5 Ways To Take Your Brand's Online Videos From Flop To Fantastic

Online marketing is about engagement, often a slow process that takes time to build and even more time to measure. But one of the fastest ways to spread your message is by creating an online video that engages and enthralls viewers enough to get them to share it. An online video may not initially result in direct sales, but it creates brand ambassadors, fans, and loyalists--and that's what matters in the long run.
Here are the (new) rules of video marketing that will make your audience stick around for your next video (and your next product):

Be Authentic

The majority of your online viewers are going to be a younger audience. Your Facebook brand page postings are definitely going to skew younger, so you have to give this generation of users what they desire most.

And what they desire most is authenticity.

If anything characterizes the social media generation, it's that they don't want to be sold to or beaten over the head with advertisements. Instead they want to engage with brands and be a part of a movement. They want authentic experiences. A great example is in travel, where experiential travel companies (like the magazine Afar) have moved away from ritzy resorts and beach-lounging and instead focus on local experiences, from a cooking class to an off-the-beaten-path bar where only locals go. Even in the online video world, these are the types of experiences that viewers want to have. They want to watch videos that feel true, experiences that they can share with their friends and family. Make sure your video ideas are honest and authentic, and you'll be on the right path to hitting the next big market of viewers and, more important for brands, spenders.

Tell A Story

Your brand might be boring. Maybe you sell toothpaste or gum. You may even just sell razors (see "Market a Movement…" below), but that doesn't mean you don't have an engaging story to tell. Or that there isn't an engaging story out there you could find. While some will now cry foul and say this isn't authentic, I disagree. If you tell an authentic story, even if it is not 100% connected to your own brand, then you are being even more authentic than if it were on-brand messaging (by-the-book marketers want to strangle me now). But by telling an engaging story, you do just that--engage. And that's what matters most for today's Facebook and social media generation. While Stride gum has very little to do with world travel, goofy dancing, and inspiring music, their sponsorship of Where The Hell is Matt? garnered them nearly 50 million views. Goes to show that even an unrelated story can do your brand a world of good (pun!):

Where The Hell Is Matt?

While Stride went way off base to promote goofy dancing, the important factor is finding an engaging story that fits your messaging and helping to tell it in a true, authentic way. You do that, and do it well, and you'll create a fresh collection of followers.

Commit To The Extended Promotion

One-off videos are great and may capture an audience's attention. But sometimes a slow roast does more to engage an audience than a quick video, meaning an extended promotion that allows users to look forward to your next offering. Few brands have done this well, but it's not as impossible as you may think, especially for brands that place a strong emphasis on Facebook marketing. By having a series of videos (perhaps spanned over the course of multiple months), you create brand loyalists like never before--Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and site visitors will start to look forward to your next video. A video every week for an extended period of time that tells a story and drives a message and a theme, will do way more for your brand than your weekly Facebook status update or recycling your site's old content. There's a world of possibilities for extended online video marketing--start looking for it now before you fall way behind the times.

Have a Consistent Voice (But Don't Grow Stale)

Besides authenticity and storytelling, consistency may be the most important marketing tool you have. Once you've harnessed a message and are aiming to push it, you need to stick to it. It's impossible for a movement to take shape without giving it time to spread. How long has Mastercard used its "Priceless" tag to amazing success? The trick is to find new and unique ways to tell your story (I can't be the only one who is tired of the Mastercard "Priceless" commercials, right?).

TNT has been pushing the tagline "We Know Drama" for as long as I can remember. But they have continued to come up with great ways to promote a tried-and-true tagline. Check out this video for an example:

A Dramatic Surprise

An old tagline made fresh again, and a fine example of making a video that people will share. And that's the main point. If your videos are continually moving in different directions, pushing different products, and setting different tones, it will be pretty hard to capture an audience's attention for more than a few videos. Keep it consistent but keep it fresh.

Market a Movement, Not Just a Product

Even more important is using a video to launch your brand's image and tone. One of the finest examples I've seen is from Dollar Shave Club, a company that sends razors through the mail. Not exactly an enthralling story, but the company's initial marketing video not only set the tone for a new company, but an entire movement.

I'm not a guy who thinks much about razors (as my beard will attest), so I could care less if the device that gets the hair off my face has one blade or ten blades, if it vibrates or doesn't. As long as it gets the hair off my face while leaving my skin intact, I'm happy. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only guy who thinks the same way. Dollar Shave Club's initial video played to this audience brilliantly, while also picking a fight with the companies who are in an arms-race to build the rocketship of razors. The result? More than 6 million views in just a few months. For a company that sells razors, that's not bad. Not bad at all.

Dollar Shave Club

If they just marketed the fact that they sell simple razors, I strongly doubt they would have pulled such engagement. But since they are selling a movement, a witty return to when true men only used a single blade and spent a couple of dollars on razors, they've captured a whole lot of attention. Get consumers to buy into a movement, become the leader, and consumers will buy into your product as well.

Kerrin Sheldon is the cofounder of Humanity.TV, a new online series focused on authentic travel. A filmmaker, photographer, and writer, Kerrin is currently in the Philippines standing on a rice terrace or hiking up a volcano. Follow his videos and photos from around the globe on Twitter (@kerrinsheldon) and Facebook ( facebook.com/humanitytv).

[Image: Flickr user Frank Beacham]

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4 Comments

  • Jamie

    I notice you said you "could care less". I wonder if you've seen UK comedian David Mitchell's take on that particular phrase from his brand-sponsored web series Soapbox:

    http://youtu.be/om7O0MFkmpw

    The first series took minnow male grooming brand Bulldog from zero to hero, outselling Gillette in the UK in their second year, racking up over 10million views for them. The show, made by ChannelFlip, is now sponsored by Dell whose tagline "The power to do more" has helped the show to do more than 30M views and counting.

  • Jamiel Cotman

    I was watching an episode of 'The Pitch' on AMC. One of the competing advertising heads made a statement that I'll never forget. He said, 'Viral marketing is just guerrilla marketing over the internet'. People have made it so complicated when that's all it is. Guerrilla marketing is simply  marketing for the little guy who doesn't have a big budget. He HAS TO think, 'How do I get my brand exposed to the most people for the lowest cost?' 
    That's it. 

    That's all it is. Only now, you can do it online as well. But its still guerrilla. 

    For instance, there is the story about the guy who passed out free 'Go Rams' signs for all of the Rams fans that were about to watch a game at the stadium. As usual, when the Rams scored, the hundreds of fans held their signs up to show support. But on the back of each sign was his restaurants contact information and best meals. That's guerrilla. Apply that to the internet and you make videos that everyone is going to find intersting enough to mention on their respective social media platform, just as those Rams fans found the signs useful enough to raise during a game.