Want to Improve Your Social Presence? Start with Video.

Whether it’s on Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Netflix, or the good old-fashioned television set, video has and will continue to be our preferred method of viewing and engaging with content and stories. Social media platforms – such as Facebook – have even put video at the forefront of their strategies. So why are so many brands simply missing the boat or, even worse, doing it all wrong?

I recently had the opportunity to hear from some of the top voices in the social content creation space at IZEAFest 2017. Here are four ways communicators can use some of the insights gleaned from the conference to propel a brand toward success not just in likes and shares, but in business growth:

Vanilla is boring.
Too many brands try to create “brand-safe” content that makes everyone happy. As bestselling author C.C. Chapman bluntly screamed (multiple times): “Stop it!” He’s right.

The content that gets attention is not the stuff that’s boring and safe. Focusing on video is a step in the right direction to make your content more interesting and engaging, but that doesn’t mean you should post a 30 second commercial and call it a day. It is essential for content to not only be valuable and easily digested in an instant, but unique to your social media presence. Your content should also have the ability to be fun, creative and/or educational. If it doesn’t check off at least two of these boxes, then why bother?

Enlist a “mute-by-default” strategy.
85% of all video views on Facebook are watched on mute! Even as Facebook is currently trying to shift this trend on their platform, it is essential to place captions on every piece of your video content you post.

Speaker Kelsey Carroll said that her team enlists a “mute-by-default” strategy, as captions are key for audience retention. Sound on or sound off, you never know how someone will view your video content. Give them a reason to watch your video all the way to the end.

Act like a media network, not a brand.
Unless you don’t use Facebook at all, you have probably watched a Facebook Live video while scrolling through your newsfeed. And while, personally, you might not have filmed a Facebook Live video yourself, you probably have also received numerous notifications to watch one as they go live at the start. In fact, Facebook Live videos get 10 times the engagement when compared to regular videos because of these notifications.

Josh Machiz, Chief Digital Officer at Nasdaq, says that he and his team were early adopters of Facebook Live from the start. This daring investment has completely revolutionized the Nasdaq brand. A key component to their success was getting out of their comfort zone and shifting their mindset from being a brand to being a media channel. They started to create original content series that hit different passion pillars and interests of the brand’s audience, just like a broadcast channel would do.

The Nasdaq social team shifted gears and started to act more like a newsroom and video production studio rather than social marketers. They also utilized low-cost broadcasting tools – such as Vidpresso – to integrate comments directly from the live feed, engage with real-time polls, schedule broadcasts, and invite guests remotely. They also made sure to make every piece of content relatable, fun and educational for their audience. This, in return, has not only allowed Nasdaq to speak with more authenticity, but they have been able to build and nurture an audience on a human level, not just on a brand level.

Don’t be afraid of Snapchat.
It’s no secret that millennials are tuning out brands the more they jump from Facebook to Snapchat and Instagram. Therefore, it’s understandable why many brands are apprehensive about these platforms. Snapchat, specifically, is not another social network to sell on. As speaker Carlos Gil put it, “Marketing on Snapchat is product storytelling. You can’t be hitting the rainbow-vomiting millennials with a sales pitch.”

However, he noted that brands are missing out on the best opportunity to be seen as a real and authentic brand. The most effective way to do this would be to put an actual person as the face and voice behind your channel. People want to talk with a person, not a logo. Since Snapchat allows you to tell your brand story from your point-of-view, go ahead and make the most of it from a fun, creative and/or educational perspective. Your content should also blend in naturally with other “snaps” that your viewers are used to seeing on the platform. That means your high production value video shot or cropped in vertical form won’t cut it for this audience. The more habitable, humanized and fresh your content is within the platform, the more your audience will tap to watch.

Don’t be afraid to mix in takeovers either, especially when it comes to product demos. It’s a great way to tap into advocates, gain more attention for your brand story and peak your audience’s interest.

Most importantly, cross promote on your other social channels to drive viewers to your stories. While Snapchat is absolutely not Facebook, it’s important to leverage these assets to help build an audience on this platform.

A wise person once told me that people don’t buy brands, they buy other people. Every content creator has the opportunity to make something original, especially with video. But it starts with staying in-tune with your audience. If you do that, not only will they follow you from platform-to-platform wherever the next “hottest” social platform will be, but it will result in long-lasting brand affinity and an increase in sales. This is now a key pillar in the new era of marketing.