Why video should be on your brand's to-do list

Consumers today are becoming increasingly web savvy, and business owners face a number of options for reaching and attracting these customers online. Some opportunities are specific, such as running a "daily deal" via services such as Groupon or LivingSocial, and others take a bit of an effort to achieve, such as the myriad "social media" techniques and tactics. One opportunity that many businesses fail to include in their arsenal is online video.

With the cost of production dropping, and the level of quality rising, this is the perfect time for businesses big and small to begin taking advantage of online video as a way to engage customers. Video is proven to be one of the most effective tools of communication:

  • Visitors who view product videos are 85 percent more likely to buy than visitors who do not (Internet Retailer).
  • Viewers who watch video on a retail website stayed on the site an average of twice as long as the ones who didn't watch a video (Forrester).
  • In August 2011, 85.8 percent of the U.S. internet audience viewed online video (Comscore).

Why video is for you
Online video leads to higher conversions and sales. It is more engaging than photos and text, allows for greater online visibility (within search as well as social media), increases the likelihood of sharing, and allows business owners to form an unprecedented emotional connection with customers.

Sounds great, right? So how can businesses take advantage of this opportunity?

Getting started
Most businesses still don't know exactly how or where to go to produce an informative and entertaining video, what it should look like, or where it should live. Oftentimes, the result is a video in which the owner reads from a script into a hand-held video camera with poor lighting and terrible sound quality. These sorts of videos do more harm to a brand's image than good. Given the dramatic rise of online video marketing, as well as consumer's high expectations, businesses should begin to think about creating a video strategy with entertaining and informative content that can be distributed and found across the web, as opposed to just shooting a video.

Rather than create a single, lonesome video lacking in context, businesses now have affordable means of creating their own video channels consisting of multiple, high-quality pieces of video content. Just as a business wouldn't post a single photo, or launch a website with a single page, the approach to video should be multi-dimensional, showing off various aspects of a location with an editorial, insider point of view.

For example, a business might create a main overview video that sits as the anchor of its video strategy along with complementary content that is shorter and shows more specific pieces of video that highlight particular products, services, features, or deals. Video can be used for product demonstration, coverage of events, client testimonials, or how-to content. The benefits of this type of video programming approach are vast and long-lasting.

A programming strategy keeps consumers engaged longer and allows them to dive deeper and get to know all aspects of a business. As a result, consumers will be more invested in a business and more likely to visit and make a purchase.

Less is more
Oftentimes, without proper guidance, the result of a business's video shoot is a five minute video that loses steam and viewers after the first 90 seconds (if lucky). Yes, there's a lot of information to convey, but there's a much better way to achieve your goal. Take advantage of all of the great info shot by editing together multiple shorter pieces of content. This allows viewers to pick and choose which videos are relevant to the information they're seeking, and provides a business with increased exposure.

A multi-content strategy enables businesses to grow and evolve their video content as the business grows and evolves. Whether this pertains to new products, a special deal, or an upcoming event, all can be promoted with additional and affordable video content.

Being genuine
Scrap the ad agency messaging and instead focus on being authentic, telling the company's story, and showcasing the brand. This will help to form a more emotional bond with viewers, which will in turn lead to higher sales conversions as customers get to know and trust the brand more intimately.

Freemium distribution
Capitalize on all of the benefits YouTube has to offer by creating a channel page for the business and populating it with all of the video content. Not only is this free of charge and all in HD, but it also provides added search benefits. Additionally, the only way to link a video to a Google Places listing is through YouTube.

Presentation is everything
Finally, to craft the most professional-looking videos possible, it's important to always shoot on an HD camera, be mindful of lighting and audio, and work with an experienced editor who will be able to craft together a business's story with stunning visuals and thoughtful interviews.

By following these guidelines, online video can be an easy, effective, stimulating tool that any business can use to better promote itself and engage customers both online and offline.

Jen Ringel is head of production for Near Networks.

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