TopRank Marketing Editor

Thinking Critically About Web Video

TopRank Marketing Editor     Interactive Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media

web videoWeb video is hot. Some say your chance to be a pioneer.

How hot, and how much of an opportunity? Recent reports from comScore, consistently say more than 80% of the total U.S. Internet audience views online video in a given month. YouTube’s fact sheet states every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to the network and 2 billion videos are being watched per day.

All this popularity has of course been driving a trend with marketers: the desire to create video as part of their digital marketing mix. Except sadly, it’s almost never approached strategically.

Agency-side marketing/PR/digital pros: how many times have you had a client approach you after creating a web video and said “hey, we made this video, now make it go viral!”

Client-side marketing professionals: how many of you have had a CMO suddenly discover web video, only to enthusiastically push the team to concept something “because our competitors are doing it.”

Due to these mistakes (and many others) most companies get web video dead wrong. Their content is too advertorial, there is a lack of genuine reason anyone would want to watch it, let alone pass it on. It doesn’t pass the all important “so what” test of web content and feels contrived or lacks creativity. And these are actually just surface level problems, it goes deeper than that.

The real question you need to ask yourself is why am I making web video? What marketing problem does it answer, and how does it answer it? How does it feed digital marketing KPI/objective metrics? Am I doing it because I read an article about it in AdAge or because it’s an elegant way to express my brand’s story to the world?

“Let’s make something viral” vs. let’s create an ongoing dialogue

By now, most companies understand blogging. And everyone knows you’d never create just one (even great) blog post and be done with it. No matter how popular that post was, just one blog post is not likely to provide long term value for your brand. You need to continue creating posts over time until you have a large opt-in audience that’s consistently spreading your content organically. Consider the fact that a web video is not too different than a blog post. Successful text and video are both content formats that can be passed on socially, and successful archetypes of each share similar qualities.

Yet, the business world seems to place web video up on a pedestal as if it’s some magic animal that plays by different rules merely because it’s video. The rules are not all that different, and apply for both formats of content for it to spread socially. Creating one video that catches on may be nice, but this does not take advantage of the larger opportunity the web affords: to build up an audience of true fans who genuinely want to follow your every word carefully.

Poorly conceptualized content has no chance

Short of advertising and interrupting users, there’s not much you can do to create awareness for a poorly conceptualized video lacking the proper hooks. On the web, advertising is content – there is no captive audience and viewers can and will ignore your promotions if your videos aren’t worthwhile. It has to be interesting, relevant and sticky if it has any chance of getting passed on. And with a firehose of content being uploaded to to the web, most web video is likely to be lost in perpetual obscurity, perhaps given some life from search engines.

Unless you’re a massive brand with deep pockets that can work with a high-paid creative team to concept some remarkable content, you’re likely better off using video as you would any other social content. In other words: use it to connect with your audiences in a genuine, meaningful way that follows your larger content strategy.

The best part about treating video as you would any other digital content, is just like text: if you produce lots of it and experiment, you can begin to discover video content archetypes that work for you. Then, and only then, can you start to get agile with your video content production and iteratively get better until you can consistently create stuff that catches on.

With that said…you still need a community

Web video by itself is tactical. If you’re serious about influencing the social web you still need a community that’s interested in receiving all types of your content being published in a channel agnostic fashion. Simply put, you need to build up a group who has affinity for your brand, its team members and ideas. Without this you’re not feeding something larger. Even if you have a popular video with hundreds of thousands or millions of views, what’s the point if you’re not continuing the dialogue over time and nurturing those relationships?


Ignoring the “viral video” bug many have been bitten by, web video is an opportunity for your brand and should likely be a part of your content marketing mix. But think critically about how it plays into your larger content strategy, and understand your reason for being with creating digital content in the first place.

Placing web video on a pedestal, as if it’s so different from any other digital content, is the wrong approach. It has to be just as sharp, creative and relevant as your text-based content. Perhaps more so since we can’t just scan a video and get the gist of it. And just like your written content you will need to build an audience before you can have consistent success.

For long term results, experiment and play around with presentation, formatting and ideas. Work to discover what it is your audiences react to and ensure that video is created in a way that benefits your larger social and SEO programs.

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  1. There is no doubt that web video will increase in power in the coming years.

    What you mention is interesting, as many have been taught of only 'viral' marketing benefits.

