OK - so you have reviewed and are clear on what you want your content to achieve and who exactly your audience are. You also understand the value in using your business' purpose as a cornerstone for all the content that you share. You're well on your way to creating a content strategy that will get things kick started post-Corona.
This time we share all the different ways that you can use video to communicate with your audience. The simple answer is that there are loads of ways. Here we share a number of different films from our back catalogue to get you inspired to get back out again.
Quality vs quantity
As an established brand, online visitors will expect you to have a decent, video-led web presence. Don’t fall into the trap of just creating and sharing any old material because the space is there. There was a stage where the prevailing wisdom seemed to be that these platforms were effectively a content void, which needed to be filled with whatever might be available. This has led to some significant household-name businesses sharing very- poor-quality material online – which is badly filmed, badly thought out, too long, too banal and too badly organised. This colours what visitors think of your business, harming your standing.
To minimise this risk, you should focus on quality over quantity. Not necessarily high production quality, but at least high concept quality. Technological advancement has put quality production in the hands of your staff – just make sure they put time and thought into using it. Efficiently curated videos, ideally on your own website or hosted on YouTube, can take a big step towards fulfilling the potential that video holds for your brand.
Defining your channel brand or tone
All content has a style or tone. Think about how the different traditional broadcasters have their own tone or brand. Just as the tone of Fox News differs from the BBC, so should you establish your own channel’s tone. To begin with, I would recommend that your content’s tone conforms to your broader brand. Over time, you may find that it can start to diverge. This is understandable – and may be desirable – but it should be a function of you gaining the trust of the audience and then pushing it incrementally. First and foremost, the content you share must feel authentic to the audience.
Evening Standard Independent - Baileys
Once you have decided what the brand is going to be, it is worth setting down some brand guidelines to keep you on track over time. This can vary from the technical (e.g. what resolutions you should film in) and the aesthetic (e.g. colour schemes) to the tone of voice (e.g. how you should talk).
Once you have a guide of all the things the channel should do or say, it’s worth making a list of all the things that it shouldn’t. Now test it. Does what you are saying sound right? Does it sound authentically like your brand? You might want to share your thoughts with a few people, particularly some members of the target audience.
Remember that the brand is a living thing, so it may well evolve over time. Keep in mind that whatever you share has to feel authentic to the audience. Nothing will end in painful shame faster than your brand doing the marketing equivalent of ‘dad dancing’. If you can find a message that really resonates with your audience, they can and will amplify it many times over. You should look for content that presents this opportunity. Unfortunately, if you get it wrong, it can work against you in exactly the opposite way.
TRUE: A simple way to think about creating content of value for your audience.
In terms of thinking about your content, a simple guide to this is that the audience are looking for something that is TRUE; that is, timely, relevant, useful or entertaining. The better you understand your audience, the more effective the content that you create for them will be.
Let’s look at what is meant by each of those terms:
Timing is key to effective content. Think about how successful Oreo was with its ‘You Can Dunk in the Dark’ tweet, when the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl. It was picked up by the 23 million Twitter users who were watching the game and ended up being regarded as the ad of the evening – a title that many companies had spent millions of dollars for a shot at, and failed. It goes without saying that what is timely for one viewer is annoyingly late for another – the correct advice 30 seconds after you have made a decision is annoying.
Oreo - Inspired Tweeting...
As we touched on previously, the content has to be relevant to the audience. This almost goes without saying – we all constantly filter the information that assails us every waking moment. Because of this, your audience are keenly aware of what does and doesn’t apply to them. Think about what is going to be relevant for your viewers – this might now be directly obvious. For example, if you’re trying to market an apprentice scheme to school leavers, they may be interested in advice on renting a home for the first time. This information is obviously not so interesting to those looking to move job as an experienced hire. This underlines the importance of understanding your audience and what is relevant to them.
A word of warning here, according to research by LinkedIn, 44% of their respondents said they would consider ending a relationship with a brand because of irrelevant promotions. An additional 22% said that they would ‘definitely defect’ from that brand. Knowing your audience and making content that is relevant to them is essential.
One step on from being relevant is content that is actually useful. Providing how-tos, instructions, discounts and tie-ins with other products that they may be using are all ways of being useful to your audience. Once again, what is useful to your viewers might not be immediately obvious – look at the previous example. Home-renting advice is also useful to the target audience. These different types of value do not exist in isolation – each piece of content can be a combination of one or more things.
We all need a little entertainment from time to time. If you can get it right, this is a great way of drawing in your audience and winning them over. Tread carefully with this though – you have to make sure that whatever you share ties in with your brand. You need to earn the trust of the audience before making drastic departures in tone of voice.
