This is our ninth and final installment of the Social Video Blueprint series–which would have appeared last week were it not for a few hiccups. Throughout the last 10 weeks, we've explored social video from all angles, from its very definition to some of the best practices that lead to success. So today we're going to draw some actionable conclusions, and create a checklist for social video excellence.
Social Video Blueprint Conclusions & Action Items
Drawing from the entire series, I want to look at a few main conclusions about social video:
You're not advertising anymore when you step into the social video world. You're interacting. You're entertaining. And if you really execute… you're building relationships. Think about the kind of content people would willingly sit through for fun, and then build that kind of content.
Embrace Social Media
With social video, you're looking for discussion, dialog, and interaction around your video and your brand. How can you expect that to happen if you don't have a presence on the major social media platforms and a working knowledge of how to use those tools? If the link to your new video is the first thing you've shared on your Facebook wall in over 9 months, don't be surprised if it's largely ignored. Social video seeks authentic interaction with viewers and between viewers; if you haven't been historically authentic on social platforms, it's going to be a long road.
Some of the most successful social video campaigns are at the leading edge of video creativity and technology. Brands are all seeking an eye-popping way of getting the viewer's attention. Visual effects like tilt-shift, or film techniques such as stop-motion or time-lapse, can real an audience in–often times regardless of the video's subject matter. Experiment as well with video length, style, tone, etc.
Seek Help Where Needed
For a social video campaign to work, it's got to be firing on all cylinders. From concept to production to marketing and promotions, everything has to work. And most of us are not experts in all facets of the social video campaign.
There are many fantastic firms and agencies that specialize in one or more of the common social video tasks. If your idea is great, but you don't have much production experience, consider bringing in a professional film crew to help ensure the finished product looks polished. If you've got the production side handled, but are a relative newcomer to the world of social media marketing, partner with someone who has experience in that area.
Social Video Checklist
There will always be some measure of luck to social video success, as the very thing you're aiming for–social interaction around a piece of video content–is organic in nature. It's not controllable… completely. But there are things brands can do to significantly increase their odds of starting that social fire.
Think through every aspect of your social video campaign, from inception to completion, and have a plan laid out for every component. What emotional reaction do you want your viewers to have to your video? Where will you distribute the video? Are there any gatekeeper or media sites you want to target for publicity? How will you measure if the campaign was successful?
A good rule of thumb is to start at the end and work back. In other words, figure out what it would take for you to consider the campaign a success (total views, new Facebook fans, ReTweets, etc.) and then try and dream up a video idea with those goals in mind from the very beginning.
Make Great Content
Content is king, or so everyone says. And honestly, I know why they say it: because there's virtually no chance of a poorly made piece of video content going viral, unless it's for all the wrong reasons. Not all great content can succeed in a social video campaign, but pretty much all social video campaigns that do succeed start with great content.
You'd be surprised how many brands create a mediocre video, only to be genuinely disappointed when it doesn't gain social video traction.
Before you ever point your camera and click "Record," make sure you've tested your concept. Tell friends, family members, coworkers, or neighbors about your idea so you can begin to gauge possible audience reaction.
Even after the video is complete, send it around to your network as an unlisted video before you publish it to the world–maybe someone will spot an issue or opportunity to make it even better.
Don't end up in too tight a bubble. Get the opinions of third parties throughout the lifespan of the campaign so you can have a better feel for if you're on the right track.
Have A Hook
What is it about your video that's going to grab viewers? Is it a loud noise? A flashy camera trick or special effect? A small child in a Darth Vader costume? Within the first few seconds of your video, you've got to hook the viewer. You can do it with your video topic or subject, or with a video or editing style as well. Just make sure you have a hook planned.
And don't let yourself get carried away with branding and drive viewers away with boring video introductions.
Emotional Trigger For Sharing
What emotion do you expect most viewers to feel upon watching your video? Is that emotion a strong enough experience to drive them to share the video with others? When planning your emotional trigger, you've got to do it with a wide brush, appealing to as many potential viewers as possible. Avoid inside jokes or industry-specific humor, and unless you have a clearly-defined goal… avoid causing viewers to have negative emotions like anger or grief.
In order for them to share it, they have to feel something. And whether or not that takes place is dependent solely up on you.
Where will you distribute your video? On YouTube? Or maybe on another site like Vimeo? What about both? The common theme here in this checklist is planning–know where you plan to distribute in order to reach the best possible audience size long before you even begin filming your video.
A good media push can help a branded social video campaign get started with a bang, so consider writing press releases or personal notes to media contacts. Pushing "publish" on a video is not a distribution strategy. Too often, brands put all their effort into the creation of the video. But even when the finished product is fantastic, it's doomed to fade away unseen if there's no distribution plan in place.
Social video needs social media to succeed. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media properties are the lifeblood of social video marketing. If you don't put your brand out there on these platforms, there's little-to-no chance of your ever interacting with customers around your video.
You can learn a lot by participating in social media: what kind of videos people enjoy, what kind of content viewers are most likely to share, and what motivates consumer brand loyalties and shopping habits.
Integrate simple sharing options into your campaign heavily, like Facebook "like" buttons or Google "+1″ buttons, to make it as easy as possible for each viewer to share the video with friends and family.
Bottom line on social video: forget everything you know about traditional video advertising. With social video, everything's different, from the goals of the campaign, the content itself, and how you distribute the video. Relationships and interactions are now the endgame. Sales will come eventually, but today's savvy online audience can spot a pitchman a mile away and have little patience or tolerance for sales-heavy ads. Instead, seek to create an experience they'll remember, and one they cannot help but share with friends.
If you've missed any articles in our Social Video Blueprint series, you can catch up below:
- Part 1: The Social Video Blueprint Overview
- Part 2: It's About Content, Not Ads
- Part 3: It's About Views, Not Impressions
- Part 4: It's About Shares, Not Clicks
- Part 5: Social Video Case Studies & Examples
- Part 6: Social Video Strategies
- Part 7: Catalysts For Sharing
- Part 8: Social Video Best Practices