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No doubt you’re knee-deep in social media marketing these days, spending a good chunk of time engaging with customers within social networks and creating compelling content that attracts followers. Pat yourself on the back for your hard work – and now, get ready for a social networking exercise you may not have come across before.
Videos, which you may be using in your business to help highlight your products and services, are a great tool for expanding your social connections. As you’re probably aware, videos help bring your brand and key marketing messages to life in a different way than text or still images do. And you may have already posted some of your videos to YouTube as a way to generate buzz.
However, to do true “social video marketing,” you need to go beyond simple YouTube posting. You need to encourage audiences to add their own ideas to the video mix, which means they are implicitly endorsing your marketing messages.
According to research from Bazaarvoice and Kelton Research, most consumers trust user-generated content – that is, content that’s not created by the brand – over any other kind. In addition, 84% of people under 35 say that user-generated content has some influence on what they buy. They are also three times as likely as their parents to use social channels to research their purchases.
Below are ideas for getting the most possible social mileage out of your videos.
Think beyond just posting. The “baby steps” of social video marketing involve doing more than simply posting videos to your own website. Posting videos to your own YouTube channel will help not only boost the social sharing of your videos, but can also increase your SEO rankings. In the retail space, we know that enhancing natural search through the back link from YouTube has helped raise the rankings ofSports Unlimited, Advantage Bridal, and Factory Direct Jewelry, to name a few.
Include a call to action. Once your videos are up on YouTube, you can encourage people to comment, ‘like,’ and share your content with their social connections. You can do this by offering compelling content and by simply asking outright with readily accessible sharing icons and links.
While these functions are built into YouTube, don’t assume people will take the plunge on their own. As with any other marketing channel, include a clear call to action and readily available sharing icons and links.
Pull, don’t push. Give some thought to how to make your messaging generate interest from your audience. Obviously, you want to develop videos that help promote your company’s products and services. However, potential customers will also respond well to authentic, personal messages about you and your business.
For instance, you can use video to explain how you’re responding to customer feedback, tell a story about how your products are making a difference in the world, or provide insights from your fellow business owners. This is not about creating slick and polished videos – it’s about giving your customers a personal connection to your brand, which helps humanize your company. Zappos.com is one company that’s done a great job with video to highlight its customer service and return policies, and generally give customers a good impression of how the company operates.
Put customers at center stage. Allow customers to upload their own videos describing experiences with your products and services, or as responses to your videos. Then allow them to share these videos socially. If that’s not appropriate, brainstorm about other options. For example, the Will It Blend team knew it would be irresponsible to ask people to perform their own experiments (for example, tossing iPhones into blenders), so they asked Facebook users to suggest items the company could blend on camera.
A recent comScore study found that both professionally produced and user-generated video can work together to provide even greater impact on your marketing efforts. This makes sense: Customers want to hear from you about your business, but they also want to see believable messages from people like themselves. So how can you incorporate user-generated content into your video channel? You might let them compete to sing your jingle in a fresh way. Or issue a video essay challenge that fits your brand.
Choose quality over quantity. Are you monitoring for views and thumbs-ups? Or sharing, comments, and links? High video views are great, but high engagement is better. Even though some folks want to see their videos circle the Web in a flash, quality engagement is more important than putting up big numbers. After all, millions of us watched those roller-skating babies, but did you switch to a new bottled water brand?
Social video marketing focuses on measuring shares, comments, links to your website and the online buzz it generates for your brand. So while going viral is good, you should do more to encourage interaction, which can better impact sales. Right from the beginning, a social video marketing strategy should incorporate ways for people to share their thoughts and feel as if they are contributing to the content being shared. It’s also important to provide access to channels that make sharing and redistribution easy.
Consider humor – but carefully. For many marketers who hope to go viral, funny is the way to do it. Humor can also help build interaction and get your content shared. However, humor can also be tricky to pull off really well. It’s more important to be real and to connect with your targets than simply generate LOLs.
Marketing has claimed a “customer first” focus for a long time – but today, social media is forcing us to walk the talk. Putting users front and center, and giving them a sense of co-creation, adds value for your customers, their social circle, and other potential customers who are seeking information. It all adds up to very convincing information at purchase decision time.