social media

Vertical Video: If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

by Tim James

Ever since cellphones gained video recording capability, people have insisted on shooting video vertically. Despite all the harassment and corrections received from peers when sharing a vertical video – “Hold the phone sideways!” – Some things never change. Those black bars that bookend the video when taken vertically certainly aren’t the most attractive. They also limit the space in which the video can be viewed.  Despite all this, a bunch of video platforms have finally given up encouraging people to abstain from taking videos vertically and have altered their platforms to accommodate them.

According to an article in Entrepreneur, Snapchat and YouTube have altered their platforms and have given their video players vertical video support. This means that those annoying black bars will no longer be visible when a vertically filmed video is uploaded. The newer live-streaming video services – Periscope and Meerkat – have always promoted a vertical video format. The thought process behind this is that most consumers peruse content holding their phone in a natural way (vertically) and horizontal video forces them to rotate the phone – an unnatural action with a smartphone.

In fact, Snapchat asks its marketers to reshoot their videos in a vertical manner. While this can be a costly suggestion, according to Snapchat, “vertical video ads are nine times more likely to be viewed to completion than their horizontal counterparts.”

It’s all about options, folks. Some consumers like watching videos horizontally. In fact, most video marketers up till now would cringe every time they saw a video with the black bars on the side, indicating that it was taken vertically. Now, however, these video hosting platforms and apps are optimizing their properties to emphasize vertical videos, so as to accommodate the way in which consumers actually use their devices. This is instead of forcing them to make (or watch) videos in an unnatural position. The fact that vertical videos have higher completion rates is certainly logical for these very reasons.

The most important things to consider when choosing platforms for your video marketing are: a) is the platform optimized for a mobile web experience, and b) is your video attractive and easy for a consumer to view. Forcing consumers to watch videos through an app could make them hesitate to watch – especially if they aren’t already a user of the app.

It’s also important to include distinct calls-to-action that consumers can take within the video player itself. It’s great if they watch your whole video. But, if they cannot be lead further down the buying funnel, what’s the point? You cannot expect a consumer to watch your video and then have to hunt you down because, well, they won’t.

It seems that we can lay to rest the taboo of vertical video now that these platforms embrace it. Does this mean horizontal video will all of a sudden be taboo? Who knows – and it really doesn’t matter anymore. Make compelling videos and host them in a way you can control where they go next, rather than risk the video player suggesting “relevant” videos which just so happen to be from your competition. In this way you’ll win in your video marketing — whether you take the video vertically or horizontally.

Facebook Enhances Algorithm to Deliver More Video Content

by Brian Cox

Last year, Facebook changed its algorithm to favor video content in an effort to gain market share in the very popular video content market. In fact, it’s done such a good job that daily video views increased by 400 percent – a huge rise over its September, 2014 numbers of 1 billion per day,  to an incredible 4 billion per day. That’s a significant rise in less than a year.

Now, as a further enhancement, at the end of June, 2015, Facebook announced that it is again making tweaks to its algorithm so as to better identify the types of video content its users want. In the past, Facebook’s algorithm tracked the types of content that each individual user liked, and subsequently delivered more of that type of content. For example, users that interacted with photo content the most would be delivered more photo content. And the same for video. However, it always necessitated action on the part of the user. Whether that action materialized as a like, share or comment, Facebook’s algorithm noted that and factored that into the content type it delivered to that person.

In a recent blog article, Facebook shared, “There are many times people don’t want to like, comment on, or share a post, but this does not mean it wasn’t meaningful to them. In an effort to capture that meaningful content without actionable engagement, Facebook is now taking into account more interactions with videos that we have learned indicate whether someone found that video interesting, such as choosing to turn on sound, making the video full screen, and enabling high definition. So, if you turn the volume up, or make the video full screen, we have updated News Feed to infer you liked the video and will show you similar videos higher up in your News Feed. We have found that this helps us show people more videos that they are interested in.”

This comes on the heels of another significant algorithm change that was also made in June, 2015, whereby Facebook started to track how long a user lingered on a video in their Newsfeed. Facebook began using this as an indicator of relevance to that user and factored this in as an indication of interest.

