Business video or article: Deciding what’s right for your audience

Increased use of video on social media has led to some gaudy numbers and claims popping up about how video will take over the world of business-to-business marketing. Many of those predictions, such as how videos take up half of the mobile data traffic today and that share will rise to nearly 80 percent by 2018, are being made by folks who provide video services.

However, Facebook’s increased use of video and Twitter’s 2015 video content improvements underscore that more videos are being used. Some industry studies also claim that the medium is becoming more common in B2B marketing. Hubspot quotes a variety of surveys and predictions that say:

  • 65 percent of viewers watch more than three-fourths of a video.
  • 75 percent of business executives watch work-related videos at least weekly.
  • 96 percent of B2B companies plan to use video in their content marketing during the next year.
  • 67 percent found video marketing somewhat successful, but just 18 percent found it very successful.

Here’s another attraction to video: its human qualities. Psychologist Susan Weinschenk points out that we use the human face as a gathering point for information and believability; that voice conveys rich information. Body language and movement also add to the appeal.

As writers of both business intelligence articles and business video scripts as well, what are our thoughts on whether businesses should jump into the video game? Our answer is, maybe.

VIDEOS SHOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO YOUR BUSINESS AND TO THE CONTENT

I suspect that most of the awe-inspiring video viewership numbers are not coming from analyst talking heads clips, but rather than from cute animals, amazing sports feats and the odd chance hilarious funny home video. For a business, does it make sense for a plumbing service company to record a how-to-fix video and post it on their website and YouTube? Of course. On the other hand, the video format poorly conveys complex financial information that requires layers of understanding and background.

YOU DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME TO ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE IN A VIDEO

Try five seconds, 10 seconds tops. The Content Marketing Institute advises that your video should be visual, funny, or amazing. If it’s too complex, video’s not for you. I’ve written hundreds of articles with business clients and not once have I met one author who could make his or her point in 10 seconds. It’s not that different for articles, but at least you have the opportunity to write a catchy headline, lead paragraph and intriguing subheads.

HOW DO YOUR CUSTOMERS GATHER INFORMATION?

I must confess, I don’t watch corporate videos. I research hundreds of articles during my work. I don’t have time to view videos that may or may not give me what I need, nor can I cut and paste this information if it is only in video form. Read this fascinating article on why nearly 80 percent of Web readers scan, rather than read, entire articles. I too am a forager, because I can skip to the information I need and discard the rest. So find out how your customers or referral sources obtain their information, in addition to finding out what it is they need to know. Then decide the way you’re going to give it to them.

VIDEO VIEWS ARE STILL HARD TO MEASURE

Writer Jonathan Crossfield points out that metrics, as in the past, are subjective and murky, and many companies simply ignore the measurement work. After pointing out that while YouTube counts a view if someone plays a video more than 30 seconds, Facebook counts the automatic views (if not turned off) if it plays for five seconds. He says, “Your five-minute tutorial might seem a runaway success with thousands of views, but do you know how many of those stuck it out past one minute? Two? What percentage of your viewers made it to the end? Where in the video did most people lose interest?” The YouTube analytic tool will tell you where people dropped off. Don’t be surprised if it is very early.

THE MOST-WATCHED BUSINESS VIDEOS ARE GENERALLY MORE COMPLEX AND EXPENSIVE TO MAKE

One survey of companies using video showed that customer testimonials, tutorial and demonstration videos were the most effective. Least effective were video blogs and event videos. However, the survey found that the first three types of videos were the most difficult to make.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO MAKE A GOOD BUSINESS VIDEO?

Let’s take for granted you’re not producing a $100,000 commercial on location. A well-produced corporate video averages between $10,000 and $15,000. Compare that to hiring a professional writer to produce a series of, say, six to 10 articles. Depending on article length, the depth and time required and cooperation of the client, the cost of the articles would range from $5,000 to $12,000. So articles are cheaper and easier to produce. If you write your own articles, it only costs the value of your time, although you should at least hire a professional editor to polish them lest you lose credibility by publishing mistakes and poor quality work.

Video production remains more effective if it is done by professionals. These specialty firms bring a lot to the table, from studios, quality digital cameras, lights, stands, wireless microphones, backdrops and editing software, location rental, travel and legal expenses, make-up, not to mention the producers, directors and camera people who charge $100 per hour and up for their expertise. The article linked above explained 26 different categories of expenses.

Do it yourself? A decent set of cameras, lights and other tools costs about $10,000. Editing and production software is improving, and getting cheaper by the day. So I think help is on the way there, as well as change. Plenty of folks make videos with their IPhones, using free or cheap editing software. Again, it all comes down to what is appropriate for the goals of a business and whether you can produce something of quality by yourself.

IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO JUST MAKE A VIDEO AND POST IT ON YOUR SITE

In order to get noticed by search engines and the online audience, your business video must be optimized for search engines. There’s a whole world of SEO, of course. A good start to it is in this Entreprenuer.com article. As with articles, videos need a title tag, video description, category listing, keyword tags and subtitles or captions. Your own site must be optimized as well, including adding links to video directories.

CONCLUSION: DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN QUALITY, ENGAGING CONTENT

Videos are just another medium. If not done well, they won’t produce results such as customer engagement, brand identity or a specific call to action. Focus on the needs of your customer. While it might be ego-gratifying to send the CEO in front of the camera for a fireside chat, if he doesn’t say anything captivating or provide unique insight, you’re not doing him or her any favors. Quality, creative, insightful content is the best way to engage your customer or referral partners. It always has been, and always will be.

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