We should have seen this coming. After all, it didn’t happen overnight. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. At 12:01 am August 1, 1981, MTV launched its 24-hour streaming music video channel and debuted The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star,” forever affecting the attention spans of people all over the globe. Flash forward nearly 36 years and we’re left with attention-starved consumers with less time to spend and many more things competing for the currency of engagement – a very real cost for consumers.
Whether measured by bulk or by merit, the cost of engagement is rising. Life is busier. According to a recent Microsoft study, the human attention span is 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. That’s now less than the attention span of a goldfish. Because of this, I get two primary questions from clients and industry peers about how their video content can keep up with the ever-increasing demand on consumers’ time: “What video content should I make to best engage my audience while staying true to my brand?” and “How can I create that content at scale?”
For the sake of relating to a broader audience, I’ll focus on YouTube – a brand that has become as ubiquitous as its parent Google. It’s no wonder the platform is now the second most popular search engine with 3 billion searches a month. Where am I going with this? The Cisco VNI forecast predicts that internet video will account for 79% of global Internet traffic by 2020 – up from 63% in 2015. The study also predicts that video traffic will be 82% of consumer Internet traffic by 2020 – up from 68% in 2015. With mobile watch time on YouTube already surpassing desktop, the time for brands to make sense of what mobile means for their video content strategy is now.
What types of video content should my brand make?
As an exercise, imagine the intersection of the things your brand’s target audience cares about and your brand persona. The overlapping areas provide a sweet spot for developing a video content strategy. I admit you may have unwittingly created a mental Venn diagram, but stick with me. Think about the following questions:
- What is truly unique and different about your brand?
- What is truly ownable for your brand?
- What right does your brand have to play (and win) in this content space versus the competition?
As you consider what your audience cares about, think about how they’re experiencing your brand as consumers – when they are turning to their devices to find answers, discover new things, or make decisions.
How can I scale my online video content?
I’ll begin with the answer you don’t want to hear: There is no way your brand, or any other brand regardless of size or budget, can create all the content needed to feed consumers’ voracious appetite for video (especially on mobile devices). The trick is to create content gradually and build an engaging library over time. A “Create, Collaborate, and Curate” framework can be used to feed the content monster, so that content creation – video production, specifically – no longer feels like a barrier to entry into the video marketplace.
This first type of content is created by your brand. It feels like the brand, captures the brand’s tone, and offers more traditional creative polish. It tells a story about the brand – entertaining, educational, or inspiring. “Create” content might simply be entertaining video that grabs consumers’ attention, or it might deliver on a specific point in the path to purchase.
This content is the product of the brand’s collaboration with digital influencers. It’s often content that features a YouTube creator and is produced and promoted in partnership with the creator’s channel. The ultimate goal of “Collaborate” content is to help the brand broaden its relevance and connect with a uniquely engaged fan base while leveraging the expertise of experienced creators.
This type of content is crafted by consumers or user-generated content (UGC) and is the product of an audience call-to-action. Rather than using video exclusively as a storytelling mechanism, think of it as a tool for story making, in which consumers get to take part. Audience participation keeps your message authentic and relatable.
You already know why you should be prioritizing online video: because your consumers are. Consumers turn to devices in all sorts of search moments; they’re relying on video content to help them feel entertained, complete tasks, and make purchase decisions. Don’t waste time overcomplicating it, video is what consumers want on mobile. Make sure your brand is looking for ways to break through the clutter with content that is relevant to consumers in the right ways, at the right time, and the squeeze is worth the currency of engagement.
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