Video is at an all time high. Most out-of-home entertainment options have been canceled, and people are staying safe at home. This means they’re spending more time than ever consuming video content. This trend is likely to continue through 2021, which means marketers can’t ignore video any longer.
YouTube engagement is at an all time high, with content creators seeing 20-30% more views. Beyond YouTube, people are watching more video content on social media channels, with GlobalWebIndex reporting that 56 percent of internet users watch videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat every month. Instagram is reporting a 70% increase in live streaming. TikTok has become mainstream, despite being at the center of some controversy. Lastly, without sports, people have been turning to virtual gaming, which bumped Twitch viewership up 31% in March.
It’s clear that the world is demanding more video content and its importance to marketing is growing. Platforms and software creators are listening and rapidly developing new video capabilities and editing tools, making it easier for marketers to incorporate video into their content mix. If you want to connect with your audience in 2021, you need to invest in video marketing.
Read on to unlock the secrets of this compelling medium and learn the latest video marketing trends.
Video is powerful, an observation which Marshall McLuhan made half his career out of restating. We respond to video differently than we do to other media. If you read a message, you have to do half the work; you make up your own “author voice” in your mind. If that same message is broadcast in a video by a presenter, the message becomes personal. You can hear their tone and see their emotional state. A spoken message over video is more empathic and relatable.
If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic made us relate more to video than ever before. As everything from classrooms to offices to entertainment is now fed through Zoom teleconference and social media channels, video is playing a bigger role in how we see the world.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video clip might be worth millions. To help you seize the reigns of this powerful digital marketing tool, we’re going to look over the cutting edge of video marketing trends in 2020, and explore where the fine art of video marketing might be going.
The Rise of the Webinars
A “webinar” is a portmanteau of the words “web” and “seminar,” an informative lecture transmitted over online video. They are also sometimes called “web seminars” or “webcasts.” Webinars are just another form of content marketing, where you put useful information in front of the audience to attract them to your business.
Like any type of content, a webinar helps establish your business as a trusted expert in your industry. It helps build your brand recognition and helps retain customer loyalty. Your content can be helpful guides and tutorials, interesting facts and figures relevant to your industry, insightful commentary on breaking news and events in your field, or even just simple amusement.
With the pandemic making it necessary to shift many in-person events to the virtual world, the first big change we noticed is just how many people took to the camera to make their presentations virtual. A recent survey from PCMA, a professional organization for event strategists, found that 70% of respondents moved an in-person event to a virtual platform as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many believe this isn’t a short term trend and that virtual events will be an enduring feature that complements in-person events moving forward.
Even the Google Search Trend graph for the word “webinar” tells the story of increased interest in webinars since the pandemic:
We see a big bump right about the time the US started hitting heavy quarantine, then a gradual settle once people got more acquainted with the term. Since about June, we see steady interest in the term maintained at a higher rate than before the pandemic. We also see more ads for upcoming webinars.
We see academic, medical, legal, and other white-collar professions jumping on the bandwagon. (Heck, we’ve been pumping out webinars too, just take a look at our healthcare webinar center.)
There’s really not that much difference between a webinar and any educational video. It’s more like a presentation you would give on stage, with a slideshow on an overhead projector. If you’re familiar with videos by TED or TEDx (example here), that kind of presentation style works wonders in webinars. In fact, the longstanding TED video franchise is just one big series of webinars.
One reason for the webinar format’s popularity is that it doesn’t use heavy video production values. To make educational videos, you could go with a snazzy animation and a professional actor voice-over like Kurzgesagt. Not all of us have that level of resources though. The pandemic created a sharp rise in demand for virtual replacements for live events, while the means of video production struggled to keep up. Hence the webinar, where all you need is a stationary camera.
The use of webinars isn’t a passing trend, and will only continue through 2021.
Google Search Increasing Emphasis on Video
This has been going on for a while now, but Google has been tossing a row of videos into its search results whenever the opportunity arises.
The key word here is “opportunity.” There are still many questions in many industries that Google doesn’t seem to have videos for off the top. The odd thing is that you can go into YouTube and find videos for a given query, but either Google doesn’t always have the video results lined up for that particular keyword, or else it prefers to show other special features for that query, such as Featured Snippets, “People Also Ask,” or Maps location listings.
This is all an effort on Google’s part to give you the result it thinks you’re looking for as fast as possible. The video emphasis is also influenced by the fact that Google owns YouTube (the world’s second-largest search engine) as well. But we see the same move on Microsoft Bing, which is serving video search results as well.
