By Neil St. Clair
The content strategy for your REALTOR® web site involves determining what type of media you will want to utilize. Even with content marketing dominating over the past 5+ years, some marketers are still wrestling with questions like: Should I create a written piece or a product video? The answer is simple: You should do both, but always start with video.
Video, in this article, is defined in its broadest sense–essentially anything multimedia that engages audiences through sight and sound simultaneously (e.g. white board animation).
Video is the Matryoshka Doll of Content
Video has the components that can be easily transformed into resources for other channels.
a) Video has a script–with slight editing, this can become the template for a written piece
b) Video will contain images–these can be captured for still frames where video may make less sense (e.g. on Instagram or for a Twitter post)
c) Video will have audio–this again can be altered slightly for use on a podcast
Beyond that, with the right pre-production planning, purpose-made social video can be easily incorporated into any larger-scale production. Simply ensure you take a few extra moments to create a quick clip or two that speaks to those specific audiences–ensuring that it’s in-line with the best practices for those channels. And, more often than not, even if you don’t develop purpose-made social content during production, some element of your primary video can be re-cut in post for social optimization. As more and more content consumption goes mobile, it’s wise to create multiple lengths and optimized formats of video content, so you will have tiered, multi-channel thinking built in to your editorial process.
Am I arguing that video should replace still imagery, infographics and the written word? Certainly not. Rather, these should be component parts that are developed and incorporated into the multimedia elements of the audiovisual presentation. Again, these can later be broken out as standalone content for other uses.
A video I produced was used as the basis for a written editorial. The video incorporates several other type of media (e.g. infographics), and was also was later re-edited into a piece of standalone social content (e.g. a 15-second Instagram video). Even before developing the video, we scored two additional pieces of content. And their creation was made much more efficient with a video-first approach.
When Does a Video-First Approach Not Make Sense?
Of course, if your brand makes its living through Pinterest, it may make sense to focus on still images. That’s not to say that video shouldn’t be a strong part of your content strategy, but simply means it cannot be the leading part of your strategy. This is a rarer niche marketing issue that most likely applies to industry-specific marketers like photographers or graphic designers.
Video does have its drawbacks. The primary one being that it cannot be as actively and completely crawled by Google’s robot (cf. text)–though this is changing, and Google does own, and provides some preference to, YouTube-launched video.
Expense is also a concern. But lowering the cost of building your own earned platforms (e.g. brand website), and the commoditization of content production, the overall cost of video is simply more in reach than ever for startups and SMEs. Video automation (e.g. SundaySky) is also becoming more standard for templated video production such as customer service updates.
The main argument in favor of a video-first approach comes forward when you realize that you’re getting potentially 3-5 additional pieces of content for the price of one. With a little arithmetic, the economics begin to make greater sense. Most importantly, companies like WireWax and Rapt Media are building platforms for on-screen video interactivity that will make sales and information input a more organic part of video’s role in driving and converting leads.
Ok, Now Prove It…
Statistically speaking, video simply performs better than other forms of content. It’s also gaining more rapidly as the primary form of content creation. The most telling statistic comes from a recent study by Invodo, which notes that 74% of all internet traffic will be video by 2017. Video also commands a higher RoI, drives more email click-throughs/opens and places higher search engine results.
Video must be used as a revenue-driving scalpel–not a brand vanity broadsword. Using myself as an example: I make no money for my business (AW|CS) writing a piece for Forbes. So investing time and money in video to beneficently share my thoughts is illogical. And that’s the same kind of hard calculus you must use: Will creating video net me one dollar more, drive in neutral, or will I lose a dollar? On the last point, sometimes creating video as a loss-leader can have longer-term benefits, but most young companies cannot withstand this.
To tell a story correctly, and with quality production value, there must be a commitment of time and money. For non-video professionals, it would be burdensome to use this media for your quick, everyday content. Especially if the goal is to simply get an idea out into the internet ether. Rather, video should be part of your medium- and long-term marketing strategy with a focus on thought leadership, pitch/sales and educational tools. All of which you’ll be providing to prospects, investors, partners, internal resources, etc. Video is the tent pole of your content marketing strategy and that cannot be taken lightly.
To best prove the video top-down approach, try it for yourself. The next time you create a video, break it out into its component parts and count how many pieces you got for a single engagement of time and effort. Now, try the inverse and work from the bottom up. Take a monograph and try to turn it into a meaningful visual story. Attempt to bring emotion and immediate understanding to an infographic. Turn a Tweet into a podcast. It can all be done, certainly, but the time and effort spent is a much more significant input.
Source: “The Content Pyramid and Why Video Must Be At the Top,” (Forbes, March 2016)