Engaging B2B customers with video

Maddy Cooper, founding partner at Brilliant Noise, discusses why creating engaging content is essential following Facebook's video views scandal

Video is now a key channel for advertisers and brands. Creating compelling video content can attract, and retain, often difficult to reach new customers and key demographics.

Little wonder then that there is increased scrutiny on online platforms like Google and Facebook, who represent the biggest gateway to those elusive customers.

Facebook’s video proposition is compelling and has been growing steadily over the last two years. But it has come in for fierce criticism in recent weeks over what many see as a less than transparent measurement system.

It has made public statements of contrition and new ways of working, but these haven’t been received particularly well by agencies who see Facebook’s measurement policy as undermining their relationships with brands. After all, it is these intermediaries who are persuading brands to part with their money to benefit from Facebook et al’s dominance in video hosting.

While this whole episode is embarrassing for everyone, it does throw up a further issue and one that has been somewhat glossed over in the rush to criticise Facebook.

So, many users are watching only a second or two of video, that they are initially interested in. This means that much online video content isn’t working. So why are brands investing money and not getting the right results?

Mostly they are treating online video like TV advertising, the content is linear, not responsive, consistent or always on. In short, most brands don’t have a video strategy. They are adding video to their marketing activity with no clear understanding of its uses and challenges.

In 2018, it’s expected that 79% of all internet traffic will be from video – this is a huge opportunity, but strategies need to be in place now. Facebook autoplay videos already have one billion views every day and this is set to grow, and become even more mobile.

Brands need experts to navigate the potential of video, they need to be brave enough to test, research, modify and change direction. It is also no longer enough to have a narrow product or service mentality in video – the content has to be much more than an advert – it has to truly engage and connect with the audience.

Through its video strategy, Red Bull has created a distinct brand identity, grown a new revenue stream and successfully built an audience around its content that wouldn’t be there if it only focused on the energy drink product.

A further, fundamental barrier to effective video content is in the team structures and operations within brand marketing. Lack of specialist skills make it difficult to deliver solid video strategies. The responsibility for video marketing isn’t always clear in traditional structures. Advertising, digital and PR teams often share the load, creating confusion and a lack of ownership. This issue is reflected in agency selection too, resulting in disjointed creative and doubling up on briefs. Experience and skill can be an issue for marketing directors. They might not be as comfortable dealing with video as they are with TV, radio or print, so they default to these known channels in pressured times for fear of getting it wrong.

Unclear or unrealistic briefs make it difficult to plan the right content and distribution plan from the start. Irregular, ad-hoc content plans make it harder to build an audience, forcing you to start from scratch each time.

It’s not the whole picture of course, but if brands get the right specialist support, treat video content with respect, rather than a marketing add on, then they are on the right road to create a truly meaningful, engaging video content strategy.