Video Marketing Best Practices
So you know how important video content is — now, how do you make the best video you can? Length is key: people often see videos in passing while browsing Facebook or Instagram, so videos of less than two minutes are likely to produce the highest engagement.
That doesn’t mean there’s no room for longer-form video content. There’s a “sweet spot” of engagement between six and twelve minutes long, so if you have a more complex topic to cover, feel free to put the time in. Don’t make your video longer just to make it longer, though — several short, focused pieces of content are more effective than one long one.
Strategy Comes First
Before you publish anything, you should have a strategy in place. If you publish videos that seem disjointed and unrelated — either to each other or to the content that your customers are interested in — they’ll lose interest.
Timeliness will be important when planning your video content. You should be able to anticipate big events, relevant holidays, major sales, and the like far enough in advance that you can create content before it’s actually needed.
You’ll also need to consider whether to react to real-time events. Sometimes, news stories will break that are extremely pertinent to your business, and you’ll have to make a snap decision as to whether to address them or not. The answer is not always yes — if you don’t think you can create a relevant, on-brand video on short notice, leave it alone. Talk about the news in the form of text and photo posts instead. When it comes to breaking news videos, being late is as bad as not addressing it at all.
To plan, get a lot of people involved. Actually creating the video is certainly not something you want to do by committee, but when it comes to planning, the more ideas, the better. Get a bunch of people from different parts of your company in front of a whiteboard and start writing stuff down. When it comes to raw ideas, anything goes — maybe customer service gets a lot of questions about a particular feature that can be addressed in a tutorial, or maybe sales have noticed that no one’s taking advantage of a particular pricing plan.
When it comes to the content, your main goal is to inform. Remember, you’re getting new customers all the time, so even things that seem obvious to you might be helpful. Explorations of your current products, explanations of features, sneak peeks at future products, and ideas for how to best use your product are all useful.
You can also use videos to humanize your company. To many customers, you’re just a faceless logo or a website where they type in their credit card info. Putting a face and a name behind your brand will make customers like you more and foster stronger loyalty.
To that end, use video to tell the story of your brand. Give product recommendations based on what you and your employees actually use. Solicit questions from social media in an “ask me anything” format, then answer them on air, remembering to call out exactly who asked the question in order to make them feel heard. Shoot some behind-the-scenes footage of how your company runs, or show a day in the life of one of your products. Pull back the curtain a little, and your customers will stay more interested in what you’re doing.
Brand Consistency Is Key
With everything you publish online — social media, text on your website, photos on your blog posts, and yes, your videos — you are creating a brand. People will start to link together the sights, colors, vocabulary, and tone of what you do online, crafting an impression of you in their mind whether you like it or not.
This “personality” that your company projects in the minds of everyone you interact with is your brand, and it’s vital that that brand remains consistent. You don’t want to have an appeal so broad as to be bland and meaningless — Target and Wal-Mart both have extremely wide customer bases, but you’re not likely to confuse a TV ad for one of them with an ad for the other. They’ve managed to cultivate very different ideas about what they’re “for,” and everything they do feeds into that.
Finding your brand’s voice is difficult — we have more info on branding and how to find and express a voice here — but well worth the effort. Your videos should use logos, colors, and fonts that match up with the logos, colors, and fonts on your website and social media. The vocabulary you use in the video should sound like the words you use in other contexts — make sure the person in the video and the other people who write the copy are on the same page. If you use bright colors and vivid imagery on your site, your videos should look similar — the last thing you want to do is create a video that doesn’t “sound like” you.
There’s a slight caveat to this. We mentioned above that low-production-value videos account for a significant chunk of online video consumption, and to some extent, brand inconsistency can be forgiven if you want to participate on these platforms. While you don’t need to add the polish, colors, and logos that would make the videos match your brand, personality is still paramount. Stick to a “north star” of personality — the defining voice and tone that represent your organization — regardless of video quality.
Quality Isn’t Always Crucial
An interesting trend in video production and consumption has been the massive rise in low-quality, low-production-value video content. While there are obviously YouTube channels and brands that still produce extremely high quality, cinematic content, there’s an equally large (if not larger) push toward off-the-cuff, relatable content shot and streamed directly from a phone or webcam. Pewdiepie, one of the most popular producers on YouTube with over 110 million subscribers, shoots his videos from his computer chair with a simple webcam and rudimentary lighting.
This trend is also exemplified by the rise of extremely short-form videos, often less than a minute long. Consider the following:
- YouTube Shorts, video clips less than three minutes long, has reached 50 billion daily views
- Snapchat, limited to 60 seconds (though users can publish many videos in sequence), gets 14 billion daily views
- Instagram Stories, limited to 15-second clips, reach roughly 500 million people per day
- Instagram Reels, introduced in August 2020 and limited to 15 seconds, have already seen millions of views on popular accounts.
