3 Secrets to Viral Video Success

Last month, I had the privilege of appearing in Entrepreneur Magazine as their Entrepreneur of the Month to discuss social media, PR, entrepreneurship, side hustles and more. The below is taken from the first article written that month.

Q: What is the best tool for creating videos that I can edit and share across different social media platforms?

A: In the ever-evolving field of social media, video has become the darling of the moment. Both Mashable and Buzzfeed, among others, have made a transition to focus more on video due to the increased demand and consumption of online video content. Indeed, Cisco reports that by 2018, 69 percent of total internet traffic will be video. And, right now, 100 million internet users watch online video every day and many of these are videos are significantly longer than 10 minutes. This should not come as a surprise, as we see an increase in smartphone usage, faster internet speeds and in more total video content being created. As we feed the beast, the beast consumes.

So video consumption will grow, and it will grow in part because it boosts retention, but it also comes at a cost — of human time and energy that does not necessarily produce a net positive ROI. Therefore, companies need to think about video as a delivery mechanism.

As for what is the best video platform, there unfortunately isn’t a one-size-fits all tool. You need to find one that best meets your business goal. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

1. Decide if video is the best option for your business needs.

In my classes, students are constantly interested in the latest social media fad – GIFs, podcasts and of course, videos — and we can see these being incredibly successful. It worked for Chewbacca Mom. However, for most people, video, along with the other trends, is expensive and time consuming. Creating daily or weekly video content requires a huge amount of time and effort – not to mention a fair amount of money, and a lot of creativity. Yet, rarely nets the results needed to justify the time, cost and effort, especially for small businesses.

Therefore, you need to ensure — and this is something I talk about a lot in my e-course and my University of Florida classes — that your social media and business goals are best met through the tools you are choosing. Could you perhaps use photo, text or other content in a way that can be just as effective for your business goals?

If the answer is no, and video is the only delivery mechanism to serve your business goals, then you need to determine which style of video is best for your brand and then what social media platform will be the best delivery mechanism. The platform shouldn’t inform your decision. Your needs inform your decision.

2. Determine your preferred video style.

There are a few different styles of video you can post online:

Unedited: Video content as see on platforms like Snapchat or Facebook Live where the video is created fast, on the fly and often in short “sugar bursts” of content. Generally, these videos are not edited and are shot using a smart phone.

Semi-edited: This is video content that you can shoot and edit on your own using tools like the very simple to use Microsoft Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie – both of which come free with your computer. For paid options, professional bloggers like Sarah Conly of StyleIt and Monica Vila of The Online Mom recommend Adobe Premier, which has a deep and full suite of editing options.

Professional: This is video content that is lit, edited and shot by a professional. You can often save yourself time and money by using a freelancer or finding students who are looking to take on a project for their portfolio at no cost. As a result, you’ll get high-quality video at a lower price point.

Each one of these styles is and should be reflective of your brand. For many online influencers, using an unedited video style helps to build authenticity with their followers and grow their follower count. For many brands, a semi-edited or professional edited video helps to create the professional brand persona they are looking to create online. Given the immersive quality of video and its lasting impression, it’s important to ensure that the video content is deeply reflective of your brand.

Determining your style will also help you to understand which platforms are best suited for your goals.

3. Choose the goals of your video

There are a myriad of goals that you could have for your business that involve creating video content. Given that, the below is a sampling of these goals and recommendations on the best video platforms for achieving them:

Goal: drive sales

If your goal is to drive sales from video there are a few questions to consider when choosing the “best” platform: who is your audience, where are you currently the most active and what is your video style?

First, you’ll want to choose the platforms that have your most active consumers. From those platforms you’ll want to select which one has the best video style that aligns with the video your brand wants to create. Finally, you’ll want to create a video that drives people to a sales landing page.

Alternatively, you could increase your customer scope by going to a platform where you have a few amount of current followers but a big potential for new followers and build your video content there.

Goal: increase brand awareness

If your goal is to increase brand awareness, the best platform will be one where you have a strong pool of potential customers, where your video style is a match for those most popular there and where you can put paid advertising behind promotion. Ultimately, videos that are not promoted, unless they have the best content you have ever seen, will rarely get seen outside your brand page.

Goal: social media channel growth

If your goal is social media channel growth, I’d argue that the best video platform right now is probably Facebook Live. Facebook is putting a premium on brands that are creating sticky video content and ensuring that Live feeds show up higher in the Facebook feeds of page followers.

