Add Some Fight Into Your Story with Video

I love old Kung-Fu movies. First, because the whole dubbing-to-English thing was hilarious. Second because more often than not, one of the characters would reveal some awesome super move. Whether it was Panther style, or Crazy Monkey death punch, or whatever, it always changed the outcome of the epic battle at the end.

That’s what video does for digital marketers who have embraced storytelling. Video is that secret weapon, sometimes the awesomeness that binds an entire storyline together. Check out what Audi did for the 2013 Super bowl. Now if Audi can build on that storyline and connect it through content on their sites, social media, collateral, etc. it will make that $4m video spot look like the Cobra Super Strike Mega Punch in the highly competitive car market battle!

The slides and video embedded in this blogpost are from a webinar I did with Marketing Profs in January, 2013 focusing on just that—using video to put a little “fight” into your story. I’ve also listed out some of the key points below:

  • Digital marketing is changing. It’s no longer about telling your message; it’s about engaging with your audience through a story.
  • That’s because there is a TON of noise out there. It seems like every business out there is telling people their message. In fact, new companies keep springing up overnight. Stories help you get above the noise because they engage with users emotionally.
  • Slide 6 is my favorite. Yeah, everyone loves a good super hero, especially when he’s you and you realize that video is your “secret punch” against competitors looking to drown out your message with theirs. Ugh. Noise.
  • And people are really watching online video. Cisco predicts that by 2015, online video will account for almost two-thirds of all consumer Internet traffic. Wow.
  • But video is so important because consumers are multi-screen. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Google’s “The Multi-Screen World” report. They are bouncing around between devices. They are starting activity on one and finishing on another. Video is the glue that can keep your experience consistent across devices and your audience engaged.
  • There are five awesome tips for making video work for you.
  • Tip 1: Live Creates Demand (you want a line around your website…)
  • Tip 2: Video is a social experience (you want people talking about your video with their friends while they are watching it; oh yeah, you need to be involved too)
  • Tip 3: Get your video everywhere (but find a service that can make it easy for you by converting everything automatically; no need to create extra work for yourself)
  • Tip 4: Stop publishing your video separately (it should be part of your content; makes your content more sticky and engaging)
  • Tip 5: YouTube is stealing your traffic!!!! (well, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but they are getting credit for your video smashing bricks)
  • You have to make video part of your DNA. And mobile too.
  • And when you have mobile-video-DNA-itis, your story is consistent and takes advantage of the devices it’s on.
  • This webinar brought to you by the letters Q and A

And guess what, we even have the questions from the webinar answered below.

Are you ready to add some fight to your story? You may not be able to break bricks with your head when you are done (or disassemble a tank with one punch), but if you integrate video into your storytelling, tie it together with great narrative content, and create a consistent experience across devices we are pretty sure that your enemies (oops, I mean competitors) will be quaking in their proverbial boots.

Webinar Playback

Below is a video playback of the webinar.


Here are the slides on Slideshare (in case you wanted to print and frame them):


Like any really earth-shattering webinar, there were plenty of questions. So we put together this Q&A for you.

Do you recommend utilizing YouTube to upload all of your videos and then embed into FB, websites, etc.?

That’s a great strategy, especially if you are using our tip #5 (loading up clips into YouTube and driving people back to the website). With this combination, you get the best of both worlds (better SEO because connected to YouTube) but traffic back on your site!

When integrating video directly into content, what’s the best position?

Well, obviously it depends on your content but I would recommend getting it somewhere in the middle. It’s a delicate balance between asking your viewer to read too much text before they get to the video or too much after. Wherever you put the video, make sure it’s germane. Nothing like interrupting a reader engaging with your text with a video if it doesn’t make sense (like a commercial right in the middle of the big scene)!

Should videos be gated?

No. Never. Ever. Really, don’t you want people to watch them? How many private videos do you have on YouTube? You need to use your videos effectively as part of your storytelling and as a way to connect story elements together. How hard would that be if the audience had to enter their email address and other info first? You’d lose everyone. If you want to grab that kind of information, then you need to do it somewhere else. You should also look into marketing analytics software like Marketo and Eloqua that can help automate some of that audience categorization.

What is the length of time that someone will watch a video?

There’s no hard and fast rule because it all depends on context. Where is the user? What are they doing? How much time do they have? And, of course, how engaging is the story? I’d watch that Audi Super Bowl clip for like 10 minutes if it kept going. I want to know what happens next. And that’s the Video Dragon Warrior secret right there. If your audience is largely watching mobile, make sure that they get engaged quickly (if you have a 45s setup, you’ve probably lost them). If they are watching on the PC, maybe it’s okay for the longer setup but you might want to have some great content around.

How do you add a Call-to-Action in a video for YouTube? You can’t embed a button to anything but another YouTube video!

Correct. Call-to-Actions are just that. Calls. It doesn’t have to be a button. Just some text. “hey, liked the video. Dude, check out the rest on our website here: Http://” The key? Make the URL SHORT and EASY TO TYPE!

What are the metrics to judge the effectiveness of a video?

That depends on what your purpose is! Don’t know it? Well, it’s one of four things. You either sell stuff directly, influence people to buy stuff elsewhere, sell content (or generate revenue around content), or do all of that (like an online brokerage). If your purpose is selling, I would say effectiveness is conversion to actual sales. If influencer, I would say maybe number of views. Need to figure out what’s important to the purpose of your online business and tie video effectiveness into that.

Is YouTube More B2C Friendly than B2B?

No. Remember that B2Bers are B2Cers as well. Everyone is a consumer. There is really no difference in B2B publishing video to YouTube than B2C.