The content you produce doesn’t need to be all of those things at the same time – any one or two will work, as long as it/they provide enough value in that given area. The more entertaining and relevant your work content is, for example, the more the chance there is that it will be watched, shared and loved.
Different ways of skinning a cat
Google defines the different ways of engaging your audience with your content slightly differently:
- » Inspire the audience with emotional and relatable stories
- » Educate the audience with useful information
- » Entertain the audience by surprising them, making them laugh or sharing spectacular content
There is no right or wrong way of looking at these; they are just a different way of looking at the same underlying principles. I hope that seeing them from a slightly different angle will help you to understand them and use them.
Using your Business Values and Purpose to Inform Your Content
It can be a little baffling to think about all the different types of content you might want to make. A useful way to start is by looking at your business’s values and purpose. All the content that you create (no matter how disparate the actual subject matter) should be in some way a physical manifestation of your purpose and brand values. For example, Red Bull’s purpose is to give wings to people and their ideas. This is manifested in the nature of the types of people, sports and events that it features on its channel.
If you can follow this rule, your content will be far more cohesive in its nature and will do a more effective job of building your brand equity. Whatever your corporate purpose, your channel gives you an unrivalled opportunity to make something that is, by its nature, intangible into something tangible.
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”
– Oscar Wilde
Keeping it Real: Allianz #CarStories - Case study
Allianz insurance wanted to promote the fact that, by providing car insurance, it facilitates all the family time that gets spent in cars. It was an interesting insight on what could be seen as a fairly dry, but essential, product. Initially, it asked its advertising agency to create a commercial to promote this message. It set to work, spending an eye-watering budget on expensive crews, actors, locations, lighting and equipment.
Where it really went wrong was in using actors to play the family. Despite the fact that they did a decent job, the viewer can immediately identify that the film feels contrived and bogus. It doesn’t chime with our own gut sense of how a family interacts. Allianz ended up pulling the commercial after a week.
As part of the online activation, Casual worked with Allianz’s below- the-line agency to create something a little more heartfelt. The films focus on a series of real families driving in their car and talking about different subjects, from the safari park to when the parents brought the new baby home for the first time. The families were interviewed in depth by a producer beforehand, to judge their appropriateness and the potential subjects they could feature.
Allianz - #CarStories
Having chosen the right families, the team then removed as much of the production crew and equipment from the cars as was feasible. The goal here was to allow the families to be as normal and genuine in their interactions as possible. To do this, they used a ‘fixed rig’ of cameras in the car to record the family from a number of angles. The production team travelled in the car behind, recording sound and feeding the family discussion topics.
The resulting 14 45-second videos were featured on the company’s Facebook page, where the heartfelt interactions and kids’ funny statements made them a massive it. Their short length and poignant content made them particularly touching. On YouTube, the videos got an 87% view- completion rate – which is practically unheard of – this is so high that Google got in touch with us to ask us how we had managed it.
The only answer was that, having chosen the ‘right’ families, we removed as much of the artifice as possible and let the family interactions speak for themselves. It’s amazing what you can get when you set the cameras up and have the confidence to just let real life happen.
What can video be used for?
One of the major challenges we had when we started Casual was that video can be used for such a wide range of things. Before we realised the importance of focus, we would answer the question, “So, what can you make films about?” with the pretty useless, “Almost anything”. Over time, we learned to be a bit more specific, and, in the last 10 years, we have made films that bring the whole of the employee lifestyle to life, from initial awareness, through recruitment, and on to ongoing engagement, and learning and development. We’ve even made films that retain and build a network of alumni for those who’ve moved on. We’ve made product promotions, adverts, discount films, branded content and conference openers. Some of these with actors and others with online influencers, with helicopters, drones and bodycams.
Casual has made over 8,000 different films for almost everything a company could want a film for. It’s really important to understand that film or moving images can enhance any message you might have to share. Video is a great way of weaving emotion into selected facts. This increases their impact, memorability and the chance that people will act on them. Let’s look at some of the ways that video has been used by corporate communicators. We use the following classifications at Casual to separate all the different things that our clients have used our work for in the past. This is not exhaustive, but it does give a picture of the breadth of uses. Some of these are quite similar – or even overlap – and rely on similar attributes of video for their effectiveness.
Greater Anglia Railways - Spring Campaign
“Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers.”
– Adobe, 2015
The most common films made by companies, which we see in our day-to- day lives, are those designed to sell things. From the dawn of TV, advertisers have been promoting their wares, using every trick in the filmmaker’s book to introduce, promote and explain their products. Films that are able to do this remain the kings of corporate films. From the time in the 1940s and 1950s in which advertisers were able to show that there is a direct line of correlation between the amount spent and sales increases; the budgets for these short films have grown, in some cases to become eye-watering. The annual colosseum of televisual advertising – the US Super Bowl – boasts vast audiences, and hence has a cost of around US$2 million for a 30-second advertising spot. Each year, companies compete to outdo one another and be recognised as having the best commercials of the night.
