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Less is more when it comes to video distribution

Matt Simpson, international business director at Zone, argues marketers should focus on mastering one video channel, rather than struggling with many

My favourite ever YouTube video is one in which a series of unsuspecting café customers reel in shock at the sight of a young girl displaying furniture-shifting powers of telekinesis.

It’s a staged prank, obviously, but with upwards of 64 million views it’s clearly a compelling one.

B2B marketers should take note, because beyond the parapsychological lolz, the last few seconds of the video reveal that it is actually a promo for the film Carrie. Which means Sony Pictures have been pretty smart in recognising that while their official trailer serves cinemas and TV perfectly well, YouTube is a different platform, with different dynamics and requiring a different approach.

This type of approach can serve B2B marketers well. I’m presuming that no one is still in any doubt that video should be a critical component of a marketing strategy. (If you are, take note of Cisco’s prediction that video will account for 69 per cent of all customer internet traffic by 2017.)

The challenge is it’s difficult to know where to start. Beyond YouTube, you can now host video on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, dailymotion, Vimeo and countless other platforms. Just last week Facebook announced it was launching a dedicated video-only feed, and the likes of Periscope and Meerkat are slugging it out in the live-streaming space.

So any marketer would be forgiven for thinking: well, if we’ve gone to all the time and trouble of making a video, we might as well stick it on as many platforms as possible and hope for the best.

Don’t do that. It won’t work, and should anyone miraculously come across them, your videos will be tainted by the very public failure of a minimal view count. Worse still, if you’re co-locating a video on your own website and YouTube you’ll be cannibalising your own search rankings.

Instead marketers need to reverse the traditional thinking that starts with the content and then follows with the distribution strategy. Instead, think: on what platforms are we mostly likely to engage our target audience? And then: what type of content works best on those platforms? Only then can you start to think about commissioning that hotshot creative team to conceive your video.

And while the thought of having to create – or at least repurpose – a video for each separate platform might initially upset your finance director, it’s likely to be less galling for them than an expensively produced one-off that’s distributed across multiple platforms but that no one actually watches.

In the case of the Carrie promo, Sony Pictures recognised that its target audience spent a lot of time watching scary pranks on YouTube, so found a way to make a video that was reflective of that and relevant to its product. Scary pranks probably won’t be appropriate for the majority of B2B brands, but the thinking behind it is.

So even without telekinesis, smart marketers should be able to create videos that genuinely move people.