Social Video Marketing is Bigger Than the Sum of its Parts

For some time, the mantra of online marketers has been “content is king.” With the advent of social media, that’s shifted to something more dynamic—today, conversation is king. Content is still a critical part of the equation, but the focus is on content that drives engagement and motivates conversation.

Video is a great example of this type of content. You’ve probably been hearing talk about social video marketing, or SVM, and might be thinking that if you’re creating and posting video on YouTube, then you’re doing SVM. But true social video marketing recognizes the exponentially greater value of video that encourages audiences to share and add their own ideas to the mix, implicitly endorsing the message being conveyed.

After all, according to research by Bazaarvoice and Kelton Research, most consumers, regardless of age, trust user-generated content over any other kind. Additionally, 84% of “Millennials” (those under 35) say that user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy. What’s more, they’re three times as likely as their parents to turn to social channels for feedback.

Perhaps due to its dynamic, evolving nature, social opportunities for video continue to grow. Pinterest, which has rocketed onto the social landscape, has launched a new profile design that expands users’ ability to pin videos from Hulu, Vimeo and more. This can provide enormous benefit and reach, as pinned videos can easily appear on users’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, and can have a positive effect on a company’s search rankings. At the same time, Google is weaving its own Google+ social network into search rankings and online video sharing on YouTube, furthering the convergence of video with all things social.

So how can marketers make the most of the powerful opportunity social video represents? Here’s some food for thought.

Think past posting. Having a video on your site, and posting it to your YouTube channel is the first step to take. In fact, posting your videos to YouTube can not only help in getting more social sharing of your videos, but can also increase your SEO rankings.

Retailers like Sports Unlimited, Advantage Bridal, and Factory Direct Jewelry are all examples of companies that gain higher natural search listings and more traffic, thanks to back links to their sites from YouTube.

Take it a step further by encouraging customers to comment, ‘like,’ and share your content with their connections. You can do this by offering compelling content and by simply asking outright with readily accessible sharing icons and links.

Pull, don’t push. Think about how to make your messaging spark the interest of the community. Certainly, you want to have videos that help promote specific products, but consumers will also be highly receptive to authentic, personal messages about your company.

For example, use video to talk about how you’re responding to customer feedback, tell a story about how your products are making a difference, or provide insights from executives. It’s not about being perfect and polished. Giving consumers a more personal connection to your brand can humanize your company and galvanize your audiences. one company that’s done a great job with video to tout its customer service and return policies, and just give customers a generally good impression of how the company operates.

Let users say it for you. Consider allowing customers to upload their own videos describing experiences with your products or as responses to your videos. Then enable them to share those videos socially, too. If that’s not appropriate, find another route—the Will It Blend folks knew it would be irresponsible to ask users to perform their own experiments, so they asked Facebook users to suggest items the company could blend on camera.

Seek quality over quantity. Views are great, but engagement is better. Social video marketing focuses on measuring shares, comments, links to your website and the online buzz it generates for your brand. So while “viral” is terrific, you can do more to encourage interaction, and really aid sales. Incorporating humor can be one way to do this – but humor can also be tricky to pull off really well. More important is to be real and connect.

From the outset, any social video marketing strategy should incorporate avenues for users to share their thoughts and feel as if they’ve contributed to the content being shared. It’s also important to provide access to channels that make sharing and redistribution easy.

Marketing has claimed a “customer first” focus for a long time. Social media is now forcing us to walk the talk. Putting users front and center, and giving them a sense of co-creation, adds value for the consumer, their social circle and other potential customers who are seeking information, and can be very convincing at purchase decision time.

Dr. Melody King is vice president of marketing at Treepodia.

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