Though many believe today's technological advances hinder our basic social skills, the Internet Age has forged an undeniable path for new media and its impact on the average consumer's behavior. While the written word was once the medium of choice, websites like YouTube and Vimeo have brought interactive, informative videos to the fore, leaving companies with no choice but to use these tools to spread their message and boost engagement. Yet, while many brands broadcast advertisements and offer live video chat options, success hinges upon the brand's ability to lay the groundwork for trustable, loyal, long-lasting relationships.
According to Amanda Maksymiw, content marketing manager at Lattice Engines, YouTube has quickly become the number two search engine. When customers want to learn about certain products or services, they frequently turn to informational videos, demos, and how-to's in order to educate themselves during the decision process. Often times, these videos are the first interactions consumers have with any given brand, providing unique opportunities to capture the attention of current customers and prospects.
"Video is an effective way to convey a great deal of complex information quickly," says Lynn Baus, creative director at Responsys. "Testing has proven that retention of information is much higher with video content than content provided in a text and image format. So video is a great way to showcase product features or walk users through complicated or unfamiliar process."
In the past, online videos mainly focused on spreading brand messaging through advertisements that fixated on the product or service at hand. Today, these videos have come to combine the consumer's search for knowledge with the brand's ability to boost reputation. These videos take into account current customer behavior, focusing on how to leverage this increasingly popular channel. While articles and written descriptions may take up to 10 minutes to read and process, videos condense vast amounts of information into brief clips that demonstrate and describe everything consumers might want to know, while allowing them to connect with the "face" of the company.
Many companies acknowledge the importance of video, but they have yet to move beyond the standard advertisements consumers typically find at the beginning of other (often unrelated) videos. These videos are generally repurposed television commercials that provide nothing more than 30 seconds of non-stop brand messaging. However, as Jay Miletsky, CEO of MyPod Studios, explains, the Web lends itself to interactive ads that engage consumers and encourage further exploration of what the given brand has to offer.
"For those companies that are mostly doing print advertising, they may invest in an ad spot, but all they do is hold their print advertisement in front of the camera, which ends up being a waste of money," Miletsky highlights. Instead, these brands must take advantage of the opportunity to share pertinent information valuable in everyday life.
For instance, Miletsky speaks about the potential benefits video brings to the financial services industry. While consumers expect nothing more than to hear any given bank's sales pitch, video opens up the opportunity for banks and lenders to differentiate them from the competition by offering helpful how-to's that connect with the consumer's inner struggle. These providers need only offer helpful advice-perhaps a series of videos on how to save money-in order to position themselves as a trustworthy, reliable leader in the space. Consumers walk away with something valuable and the company strengthens its reputation as an expert.
Such engaging videos also have the potential to start social conversations throughout their consumers' networks, leading to more people seeing what they have to offer and forwarding the content onto their friends and followers, as well. As Dave McLaughlin, CEO at Vsnap, highlights, videos carry the opportunity to inspire customer emotion and drive these vocal advocates to share the content and experience on Twitter and other social media sites.
"After all, you've engaged them in a way that has feeling, and what do we do with our feelings? We share them with our friends and contacts," McLaughlin adds.
However, overall, video remains in its experimental phase. While Maksymiw notes that the task may seem daunting now, companies need only find the right tools and software programs to help them realize their goals. Through trial and error, brands must work to integrate video across channels, observe content consumption behaviors, and target their audience with consistent messaging across the board. By providing continuous, worthwhile information that doesn't overly promote the brand, companies may also increase loyalty over time, for when they create a connection around the customer's feelings, they drive down churn, McLaughlin says. No matter the subject, these consumers come to regard the brand as thoughtful, with only the customer's best interest at heart.