There is a lot of talk today about viral video as though it is the holy grail that will solve all marketing challenges. This is a rare instance where viral is good, but it is not absolutely necessary that every website be infected. Indeed video is an important part of your online marketing mix, so let’s talk about that first. Do you currently have any video on your website? Do you have any videos at YouTube or other video sharing sites that promote your product / service or further your marketing message?
In my estimation from what I have seen most webmasters and marketers would have to answer “no” to both of the questions. It is my observation that most websites do not have a video and most marketers are not exploiting video at all to promote their product or service as a way to drive traffic to their website. In spite of this reality I still hear too many video producers and marketing pundits talking about the importance of viral video.
A viral video is so unusual or entertaining that individuals feel compelled to share it with their friends, who in turn share it with their friends ad infinitum. Thus like any virus it is passed from person to person. You can see the value as it does not require that the marketer amass a list or identify potential targets or prospects. The market does that for him or her by identifying and passing the medium on to those most likely to be interested in the content.
As you can see by the description viral video is valuable, but it is not the only way to exploit video on the web. One of the most valuable ways is by having a short video on your index or home page that simply tells visitors in one minute or less what your site is about. After all, that is the first thing people want to know. “Am I in the right place” and “do you offer a solution to my problem.” Originally the only way to answer these questions was via the printed word as that was the currency of the web, but researching sites and reading their content can be laborious and time consuming. Those of us in marketing and video production dreamed of a day when everyone would have high speed Internet access and plenty of memory that would give us the ability to stream quality video. Well that day has arrived yet too many of us are still typing when we should be talking. I suppose this article is a case in point and then again maybe not but that’s another topic. Right now I want to emphasize the fundamental uses of videos which are by-and-large being overlooked.
The two essentials are, the home page video which I have described, and a similar promotional video that is placed off of your page at a video sharing platform like YouTube or other website where it can be found by individuals who are not familiar with what you have to offer; this video has the ability to drive traffic to your site. Whether this promotional video goes viral is not essential. It is more important, to begin with, that you have a video presence. In spite of the fact that I produce video and encourage you to create a good quality video – – truth be told, a bad video is better than no video at all because at least you can be found.
At the time you are reading this article YouTube may be surpassing Google in terms of numbers of visitors per day. You may not be aware that YouTube.com is a search engine where many people go because they prefer to have their content delivered via video rather than text and why not? Think about it. If I handed you a ten page document and asked you to read it, you would probably say, “Just tell me what it’s about.” Or “Can you explain it to me.” Why wouldn’t we want to have pictures and a narrated explanation or description? It’s just easier. Additionally people retain more when they can see and hear the content compared to reading it themselves.
Finally, it is not essential that your video go viral and get 500,000 or seven million views. Most of us do not need that level of exposure. Personally I would be happy with twenty prospects who are actually interested in using my service. Viral is important if you are building a consumer brand. However, if you are a typical small business or local service provider you need to be sure that your prospects know that you exist and understand what you have to offer. If they choose to pass that information along, that’s great but first you need to focus on the proverbial bird in the hand. That is why I say viral video is not the only answer. I see too many small business owners worrying too much about whether their video has the potential to go viral when they should be focusing on the fundamentals. Be sure you have a good descriptive video on your website, and a few good promotional videos out in the world where they might be viewed, then you can get creative and see if you can develop, produce and infect the world with your unique video virus.