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Video Is a Tactic, Not a Strategy: Staying on Message in a Video-Dominated World

Social channels are putting more emphasis on promoting video content than ever before, but what does that mean for you? In early 2016, Instagram increased its video upload time from 15 seconds to 60 seconds. Twitter now allows you to upload videos that are up to 2 minutes and 20 seconds in length (or 10 minutes for some verified accounts). Facebook has added a videos tab at the bottom of its mobile app that allows for easier user access to all the videos the social channel boasts.

Any savvy marketer simply needs to look at the trends to realize that a marketing strategy that does not include video is not likely to be successful. In fact, Cisco predicts that by 2018, more than 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic will be video.

So, yeah, videos are important. But nothing — including creating videos — should outweigh what is most important: your messaging strategy. If you happen to be creating videos without having a clear messaging strategy, stop it. Like, now. Then, consider how you can better develop your messaging strategy before you start to record again.


It’s not only in the dictionary that “message” comes before “video”

Sure, it can be tempting to follow the trend of creating videos to promote your brand, but what are you really saying? Reflect on the following:

 

Satire? Sure. But if anything you watched in that video looked like something your company is doing or has done, now is a good time to evaluate the videos your team is creating. It’s not too late to make changes to allow your brand’s real message to shine through.

Consider this example from Google: 

 

The video doesn’t try to recreate Google Maps or make it appear any more or any less than what it is. However, it does use the elements of storytelling to pull in the viewer and tell a powerful account of the role Google Maps played in helping reunite a man with his lost family.

Next, take a look at this video: 

 

In a video that is refreshingly devoid of product placement or hitting the audience over the head to “buy now,” Hallmark tapped into an emotion that that is nearly universal — that we’re a bunch of saps who love our moms. The video is a clear indication that Hallmark understands its message is about helping people make emotional connections. Of course, Hallmark doesn’t tell us that in the video, but that clearly is an integral part of who the company’s messaging strategy. Just take a look at its mission statement.


“Plan” isn’t a 4-letter word

Your organization won’t have a Google-like advertising or social media budget, but this is exactly why your strategic messaging planning process needs to be deliberate and precise. Organize yourself, know what you want to say, and everything else becomes much easier.

Not sure how to create a plan in which the pressure to create videos doesn’t outweigh common sense and solid thinking? Use the 4 D’s of planning your content and you will be in good shape.

The 4 Ds to Planning Your Content Strategy

Define the message

You should never even utter — nay, never even think the word “video” until you are crystal clear on what your brand’s message is. If you are not sure of your brand’s message, lock yourself in a room with your company’s CEO and don’t leave until you know what it is. Fail to do this, and none of your messaging will be effective. Do it, and you will set a foundation for every messaging decision your company will make for the rest of its existence.

Determine the audience

Once you know your message, you can then discuss what sorts of videos to create, right? Wrong. Do not rush into creating a video. First determine whom you’re wanting to communicate with. A few questions to consider when determining your audience:

  • What’s the profile of your ideal customer? Think about demographics. What causes do they support? What hobbies do they have? What drives them to get out of bed in the morning?
  • Are you trying to retain existing customers or attract new ones? What do your existing customers like about your organizations? What would they change?
  • What kinds of customers gravitate toward your competitors? What is it about your competitors that potential customers seem to like?

Some organizations create personas. Others invest in audience research. Whatever you do, get to know the audience you are trying to reach.

120816_marketingplan_a

Discuss the content to create

All right, we have finally made it to the point where the word “video” enters the conversation — but it should not dominate the conversation. As you or your creative team starts to discuss how to tell the story of the campaign or messaging piece, think of video as one of many tactics available — alongside text, graphics, press releases, blog posts, etc. Creating a video or videos should definitely be considered at this phase, but don’t force it. Determine the story first, then see if there is a way that a video can allow you to tell your story more effectively.

You may not want to have a video producer in the room as you start your content creation discussion. Focus first on the story. Once the story is set, then determine how you are going to tell it. If creating a video seems to be the best way to go, bring your video producer in when that decision has been made.

Develop the content publishing plan

Now that you know your message, audience and story, determine how you will share your story. Publish on your blog? Probably. Facebook? Maybe. YouTube? Perhaps? Snapchat? Up to you. Consider all of the channels available to you to determine which ones will allow you to reach the audience you want to reach with the message you have developed.

There should be some give and take with how you package your messages depending on the channels on which you decide to publish. For example, you might package a video message on your blog differently than you would package it on Snapchat.


One last thought

In addition to considering when it is appropriate to use video, seriously consider what kinds of videos to create. More and more social channels are giving brands greater visibility when they use live or near-live video publishing capabilities. Instagram Stories and Facebook Live are two examples of this.

Even though the way these kinds of videos are recorded and published vary from more polished videos, the planning process you need to follow as you determine if you should develop these videos should largely remain the same. Remember the 4 D’s. Start with your message. If you do that, you will be successful in using video as a tactic that will support — not control — your digital messaging strategy.

Bonus

Looking for some inspiration for great videos? Consider these:

Tell a story on a budget

Show, don’t tell

Embrace what makes you unique

Show success stories with your product

Give how-to ideas

Chad Buleen

About Chad

Chad Buleen is an award-winning journalist, the manager of social messaging for a large international nonprofit, a digital media enthusiast and father of four. Follow him on Twitter .

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