Look before you leap. That might possibly be one of the most-frequently offered pieces of advice in the history of mankind. Maybe that's because it's an easy cliche to remember. But I like to think it has something to do with it actually being good advice. In social video, brands that jump in with reckless abandon are far more likely to struggle in finding success than the brands that take the time to plan, organize, and strategize.
For our purposes today, I'll break down several various types or varieties of success strategies that cover the social video campaign process from beginning to end.
Social Video Content Strategies
We've talked a lot in this series about emotional reactions the audience can have to a video. There are a large number of these share motivations that can trigger social behavior. Before you ever turn on the camera--before you ever put pen to paper even--figure out what emotional reaction you want your viewers to have. Choose your share motivation wisely, and it can save you a ton of work, because the audience takes over and spreads the word for you.
Humor is far and away the single most popular share motivation for brands to target. If they can get the audience laughing, they know that laughter will be contagious on social media, driving even more viewers to the ad. People love to laugh, and even more... they love to share that laughter with others.
Shock & Surprise
Shock and surprise are great share motivations for viewers. Show the audience something they haven't seen, and they'll take it from there. Jaw-dropping feats, terrifying acts of nature, I-can't-believe-that-just-happened moments caught on film... they all fall into this category. If the video shows the viewer something they've never seen before, there's a very good chance they'll assume their friends haven't ever seen it either. Nothing gets people talking like something so amazing that it's almost hard to believe.
Several brands have succeeded with social video by getting sentimental with viewers. Audiences love cute and adorable videos featuring pets, children, and family moments. A good heartwarming story can drive sharing just as strongly as humor or any other emotional reaction can. Even sad, heartbreaking videos can encourage social behavior.
We'll take a much deeper look at these and other share motivations in next week's Social Video Blueprint article.
Social video can come in a wide variety of film styles. The most common, of course, is live-action. There's a lot of animation as well, including the increasingly-popular stop-motion animation. Using a style other than live-action can help grab the viewer's attention, though it'll be up to the video's content to hold that attention.
There are popular camera techniques that can help intrigue and impress viewers, such as slow-motion, tilt-shift, or time-lapse photography. Each of these techniques, along with a variety of others, can tell a story with a unique perspective, in a way that live-action cannot.
General Content Strategies
How long should your social video be? Should you do a single video, or a series? Videos with recurring characters or themes--like the Old Spice Man, for instance--can be great for social activity because the audience becomes engaged... attached to the character or story. But videos with one-off characters or completed story-lines can also be successful, since every viewer has a unique attention span.
How blatant should the branding be? Should you remove all trace of commercialism and only shoot to entertain, or is it okay that the audience knows your brand is behind the video so long as they also have a good time watching it?
Social Video Distribution Strategies
How will you distribute your social video--or perhaps more importantly... where?
Will you use YouTube, Vimeo, or another free video hosting platform? Or will you shoot for a customized enterprise solution you can brand yourself?
One of the keys to social video or viral video success is getting a video exposure on one of the leading curator sites. I refer to these sites as gatekeepers--sites like Buzzfeed, Reddit, Digg, etc. Even sites that aren't strictly about curating video content can be gatekeepers for video success, such as The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, or Mashable. Getting a video mentioned on a site like that can exponentially increase its viewer counts, as they each have legions of followers, but it's not always easy to accomplish.
When will you release your video?
On a Monday morning? A Thursday afternoon? Tuesday morning at 8:00am? Different types of content can have different optimal publishing windows, depending on your audience. An easy way to do a little research is to go back and find a handful of branded social videos from recent months that are similar in tone or style to the one you've created, and then see when they launched. Choosing the right launch day and time is as much of an art as it is a science.
It's important to have a plan in place for how and when you'll distribute your video. Too many businesses just upload when they're finished editing, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. Successful social video campaigns are coordinated ballets of social media, emails, media, and gatekeeper sites. That's why there are entire companies like Sharethrough dedicated to helping brands succeed with social video campaigns through proprietary technology as well as experience--it takes a lot of effort.
Social Video Marketing Strategies
What will you do with press or advertising to help boost the launch?
A lot of brands buy ad space on the home page of YouTube, hoping to entice casual viewers to click through and see the ad. Some prefer to go grass-roots, and use media connections to land a few well-placed stories or mentions about the video. Many brands send out press releases to announce a new social video campaign--we get quite a few here at ReelSEO.
What else will you do to help support the marketing of the video?
Will you add it to your corporate website or blog? Will your CEO Tweet about it? Will your email subscribers hear about the video and be given a chance to click and view it? Support your social video in all the various ways you can. In the viral video world, it only takes that one right viewer to spark a surge in viewers, so spread the word wherever you can.
Will you get social with your social video?
It would be a shame, I think, if a brand created a magnificent piece of social video content, only to leave it unmentioned on their Facebook page or other social media outlet. These are the networks and services you want people using to interact with each other about your video, so make sure you meet the people where they are by utilizing your social media presence to spread the word.
Strategies For Measuring Social Video Engagement
Did it work? Did your social video succeed? Well... you tell me. What were your goals for the video? Were you after a huge view count, or were you hoping to increase your Facebook fan total? Maybe you were looking for direct feedback from viewers in the form of comments, emails, or phone calls.
Social video campaigns typically shoot for more than just raw views, clicks, or pageviews. Social campaigns are all about... social behavior... getting the viewers talking to each other, getting them talking back to the brand.
Brands that want to excel with video should map out their goals long before any work is done on the video itself, and then clearly define how they'll know when those goals have been reached. Whether the plan is to use surveys, analytics packages, or third-party tracking services, there needs to be a measurement piece in place or else the entire campaign is an exercise in guesswork.
Know what success with social video means to your brand, and how you'll spot it, or you'll fail before you even begin.
Is there a wildcard element to social video success? Does luck play some kind of a role? Sure. No doubt. Social video is far from an exact science. But let's stop acting like it's a complete crap-shoot. With the right strategies, from ideation and planning through creation and distribution, brands can put themselves in a position to engage viewers like never before and count themselves as a social video success.
Join us next week for Part 7, when our topic will be Catalysts for Sharing, where we'll take a much deeper look at some of the most common psychological share motivations that drive sharing behavior and propel social video success.
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