Sites, camera, action: The crazy rise of video content

It’s probably only a matter of time before the internet ends up like something out of Inception – videos within videos within videos about videos within videos…within videos. It’s been predicted that 80% of all internet traffic will be video by 2019. That’s a lot of cat videos. But it’s also a lot of content – and marketers can’t afford to be left behind as video content works.

Video content is being sent as messages, filling our timelines, telling us what to buy, entertaining us and teaching us how to do things.

Before YouTube came along, a common expression was “You had to see it.” Now you can – within minutes and from multiple different angles. So why is video content slowly taking over our every waking hour, trapping us in a cycle of play and skip, share and comment?

Well, over half of all digital content is now consumed on mobile devices and we access digital media on mobile for an extra 2.4 hours a day compared to 2010. With high quality smartphones and better internet, it’s now easier than ever to watch, film or post videos online.

So can you afford to be left behind in the age-old era of non-moving picture? No, we didn’t think so either.

What are the benefits of video content?

Video gets people’s attention, which you need to do in a content-heavy world to cut through the noise. It can also help to move potential customers down the marketing funnel, whether it’s with branded content, explainers, email videos, testimonials or product videos.

Having video on your site is the content equivalent of having beer at a house party. People hang around for longer.

Rise of Video content

On average, sites with videos get an extra two minutes of dwell time. Google sees this and assumes that visitors have found relevant content, which helps to improve your search ranking.

Video is also great for engagement. Using the word “video” in an email subject line increases the click through rates by 65%. Given that 96% of B2B companies say they’re planning to use video in their marketing efforts over the next year, it’s probably something you should be considering.

You can get a lot of information into a video and people tend to trust what they can see with their own eyes. This gives video a credibility that other forms of content lack and it’s a brilliant way to enhance brand identity if you do it right.

Native videos on social media are huge at the moment. According to social analytics provider Quintly, Facebook videos get up to four times more interactions than all other video formats.

That’s a major incentive for brands to try it, even if Facebook’s auto-play function may be massaging the figures. It’s still a great way to hit targeted audiences and reach lots of potential consumers so it’s a bit of a no-brainer.

Millennial consumers are also video addicts, with almost half of them only watching video on their mobile device. We’re not sure what to say to that. The vast majority of them follow brands on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter and 80% of them use video when researching a product. That’s pretty damn conclusive.

Putting the focus on brands

Great branded videos didn’t just arrive with the internet. Just think of Guinness ads over the years. The best branded videos engage with an audience through stories and don’t look like traditional advertisements.

Advertisers are now migrating away from TV and towards video content on other channels. Video marketing doesn’t necessarily need a blockbuster budget but it does need to resonate.

BuzzFeed has turned online videos into an art form and their native advertising videos for brands are killing it. They’re creating original branded content that appeals to millennials and advertisers alike, and recently extended their advertising video market into the UK.

GoPro are another example of a brand who excel at video branding, even if video content may seem like a slam dunk for a camera maker. But their brand-building work and community engagement is pretty slick.

They made their own aspirational video content with GoPros, which inspired people to create user generated videos. They then distributed this content, which inspired even more people to use their equipment to create the type of content GoPro wanted. Clever, huh? Those videos are the reason why everyone knows what a GoPro is.

When branded video content is done well, it really works. Video content that goes viral can potentially tap into a huge audience – think the Jean-Claude van Damme Epic Split or Dumb Ways to Die.

Both videos were funny, original and compelling while also telling a brand story. Mostly, the videos that work are ones the people relate to and want to tell their friends about. According to YouTube Insights, 75% of users say that they tend to “tell everyone” about a brand they love.

Vertical video, live feeds and new tech

Video continues to evolve and so does the potential to harness this new tech for your content marketing.

Internet users used to claim that an angel lost its wings every time someone posted a vertical video. OK, that’s an exaggeration but “vertical video” attracted some pretty extreme reactions.

So why the change? The simple answer is the ubiquitous smartphone. 29% of mobile videos were vertical in 2015, an increase of 24% since 2010. Snapchat and other mobile apps have made vertical video an accepted part of the digital landscape for millennials.

Vertical video ads on Snapchat are completed nine times more often than horizontal video ads so advertisers are taking notice. Video-viewing habits are changing and advertisers and marketers are adapting their made-for-mobile video content to suit.

Live feeds are another form of video content that is emerging as a marketing force, with ads showing a year-on-year growth of 146% last year. The likes of Periscope and other apps have also given marketers something to think about in terms of branded live content.

Facebook have also tested 360-degree video ads for the likes of Samsung, Nestle and AT&T at the end of last year. Not to fall behind, BuzzFeed, Nike and Vice tried their hands at the tech too.

The point is that video is still evolving and marketers need to be able to adapt their tactics to react to this ongoing revolution.

The long and short of making videos

There are differing schools of thought on the hoary old argument about whether video should be long or short.

The perceived wisdom is that videos should be short and snappy to appeal to the low attention span of the typical online user. Some people say that videos under 30 seconds work best but four minutes or less is seen as a good ceiling.

However, there’s evidence that long form is growing in popularity and gaining more engagement. A FreeWheel report revealed that long-form video content consumption grew by 50% between 2014 and 2015.

It may sound like a cop-out but the truth is there’s no magic length that guarantees success. It really depends on what you’re trying to do. It depends on the type of content, the audience, their expectations and the action that you want them to take.

Although if your video is longer than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you’re definitely doing something wrong. The key is to play to a platform’s strength and choose a specific audience, like Oreo’s Vine homage to a famous death in season one of Game of Thrones.

Tips for making good content videos

There are countless videos out there that your customer could be watching so the onus is on you to win them over with something that stands out. Decide how to get your video out there and where it fits into your content plan.

Why video? Don’t just pump time and money into a video without knowing what the message is, why you need it, who it’s for, when you’ll release it or where you’re going to promote it. The video is a means to an end, not the end in itself.

Grab their attention: Get your foot in the door by getting the message across in the first few seconds. After that, you’re fighting to retain their interest. A strong start is vital.

Think mobile: If you’re making video content for mobile or mobile ads, think about whether they work when autoplaying with no volume or whether vertical video is the best way to go.

Be relevant: See what videos are working and try to keep up to date with trends and competitors. If you still think that a Harlem Shake theme is a good idea, then you need to back away slowly from 2013.

Target your audience: Think about the type of video and platform that’s best placed to sell your brand/product and appeal to your target market. Maybe that’s an animated video, a quick hit on Vine or Instagram, a Facebook video or a YouTube video.

Always use a script: Come up with a great idea, script it, storyboard it and meticulously plan each stage of the process. You can wing it but putting out a badly-made video could actually do more harm to your brand than putting out no video at all.

Call to Action: Add a CTA to a video to try and get the results you desire. Don’t be afraid to steer the audience in the right direction. Your viewer can’t convert if they don’t know what to do next. It’s a bit like that Inception business we mentioned earlier, eh!

Want to make a video?

Want to know more about video marketing or want help making a brilliant video? Why not get in touch and we can have a chat about what you need. In the meantime, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest to keep up with all things content and digital media.

About Dermot Keys

Dermot is a Content Creator with 256. He has worked as a journalist and editor for a number of print and online publications. He once won a fancy dress competition dressed as One Man and his Dog, although the dog did most of the work.