How Important is video quality?

Hmmm. How about, “epically important?” If you are trying to tell an awesome story and it’s hard for the audience to really get engaged (because the pictures are all blurry) what do you think is going to happen to your awesomeness? Yeah, it’s going to wink out of existence. But video technologies like adaptive bit rate can ensure that the video being delivered is always the right quality for where the user is so it may not be the prettiest but at least they can watch and engage.

What are your thoughts on rewarding people for sharing, with entries into a contest?

YES! Do it. Gamification is big right now. If you can afford it, I highly recommend that you tie everything in your story to larger gamification initiatives. Nothing beats winning stuff (or bragging to your friends that you are on the leader board).

Any word on average production budgets?

None. There really isn’t an average. With today’s equipment (check out the Nikon D800 camera, for example) you can film your own awesome video with little budget. Of course, if you want professional actors and a production company with sets and explosions and aliens (okay, took that too far),  it’s going to cost you. Another video type that is becoming very popular is Kinetic Text. Check out the video we did for our own Orchestrate Video Services tool.

What sources can you recommend to enhance my skill at “storytelling?”

Aw, shucks, well, that’s me of course. Ha. Okay, shameless plug. No really, our professional services organization can help with that. Ack. There I go again. Places like the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs are two great resources for learning to tell better stories. If you want to hire people, check out as well. And there are a bunch of killer books out now about storytelling like [book titles].

What’s the rule of thumb for monetization to content length? Is there a magic formula?

No. Some audience members will bail after a 10s pre-roll ad, some will stay. Best bet is to watch your analytics. Find out what’s helping or hindering stickiness. And remember that you should probably modify your strategy based on context. If a user is on a mobile, a 10s pre-roll is going to kill the whole show!

Does content have to be shot by a “professional” to be reputable or trustworthy?

Most certainly not! There is a lot of trust to be garnered by “home brew” video. With that said, just because you are doing it yourself doesn’t mean you should take liberties with the media. Make sure the video is steady. Weed out background noise. Be conscientious that you are asking people to watch your video and try your best to make it a quality product.

Should you have video autostart?

Eh, I’m going to punt on this one. I personally hate it. Especially when I have left the tab open accidentally in Chrome and when I re-open Chrome I have to click through tabs trying to figure out which web page is singing! Grrrrr

What makes a video more engaging?

Again, that’s a tough question. Some marketers would argue it’s all about the content. Others might contend that interactive technologies help. Still others might say that social media integration helps. I think I side with content. That’s where it all starts. Figuring out what your audience wants and giving it to them (making it contextual to what they need, where they are, where they have been) is really what will make it more engaging. You can never predict what’s going to go viral or what’s going to pull on the heart strings. All you can do is make your content honest. Tell a story in which you have a vested interest. If you can build a narrative that brings in the ethos of your company, it will come out in the content.

How do you make a video that is part of a “consistent” experience?

I recommend using a storyboard. Identify your story, characters, environment, conflict, resolution, etc. Map that out on a storyboard. Then figure out what parts are best served by video, print, images, audio, etc. Finally, identify where you can branch off to create sub-stories. That may have to wait until you see how people engage with the story (maybe they all hate the part you want to spin out).

What is the size of the audience where a “live event” becomes risky or requires additional support than perhaps one person?

No hard and fast rule for this one but if you are doing it yourself, you can do the math. Simply take your current bandwidth (to your server) and divide by the bitrate of your event stream. That will give you the total number of concurrent users you can support realistically. Ratchet down bitrates to get more. If you think your event is going to go viral (and you would need a lot more bandwidth to support it), that’s when you reach out to a service provider who has the scale to handle it. You also need to consider geography. If you are going to have a live event in which you will have worldwide viewership (even a few matters), having uses traverse all the way back to your server to get the stream is going to make for a terrible experience.

How do you show ROI for video?

Unless you are monetizing it with pre, post or mid-roll ads (or overlay or bumper or or or) you don’t really. Again, it all links to your purpose. If your purpose is influencing people to buy a product then if you add video and you generate more traffic, logic dictates that you probably have more of a chance to influence more people. If your purpose is monetizing content, then if adding video increases page time, more time to see ads (and probably more overall impressions). But really, video is about storytelling. Your CMO has to embrace the concept that storytelling is a cross-platform, multi-device strategy for engaging emotionally with the audience so that they become loyal brand and product advocates. The ROI for that is not next month. It’s next year.

Would you recommend to post the same video published for multiple formats?

You shouldn’t have to. Most service providers, like Limelight and YouTube, provide services to automatically convert the video to the appropriate format when it’s requested. The video is then pulled into cache where it can be quickly served to others with that device. Once the demand goes down, video goes away and you are left with the original which can be converted again automatically when needed. This is the “publish once, deliver anywhere” value proposition.

Won’t having videos on YouTube help out my SEO versus having a video embedded on my website?

Do it both places! Why are you limiting yourself to just YouTube? Use them to drive traffic to your website by posting clips with a call-to-action to see the rest of the video at a certain URL. Then you get the benefit of YouTube SEO and you improve your website SEO by having video in it as well. Put your videos EVERYWHERE! Remember you want your story out there. Discovery is a critical component of generating organic traffic and interest in your story.

Do you feel it’s worthwhile to optimize your videos so that rich snippets show up in Google search results?

Yes! Hopefully those rich snippets are hosted on YouTube which then drive people back to your website to see the whole video.

- Jason Thibeault, Sr. Director, Marketing Strategy. You can connect with Jason on Twitter @_jasonthibeault.

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