Over the past seven weeks, we've used this series to take a deep dive into social video marketing, analyzing the benefits to both the brand and the fans. And if you've been following along, you know that social video succeeds when companies focus on creating great video content over any old-school advertising goals. Today we're going to take a look at some of the common characteristics of successful social video campaigns and create our own list of social video best practices.
I hope that by this point in the series I'm not bursting anyone's bubble by saying that good social video takes work. It doesn't happen on its own, and requires a lot of careful thought, planning, and execution.
I've broken my list of social video best practices into four main groups, each corresponding to a part of the social video campaign process: planning & creation, marketing & distribution, social media integration, and measurement. Again, these are not necessarily all required in order for a social video campaign to succeed. Instead, this list is intended to compile the most common characteristics in successful social video across the board.
Planning & Creation
Good social media campaigns begin in the brainstorming session, with careful planning of every phase of the video's life cycle. The "social" element of social video can be groomed and cared for from the initial seeds of the idea.
Here are some of the best practices in social video planning and creation:
Set Social Goals, Not Financial Ones
Any good online marketing plan--for video or otherwise--starts with a good plan. If you don't know what your goals are, you'll never know if you succeeded or not.
With social video, many of the traditional goals of advertising go out the window. Social video seeks to start a conversation, not a transaction. If the video is successful, and viewers are engaged and tuned-in to the brand, the transactions will eventually come.
When the goals are discussion and engagement, view counts only get you so much. Instead of total views, brands should focus on the sharing activity around the web through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and more. How many people are talking about the video? How many people are talking back to the brand, responding to the video?
So don't start out your social video campaign with old-school goals related to impressions, views, or immediate sales.
Set Reasonable Goals
Goal-setting can be tricky. You want to set the bar high, to challenge yourself, but you also don't want to overdo it.
With view counts mattering less than the number of shares a video receives or conversations a video starts, success can come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. All kinds of businesses, big and small, can succeed with social video. A local business can reap social video benefits for years from a campaign with view counts and share totals a global brand might scoff at.
Have A Hook
What's the catalyst for your viewers to share your video? Is it because it's hilariously funny? Or does it feature a cameo by a much-loved celebrity? Maybe it's a time-lapse tilt-shift video or an eye-popping special effects bonanza.
Don't just create content. Create content with a sharing catalyst in mind. Put yourself in the mind of the viewer, and think about what would make you want to talk about or share this piece of video with friends... and do that before you even begin writing a script.
Marketing & Distribution
Video planning and creation is only part of the task, though all too many small businesses and big brands stop right there. Creating a great video, while hugely important to social video success, is not enough on its own. There's simply too much video in the world--48 hours uploaded every minute at YouTube alone! If the last step of your social video campaign check list is "upload/publish the video," then you've already failed.
Here are some general marketing and distribution best practices for social video success:
Have A Marketing Plan
This should go without saying, after my rant about planning above. But don't wait until you've launched your video to make key decisions on marketing and distribution. It'll be too late.
Sometimes distribution decisions can be impacted by the content variety. Is your video artistic? Maybe Vimeo is a community that might respond better than others.
Media Contacts & Press Releases
You'd be surprised how many companies send out a press release to announce a new video. We get a ton of them here at ReelSEO. And you know what? I usually watch those videos. Because I don't want to miss being able to share a great online video marketing example with our readers. A lot of writers online feel the exact same way. If what you have is truly great content, make sure you make it available to the people most likely to write about it.
Smaller brands and businesses can target local media--newspapers, radio, television, etc.--and reach out to let them know about the new video. Even one story can help kick-start the social video action you're looking for.
Big brands already have a lot of media relationships, and can comb through personal contacts to look for a good match for the video's intended audience.
Identify Your Gatekeepers
Know the websites that drive social video for your industry or video style. Gatekeepers can be any site with a large number of readers, from link-sharing sites like Reddit to news sites like Huffington Post. Does your video have a sports theme? Sites like Deadspin probably have the very audience you're trying to reach. A political tone? Huffington Post.