At the other end of the spectrum, the prevalence of regional TV and now the spread of the Internet have made this type of marketing accessible to any business that wants to use it. There are a wide range of approaches available, from the relatively indirect to the focused sales activation described previously.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer - Chantel
The emotive power of video makes it an excellent tool for pulling on the audience’s heart strings, and getting them to part with their money or time. I’m sure you are aware of the way that charities have used videos since the 1980s. These can also extend to Kickstarter and crowdfunding campaigns. Video’s ability to simplify a message into a really compelling minute or so makes it excellent for this.
Introduce a business
As with encouraging funding, the ability to compress time and turn a ‘who we are’ PowerPoint presentation into a punchy 60-second promotion with music and branded graphics/colours makes video a useful tool to clarify exactly what your business does. The majority of websites that we have audited – over 1,000 thus far – are not using video on their homepage. They rely on the visitor being able to grasp what the business does in the few brief seconds before they click elsewhere. It is a truism that people/ businesses tend to market to themselves. As such, there is always far too much assumed knowledge, which makes websites impenetrable.
A video is a great way of capturing attention and explaining, in an accessible format, what the visitor should be looking for. This is why having a video on your homepage can improve click- through rates by up to 80%. This type of video can also be used in presentations, pitches, reception areas and for new joiners/potential recruits – anywhere you might want people to quickly understand, through compelling media, who you are and what you do.
Promote a product or service through explanation
FactSet - Portware
“4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.”
– Animoto, 2015
Explaining succinctly what a product or service is or does is another effective use of video. Once again, most businesses communicating anything assume too much background knowledge. In this instance, video can break down exactly what the product is and does, and build trust and understanding in an accessible package. This may be through an animation, which is effective when used to illustrate complex messaging, because of the ability to ‘show and tell’ at the same time as using accessible metaphors.
Another effective way to promote a service is through interview-led videos with experts, clients or users. These increase the audience’s trust in the product by borrowing from the featured subject’s standing: their expertise or experience. Interview-led films or ‘talking heads’ are useful because they are pretty much the cheapest videos to produce, and we find human faces innately intriguing .
Get people excited
The moving nature of video makes it a great tool for exciting an audience about something. Admittedly, this could be an extension of promoting a product or service. However, it is distinct in that the method is less based on relaying information and explaining, and more focused on generating a positive emotion in the audience. One way of looking at it might be to say that explainer films engage the logical left side of the brain, while a film to get people excited targets the feeling, creative right side. These usually employ a stirring script and a voiceover with powerful music to do this. Both of these types of film, explainer and exciter, aim for the same outcome, though – getting the audience more engaged.
Increase brand awareness / tell a story
In reality, all the video content that companies share has the effect of building (or, unfortunately, sometimes damaging) their brand. Some videos are made specifically for this purpose, though. They may aim to align the business with a cause that matters to their target audience, or reflect on someone or something that they’re interested in. It may extend to them wanting to share a story related to the company – the history or something that has inspired them.
Attract the best candidates
Video is an excellent way to illustrate relatively intangible things, such as a company’s culture. Most people looking for a role at a new company will research what the job is about, beyond what is included in the job description. Video is a great way of sharing some of the things that make your company special.
Rolls-Royce - Germany
In the hyper-competitive job market, more and more companies are having to compete with the likes of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) for top technological talent. Simply put, all businesses are now technological businesses, so they have to recruit some of the brightest technological talent who would initially think about going to one of the aforementioned ‘Big Six’. This is particularly challenging given the absurdly deep pockets those companies have to hire staff.
The one area that other businesses can compete in is through an engaging, motivating and, crucially, well-communicated culture. Video can be invaluable in helping to build that culture, through communicating what the concept of the brand means. This is where video can be invaluable – it allows you to communicate with your potential (and current) staff on an emotional level. One point to note is that, in the age of resources such as Glassdoor (which allows employees to rate employers for all to see), it is important that the offer and reality align.
Recruitment videos are split into two categories: employer/employee value-proposition brand films and profile/day-in-the-life films. These then come in a variety of different subsections, covering all the different techniques that will be discussed. Videos to promote and clarify a company’s diversity and inclusion policies should be included here too.