- TikTok, which is limited to three minutes (though until July 1, 2021, videos were limited to 60 seconds), has 730 million daily users as of 2023. The average time someone spends on TikTok in the US is 45.8 minutes a day with 90% of daily users who access the app on a daily basis.
What all these platforms have in common is that they’re typically shot directly on a smartphone, very lightly edited with overlaid text, stickers, or music, and published. As a result, they can be produced quickly and easily.
Users seem to appreciate the lack of polish as a sign of authenticity, making video content more relatable and digestible. As an added bonus, this type of video is much easier for brands to produce. As long as you’re loyal to your brand voice and image, producing a 30-second video for one of these platforms should require a minimum of planning and execution.
The Dominance of Live Video
In 2023, live video streaming reached 27.4% of people around the world on a weekly basis. Some key statistics:
- Twitch users watched nearly eight hundred and fifty-one billion hours of video in Q1 of 2023
- 60 of the most viewed YouTube streams happened in the last two years
- 70% of consumers who stream video do so at least once a day
This trend represents an interesting turn from what looked like a trend away from live video. With the rise of online streaming and DVR, customers seemed to prefer watching their video content on-demand, on their own schedule. Now, almost half of Generation Z watches their favorite shows live on social media (often while talking with friends on other platforms), and live news, concerts, and conferences are making a strong comeback. In many cases, the content is still available after the stream is no longer live, but it seems that users are expressing a strong interest in the sense of community they get from watching the same thing at the same time as their peers.
Streaming Video Is The New Cable
Make no mistake: cable TV is still huge. There’s a reason the Super Bowl is famously some of the most expensive ad space money can buy. But cable is losing its footing at the top of the media mountain, and streaming is getting a little close for comfort.
“Cord-cutting” is getting more and more common — According to the Leichtman Research Group, which tracks the cable TV and streaming markets, in the first 91 days of 2023, 1,820,943 people cut the cord. If that trend continues, over 7 million Americans will cancel cable TV in 2023. Most of these users object to the cost of cable TV, but in many cases, it’s simply a matter of usage. If all your favorite shows are on streaming services (which are releasing hundreds of original shows and movies every year), why bother with cable?
That doesn’t mean that these cord-cutters aren’t watching video content anymore, though — they’re just streaming like crazy. Over-the-top (OTT) video services — a term for media providers who produce content directly over the internet, bypassing broadcast TV channels that would normally curate such content — have grown through the roof in recent years.
Netflix boasts 221.44 million people watching at least once a month. For Amazon Prime, the number is 200 million. Hulu sees another 99.7 million. Apple TV+ has around 75 million. There are also plenty of other services — Sling, YouTube TV, Fubo, Acorn, Vudu, CBS All Access, ESPN+, and so on — that cater to specific niches.
There’s also a new category of digital content — streaming platforms launched by networks that have always been primarily cable networks. Disney+ has 157.8 million subscribers. Peacock has 54 million, thanks to a significant boost from the 2021 Olympics. Paramount+ claims 60.7 million.
Due to the success of original content — Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have all been awarded Emmys for their shows — many users have multiple streaming accounts. And 42.7% of internet users use some form of ad blocker. What this means for the advertiser is that not only is it harder to get your whole audience in one place, but it’s hard to serve them an ad once you do find them. Marketers have to be more creative.
Where and When To Post Video
Your strategy meetings should address where your video will be hosted and what your schedule looks like, as well. Whether you’re creating video in-house or paying someone to do it, there will be an upper limit to how much content you can create in a given time. Don’t over-reach — if you can only produce one video a week, it’s better to do that consistently than to try for once a day and fall behind or compromise quality.
If you decide to center your video strategy on YouTube, create a channel, brand it consistently, and keep it updated. YouTube offers a ton of features for content creators — playlists, channels, cross-links, ads, and more — so use them wisely. Upload everything you do to YouTube. Your customers should have to work to find what they want to see.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should only post to YouTube. Your videos took a lot of work, so spread them far and wide. Cut teasers or previews out of them and post the shortened versions to social media to drive traffic to the main video. Embed the videos into relevant web pages and blog posts — if you use YouTube’s embed tools, the views will still count toward your stats. Put them in emails, too!
Finally, think about timing. Traffic varies a lot over various platforms — not everyone is looking at the same things at the same time. You’ll need to look into the way your particular target markets and buyer personas use the internet, which sites they use, and when they use them.