Still, it’s important to understand as much as possible about videos and how to best use them.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
The good and bad of YouTube for video hosting
I watched a product webinar from Brightcove, an online video platform the other day that made me stop and think about some of the things I am currently doing with video for a client. The client has a YouTube channel where we host all the videos for recorded webinars, podcast recordings, and soon product videos. Some of these videos are on the website, but they are displayed in an iframe from YouTube. It’s an approach many companies take because a) it’s easy to set up and b) it’s free. But it’s not a perfect solution.
What Chris Bondhus, VP Revenue Marketing with Brightcove said was that YouTube should not be the foundation for your video strategy. It has its advantages, such as SEO reach (it’s has the second largest reach beyond Google search), gives you a central channel to support all your videos and it has a vast community and social network.
But, Bondhus pointed out that it doesn’t result in good website SEO because even if you place your YouTube hosted video on your site, you don’t get the SEO juice - YouTube gets it. You also can’t do a lot for branding, and you can’t create secure areas. Another pain? You have no control over what videos they show alongside your video, so a competitor’s video could very well appear right next to yours.
Another critical problem for B2B? A lot of companies lock employees out of YouTube on the network. A sales rep with my client complained about how many of the prospects he wanted to show videos to couldn’t watch them, and we needed to get them somewhere else. Point taken.
It’s not an either-or approach
You don’t need to chuck your YouTube channel out the window. Instead, think of it as a distribution channel. As the Brightcove webinar suggests, think of YouTube as a channel for awareness building and community engagement, but don’t rely on it for your only video home.
Which does leave us with the alternative of using an online video platform like Brightcove, or Vimeo, or Wistia, Vidyard and a host of free solutions, some of which are going to be a better choice than others. The one you chose will depend on your requirements and how much you want to pay. If you are doing a lot with video, it’s probably worth looking at some of the higher ranked ones according to peer reviews site G2Crowd.
I’m not going to suggest one because I’ve looked at a few of them and I’ve liked them all. What I will recommend you do is look at several important features including:
- The type of analytics they provide
- The ability to create personalized videos (and to what extent)
- How you distribute your video across different channels (like social, YouTube, your website and so on)
- How you manage videos including SEO, taxonomy, and security
The types of videos and how you use them
There are lots of different kinds of videos you can create to support both marketing and sales. Typically they fit within categories such as awareness, engagement, advocacy, conversion, and retention. Along with the type of video you want to create, you also need to decide where to distribute that video - and it will be in multiple places.
Here’s a good example of the types of engagement videos you can create and where you would place them as part of an engagement campaign.
For example, most companies will create product explainer videos, usually an animated video that tells the story of a product or company. The chart above suggests you can place an explainer video pretty much everywhere except your social networks (however, I have seen these types of videos all over LinkedIn and Facebook).
Figuring out the right video length
As for how long your videos should be, an ebook from Jay Baer and TechSmith provided these maximum length recommendations for videos you place on social networks:
- Instagram - 60 seconds
- Twitter - 2 min 20 seconds
- Facebook - 120 minutes
- YouTube - 15 min
Here’s another look at engagement levels by video length from Vidyard research that shows how much engagement drops off as the length increases.
Wistia did its own research looking at 564,710 videos, and more than 1.3 billion plays and found a couple of very interesting things:
- Videos under two minutes have the highest engagement
- Videos between 6 and 12 minutes have the same level of engagement of around 50%
- Videos longer than 12 minutes see engagement quickly drop off
And if you think video length should relate directly to the stage of purchase journey (meaning longer videos later in the journey), you’d be wrong. According to Christian Anderson (responding to a commenter in his article).
Particularly your comment about "the length of an effective video should be directly related to the point in the sales funnel to which it relates." Although this seemingly makes sense, data does not actually support this logic in many scenarios. Sure, you want to give them want they want, you want to continue to nourish their interest, their appetite for the content and build on their addiction with your brand, but that does not always equate to longer videos per se. What it truly equates to is honing in on what it actually is they want.
The main point of all this research on video length? You need to hook the viewer in quickly to make them want to continue watching. You don’t have the luxury of building momentum slowly so when you are scripting and storyboarding your video think about the main point you want to make and figure out how to hit that point sooner, rather than later.
Even for longer videos, you still need to give the viewer a reason to keep watching, and that reason should be the primary point you want to make.
There is a lot of research available to help you decide what types of videos you should create, how long they should be and where you should distribute them, and you should absorb as much as you can.
But the biggest challenge you will have is in creating the best content to support your customer or prospect in their journey. That’s not something you can learn exactly. It requires understanding your customers and their information consumption tastes and patterns – and that seems to be changing all the time.