Lights, camera, action: How to make social video marketing a success
As consumption of online video soars, how can brands optimise their video marketing to encourage social sharing?
Video consumption, both online and mobile, is growing. And growing rapidly. According to research by Experian Hitwise, UK visits to online video sites grew by 36% between September 2010 and September 2011, and in September 2011 there were over 785 million visits to video sites from the UK internet population, accounting for over 4% of all internet visists. With smartphones continuing to grow in popularity, viewers watch more than 400 million videos from mobile devices each day.
But it’s not just video watching that is enjoying a surge in popularity, it's also video sharing. Last week, a 30-minute video about an African warlord became a web phenomenon, racking up over 50 million viewings in a matter of days since it was uploaded. The video, dubbed KONY 2012, attracted over one million 'likes' - and 50,000 dislikes - and related topics spent much of the past week trending on Twitter.
While the campaign has attracted controversy, the film-makers had achieved the virality that they had planned for - the video delivered remarkable awareness of their message.
Marketers are seeing the advertising opportunity created by the growing popularity of online video and steering their budget towards it in an attempt to create engaging branded content. According to a study by eMarketer, US online ad spending is expected to grow 23.3% to $39.5 in 2012 and, for the first time in history, outspend advertising in traditional print media.
Sarah Wood, COO of Unruly Media, explains that as more people watch videos online, advertisers understand they need to be where their audiences are. “More and more brands are realising that, so the budgets are increasing dramatically,” she says. “There are some brands that are making social video the very heart of their advertising strategy and really harnessing the power of the format to engage and make an emotional connection with their audiences and influence them, as well as build relationships.”
James Grant from Vindico attributes the spend increase to the concept that “advertising follows eyeballs”. He says: “Wherever there's an opportunity to reach an audience, to convey a brand message, marketers will capitalise on that.
“Video content in particular is expensive so it needs to be funded, but the one drawback of the web is that people have got used to the idea of content being free. There are two forces working in parallel - one is that it needs to be paid for and so publishers of any description are always looking for a way to pay for that content; and the other parallel is that marketers are always looking for engaged audiences to put their brands in front of.”
For brands still in the early stages of optimising social video marketing, Wood explains that “Content is King”. Here, she provides some advice:
- Content - create content that people want to watch. If they enjoy it, they'll share it.
- Portable - make it as easy as possible for people to share.
- Longevity - create content that will deliver long-term value to the brand.
- Budget - invest in your video strategy.
Speaking on the masses of content uploaded to YouTube each second, she says: “The battle for brands is to win consumer's attention. That's why it's important to have a distribution strategy, to make sure brands are working with partners to hit their target audience and to make sure the content is in places where it's going to be enjoyed, going to be shared and really get the results that it wants.”
T Mobile is one brand that has got it right. In January 2009 the mobile telecoms company launched its Liverpool Street flash mob, which to date has been viewed nearly 33,500,000 times, followed up with the Royal Wedding video and most recently, the ‘What Britain loves’ video. Wood says: “They're creating something that has longevity. They take the idea of lots of people coming together and sharing in an awesome experience - through music, dance and song.”
Murray explains how T Mobile is a good example of a brand that took an existing TV campaign and made it bigger online. “They [T Mobile] ran campaigns both on TV and on YouTube but arguably they were much bigger online because people were seeing the video on YouTube and then sharing it around the office with their friends and posting it on Facebook,” he says.
The future of video
With the viewing and spending reported to continue increasing, online video advertising shows no signs of slowing down. James Murray from Experian Hitwise says: “It’s been a bright spark in the overall advertising marketplace for a few years but it’s still a massive opportunity that's unrealised.
“The ability to tell a story across multiple screens is still not being talked about. Brands often talk about frequency capping but that's missing the point - what if your user is interested in your brand but they're fed up of seeing that one ad three or four times? They still want to see your brand.”
He concludes: “Instead of frequency capping, frequency serve. Change the creative you serve depending on whether the user is seeing any of those ads before. We’re going to see continued growth in the medium both in the viewers and in spend and you'll see a layer of knowledge being applied so it can be bought, sold and applied in a much more effective way.”