This tells us that making and posting more videos can help place us higher in search results. You can do this a number of ways piping off from your existing content marketing. You can repurpose blog posts, social media content, and recording of past webinars. Unlike written content, where Google prefers a thousand words or more, video content does just fine around the five-minute mark. Videos also tend to pop up in search results for simple “FAQ” queries. Therefore, you can consider making a series of short “explainer” videos for the kinds of questions your typical customers would have.
Going forward, you might consider taking an integrated approach to content, dividing between text and video. You could make a short blog post, record a video going into more depth on the subject, and embed it in the post. Meanwhile, the video on YouTube has links at the bottom directing new visitors from YouTube to your site. Plenty of content marketers are going this route.
More Live Video Streaming
Even though live streaming video was possible for a long time before, we have to credit Twitch TV with making streaming video for the common user popular. It began with video game streams, but branched out into all manner of live content, including music performances, live chat, hosted podcasts, and even the occasional instructional Yoga session!
This means that the ground is opening soon on Twitch for general-purpose video content, albeit there’s plenty of other video streaming markets too.
Why should you use live video over pre-recorded content? There are several advantages:
- Live chat! Viewers can type in questions to you, and you can read and respond to them in real-time.
- More timely for breaking news, events you need to handle on a schedule, announcements you need to make, etc.
- Far more personal and public-facing.
You have to decide if live video is right for your needs. Some people get nervous “doing it live.” There is always that precarious possibility that something unexpected could happen, like the time a few years back when a BBC interview was interrupted by kids.
That went viral overnight. We are all this dad at that moment.
If you can stand to go live and have a fairly controlled environment without unexpected comedy breaking out, streaming video is a valuable tool for connecting with customers. Any company can edit and publish a pre-recorded video. A live stream session tells your public, “you are worth our time, we care about you.”
Possible venues for live streaming include Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn Live. YouTube, the mainstay of vloggers already, also allows a live stream option. In fact, major media companies offer streams of their 24/7 news broadcast on YouTube just like on TV. A distant last-place contender for streaming might be Vimeo, but they’re just not as popular.
We should also note, that webinars are increasingly being conducted live. Instead of pre-recording the content, presenters are speaking off the cuff, taking audience questions in real-time, and adjusting the presentation as they go. This is likely in response to consumers’ growing preference for live content and engagement.
Video Content Going Omnichannel
Have you found a video on Twitter, Reddit, or LinkedIn and offered to show it to somebody else, only to hear them say they already saw it on Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram? That’s happening a lot recently. For those of us with a rich multi-channel diet, we’ll see the same post fly by six or seven times in a day on multiple content networks.
No one uses just one digital platform. The average user will bounce from website to website, conducting Google searches, visiting their favorite forum, checking in on family on Facebook, and getting the latest news from LinkedIn and Twitter. While their needs and goals on each channel differ, video is becoming a larger part of the experience. After determining where your target customer spends their time online, consider incorporating video into your content strategy and sharing it across those digital channels.
A growing number of websites and apps are offering video capabilities or features, including:
- Instagram’s new Reels feature
- Facebook’s new Watch feature
- Twitter’s new Periscope feature
That last one is the curveball! TikTok’s meteoric rise in popularity has the other social networks scrambling to keep up, which is why we’re seeing new, easier video sharing branch off from the major networks.
At the same time as its mushroomed popularity, Tiktok has found itself in a bit of a public relations jam. Tiktok is a Chinese-owned company, which makes them a political football come election time with politicians in the United States hesitant to allow the app to carry on business within US borders. So far a couple of legal back-and-forth filings have happened.
The bottom line to the fate of TikTok is that, if it is banned from operating in the US, then other US companies will simply buy up parts of the company and re-offer it as “Tiktok US.” Media companies do this all the time. China likewise kicked Google out of China; Google formed Google China. There’s even a version of the KFC restaurant chain in China. It’s a little late to pretend that neither country has inseparable economic and cultural ties to the other now.
What is so special about TikTok, and why is it singled out from the dozens of other platforms that can also host video? It’s a phone-friendly app that allows for fast and easy video creation, editing, and broadcasting all in one place. YouTube is awesome and still dominant, but posting a video on there can be a painful process. Tiktok is to YouTube what Twitter is to Facebook: the more compact option.
Let the popularity of TikTok teach us this lesson: Audiences today like their content streamlined and nimble. Fast upload, fast playback. So keep your video messages short for now. Punch once, punch effectively, punch fast.
How to Incorporate Video Into Your Marketing?
