As media fragmentation and transformative new media render centralized broadcast and top-down marketing models virtually ineffective, marketers are looking for ways to leverage the power of online video.
Marketers recognize that consumers are giving less validity to expert reviews and instead turning to their peers for the real skinny. Recent studies show more than two thirds of online users -- a whopping 70 percent -- prefer product ratings and reviews when researching online to purchase from e-tailers or brick-and-mortar retailers. Knowing this, marketers are asking themselves: If strong peer reviews and high consumer ratings can move more product, how can we best tell our story, differentiate our brands, influence and motivate our consumers, and capture more market share? Consider:
- 72 percent of U.S. internet users watch video clips monthly, making video viewing bigger than blogging and social networking.
- The most widely used platform for discovering and viewing videos online is YouTube, followed by email, music sites, Yahoo, and news sites.
- YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google.
Without doubt, the answer is video. Clearly, online video is engaging, but before embracing this strategy, marketers must:
- Develop concrete video marketing plans. Video PR can be the "show me, don't tell me" vehicle that communicates compelling stories to target audiences, including the press, and motivates people to take the desired actions.
- Stay clear of gimmicky tactics like "viral videos" and video news releases (VNRs) and stick to basic, fundamental messages that showcase pragmatic proof-points via video.
- Take inventory and begin to use all your hidden "PR gems." Most companies aren't aware of the vast arsenal of resources they possess that could be leveraged for online video, including testimonials, awards, case studies, and media publicity. All these independent third-party endorsements possess greater credibility than any paid advertisement toward influencing target audiences.
- Keep it real. Videos that seem scripted and salesy are the least credible. A quick way to amass powerful video testimonials is to review existing written testimonials from consumers and other credible third-party sources and ask them to record brief videos of themselves. They'll be more likely to participate if the process is made easy for them and they don't have to travel anywhere to be recorded. For example, they appreciate receiving guidance as to how to tape the video and being provided with a list of key talking points. It also helps if video cameras, such as the easy-to-use Flips, are shipped to their homes or offices. Although it's important to keep the videos as authentic and on-message as possible, it's also important to keep them concise and visually appealing. For this reason, it's critical to conduct basic video editing to ensure smooth transitions. Also, to support branding efforts, company logos should be tastefully incorporated within the videos.
- Diffuse videos to as many online video aggregators as possible. TubeMogul and VideoEgg are helpful sources. These services also provide great video analytics to track and measure efforts.
Creating effective videos is only the first part. Ensuring they're seen online is equally tricky. Knowing the challenges of capturing eyeballs on top video sites, marketers are also looking for ways to optimize their videos and ensure they're SEO-ready. Doing some savvy social media relations in these environments makes sense. Marketers should invest in their companies' profile pages and make sure the messaging within those profiles is consistent with their overall messaging and positively reflects their brands. They should find, engage, and invite subscribers to their companies' profile pages and online videos. Patience is key, as videos will begin to rank higher when they receive more views. These aggregator platforms are highly optimized, especially Google's YouTube. As such, having the right titles, descriptions, and tags can help ensure videos rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Here are some quick tips to maximize the organic exposure of videos in algorithmic results. On video sites:
- Add compelling titles. "How-to" approaches work very well on YouTube.
- Add keywords to the titles, descriptions, and tags. Don't leave any fields blank!
- Develop keywords based on keyword analysis or, better yet, the advice of SEO specialists.
On company websites:
- Add meta data to the pages.
- Embed videos on pages, and also encase them with keyword-rich copy to enable bots to read the pages.
- Include keywords in filenames, images, anchor-text links, and RSS feeds to further support page optimization.
Video aggregators are great for hosting videos, but not always great for driving actionable results. Marketers should capitalize on their highest-converting clients on their own websites by showcasing these video testimonials on high-value homepage real estate. Companies with several video testimonials should make sure to rotate them and link the homepage video elements to pages where visitors can view their entire portfolios of testimonials.
A third key to mastering video PR: the social web. Yes, Facebook pages will benefit greatly from video testimonials. Facebook even provides a crafty video box that enables companies to showcase all their videos. It's smart to invite the same customers who provided the testimonials to the page as fans so that they can disperse the videos to their networks as well. After all, those are the best brand ambassadors for companies. In addition, a short URL for video pages should be generated and posted to Twitter and microblogging environs.
New media marketers understand the power of social media news releases (SMNRs) and e-newsletters. Embedded videos can greatly enhance the effectiveness of SMNRs and e-newsletters. Marketers should include the embed codes to enable online journalists and bloggers to easily plug videos into their platforms. Unlike search, SMNRs and e-newsletters are effective push-marketing vehicles that stimulate demand.
In short, marketers can maximize video exposure by leveraging the following extensions:
- Video sites
- Corporate sites/landing pages
- Social media profiles
- Email newsletters
In today's new media world, online video PR is a valuable communications tool that provides companies with priceless credibility that paid advertising cannot buy. The trick is doing it right by developing credible, relevant videos; posting and optimizing them while monitoring dialogues and engagement; analyzing data and metrics; and remembering that measurement should be based on outcomes, not outputs. Smart marketers who do so will effectively brand and differentiate their companies, stimulate demand, and provide their companies with a significant competitive advantage.
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