    I agree, we need to think of web video in terms of our larger content strategy.


  2. Avatar GMRW Team says

    Video marketing is really a great way for optimization. Youtube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and so on have a great impact on audience. Also, video, viral or digital marketing can be used by social media sites also which is very much liked by search engines. One of the recent and very useful form of viral marketing is “Vlog” ( Video + Blog)

  3. Nice article Adam,
    Yes we should ask our selves that why am I making web video rather our competitors are use so we should used it.
    Video can help us tell our story, air our opinion, demonstrate our product, explain our services, provide training or support for our users, or showcase our business to a potential audience of hundreds, thousands, even millions. Even some people would rather see you in person talking about your viewpoints, as opposed to reading it on a blog.

  4. Avatar mikesopm says

    Great information, Web video is a great source to give out information. You are true that it needs to be sharp, creative and relevant as your text based content or it will be ignore
    by your audience.

  5. Good post; I just did my first video blog-post and admit I need a lot of practice and experimentation before I can claim to be good in this medium. But I agree it's not an end in itself – just another channel for communicating what should already be part of an overall content strategy. Video can be tougher to do well than it looks, because the technology has become so easy to use and special effects are so impressive. But, bottom line, you have to have an interesting & creative story to tell or your audience won't care. Web video done well needs 3 key ingredients, I think: 1) content your audience can relate to/care about, 2) a good story to tell, and 3) a clear connection to your brand and your overall content strategy.

  6. I agree with your points. I have been creating my own screencast videos for the past several years, and it has been a true learning experience. But it does come back to compelling content: this isn't about skateboarding cats, but trying to deliver information visually interesting that can be compelling. I have found that my best videos attract consistent traffic month after month, slowly building an audience.

  7. I've hear Social Media guys tell people to create video for SEO purposes. Another “don't” in my opinion without first knowing taking into consideration the content you are offering.

  8. Avatar Ross Davis says

    Excellent – I have experienced the 'make it go viral' call from clients. All of your points are right on. One issue that needs to researched more is what are the appropriate channels to use for what businesses. YouTube is not a once size fits all solution for all video marketing strategies.

  9. Isn't it time for interactive/web folks to become literate in video lingo? I know many who started on the video side who transitioned w/ ease to web, but use a film/video related term in front of an interactive pro, and their eyes go blank. Not only that, they seem to regard it as outdated. ??? Aren't we seeing more and more video, TV, movies, etc. online every day? It's time we merged and collaborated. We need the expertise of BOTH video and interactive, and in fact, the way to make one is not so different from the other. There is A LOT of overlap. Define, design, develop deliver is just another way of organizing a la “concepting, pre-pro, production and post.”

  10. Thanks for the tips. Can you point me in the direction of how you create the right video? How do you publicise it best? I am thinking from the point of view of promoting a University campus bookstore, which has now morphed into something much more than just selling books, and wants to become the community campus hub, where students and professors come to rest, work, and purchase

  11. This article is spot on about knowing your goals with online video before you can reap the benefits, including increased conversion, better customer engagement, and not to mention SEO and brand visibility. However, companies are finding that the challenge with online video is keeping it up to date and able to change dynamically with the demands of your business. The next step for this industry will be to embrace solutions that keep video content current and dynamic.

  12. Avatar Verndale says

    Great information! Web video is definitely becoming more and more important for your brand. Enhancing the quality of your videos will generate more popularity to your videos and build your online reputation. The YouTube Video Editor Helps Optimize Your Video Content. There's more information here:

    • Thank you – I believe you were responding to me. Great that you can edit your own video in the cloud space. Thanks!

  13. Avatar freefor15 says

    web video is a great way to promote a new thing. The difficult part is making it interesting enough to have an action related effect. But thats what seperates the winners from the losers in any type of business.

  14. Avatar says

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  15. Avatar Create a Website says

    Thanks for the tips. I agree with your points. Video is really a great way for optimization and can help us tell our story.

  16. If you’re looking for a way to start or keep an on-going conversation interesting, video is the best tool around.  It needs to be 1) Engaging – this is the most important,  2) informative, and 3) aligned with the viewers attention span.

  17. online videos Nice piece of information.The YouTube Video Editor Helps Optimize Your Video Content. Proper strategy should be adopted for digital marketing.Thanks for posting.Keep sharing.