The Social Video Blueprint, Part 2: It’s About Content, Not Ads

by Rachel Toole  10 August 2011

This is the second installment of the nine-part series on social video and the impact it’s having on branded video marketing as a whole. In part one we discussed the definition and basic characteristics of social video – if you missed it, you may want to check it out first before reading this one. In part two, we’re going to delve deeper into one of the main principles brands should be adhering to when creating and implementing social video marketing campaigns: it’s about content, not ads.

Why Traditional Video Ads Had To Die

Well, traditionally, ads really only exist to interrupt the entertainment content that consumers are actually looking for. TV commercials, radio ads, previews and advertising spots before feature films. The same is true online. Many consumers will simply close a video page if the first thing that plays is a pre-roll ad. The “always-on” nature of the web has made us all a bunch of impatient entertainment seekers. We want what we want and we want it right now, gosh darn it!

The Birth Of Branded Online Entertainment Content

In order to stand out, savvy brands are throwing the traditional ad concept out the window entirely. It’s clean slate time. And the novel new approach that many are trying is so genius that it sounds stupid: create their own entertainment video content. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em… or something like that. If consumers are only after the kind of content brands used to advertise on–and try to avoid ads like the plague–then those brands would be best served to create their own great content.

Characteristics of Quality Branded Online Video Content

Here’s a good rule of thumb: create the content for the consumer’s needs, not yours. What does quality branded online video content look like compared to traditional ads?

  • Content entertains. First and foremost, entertain the people. Make them laugh, cry, scream, or pound their fist in anger. Give them an emotional response. You know… the way TV shows and movies do.
  • Content doesn’t have a pitch man. Don’t sell. Don’t employ a salesman
  • Content doesn’t talk about your product’s best qualities.Might even be best not to talk about the product itself at all. Certainly never mention the price or where consumers can buy it.
  • Content can be any length. Break out of the 30-second rut and create something that’s a minute long… or three minutes… or even five seconds.
  • Content cares more about the conversation around a video. Stop counting impressions and start measuring social signals that can tell you how much dialogue your content video is generating.
  • Content forgets about the bottom line. Social video is about relationships, not sales. Yes, we want relationships that will turn into sales at some point, but sales are secondary to the discourse… the relationship is everything.
  • Content’s endgame is a relationship with the viewer. If you ask the consumer to buy something, they might… but that’ll be it. One and done. But if you begin and sustain a meaningful relationship, they’ll buy things from you for life… they’ll put your logo on their car bumper and talk about you on Facebook without prompting. They will evangelize on your behalf.

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