From a video marketing perspective, this algorithm now enables auto dealers to see increased reach for their videos from consumers that watched them, but took no further action. Chances are, if a consumer is watching your video on Facebook – whether they are interacting with it or not – they are pretty low down the funnel. Facebook’s new algorithm will take note that they lingered on your video, interpret that as interest, and increase the priority as far as delivering similar content to that user.

Facebook knows that its popularity hinges on finding the right balance between satisfying its advertisers and delivering the types of content its users want to see. By continuing to tweak its algorithm, Facebook can more successfully deliver interesting and relevant content to individual users, providing a better overall customer experience and increased opportunities for video marketers to reach relevant consumers.

 

Consumers Like Video So Much They’re Paying More To Watch It

by Tim James

Video, and especially mobile video, is fast becoming the media of choice for consumers of all ages. From the cable-free movie, to online streaming services, to the latest and greatest phone apps storming the scene, we are all consuming data at a record pace. According to a white paper by Cisco, mobile data has increased in size nearly 30 times since the year 2000. And mobile video accounts for 55 percent of all data traffic.

Today, consumers are increasing data plans with their cellular phone companies so as to consume more video – and they’re doing so willingly — according to a recent article on Mashable. The article reports the massive growth of the mobile live-streaming app, Meerkat. With Twitter entering the live-streaming market Monday via their recent acquisition of Periscope, smartphone users are finding more ways to share video with each other than ever before. In fact, in less than 24 hours, Periscope broke into the top 50 apps on the iTunes app store illustrating the remarkable demand for video content. And, according to the article, “wireless carriers have invested more the $1 trillion in the last few years to build out networks capable of serving massive amounts of data and high speeds.”

And as far as video itself — Almost every major social media application has integrated video into their platforms. Why? Because that’s what their users want. Videos are given more organic reach on Facebook. Platforms are opening up their APIs to allow for video embedding. User-generated video content is exploding. And consumers have made it very clear that they like video content so much that they are willing to increase their cellular phone budgets so as to consume more of it. If this is the case, then why not market to them in their format of choice?

Back in the day, most people read physical newspapers and watched local television… and that’s where car dealers advertised. For lack of subscribers, newspapers moved online, or went out of business. And then, as streaming video services became a more popular (and less expensive) alternative, people started ditching cable.

None of us knows what the future will bring. Change will come, but we don’t know what or when. All we do know for certain is that right now… video is where consumers have placed their attention. And not just video, but especially in mobile format. If only for that single reason, that’s the content car dealers should be producing. Take a look at your marketing and see how you can improve on your video content. It would also be wise to ensure that your web content and any video is mobile ready, so this new generation of consumers can access and even share your content.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Takes Video Marketing to the Next Level

by Brian Cox

Jameson Irish Whiskey has taken video marketing on Instagram to another level – “the first brand to successfully utilize 3D video for advertisements on Instagram and Facebook,” according to a recent article in the Independent.

The video itself is very simple, and suggests that you slide a shot to your friend. It then proceeds to slide a shot glass of whiskey towards you, the viewer, which then appears to come off the page. It’s rather clever how they were able to create the illusion of 3D on a non-3D platform.

 

 

According to many studies, brands are increasing their content marketing budgets to include more video marketing. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, are going to war to become the World’s premier video platforms, something that YouTube has enjoyed for years.

As is the case with any marketing, the ability for advertisers to cut through the noise with video marketing will continue to increase in importance. In addition, marketers should not rely on a single platform to host their videos. Regardless of who ends up winning this battle for viewership, consumers will still have their preferences. Believe it or not, some people still use MySpace, and other platforms that many abandoned long ago. This is why it’s important to ensure that your content is on all of the sites YOUR consumers visit. You never know where your next sale will begin their journey. Bear in mind, however, that to accomplish this you will either need spend a lot of time posting your video to each individual site. Or you can go the route of automation to get it done more efficiently.