If growth on Facebook is not a priority, you’ll want to look towards the channels that have the biggest following in your customer base and create the type of video content that is shareable on those channels. For something like LinkedIn, this would be video that has numbered tips on how to do something related to business or some other “news you can use” content.

When you’ve examined your business goals and your brand personality/style the answer comes that there is no best platform for video. There is no best advice for where to place your video. Instead, the best social media advice, I or any other expert can give you, is to get very crisp on your business goals. Use those to inform your social media goals and then pick the tactics and platforms that will best help you to achieve those goals.

Once you have credited video content on your identified platform in your identified style, you could consider a tool like Slope (still in beta) which helps with collaboration, storage and management of video content or my personal favorite app Edgar which loops and schedules content for you across all of your social media networks. With Edgar you can create content once and repurpose it for months and years to come – thus reducing the burden of constant video content creation and freeing up your time to put social to use in even more effective ways for your brand.

Find the article as originally published here.


What Influencer Relations Strategy Should I Use?

Have you been asking yourself: “What Influencer Relations Strategy Should I Use?” If so, you are not alone. Everyone one is seems has a different answer. Yet, I think there is only one solution.

Many brands approach influencers with a “spray and pray” model. This means they target a lot of influencers by paying them money and hoping something good will happen. It might work, for a moment. It will not work over time.

Because your goal should be the creation of a web of influencers not an army style, says influencer and social media expert Sarah Conley, you need to think about sustainable influencer relationships. An army of influencers means a mass number of people willingly obeying the commands of whomever is in charge at any given time. They will follow the leader with the money and they will share the messages of that commander. A social web of influencers is a much different thing. By creating one, you are sowing long term seeds that will have a much bigger impact on your brand at a much lower cost.

“Building a web of people is calculated,” says Conley. “It’s about creating deep relationships and opportunities with a small number of people. Those people will act as your beacons within their specific communities. Then other influencers will come to you. You will be creating a web of people who want to be associated with you.”

A web is dependent on the center to exist. A brand becomes the center. The first round of influencers are the first nodes on the web. Those who come next form another node and another circle around the first layer of influencers and the brand. Think of a rock thrown into the water and a ripple that forms. This social spread continues organically until you have a large network of influencers who are in mutually supporting relationships and act as natural extensions of the brand.

“Brands move too fast. They try to do too much at once and we (influencers) can see right through it,” Conley added. She says there are brands she doesn’t work with because they clearly don’t care about her but see her instead as a conduit to her audience. Those are the brands trying to build armies.

“My job is to protect my reader. I have the power to sway people’s opinions, but keeping their trust is very important to me.” So when brands act in an inauthentic manner, she becomes worried about how that brand will treat her audience. In the end, because she practices authenticity with her readers, she wants to see brands be authentic with her, as well.

Authenticity can be a squishy word. In Content Rules, the authors Ann Handley and CC Chapman define authenticity in the following way: “When we say to be authentic, we mean you should make it clear that your stuff has the stamp of an actual person or actual people and that person or those people have the qualities… that make for a compelling approach to content as a solid foundation for the start of your relationship with your audience. You should also be comfortable being who you are.” This is exactly what Sarah means – she wants to work with brands who are comfortable and transparent about being who they are with her and with her readers.

“It’s fascinating when you see a brand, and I’ve been with brands that have done this, work with a big name, big money social media celebrity and yet, they don’t get the results they want. Often, it is because that person isn’t actually in an authentic relationship with their readers. They don’t have real influence because they haven’t built real trust.” If a brand is searching for a set number of followers, rather than engagement, then the influencer work will be less successful.

As a healthcare communications advisor for the past fifteen years, Steve Campanini, CCO of Splash Media and a former VP at Tenant Health, understands the role that trust plays in the ability of a company to deliver on its mission. Trust is more paramount in healthcare than in virtually any other industry because healthcare is so intimate. In many ways, your healthcare provider knows more intimate details about you than anyone else. Steve believes that trust is built in two ways: transparency in your actions and connection to your community. Anyone trying to build deep relationships with their audience needs both.

Trust and authenticity form a two-way street. Brands must show those qualities and they must look for influencers who possess them. Ultimately embracing an approach that centers around trust and authenticity is the cornerstone of creating your own web. This network will then be your conduit to create partnerships that drive awareness and sales.

Many of you may already be engaging with influencers. Likely, you have fans who are already commenting, tweeting, posting. Possibly, you have people who are active, engaged AND have their own valuable following. Have you asked them to post or share content? Have you invited them into your store, sent them samples or asked for their opinions?

