Online video marketing is growing exponentially – so what’s the appeal for business?

Business Video works as a vehicle to attract an audience for the very same reason that all good video communications work – because it moves and it talks. Video catches the eye on a static page. It grabs the attention – even if it’s inappropriate or a load of rubbish!   How many times have you sat in a bar where video screens are playing music videos or sport or whatever… and you can’t stop yourself from looking accross to the flickering screen.  To make a video really effective it has to engage the viewer within seconds of that ‘attention grabbing moment’ then keep them hooked for the duration of the message. There are many styles and techniques that are effective in engaging audiences that I will deal with another time. The issue here is how to use video as a marketing or promotional tool.

The phenomenon that is YouTube has proved beyond doubt that people will happily pass on videos that appeal to them. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t watched the Susan Boyle clip from Britain’s Got Talent? (here – if you’re not one of the 69 million + viewers to date)

From a business and branding perspective this viral example of YouTube proves beyoing doubt that, with the right video, the opportunity is there for companies to get their brands and messages into places and in front of audiences that would be difficult to access otherwise – without a substantial advertising budget.  According to Ben Wayne, founder of Fliqz ( 50% of all visitors click on a home page video before taking any other action. If your video is engaging you’ve got them – they will stay – and watch. The trick is to make it easy for your visitors to pass the video on – “we consistently observe that sites that allow viral reposting will see up to 40% of their video viewership occurring via players that have been reposted outside of the publisher’s domain”.

YouTube is still the most effective way to do this at the moment. If you use Twitter you can add a ‘Twit this’ button for viewers to share your video, or you can post to a blog or Facebook account. Tubemogul is a great site where you can upload a video once and it is distibuted it to a large number of video sites for you – and it tracks the views.

The catch for business video is that any film that blatantly advertises or, heaven forbid sells, becomes pretty much exempt from viral activity. A few companies have succeeded –  the T-Mobile Paddington station dance ad was fresh, new and brilliant. The great thing about this campaign was that viral distribution began as the video was being filmed. Two days before it was seen on TV mobile phone versions from people who happened to be there were racking up multiple views on YouTube. I believe they made a mistake trying to repeat the concept with the singing version, and youtube views of the two videos back this up.

While that campaign succeeeded, many more have failed. I had a play at the concept myself a couple of years ago with New Edge (see it here: and discovered that it’s a lot harder than you might think to seed the video, and make the content funny or interesting enough to be viral. I now leave the seeding side to the experts , , and concentrate on creating engaging content.

So yes, the opportunity is there for viral video to work for business, but it’s not without significant challenges.

  • Video production values have to be good,
  • your branding has to be very subtle, or the content has to be so brilliant that people will forward it anyway,
  • and you need to work hard to make sure that people see it in the first place.

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