Successful video marketing today demands entertaining and creative video that engages your audience. It’s not simply about having video content; it’s having the right video content. That can only be accomplished with a solid strategy that’s executed consistently.

Even a micro-video should have the same concepts behind its creation – creative, outside the box thinking – it should be engaging. What makes these type of videos a success is not any different from the winning formula for any videos — whether it be a “Why Buy from Me,” company culture-type video, or a vehicle walk-around video.

You only have a short period of time to catch and keep a consumer’s attention. Make sure that you use that time wisely and you’ll find an increase in views and conversions.

Don’t Be So Serious!

by Brian Cox

A little over a month ago, a couple of employees at a car dealership in Illinois published a music video on YouTube titled “Keys In A Box,” which parodied a sketch from Saturday Night Live. These two individuals proceeded to have a great time and showcased their dealership in a creative and fun way. Their reward? Over 67,000 views in just one month, as well as compliments from Jalopnik, Edmunds and AdWeek. I wouldn’t be surprised if this helps place the dealership top-of-mind when a local customer is ready to buy their next vehicle.

 

 

Having fun with your branding and being creative with any videos can help you stay top-of-mind with your customer base. Think of the Volkswagen commercial that debuted a few Super Bowls ago – the one where the little kid dressed as Darth Vader and ran around trying to use the “Force.” It was a huge hit and created a lot of media interest and created quite a firestorm on social media.

But why do videos like these stay in our minds while other types don’t?

The answer is simple. They tell YOUR story. The buzz this fun and creative dealership video created is very likely worth more than any print or television ad they could have purchased. And my guess is that all it cost was a little time investment.

Videos are a powerful way to connect with customers. They allow you to share your unique personality. Whether you develop inventory videos for your website, or personalized videos destined for a specific person, take advantage of this opportunity to connect with your customers online. Create a lasting and memorable impression.

Think about perhaps finding the fun, creative people in your dealership and let them do a little outside-the-box thinking. Yeah you’ll probably have to nix a few of the crazier ideas. But I bet you get some great stuff out of it. Consider stepping outside the box a bit and share what is unique and different about your dealership. I am willing to bet you will notice the difference in customer response.

Does Your Dealership Hide Behind The Curtain?

by Tim James

Virtually every dealership today uses their website, social media channels, and email to be a part of their “voice” when it comes to communicating with their customers and begin building a “trust” relationship long before the shopper ever visits their store.

The ultimate goal of each of these communications is to drive the consumer to your lot. Your team is very good at building that “trust” relationship with each shopper once they do actually visit your dealership. The question is, are you putting your best face forward on the web?

The faces behind the voices

To really accelerate the “trust relationship,” consider putting short videos of each of your employees on your website. Vehicle shoppers are now used to using electronic devices and many prefer a more visual approach to research. They like to use videos to help better educate them on their options. This is a great opportunity to highlight employee knowledge and expertise and to personalize your store for the customer. It is human nature to want to do business with someone that you feel a personal connection with. We all know that people buy from people they like. Well, people will choose your store to visit for a test drive over your competitor’s if they feel that personal connection, too. In fact, you will find that many shoppers may visit your store just because they feel a personal connection with a member of your sales team, even while they are still undecided on a vehicle. At the very least, consider including names, photos, contact information, and perhaps even short text bios, as this can help build customer trust. This practice can even assist a customer to reconnect with a specific person they dealt with on their previous visit and liked.

Personal video e-mail bios are also an excellent way to connect with your customers, the response rate can double as consumers like to receive personal contact from a “real” person. “Thank you” and “Welcome” videos from the dealer or general manager integrated into auto-responders for incoming leads can also further personalize your store. This simple action can elevate you over your competitor’s uninspiring automated responses. In addition to the personal video e-mail bios and visible employee information on the website, consider including a thumbnail photo, or at the very least, a specific person’s name, and title plus their contact information on all emails.

Building rapport with the consumer and developing trust usually pays off in dividends with in an increase of customers into your dealership, as well as higher loyalty and retention from existing customers. The customer’s ride may begin online, by phone or through email, but if you are to help them on their journey, your dealership and your staff need to be visible and available so that there is no mystery about who or what is behind the curtain.