If not, get out there and galvanize your audience. The first step of influencer strategy is to work with the influencers you already have. If you are thinking about creating a web, it is easiest to start with those who are already brand affiliated. You could create an “advisory board” of influencers who will help you figure out who else to target; they will easily be able to spot the authentic and engaged in their peer circles. As Amanda Duncan, influencer marketing manager at Microsoft says, “look inward. Who has tagged you in their posts? Who has already engaged with your brand by sharing your content? Those people are already influencers working for you. How are you rewarding or engaging with them already? It may be more effective to work with them than to look for someone new.”

So take stock. To get started, ask yourself this:

  • How do you currently engage with influencers?
  • Do you have influencers already who you are not engaging with?
  • What would you need to make that a more strategic manner of engagement?
  • What would be your goals in engaging more individuals?

The Future of Content Marketing: Why Click Bait Won’t Cut It

This past month, I had the pleasure of appearing in Entrepreneur Magazine as their Expert of the Month answering questions about entrepreneurship, public relations, marketing and social media. One of the articles that did particularly well on the website is the following article on the future of content marketing. 

Q: What is the future of content marketing?

A: More often than not, when I’m in New York City, journalists complain about the overwhelming amount of content they need to produce each day. Whether it is to feed their social-media channels or website, it’s a burden to produce the volume needed to satisfy the click-throughs to get the biggest slice of the advertising dollars that propel that industry forward.

In business the need to create “cool” content, likewise, employs lots of expensive marketers who produce a huge amount of content in the hope of getting one piece that will “go viral.”

Content marketing is unsustainable and will require a cultural shift and a corporate structure change to make it sustainable. The future of content marketing is high quality content created by people who are not employed within companies. The future of content marketing, I write in my book and am adamant about, is influencer marketing.

Brands, in a study by LinkedIn, claimed they have five big content marketing challenges:

  • Lack of time and bandwidth (51%)
  • Producing enough variety in content (50%)
  • Producing engaging content (42%)
  • Measuring effectiveness (38%)
  • Developing consistent content (34%)

There’s only going to be one response: We need to make less click-bait content and more high quality content. We need to learn to tell fewer stories but to tell them better. Doing so will ensure they are impactful when they happen. Finally, we need to turn to content creators to generate these stories.

Right now there are hundreds of thousands of professional content creators online who are looking to make money. These social-media influencers have built followings out of their ability to create content. Businesses are paying them to post about the business in one-off transactional engagements. The one-off model isn’t working for anyone: Businesses are unsatisfied with the majority of the results and influencers are constantly having to hustle to manage their business and create compelling content.

The future of content marketing is going to require a change in these transactional relationships. Doing so will improve both business content performance success and social media influencers financial well-being and curatorial focus. Here’s how you can get ahead of the curve:
Acknowledge you are not the world’s greatest content maker.

Your company is likely producing bad or ineffective content on most of its channels. The people running your content development teams are not natural content creators. They are marketers and your brand is not interesting enough to have a 24/7 news cycle.

Realize there are great content creators out there.

There are millions of social-media influencers who are great content creators for your niche audience. Hire five to seven of them to sit on a virtual team for your brand. Look on Trackr or Klout to see who is considered influenctial in your market. Educate them on your brand consistently: invite them to meetings, share your latest products, allow them to meet your executives.
Pay them a base salary and ask for RFPs.

Pay them a base salary, so that they will be constantly thinking about how to improve your brand and tell your story online. Tell them that you want to see two request for proposal (RFP) from them a year on creative ideas to differentiate your brand on the web. Remember, they are the experts and constantly online.
Trust them to be your content creators.

Accept their RFPs and believe in their ability to execute on your businesses content needs. If you have trained them the right way and given them the right access, they will be experts on your brand but at half the cost of an in-house team and with twice the experience. Worried that they don’t know how to translate business goals to content creation? You can teach them that too.

This is the future model:

  • Brands create less content.
  • Brands trust natural and proven content creators to act on their behalf.
  • Brands pay them on retainer.
  • Influencers rep only a limited number of brands because they can now afford to do so.
  • Brands reduce their social media footprint and instead rely on ambassador/content creator influencers to push their stories.

If we don’t make this change, we will continue to inundate the world with dumbed down content that does not deliver in the way our businesses need. Instead, we need to create a new model of content marketing that demonstrates real ROI.

The article was first published here.