Q: I’ve been hearing that video is now crucial to social media marketing, but I’m not sure how to do it. Do I really need it?
A: It depends. There are several factors to consider: your product, whether you can create truly engaging videos, what platforms you post on, and your capacity to create videos for social media.
Video is an important development for social media marketing. It can be especially engaging on certain platforms. When done right, it can communicate a dynamic, personal feeling about your business, products, and services. It can be the medium that makes your followers stop and spend a few minutes with you rather than scrolling on by.
That said, few people watch dry, informational videos on social media. They don’t care for boring people talking about boring products. There is no room for bragging or self-aggrandizing. You have to let the images in the video speak for themselves. There has to be an emotional connection for viewers if you want to capture their interest. Think of the most popular videos you see on Facebook: cooking videos that make creating extraordinary food look deceptively easy, news and pop-culture clips, ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and people being funny. All of these videos capture our emotions in some way, whether they make us feel like we can be the next Julia Child or that our kids are the most hilarious creatures on the planet.
You might not think there’s anything emotionally engaging about your product, but a little creativity might change your mind. How do people FEEL about your product or services? What makes them feel that way? Once you identify what emotional resonance your product or service has, you can plan a video to engage your audience.
I mentioned Facebook above on purpose. It is the most popular social media network and the one used most frequently for marketing. Obviously YouTube is the most obvious place to promote your videos. But Facebook promotes video posts above other kinds of posts, so using video can be one way to get more eyes on your content. However, not all Facebook video is created equal. First, it promotes video created with its built-in Live feature above other kinds of video. In fact, posts with links to YouTube are shown less frequently than videos uploaded directly to Facebook. Second, your video must have that emotional draw that I mentioned before or your followers aren’t going to watch. Third, videos with subtitles help get your videos seen because Facebook automatically runs videos silently as you scroll past them. If you have subtitles, people are far more likely to stop and read, and then to click and watch, your video.
It’s important to realize that outside of YouTube, Facebook is probably the only social platform where video will do you any good. If you have a Periscope or Snapchat account, great, they love video too, but most small-to-mid-sized businesses don’t use these channels for marketing. Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram don’t promote video over other types of posts. In fact, even though Instagram has built-in video capability, traditionally videos don’t do as well as photos there.
If you do want to incorporate video into your marketing strategy, plan it out carefully. Know what kinds of videos get the most traction on social media, and try to emulate them. You can always use your smart phone to take primitive video, which can be great for an immediate, real-life feeling. If you’d like something more sophisticated, a DSLR or handheld digital video camera can work well for capturing video. Finally, of course, you can have professionals create your video for you. No matter how you create your video, make sure that it is branded consistently with your other marketing materials, that it has relevance and emotional impact, and that you’ve carefully planned out what you want to shoot and how you want to shoot it. Remember that video is just one aspect of your larger social marketing strategy. All of your posts -- video, photo, or otherwise -- should fit in with your consistent, cohesive message to your market.