How to Leverage Online Video
Posted by Jon Roth - Nov 01, 2008
Online Video and Social Networking are Powerful Marketing ToolsYoutube.com is the current leader among a growing group of online video upload and display services and is an excellent channel through which to communicate with your audience. Plenty of people are building powerful marketing strategies around online video and social networking concepts. Social network communication and marketing continues to evolve rapidly, both the technology and interfaces available and the ways we learn to use them.
Online video has become one of the most popular social networking resources. That's no surprise, since we have certainly been a world enamored with television and its various enhancements such as VHS, DVD, and TiVo. Online video is evolving into a medium with the potential to become even more attractive and feature-rich than these earlier and still popular incarnations of television. If the rate of growth and change of the online video market over the past three years is an indication of its future, this medium will likely become the most prolific content provider for the majority of video consumers of movies, TV programs, documentaries, instructional videos, as well as the current form of user-supplied social networking videos.
Netflix, the first and most notable online provider of DVDs via the snail mail system, also provides movies and programs for instant viewing over broadband internet connections. I think this service of Netflix will grow as the movement of DVDs through the postal system gradually shrinks proportionally. When wireless services and cell tower based broadband services reach far enough into non-urban areas, we'll see more net-connected video appliances in use at the beach, in parks, and the back seats of cars vs. the personal DVD players that currently appear in those locations (my opinion that you shouldn't be watching video in those locations notwithstanding).
It will be fun to see how online video evolves, but you don't need to wait to begin using it. Online video is ready right now as a tool for you to create and execute an inexpensive yet rich marketing communication strategy.
Youtube makes it so easy to upload and display video clips of a variety of source formats, and then provide access to those video clips from other locations on the Internet, that the challenges in video communication are no longer technical but creative.
The popularity of user-produced video has also morphed our stylistic preferences and expectations to the point where high budget, high profile production projects sometimes intentionally create their videos to resemble the home baked variety typically uploaded by amateur producers.
How Website Owners Can Leverage Online VideoHow do you start using online video today?
1. Research YouTube
Visit youtube.com and search for videos in your field of interest. See what's already out there. The videos you find may be resources to you or competition. Ask yourself how you might use them to reach your goals, or improve upon them in your own videos.
2. Define Your Target Audiences
Whether you're marketing to sell a product or service, or promoting a message to influence opinion and/or behavior, your essential goal is the same: identify and locate the group of people you need to receive your message, and deliver your well-crafted message to them in a way that maximizes the likelihood that they will receive and accept it.
Start by defining your audience. A narrower definition is more effective in this medium than a broader definition. If you need to communicate with a broad group, divide your total audience into multiple audiences, and make each definition as specific as you can. Don't succumb to the temptation to develop your content to be all things to all people within your total audience. That's called dilution, and it reduces the number of people who will find your content through search. It's far better to divide your audience into subgroups and create separate content for each subgroup. That might mean that you produce two video clips and attendant text content instead of one, but these things are inexpensive to create and free to upload. It's not the same as having to run another 12,000 brochures through the four-color press.
3. Locate or Create Video for Each Defined Audience
With millions of videos already on the Internet, you may find some that are exactly what you need to deliver your message. That's a nice money and time saver, and with proper etiquette, it's fine to use these. When you refer to content someone else produced, be sure to credit the producer and mention where you found the clip. CHECK THE COPYRIGHT status of any clips you use. Don't obtain the source file and copy it to your server. Display it through a player provided by the service where you found it. That's what they want you to do, and the players work wonderfully.
The downside of using someone else's video is that you have less control over its availability. If they take it off the service, you have a hole in your web page.
If you deem it more appropriate that you produce your own video, then by all means, get your digital camcorder out of the case, draw up your storyboard and script, and hit the record button. If you don't feel up to the task, get some help from friends, co-workers, or professionals. Planning and executing a video shoot is beyond the scope of this post, but maybe I'll treat that subject in a later post. In the mean time, shoot us an email if you want to talk about that aspect.
4. Upload Your Video to YouTube (or your other selected service)
Sign up for a user account on Youtube.com. There are other services too (metacafe, yahoo, google, many others) many of which are popular and feature rich. I refer to Youtube in this post only because it's the most popular. These services make it easy to upload your video clips. Just follow the instructions, and use the descriptive and keyword fields provided to enhance search response.
Most services will give you the option of making your video available to anyone or restricting its access to your private channel (specific users to whom you grant access). That's your call. Most of the time I'd expect you to make your content available to everyone.
5. Embed the Video on Your Web Page
This is the crowning step in the process. If you leave out this step, I think you loose half of the potential benefit of communicating through online video. First of all, don't worry. Embedding a video clip onto a web page is easy, especially if you have a content management system on your site. If you don't, you email a link to your online video to your webmaster and let him/her take care of it. All that's required is that the few lines of script provided by your video service be copied and pasted into the source of your web page.
When the video is embedded in your web page, you now have all the space you need around the video player to talk about the video. While video files themselves are not indexed by the search engines, the text that you enter to talk about them and to prepare your viewers is. That's important. You can always put a video up on youtube and wait for people to find it by keyword searches from among the millions that are already up there. You can describe and tag your video to help people find it, but that's not enough. You are also subject to unexpected search results where your video comes up among a list of others that may not relate to your topic depending on the keywords. You could end up among other clips that distract viewers from yours or are somehow unsavory. You'll find everything on the online video services: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
With the video on your page, you have the ability to more finely tune the search engine traction as well as the environment in which your audience first sees your video content. You can also accomplish more on the page such as invite people to contact you for more information about what they've seen or read.
Certainly you hope that people will find you on the video site as well as through your own site, and if you have produced your own video, be sure to include your website address either onscreen or vocally.
SummaryThe net effect (little pun there) of embedding video on your web pages is that you will attract and keep visitors on your site more easily, and you will strengthen the delivery of your message. Follow the five steps outlined above to get started with online video right away. Here they are again:
1. Research Youtube.com and other online video sites. 2. Define your audience.3. Locate or create video clips for your defined audience.4. Upload the video to your selected service.5. Embed the video on your web page and surround it with relevant copy.