Instagram and Twitter Fuel Consumer Excitement for Video

instagram-video-300Need any more proof that your customers have a healthy appetite for video? Just look at the more prominent role that video is playing in social networks these days.

Most recently, picture-sharing service Instagram added video capability to its iPhone and Android apps, allowing users to create videos of no more than 15 seconds long and share them within Instagram or on other social networks. Earlier this year, Twitter introduced Vine, its own app for letting users create six-second videos and share them on Twitter and Facebook.

What’s the implication of these developments for merchants? It tells you that online services recognize that users are very excited about both watching videos and creating them. The fact that two of the most popular social communities are welcoming video speaks volumes.

In addition, online users’ embrace of short videos – anywhere from 6 to 15 seconds – says that shorter may be better in terms of e-commerce product videos. It may be that you can get your brand and product messages across in just a few seconds, instead of requiring viewers to stick around for 30 seconds or more. Use of Vine actually dropped once the Instagram video application was announced, and our guess is that online users may decide they like the 15-second Instagram format better than the 6-second Vine videos.

You’re probably hearing about the value of e-commerce video from all sides, and if you haven’t yet made video a part of your online storefront, you now have enough evidence that there’s no time like the present. Video may have been like a “nice to have” option last year – but now, it’s a “must have.”

And it’s not just about developing your own videos – it’s about letting your customers create their own, and welcoming their videos on your website and social media pages. User-generated video is one of those trends that just keeps gathering steam: Customers love fellow shoppers’ videos, and they also enjoy the opportunity to show off their video talents to others.

Broader exposure for your videos
To tap into consumers’ growing love of video, you need to make it easy for them to find your videos, to share them, and to submit their own. Start by making videos easy to find: Place them on your website beyond just product pages. Make sure they’re in blog posts, on the home page, and even on checkout pages – for example, you can promote videos for products that are related to what your customer is buying.

Give your videos the widest possible exposure by making sure they are indexed in search engines. This process is fairly easy with Google: Click here for instructions on submitting your video site map. For the Bing search engine, email your site map to [email protected]. Bing now accepts the Google protocol site map, so you can simply submit the video sitemap you’ve already created for Google.

Keep in mind that when you place videos on several pages on your retail storefront, you’ll increase the chances that the videos will show up higher in search results. At the moment, video seems to be dominating Google’s Universal Search results, which combine listings from its vertical search engines for news, video, images, local and book search engines, among others.

Shareability helps consumers tell other people about your videos, and plays into their desire to distribute useful or fun content among their network connections. Place sharing alongside every video, on every place in your website where they appear. (This can be a time-intensive process – automated video solutions can help significantly reduce the time and work involved in posting videos and adding features such as social network sharing.) And a YouTube channel is not only a great place to showcase your videos: the network also has highly useful tools for sharing.

As you create and post videos, you need to make sure they’re actually working – that is, eventually driving consumers to watch videos and convert browsers to buyers. Conduct A/B testing on your videos to see how content, length, and placement all affect viewing. Automated video products can make the testing process less onerous, letting you test frequently. This is how you may discover that your shoppers love the short video formats now being popularized by Instagram and Twitter – or whether they are consistently happy with longer videos. Only testing will give you fast, accurate answers to these questions.

Finally, open the door to consumer-created videos, and show your customers that you’re eagerly awaiting their submissions. You’ll need to first have the capability on your website to accept uploads. And then you need to incent consumers to take the time to create and send a video. Consider offering discounts, or exclusive access to sales or content, to customers who send you videos. You’ll be right on the edge of the Instagram and Twitter-driven “homemade video” trend, and you’ll likely see more visitors and more conversions online.

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