Train your colleagues
IBM - Reputational Risks
Another type of internal communication that uses video is learning and development. The zero cost of distribution, and the ability to make changes and amendments to videos on an ongoing basis makes them useful for sharing information and training across a large organisation. Animation works well for information, and interactive video is good for training, because it allows viewers to choose responses and outcomes. The functionality of interactive video also allows for scorekeeping and sharing, which is a useful way of injecting a little competition into the learning process. Beyond that, simply being able to show videos and then have people discuss them helps to increase the effectiveness of the learning.
The external equivalent of internal training, making films to inform and change behaviour, is nearly as old as film itself; for example, the public information films that were used to keep the population up to speed in the first half of the 20th century. The modern equivalents are usually produced by governments or charities.
Start a discussion/conversation
Action Sustainability - Responsibility
Video removes any unnecessary information and pauses. This condenses the amount of time it takes to share different viewpoints in an argument, which makes it useful for setting up a discussion. Such videos are usually played at the beginning of an online/offline discussion, or to change to another subject.
Record an event
Avery Dennison - Plasticity Event
The quality of an event film is, understandably, usually tied to the quality of the event itself. It is a useful way of encapsulating what happened, what was discussed or featured, and who was there. With some appropriate music and a dynamic edit, the video becomes a useful tool for promoting forthcoming events too.
But not everything – emotion vs information
All this having been said, there are some things that video is not great at. Emotion and information exist in a balance in all films. Too much focus on emotion – with practically no information – and the film can feel superficial and lacking in substance (think of most fashion ads). Too much information and not enough emotion, and the film will be dry, difficult to follow and impenetrable (some corporate reports embody this pitfall).
They should be like yin and yang. In every informative film you should have a bit of emotion, and in every emotive film you should have a bit of information (even if that is a basic narrative structure). Because of this, if you have lots and lots of information to get across, video might not be the best way to do it. You will probably find it more effective to create a PDF document, use video to outline a few salient points and promote reading the PDF through a shorter, more engaging film.
Making the sale
Psychologists understand that we make the decision to act emotionally, but then we back up this decision logically. For example, in making the decision to buy a new car, an individual might choose a certain model because she likes the way it looks, the colour and how sitting in it makes her feel, but would then rationalise this decision through the great fuel economy, financing and crash-safety rating. Because of this, it’s important that the content you produce plays to both sides of your audience’s reasons for taking action. This is why really effective marketing campaigns combine two distinct angles: emotion-driving brand building and logically appealing sales activation. Let’s look at these two in a little more depth.
“Video advertising, both on and offline, is the most effective brand-building form.”
– IPA Media in Focus Report
Brand building focuses on creating a positive emotional connection with the brand. These are the associations and beliefs that make the customer more likely to buy from one brand over another. This requires repeated exposure to consistent messaging, slowly building a compelling image of what that brand represents, produces and stands for. While this takes time to achieve, the effects are deep seated in the audience and lead to the best long-term effects.
The consistent nature of brand building has the additional benefit of creating followers among people who might not be in the market for the brand’s product at the time of exposure. This is important because the audience are not looking to purchase for the majority of the time. Video’s emotive power makes it an extremely valuable tool because it is so much more memorable.
Accidental Icon - GoDaddy
Creating raving fans/evangelists
Brand building also gives you the opportunity to build your customers into advocates for your brand. Each interaction they have with you will make them feel either more or less positive about you. Your product, delivery and customer service all play into this, but so does your content strategy. With everyone now having the power to communicate at their fingertips, you should be looking to build each of your customers to the point where they will do your marketing for you.
This is the most effective form of marketing available – the challenge is that it’s hard to do at scale. On the one hand, this may be writing positive reviews, defending what you do in chat rooms or simply recommending your product to their friends. This may also be by retweeting a video you have created, because it resonates so strongly with them, or reediting and sharing some content that you created for that purpose. Whatever it is, you must build their brand loyalty and then make it as easy as possible for them to do this for you. The process from sceptics, through customers and into advocates is shown below:
Raving fans love your brand so much that they practically can’t stop going on about it. This is your goal for as many of your audience/customers as possible.
Sales activation is targeted at those who are likely to buy in the very near future. This aims to encourage the buyer into making a purchase and aims to make the purchase as frictionless as possible. These include discounts, vouchers, special offers, unique experiences, seasonal sales and are far more targeted to the individual than the broader nature of brand-building content. The more bought into your brand your audience are, the more effective this type of content will be. This is a great opportunity to further strengthen your follower base by offering them favourable terms if they are a subscriber to your channel.
Sothebys House Guest - Teaser
Sales-activation messages take advantage of the positive brand associations that you have built up in other areas and with your other communications. The effects of sales-activation approaches cause a short- term spike in purchasing intent, which drops off rapidly. Because of this, the two approaches are best used hand in hand, with the IPA’s 2017 Media in Focus report recommending a 60:40 split of brand building to activation as the optimum ratio.
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