I'm not suggesting it's an easy task to get a video featured on a gatekeeper site. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Again, great content has a way of rising above these kinds of issues anyway.
Social Media Integration
Social video quite naturally involves social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter, and more. It's just good common sense to put some plans in action related to social media to help encourage that sharing behavior.
Here are some social media integration best practices for social video campaigns:
Have A Social Presence
Is your company on Facebook? Twitter? Are you active? I'm frequently shocked by the number of brands that produce a great piece of video content but have no social media presence.
Maintaining a social media presence is social video 101. This is all about discussion, conversation, and debate... the back and forth between consumers and the brand, or consumers and each other. How can you expect to participate in that conversation if you're not even present? You certainly can't respond to any viewers that do offer feedback.
Include Sharing Options In The Campaign
This is a rather obvious tip, but worth saying nonetheless. Make sure your social video campaign provides easy ways for viewers to share the video and discuss it.
This might be something in the video description, like a link to your Facebook page. Or it could be within the video itself, outright asking viewers to react or respond in some way.
You could also use something like YouTube's annotations to both serve as a call-to-action, and a link to anything you might want.
Whatever video platform you're using for your campaign, make sure it has some kind of ability to provide your audience with an option to share your content with their friends.
Don't Stifle Conversation
Conversation is the goal. But we're dealing with human beings here, and they can be an unpredictable bunch. You can't control what everyone says about your brand and your social video content, so don't even try.
If you use YouTube, leave the comments turned on. You may not like what everyone says, but you're shooting your social video campaign in the foot if you eliminate one of the main ways for people to react and talk about your video.
Don't delete Facebook comments you don't like. And don't get drawn into debate with viewers reacting with criticism of your campaign.
Be ready and willing to respond to viewers on Facebook, Twitter, and other places online when they do react to your video content. This is what you wanted... conversation between you and consumers... so don't shy away from it.
The creation and launch of your video was only the beginning. The real work continues in the responses and reactions, and in the relationships you form with viewers moving forward.
How will you know if your social video campaign was a success or a failure? Without proper measurement--and measurement of the proper things--you might never know.
Count Relationships, Not Dollars
Immediate sales are not a concern with social video, though I'm sure any company would take them. Instead, social video is in it for the long haul, seeking to create, develop, and deepen relationships with viewers that will hopefully lead to more sustained sales in the long run.
So don't measure your campaign's success by counting the dollars it's made you by the end of the first week. Instead, measure it in terms of the relationships you make and the conversations your video ignites.
Monitor What People Are Saying
If you want to know what kind of social activity your video created, you're going to need to pay attention. Search Twitter for your brand (and for variations and abbreviations) to see what their users are saying about the campaign.
Set up a Google Alert for various key phrases related to the brand and the campaign to stay on top of what's being published around the web.
If all you do is check the video page every day and write down the view count, you will never know if you succeeded at truly going social.
As you can see, social video campaigns are a lot of work. Which is why brands of all sizes sometimes struggle to keep up with it all, or are too intimidated to even give social video a try.
Maybe one of the single best practices that went unlisted above is this: consider partnering with a video marketing agency. There are several companies out there that do outstanding work in one or more of the areas mentioned above, whether it's video ideation and brainstorming, public relations and video seeding, or analytics and reputation monitoring--or all of the above.
If you only have time to make the video, bring in some help. With social video, measuring the audience reaction, responding to comments and discussions, and building relationships with viewers are every bit as important as creating a great initial video.
Next week we wrap up the Social Video Blueprint series with our final installment, Part 9.
If you've missed any articles in our Social Video Blueprint series, you can catch up below:
- Part 1: The Social Video Blueprint Overview
- Part 2: It's About Content, Not Ads
- Part 3: It's About Views, Not Impressions
- Part 4: It's About Shares, Not Clicks
- Part 5: Social Video Case Studies & Examples
- Part 6: Social Video Strategies
- Part 7: Catalysts For Sharing