
Here are five ways to reach a successful outcome for any creative marketing content undertaking.

1. Get goals, visual identity, and core concepts aligned from the start
Spending time on the creative brief is critical to spelling out exactly what it is that the project is endeavoring to do and which business need it will solve.

A written brief won't paint a picture of the project's visual ambitions, but mood boards (physical or digital) can be effectively used to ensure everyone is aligned with the visual direction.

Finally, solicit feedback from outside the core creative team early on. The outsider's perspective can often make a critical difference.

2. Create an effective process that works for everyone
In a recent survey of 400 marketing and creative professionals, 75% noted that their team has no effective creative process. Providing stakeholders with an easy way to check in (without the inspiration-killing burden of update emails) is a great start and will help avoid bumps down the road. Then establish key phases where input and approval from the client or stakeholder is required. When you've nailed a design direction or a campaign tagline, be sure to explicitly secure the approver's buy-in so everyone knows the project is ready to move on to the next phase.

3. Centralize feedback for maximum efficiency and transparency
All comments, input, and feedback should be collected in one central place so every collaborator can see what's already been said or asked and answered. Having a central location helps avoid overlapping as well as repetitive comments, and allows fertile discussion of the work in progress.

For visual content, context is paramount, so all assets should be aligned with feedback to avoid miscommunication. This is especially important for multichannel campaigns with lots of different kinds of assets (video, image, print, digital, etc.), because the entire campaign needs to hang together and you don't want to invest a lot of time providing the same insights and feedback across the teams working on different creative assets.
Finally, close the loop on all feedback so that reviewers will know that their ideas have been heard.

4. Create an efficient and productive approval process
It's difficult to impossible for any approver to rubber-stamp something if their first look is at the final version. They're bound to have opinions, so the earlier in the process they provide them the smoother the final approval will be.

Be crystal clear about who provides final approval and what exactly they're approving. Make it as easy as possible to view and approve the work, especially for senior decision-makers, who may be off-site and who likely have limited time. Make sure each approval is documented to avoid issues down the road.

5. Have a system of record for creative collaboration
Most people consider the tools of the creative trade to be popular authoring tools like Adobe Creative Suite or Sketch which are used to create and develop a piece of content. But once that content is shared and the creative collaboration stage kicks off, marketing and creative often lack the ability to capture all the metadata around the shared file: the reviews, approvals, and discussions mentioned above. As fundamental as Adobe or Autodesk is for creation, it's just as important to have a system of record for your creative collaboration.

Summary

  • Increasing demands for creative content have made it imperative to put a process in place that brings right- and left-brain thinkers together without dampening the enthusiasm of the team.
  • Start with the creative brief to ensure everyone is aligned with the vision and what business needs/challenges it must solve.
  • Maximize efficiency and transparency throughout the process, including the approval process, and create a system of record for creative collaboration.
Follow these creative collaboration best-practices on your next creative project, and make something great without goat rodeos or Gantt charts.