“Begin with the end in mind”
- Steven Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
As we covered in our recent post, the corona crisis makes it essential for businesses to reassess their approach to content. In that post we covered our framework for how you can do that effectively. In this post, and over the next few weeks, we are going to be covering how you work through that process in a little more depth. Here we cover the first step in that process – being clear about what exactly you want to achieve with your content.
Has your broader business strategy changed? Has this changed what you need your content to do?
Corona may have changed the goals that you are working toward – have the numbers that you are looking to hire changed? Have your sales goals been changed? These are some of the things that you need to consider before you begin as they may change the approach that you need to take.
Whether you are running a start-up or commissioning campaigns for a Fortune 500 company, all of the content you produce should align with your broader business objectives. Before you start your project/campaign, think about how its successful completion will help you achieve your business strategy. This could be through improving recruitment, explaining and selling more products, or launching a new office.
Whatever it is, make sure it aligns with your goals. If it doesn’t, is it the right thing to do? Do you need to rethink? It is a tragedy to get to the end of a time-consuming and expensive process only to realise that you didn’t need to do it in the first place.
Define success; what exactly are you trying to achieve?
The first step to a successful strategy is defining exactly what you are trying to achieve; i.e. what does success look like? Are you looking to reduce staff turnover, have a successful launch of a new product or just improve awareness of your brand? The goals for any project should be tied to your broader brand strategy.
You should have a clear goal for all your marketing, specific goals for video in general, and, beyond this, each piece of video content should have specific goals it was created to achieve.
All of these objectives should be defined as SMART goals (that is, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound). So, “We want more applications” becomes “We want to increase online portal job applications by 25% over the period from 1st June to 30th September.”
This then gives you a clear yardstick against which to assess your success. Did applications increase, but only by 12%? Did written applications increase instead? Did the material you shared get a lot of interest, but then fail to drive actual applications?
Beware: Make sure KPIs directly reflect the desired outcomes
Be aware that the goals that you set for your content will shape the way that your creative evolves. If you set the wrong KPIs and then aim to optimise them, it will start to skew your project away from where you want it to be. You need to be very careful that the KPIs represent exactly what you are looking to achieve. For example, if you want to improve the quality of applications for a new job role, for example, it won’t necessarily be enough to simply track the overall number of applicants. If you were to set that as a goal, it might be easiest to increase the number of applicants by getting poorer-quality candidates to apply.
What can we measure?
One of the most significant challenges to face online video is that much of the immediate benefit is intangible. Improved brand affinity, while leading to longer-term success, is not the easiest thing to measure with data. Because of this, it is essential to define a KPI that is measurable. This tends to boil down to three different types of metrics:
This is the simplest form of measurement and the easiest to record. How many people have seen the video, how far through did they watch and where were they watching from – all this information is easy to get from YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia or whichever hosting site carries the video. This is the least valuable metric because it is so superficial. You don’t know who is watching, whether they hated it or whether they were even looking at the screen. Facebook counts a ‘view’ as any portion of the video being visible for 2 seconds or more. That’s not really long enough for anything meaningful.
It’s more useful for 200 of your target audience to see your content than it is for 200,000 people from the wrong group. There is also the dubious nature of the viewing figures. It’s possible to boost video by buying views, usually though automated bots. While this might trick a potential viewer into thinking the video is more popular than it is, this really is no substitute for genuinely great content that people actually want to watch.
This leads us on to engagement. This might include the audience liking, sharing or commenting on your videos. This is a major step up from simple views. As a very rough rule of thumb, most pieces of decent content get around one engagement for every ten views. If you are focusing on this metric, set your bar high; it’s worth pushing for comments and shares, rather than likes. For many people, a ‘like’ is someone who wasn’t moved enough by your content to want to share it.
Action is ultimately what we’re after. Making video in the business sphere is about driving actions, so it makes sense to use them as a desired metric. Actions can be almost anything, from applications for a job role to donations on a crowdfunding page. The useful thing about focusing on these as goals is that they are tangible and indisputable.
One thing that is disputable, though, is the extent to which an individual piece of content drove a specific action. If the viewer stays on the site and directly makes a purchase, for example, that’s straightforward enough. Where it gets more complex is when the action is not directly attributable to the content. The target might watch a video, go away, think about it, discuss it with a friend, and then go and make a purchase from an unconnected source. You can measure that on a very general level, but video is rarely used in isolation. It forms part of a wider communications matrix, all driving towards one or many different goals.
It is important to know how much impact the content of the video is having versus how or where it is served to the viewer. The ‘right’ video at the wrong time may not generate the response it will at the right time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there was anything wrong with the output.
Define/review the target audience
The first step in developing your content plan is understanding exactly who your audience are. Luckily, if you have been through the briefing process thoroughly, you should have gained a good understanding then. Once you have a really clear idea of the people you need to reach, you can start to think about where you might be able to reach them. It’s important to understand where in the buying cycle they are, so that you can supply the right type of content at the right time. Programmatic marketing can help you with this. We'll cover this in more depth in our next post.
Audit all of your existing content
Before you begin, it’s important to know exactly what you have produced in the past, so that you can learn any lessons from what worked or could have been better. It also allows you to avoid duplication, and gives you the opportunity to reuse/optimise some of the content, if appropriate. The chances are that your business will already have lots of video content that you have produced over the years. Some of it will be good, and some bad, but it’s surprising what can be done in the production process to standardise the look of material from different sources. Being thrifty here allows you to put more of the budget where you will be able to see it.
Define the delivery method
The chances are you will be sharing your videos across the various different social media channels, from YouTube and Facebook to Instagram and TikTok. Each of these require a slightly different approach to the delivery to maximise on their idiosyncrasies. If you would like to discuss what these are one of our exec producers would be happy to take your call.
We had one client that was looking to run some internal communications videos to keep its staff up to date with what was happening in the wider company. These were power-station workers. Their average age was in the late 50s, and smartphone/computer usage was a single-digit percentage. We looked, for a time, at the possibility of cutting the films into short outputs and then having them playing on screens that we would put up in the men’s room and other communal areas where the audience would spend time. In the end, they didn’t go ahead with it, but the example illustrates the creative thinking that can be employed to get the right people to see your films.
Types of Online Distribution
There are three different avenues for distributing your content online. The content that you produce for each channel may be slightly different, in terms of the length, style and call to action.
These are all the channels for which you own the control. They include your website, social pages, intranet and internal staff communications. The information here is what your brand says and what people say to you. Around 90% of online conversations about brands do not take place on their own pages. This means you have to get out there to influence these conversations.
Your earned media are shares of your content, and articles and blogs written about your channels. This is what people say about you. You earn views here by creating content that people want to engage with and share.
Your paid channels are, unsurprisingly, the ones you have to pay for. They include paid posts, traditional advertising and programmatic marketing.
If you're interested in using video on your social channels it's important to get the length right for the platform. You can download our guide to doing that right here.