With content continuing to lead the way in marketing, Video Producer Ben Horrigan, from Studio91media shares his five step guide to help your business develop a video content strategy.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you’ll know that video is an essential part of any serious marketing strategy. You’ll have heard all the stats before – that video makes up 80% of all internet traffic, that YouTube is the second largest search engine, and that 85% of millennials engage with brands after seeing a video on social media.
The trouble is knowing what to do about these stats. You know video is important, but how do you actually put that into practice for your company? Increasingly I’m seeing brands go down the route of just experimenting randomly with video, to see what sticks. Here are three big reasons NOT to do that!
- You might damage your reputation. Your video content needs to tie in with your overall marketing strategy, including your values, brand and tone of voice. Otherwise you risk throwing away all the hard work you’ve done in other areas.
- You won’t know whether it’s worked or not. It might go horribly wrong because there was no plan, and you might be put off trying video ever again. Or maybe it ends up being a huge success, which you can’t replicate because you’re not sure what you did right!
- You’re wasting your time. Producing video content is time-consuming. If you put in the work up front to properly plan and strategise, there’s a much better chance that the end result will be worth it.
With all that in mind, here’s a step-by-step guide to devising an effective video content strategy for your business, along with some examples to help give you a bit of inspiration.
This guide is aimed at business owners and marketing professionals who know they need video as part of their marketing strategy, but want to do it in the right way and for the right reasons. It will ask you a series of questions that will hopefully put you on the right track towards a clear, sustainable and effective video strategy. I would really encourage you to make notes as you go along. Once you’ve answered these five straightforward questions, you’ll have a watertight strategy that you can refer back to every time you produce a piece of video content.
Step 1: Why are you using video?
Maria von Trapp was wrong – the end can be a very good place to start. If you know where you’re headed, you can reverse-engineer that outcome to help you figure out how to get there.
These are some possible objectives for your video content strategy. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, just a few suggestions!
- To drive sales or web traffic
- To build brand loyalty
- To reach new customers
- To add value to your product
- To communicate with employees
Here’s an example of a video we produced for Tyler Grange, an ecology and landscape consultancy firm. The focus here was on building awareness of their company culture. Because we knew that right from the start, we were able to properly think through how we could achieve that goal through video. From chatting to the client, it quickly became clear that they have loads of amazing stories to tell about what sets them apart from their competitors. So the videos all offer a little glimpse into the way they do business, in a straight-talking and occasionally tongue-in-cheek way.
Step 2: Who is the audience?
This is one of the very first questions I ask my clients when they approach us to take on a video project. Surprisingly, many of them have to think hard to come up with an answer. Or they say ‘everyone’, which is arguably worse. Think about it – why is Star Trek such a successful TV show? Because it knows exactly who its audience is. If they’d tried to please everybody, they would have pleased nobody.
So define who it is that you want to reach with this video content. That might not be your business’s main target market, by the way. There are all sorts of reasons why your audience for a particular campaign or piece of content might be different from your main base. The important thing is to think about it in advance, and plan every aspect of production around that target market.
You might even want to deliberately restrict your audience, providing exclusive content for your most loyal followers. You could achieve this by having a mailing list that links through to an unlisted YouTube video, or by creating a Close Friends list on Instagram for sharing exclusive stories with.
Step 3: What will set your content apart?
This is where it gets harder. There’s no easy answer to this question, and it may involve partnering with a trusted video production company to come up with something that will genuinely stand out. Consider whether any of the suggestions below might work for you and your brand. Again, this isn’t an exhaustive list:
- It has a unique tone of voice
- It looks and feels different
- It gives people an incentive to watch
- It targets a very specific niche
A word of warning. It’s important to create something that stands out, and doesn’t simply parrot all the other content that’s out there already. That said, you should steer clear from a video content strategy that hinges on ‘going viral’. There are really no guarantees in this area, despite what some people will try to tell you. It’s much better to decide on a strategy and plug away at it. If you’re consistent, you’ll build a following over time, which is far more valuable than a flash in the pan.
Step 4: How much content will you create?
By now you should know why you’re producing video, who’s going to watch it and why they should care. The next step is to figure out how frequently you want to publish video content, in line with the rest of your marketing plan. This will depend on the budget and time you have available for creating content, as well as the expectations of your audience.
In a lot of cases, there is a balance to strike between occasional ‘big hitters’ and regular DIY video content. For example, maybe your brand puts out a polished, professionally-shot piece of content once a month, but every week your CEO films themselves on their phone for LinkedIn. Both approaches are totally valid. Both can work hand-in-hand as part of a wider strategy. Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of this kind of approach: he posts a near-constant stream of videos on Twitter, which are filmed in a rough-and-ready way with little to no editing. Less frequently, though, he might put something out that looks far more polished. Those consistent low-budget videos, along with various other marketing channels, mean that the bigger stuff packs a far greater punch.
Step 5: Where will you publish it?
If in doubt, focus on the platforms where you already have an established presence, but remember that not every piece of video content will work on every platform. All the social networks have their own little quirks, which you need to understand if you’re going to capitalise on each platform’s strengths. Instagram is a great example, because it has five different ways to publish video content (Feed, Stories, IGTV, Reels and Live) and they’re all totally different! Read my blog How to create video content for social media for an overview of what works on each of the key social platforms.
Consider posting different versions of your video in different places. For example, you might want a shorter edit for Twitter. You might have a slightly different audience on Instagram and might want to tweak the tone of voice accordingly. As with most of my points in this guide, the key is just to think about it before diving in. Decide what’s right for you and your brand, and write it down.
Make sure you have at least one video on your website that explains what your brand, service or product is about. If you do, the average user will spend 88% more time on your site. Make sure any video content on your website has plenty of copy alongside it, for SEO purposes.
Your video content strategy is all done!
If you’ve been answering these questions as you’ve gone along, you should be well on your way to a robust video strategy. All you need to do now is put it into practice!
Depending on your time, budget and in-house skillset, you’ve got a few different options. You can do it yourself, hire a video production agency or freelance videographer, or opt for a combination of the two as I suggested in Step 4.
The DIY route can be ideal if you want a regular stream of video content without a big price tag. I’ve put together a load of tips for creating your own video content on a budget, so give that a read if you’re interested. And of course, feel free to get in touch and see if Studio 91’s video production services are right for you and your strategy.
Once your content is out there, analyse it thoroughly to find out how well it’s performing and work out what you need to do differently going forward. Facebook and YouTube’s own in-built tools are great for insights like audience retention. This shows whether people are watching to the end, and where they’re dropping out if not. That might help you pinpoint a specific moment that people are finding boring, which will inform your approach next time round.
Have fun putting your new video content strategy into action!