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Social Video ROI: Relationships That Convert

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Social Video What's ThatMany marketers assume "social video" mostly means sharing on YouTube, Facebook, and other social networks. What's forgotten? The "social" part.

To successfully incorporate video into your search marketing, you really need to create a experience that's first and foremost about building personal connections. That means genuinely listening, engaging, and helping others in ways that turn visitors into followers, users into contributors, critics into evangelists, and individuals into communities.

But social video can't be helpful if it can't be sustainable as a business model. That's why social video needs to be treated like a financial portfolio – nurturing relationships like one nurtures stock investments, carefully qualified and continually measured against pre-set performance goals so you see a tangible return on investment over the long-term.

What is "Social Video?" What Should it Really Mean?

We need to start with how we choose to define "social. I regard social as a personal investment into genuine relationships for shared value.

The next step from there is "social business" – a term often used to describe the evolution of modern business through technology and consumer culture, and worker relationships. That is how I came to my definition of "social video" – the blending of video into genuine relationships for shared value.

Too often, video is still treated as a broadcast tool with expectations of short-term transactions, rather than a true engagement tool for building meaningful connections.

You should no longer ask, "How do I create a viral video?" Instead, you should ask, "How can I create value and build trust with my audience?"

"Video is one of the greatest ways to help personalize the brand and create a trusted experience," according to Frank Eliason, SVP of Citibank and author of "@ Your Service – How to Attract New Customers, Increase Sales, and Increase Sales Using New Customer Techniques." "We tend to trust humans, not some corporate logo; and video is the best way to do that on a scaled basis."

Externally, video is used to communicate to broad audiences, often designed to bring a human touch to a brand. It's a great way to share insight into your company, share thoughts, and add value to your customers without intruding into their conversation.

Internally, larger companies are using video to create more nimble, interconnected teams. Work groups now live in a very different environment. Today, people use video to speak with each other across the globe, for knowledge management and collaboration.

Here are some other strong business reasons for why search marketers should be doing social video:

  • Video is the most powerful communications tool on the web. It invites more engagement with audiences, and drives the social signals with Google for augmented search results.
  • Video enhances storytelling. People are moved by stories; and video is better at storytelling than text, graphics, and audio combined.
  • Video augments both the rational and the emotional. Some audiences are persuaded more by logic and instructional content; others are motivated more by strong feelings of passion that are either positive or negative.
  • Audiences now expect it. Your audiences are likely creating and sharing their own videos, and want the brands they follow to do the same with them in mind.

Social Video Tips for Every Professional Marketer

  • Make it a real commitment to personally engage with your audience. Anything advertised as "social" should come with a promise. It's not just putting out video content regularly and consistently to where your audience is; it's a promise to listen and personally engage with individual followers and subscribers (i.e., conversation), and to provide mutual value for what you share. Simply placing repurposed ads on your website or YouTube channel isn't going to cut it.
  • Be transparent and believable. Zappos has always lead the way but that's because social fits within their existing culture. Mistakes happen in social when brands like to portray themselves as something they are not. That means, think about what your existing business culture is like, and have your video content be a natural representation of that same culture.
  • Always start with being helpful. The best video you can create is never going to make up for poor customer experience. The best companies winning in social media aren't doing so because of a marketing or PR message. They are winning because their products and experiences live up to their brand promise. If you do social video without reviewing, acknowledging, and demonstrating a serious attempt to fix those issues, your online video will just invite conversations from upset customers that you aren't giving them attention like you should.
  • Use it to learn about, acknowledge and correct your mistakes. "My favorite example will always be the a Domino's pizza response to crisis on YouTube a few years back. That is the power of video where the CEO is speaking from the heart," Eliason said. One thing you should never do is ignore someone who puts up a video genuinely expressing their bad experience with your brand. "They care enough to talk about your brand, so that tells me they are passionate. If they did not care they would not say anything."
  • Acknowledge interesting videos, not just interesting people. "Some of the famous instances over the years. I worked for a cable company [Comcast] and at one point there was a video of a technician sleeping," Eliason said. "The person who put that video up had posted two videos, ever. Let's face it, it was just good content. It was just something we enjoyed watching – so we watched it over and over again.

Social Video Strategy in 3 Simple Steps: Start Soft, Then Get Hard

The word "social" in media should never be an excuse to avoid showing measurable business outcomes; nor should social be measured under the exact same metrics that apply to direct marketing and traditional advertising.

The key part is demonstrating causality – connecting the dots between the "soft" metrics of engagement towards the "hard" metrics of transactions and financials. Here are three simple steps how you can achieve that:

  1. Set measurable performance goals. Before starting any video campaign, have a clear objective of what you're looking to accomplish that will be a positive business value. Set a budget for your spend and time investments, and how you plan to get in the positive column with sales and revenue over a period of time. Think anywhere from 6-18 months, and be ready to measure intermittently so you can see your progress toward your goal.
  2. Know the social metrics that really matter. Go beyond views and shares. Focus on the metrics show sustainable engagement – audience retention and completion of video views, subscribers, clicks on calls-to-actions and soft leads (like filling out a short form or becoming an email newsletter member). Social business pros already understand that word-of-mouth marketing is a proven connection between traffic and sales,
  3. Create a scorecard and regular report system. This means assigning different values to different social metrics. Once you have data coming in, you can start to see how many of the soft metrics it takes to generate the hard metrics. From there you have a benchmark for ongoing and future campaigns, and you can use the numbers to compare performance over the past week or month, and measure growth.

Screw Viral, Tube Responsibly!

Social video is most apt to be successful for your business when you stop thinking about "going viral" and really focus on being useful.

Think of social video less like a megaphone and more like a customer specialist or concierge, building interesting and helpful video content that acknowledges their needs and wants; and personally engage with audience members individually around the video experience. You'll see how good will with a responsible business plan behind it leads to social video success.

You can catch Grant speaking at SES Chicago 2013 on November 5 on the panel, Unlocking the Secrets of Mobile Video: YouTube, Instagram, and Vine.


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