How to Tame the Bull Named Facebook

by Tim James

In 1991, a 5’2” 125-pound cowboy stared into the face of Wolfman Skoal. a young 2,000-pound bull with a bad reputation. So bad, in fact, that a $500 bounty existed for any rider that could tame the beast and ride a full 8 seconds. Wade Leslie accepted the challenge. As he mounted the bull in preparation for his ride, the bull promptly lay down in the pen. He considered getting off. But then the bull’s owner reassured him that Wolfman Skoal would perform. Sure enough, once the gates opened, the bull leapt straight into the air like a rocket and preceded to do its best to eject Wade. Wade had different plans, however. He not only succeeded in riding Wolfman Skoal for the full 8 seconds, but also became the first, and to date, only bull rider to score a perfect 100 points in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Not unlike bull riding, marketers are constantly creating content that is competing with both their competitors and the platform on which that content is published. Right now, the biggest and baddest bull around is Facebook. One could say that as Facebook grows up, its personality continually changes, forcing marketers to continuously change with them. As it finally enters its teens, this 10-year old has decided that, at the moment, it happens to like video content. In bull riding, judges calculate a score for both the rider and the bull. Riders know that their score depends on both how they ride and how their bull performs. A rider can stay on a bull for the full 8 seconds. But if the bull isn’t rowdy enough to impress the judges, the rider can still receive a sub-par score. Keep this in mind when developing your content. In marketing, the success of your content starts with the content creator (the rider) and is dependent on Facebook (the bull).

In early summer of 2014, Facebook began releasing in-depth data on video performance. Social media resource Socialbakers eagerly dove into that data in an effort to tame the bull and finally give marketers information that would assist them in their quest for video marketing success. Through the study of 1,000 Facebook pages containing over 3,000 videos, it was found that videos of ~21 seconds long were the most successful. The main metric used to determine a video’s success was its completion rate (i.e.: the percentage of people who watched at least 95% of a video). As in most rules, there are exceptions, yet the in-depth study showed that the longer a video was, the lower the completion rate.

There are many variables that can be used to explain this phenomenon, ranging from attention spans in general, content that’s not engaging, and the bandwidth needed to view a longer video on mobile devices. Not enough time has passed since the release of this data for more comprehensive studies to be done. One thing is certain, however, and that is that Facebook is increasingly choosing to deliver video content to its users’ newsfeeds. The study of Facebook video performance found that ~57% of viewers who started watching a video, completed the video. The Socialbakers study even went as far as to make a preliminary finding that “If this data holds true, Facebook videos are outperforming YouTube videos.” They speculate that the reason for this “could be attributed to more intelligent distribution of videos on Facebook, due to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm doing a better job of matching interested users with engaging videos than YouTube does.”

Keep in mind that these statistics are based on a preliminary study of Facebook video content in general. We’ve found that the money spot for completion rates on videos are between 1-1/2 to 2 minutes long across all other video platforms. The reason for this is that product videos tend to be sought out by a consumer rather than being delivered to them by the platform. We expect that this will remain consistent, as consumers who visit a dealership’s Facebook page to view an inventory video have purposely sought out this content. Consumers looking to purchase a vehicle are willing to make a longer time investment for the simple reason that it is directly tied to a significant expense. Mobile users are statistically willing to make even longer commitments ranging from 2-1/2 to 4 minutes depending on the device.

Any type of content produced by a business has a limited amount of time to capture a person’s attention. Video content has an advantage in that it is the only content that tells a viewer exactly how much of a time commitment they have to by displaying its total viewing length. And if your content is engaging, consumers will give you more of their time. If not, you’ll find them abandoning your message quicker than a bull can throw a rider.

The next time you create video content and stare the bull named Facebook in the eye as you prepare to either submit or be submitted, keep in mind the following: high quality, engaging video content that quickly captures a viewer’s attention will increase the length of time that you’re able to stay on the bull and impress the judges. And just like bull riding, they are the only people that matter.