Want to sort your brand’s video strategy? Risk your job, lay your secrets bare, and go long

On an interweb awash with video, make a genuine connection with your audience and they’ll give you your eyeballs when you go out on a limb, two Kiwi experts reckon.

Would your boss put his or her life in danger to test your company’s product? And, more to the point, would you have the guts to ask them to do that on camera in pursuit of an online hit?

If not, you might want to re-think your brand’s video strategy, at least when it comes to those ‘hero’ moments – online video’s equivalent of the fireworks display finale.

As 90 Seconds TV’s general manager, Marcus Wild, explained at a recent content marketing conference in Auckland, risks that pay off can be the quickest path to bang for buck.

“Think about, ‘how can I take the biggest possible risk and maybe get fired?’ Take a risk and do something different.”

His poster child? Volvo trucks – where someone had the gumption to ask president Claes Nilsson to dangle from a crane hook with the company’s new FMX truck in the name of product promotion. Other hero videos to land on the company’s YouTube channel are Jean-Claude van Damme’s epic split; and four-year-old Sophie’s remote control of the FMX. Published last December, Sophie’s antics have drawn nearly 11 million views. Jean-Claude’s have garnered more than 86 million since November 2013.

The Hook:

Look Who’s Driving:

Epic Split:

“If you were the marketers at Volvo trucks, you’d be thinking ‘we have a boring product, how can we make it fun?’,” says Wild. “Have fun – if you’re having fun, your customers are too.”

And film-maker/podcaster Chris Hanlon reckons a connection with your audience is far more important than distraction – and telling a few secrets is a sure way to win trust.

“I think of Buzzfeed and Distractify where it really is more of a distraction – you’re capturing people’s attention, but it’s like empty calories, there’s nothing nourishing in there to connect the reader to the content.”

“The best way to really build a strong connection is …to tell someone a secret. The next level down is to make an admission or to become vulnerable in some way. That puts your audience in a place of judgment.”

Video is saturating the interweb – a recent Cisco report says video will make up 80 percent of global internet traffic by 2019 – but Hanlon says we shouldn’t think everyone has the attention span of a goldfish. In fact, he’s observed a long form resurgence, from podcasts to mini-series and docos.

Cases in point? The popularity of the Serial postcasts, – which was reportedly the fastest podcast to reach five million downloads on iTunes, and the TV mini-series Making a Murderer, with the first episode amassing close to a million Youtube views in a weekend after airing.

“If you have the audience for it, make a longer version of a video, like a 30-minute documentary or a case study of a client, or a mini series or web series,” Hanson says.

Building your audience isn’t all about those hero videos, and Wild cautions against offering too many. The other levels of video, as Google tells us along with a bunch of handy tips, are ‘hub’ (regular scheduled content to keep your audience coming back) and ‘help’ (answering your customers’ burning questions).

Wild had some other useful advice for grabbing eyeballs online:

  • Be genuine
  • Delight your customers by giving them nice surprises they don’t expect
  • Think about who your audience is and be on the channels they’re using
  • Amplify your customer’s voice – get those fan stories on video, edit them and give them back; they might share your message on your behalf.
  • Stop thinking about conversion rate and click through. The new term is ‘time with brand’ – how long can I get a person to spend with me and my brand?

 – Amanda Sachtleben is the digital content and social media executive at Ecostore and former Idealog tech editor.

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