Why Virality Isn't the Only Answer for Video Marketing

When companies think about using video as a part of their marketing strategy, the first thing that comes to mind is the numerous wildly successful viral videos that have taken the Internet by storm (video advertising campaigns like Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" and Blendtec's "Will It Blend?"). It's no wonder most people think this way -- there's a reason that these videos were so successful and pervasive in popular culture, and part of that reason is that they're difficult to forget.

These videos achieved the ultimate success of taking off and quickly changing the business they represented for the better in a big, get-rich-quick sort of way. Here's the problem for you, the average business hoping to use video as a part of your marketing strategy: a lot of videos that go viral are very highly budgeted, and the reason that people pay attention is that they are so remarkable and over the top.

Narrowing your marketing imagination to the idea of making a video that will go viral is very limiting; there are a lot of other ways to use think about using video to market your business, and most of these are much more accessible to the average company -- and much more likely to succeed (it's really, really rare for a video to go viral, and many of the most viral videos were never intended to explode to such a massive degree. Take both of those factors into account and it's obvious why it's hard to produce a viral video of your own).

Once you've put virality on the backburner, how can you think about video marketing? You can use video to scale the communications you already have. Optimize your videos for engagement and scale your story efficiently; if it takes several iterations to figure it out, that's okay: video marketing should be an iterative process (and that's where good analytics come in, hint, hint).

Video is distinct from other ways of conveying information in a number of important ways: it's a story told over time, in a logical order, in a way that can walk a viewer through something without overwhelming them.

Take this video of our office, for example. What purpose is this video serving? It's somewhat akin to bringing someone into their office and walking around with them, showing them our space and our cast of characters. Because this sort of personal feeling is important to us, it's not something that we want to lose, but we also don't have time to do this for everyone for real as our company grows (and also, our customers are located all around the world).

In the last 9 months, this video, which is only available on our Company page, has been seen 3,000 times -- the equivalent of that many office tours and that many hours of our time spent (especially since on average, these people watched 78% of the video). Using video also means that we can create tours of features that people might otherwise ask about instead of explaining them over and over again.

This doesn't just mean that we save time -- it also means that this information is available to the customer whenever they want it, as many times as they need to hear it, and without having to feel guilty about asking a question. And then we can spend more time answering the more difficult questions that matter.

Using videos and tracking them closely means that you can get a good sense of what information people are likely to engage with on different parts of your website and will allow you to figure out what stage prospects are at as they view different pages. It will also help you to figure out what parts of your videos people are watching the most closely so you can hone these sections more precisely or highlight that content. Video is a unique, effective way to scale communication for your business, even if it doesn't "go viral."

If you're a huge company that can afford the risk of producing a high-budget video that may or may not see the success you initially hoped for, then it's probably okay to put a lot of your eggs in that one basket. But if you're a regular company that wants to use video effectively without so much risk, there are still a lot of ways that the medium can work to your advantage -- without needing to get 6,000,000 hits.

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