To start, everyone is looking for human connection right now. In the absence of in-person meetings and events, video can help fill the void. Use video to humanize your brand and connect with customers. Be empathetic in your messaging and let viewers know that you understand their challenges, and you’re here to help them. This approach will go a long way with shaping a compassionate brand image during these trying times.
Here are a few places where you can start using video immediately:
- Your website landing page: embed a video here to close sales on leads
- Paid PPC ads: video ads get attention, and can be targeted like any other kind of ad
- Email marketing: it might be helpful to embed a personalized video to help serve customers and resolve problems
- Your “about us” page: a friendly introduction to your company
- Product or service pages: if you have segmented pages for virtual commerce, you can enhance your product or service description with a video spiel
- Your Google My Business listing: add a video giving a virtual tour of your business
Social proof is great presented in a video format. These are testimonials, reviews, or case studies that you can include from other satisfied customers. These videos can be added to any of the channels we just mentioned.
Now, here are a few pointers to help you get started with video marketing:
Just because you’re using video doesn’t mean you can’t optimize for search engines. Have a descriptive title for the video and use keywords and tags in your video description. Link to the video from your site, and nurture whatever other backlinks you normally would for any content. Give an accurate synopsis of the video in the provided text description.
On the content itself, try setting an engaging thumbnail for the video. Optimize it for mobile viewing. If possible, either create your videos from a script or transcribe your videos so you have text content that you can include with the video or share as a blog article. You might want to edit in a few simple features, such as captions, subtitles, or charts to help explain or clarify a point.
☑ Embrace the Medium
You want to take full advantage of the video medium, instead of making it like a dull slideshow or simply someone reading a script. Optimize your content to make full use of the format, thinking a little bit like a film director. Illuminate your subject with bright lighting and make sure distracting noises are eliminated. Use visuals, which can be some edited-in effects or even a simple whiteboard drawing in the background. Consider incorporating animations to highlight segments of the video or illustrate a concept.
Many brands develop a brand mascot or cartoon that makes appearances in their video content. Software like Powtoon and Moovly makes it easy to bring those characters to life. These tools are also great for creating educational or training videos.
☑ Optimize for Conversions
Just like any other content, you want to create a funnel for interested viewers to turn them into leads and customers. Have a call to action. Keep it simple, directing leads to click a button or follow a link. Offer incentives, such as a coupon code for a discount. At the least, get them to subscribe, like, and share.
If you keep videos simple and short, with one topic per video, it is easier to nudge viewers along to another point, be that the next video topic, or the landing page if they’re ready to convert. Do not be a vlogger here! Your average YouTube advertising-driven video-blogger personality has a rambling performance of some 25 to 40 minutes and up, like a whole episode of a variety show.
You’re marketing, so make your videos five, ten minutes, tops.
Many people are nervous to get in front of the camera. Don’t let this fear prevent you from embracing video marketing. It’s one of the most effective ways to connect with your customers now. While it’s scary in the beginning, the more you do it, the easier it’ll get.
Whoever is doing the talking for the video, you might want to take some rehearsal time and work on your delivery, maybe with a few friends, family, or coworkers to guide you. We all have our unique strengths, and adjusting our performance can help play to them. Whatever you can do to feel relaxed and natural, like you’re talking to a friend, will help your delivery.
And last but not least…
Be a Video Star!
Here’s a few examples to get some inspiration:
- Johns Hopkins talks about telemedicine
- Ironwood Wealth Management talks about probate law
- Cardinal Digital Marketing shares a client testimonial
- Drake University talks about their environmental science program
- MIT deploys a marching canine robot as a contact-free hospital assistant
- Innovative Dental of Springfield fills us in on dental crowns
As you can see, video content marketing can take any form at all. We have professionally produced and edited videos, we have plain “talking head” videos in an office, and we have dynamic personalities shooting videos from their car. The dog-robot was a one-off; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can afford to let their robots do the marketing for them.
There are a few templates we can identify for video content marketing:
- A simple answer to a frequently asked question
- Facility, campus, or business tour
- Product or service demo
- Customer or client testimonial
- Special announcements during circumstances like COVID-19
- Recipe, how-to, tutorial, or other instructional
- Employee, faculty, staff, or president interview
- Mission statements / about us
Building a video marketing program can seem intimidating. But remember: most of the content that you already have can be re-purposed as a video. As the list above demonstrates, you don’t have to start at square one. Identify your most popular text-based assets, like blog posts or eBooks, and re-imagine them as videos.
If you haven’t incorporated video into your content marketing strategy, it’s never too late. Video isn’t going anywhere and its use in marketing will only grow.