Sunday, May 8, 2011

Video for ‘Net Success

Part I: Guidelines for Video Research, Planning and Development

Like mobile before it, industry pundits have been calling video the next big thing for the past few years. While big brands have leveraged video’s educational and entertainment qualities for many years, the time has come for the rest of the ‘Net to get started.

The challenge for many Web businesses interested in using video to attract or retain an audience is that it remains a relatively new and developing channel — that means it’s hard to know what compels a particular audience to watch and share a video and in what context it will be successful.

The best tactic is to commit to research and planning, ensure brand continuity throughout the development lifecycle, and aim to position the videos in a manner that moves browsers to buyers. When videos are developed against measurable goals, results can be quantified, improvements made and ROI achieved. In this first of a three-part series, we reveal some tactics to ensure your video is positioned to succeed before it is seen for the first time. In part two, in the next issue of Website Magazine, we explore the nuts and bolts of video production. And in part three, we will examine the best ways to market and promote your video, and methods to analyze performance.

Video Research and Planning
One of the more serious stumbling blocks when getting started with video is that most campaigns begin without a formal strategy. There are two essential parts of any strategy — research and planning. Only with these steps completed can you move on to execution (development) and marketing (deployment).

In the research phase of our video campaign strategy we must first understand the competitive marketplace and what type of videos competitors are producing, for what terms they are ranking on search engines (and with what levels of success) and, in a perfect world which are generating traffic and awareness and aiding in conversion.

You might be wondering why some videos soar while others crash and burn. While there is no absolute way to account for consumer taste, we can analyze the most effective videos or those that are going viral at any moment in time. Consider reviewing videos first-hand by checking out Viddler’s Most Viewed and Most Favorited categories; YouTube Charts (primarily most discussed and most liked); and the most popular videos on services like Photobucket, MetaCafe and DailyMotion. Also consider using video aggregation websites such as the Viral Video Chart from Unruly Media, which monitors the “most contagious” videos on YouTube, Facebook and elsewhere or check out PoPScreen, whose home page features videos on their way to becoming popular as determined by its “Popscore” which uses hundreds of metrics including the influence of the video’s creator or submitter.

Once you get an idea of some elements that make a video popular, enjoyable or otherwise effective, make a list of a few key attributes that you might include in your own video. Next, research some videos related to your business and industry. Again, find a few that seem to work well and note some of the more outstanding qualities. This will help provide a light framework for your videos.

In the planning phase, we need to take the information we gathered from our research and determine an appropriate plan of action to promote our business or product. According to Bill Curci, VP of Marketing at VMIX, “All the things that you think about in terms of a [marketing] campaign … the rules still apply. You still need to know who you are going to reach, what you want them to think, what kind of feeling you want to have associated with it (is it upbeat or serious) and what you want people to do. In a video, I want someone to do something. When I have not thought those things through I realize they are never as successful [as they could be].” You might determine, for example, that the competitors producing videos in your niche are primarily used for entertainment. Or, you might find that most of your competitors are using video to provide instructional support for more complicated products and services. Perhaps in your research you found that instructional videos garner more views than the entertainment space for your particular industry. Therefore, logic would dictate that planning for instructional videos is the best place to start.

The planning stage is also the best time to consider execution strategies, such as specifying a production schedule and taking some time to designate certain individuals (with specific skill sets) to be responsible for the various aspects of development, production and marketing. If we are planning for instructional videos, those within the organization most familiar with the product’s features and nuances (developers and engineers) will be essential in helping plan the videos’ content and flow. Should your plan include a video about the culture of your company (profiling the company CEO or the community surrounding your business), perhaps individuals from your PR staff or marketing department might be best suited to the task.

Other planning elements to include pertain to the goals you have set for each video. Make it clear to users what to do next. If you want to send users to your website (or a specific URL), make sure graphic elements are ready that include the URL and that each URL is enabled with the proper analytics to ensure accurate attribution — critical when analyzing video successes or failures. If your video is being used to reinforce a brand, have a logo ready for use in the backdrop, or plan for a pre-roll or overlay element. As an immense amount of video is shared outside of your site, ensuring that important branding elements are present throughout are a key to success with video.

Remember that the information you gain from the research and planning phase of your video strategy should influence how videos are developed, but it should also play a role in how those videos are marketed and promoted.

Source of Information : Website Magazine for March 2011

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