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One of the most important and valuable things you can do when starting to work with video is to create a video strategy. Now you might think this is unnecessary, given that your marketing strategy will have already set out your objectives for promotion and communication.  But this is not about duplicating strategies, this is about understanding the full scope of potential that video brings to the table and you can only do this by strategising your content production.

Creating even basic video content is quite an involved business. Seek to create something more creative and original and you can double the timescales, that’s just a fact of life. A video strategy brings all the different components into clear focus and allows you to better see opportunities, plan content timelines and ensure that your output truly achieves its potential.

It also allows you to develop your niche and to realise that this is way more than just creating a promo, a landing page video or getting a bunch of testimonials.  It is about understanding the medium, so that you can exploit it to gain promotional benefits and that means looking at content in a very different way.

The key to real success with video is to build a portfolio of content that works as a whole, with each video complementing the others. You can’t achieve this simply by knocking out random videos on an ad hoc basis, you need a coherent approach and to plan the content as a whole (at least in terms of your overall approach) from the outset.  Your strategy will also set out why you’re using video and it’s really important to have clarity on this point more than any other.

The ‘Why’
If you’re just making videos because you’ve read that video is now an essential promotional tool, then you’re already off on the wrong foot. People don’t watch videos because videos are an ‘essential promotional tool’. They watch videos because they are either pre-disposed to be interested the subject or because the video captures their attention and retains it. They don’t care if the video has been created from a passion about a subject or because the producer just felt they needed to create video to be relevant. All the audience cares about is whether the video is interesting.

So, just because video is now the most important format on social media, because more and more video is being consumed online, you still need a good reason to use it. Not to justify its use but to understand clearly why you should use it. If you can’t answer that question effectively, then hold fire with production until you’ve created a strategy that can!

Once you’ve sorted your ‘why’, then move on to looking at what opportunities there are if you use video creatively (which equals ‘effectively’ – because no one likes the same old same old). This means thinking about the kind of content you might produce and looking for interesting angles and ways to stand out. This is not about planning to make promotional videos or testimonials, it’s about identifying genres or formats that could be of interest to an audience. You might see an opportunity to create a series of ‘how to’ videos to explain your product range or to profile the out of work interests of your team – bringing a human face to your business. Whatever the angle, this process is all about creating material that will connect with an audience in a way that they will respond positively to.

Understanding your audience
As a part of this process, it’s obviously very important to have clarity on who your audience is for video but this can often be tricky to define.  It’s not an exact science and you can’t just assume that because you’ve targeted a particular demographic in your marketing plan, that you can simply deliver video to these people specifically through the readily available distribution channels. You can to a certain extent but you need to take a broader approach, to allow for peer to peer sharing and recommendation and to cover those people who don’t use your baseline distribution channels.

It’s important always to remember that you’re producing video content for the audience, not for your marketing plan. This might seem like a dumb statement but it’s amazing how many videos are made because it’s been decided that a video is needed to communicate this or that particular thing, not because the audience, any audience, is actively seeking this material. Don’t let your needs dominate the choice of content – seek to identify your audience’s interests and then create video in a way that serves both.

If you’re going to be able to produce content that will have real value to your organisation, it’s essential to approach it in this way. It’s about looking at all the opportunities for video in isolation to any guiding marketing brief. It’s about seeing the role of video as being far more than just a messenger service, of it being a means by which you can truly connect with people beyond a transaction. It’s also about understanding how all this can benefit your organisation.

Research your distribution channels
Then, do some research into the different video platforms, different social channels, learn how you can use each one for specific purposes and also how you can cross fertilise different channels (there will be a dedicated blog post about video channels coming soon). These channels will be your primary distribution outlets for the majority of your content but they shouldn’t be the only ones.

Don’t forget the press
Many organisations fail to recognise the opportunities that exist within the traditional media, focussing instead on social media because that’s a platform that gives them complete control. The mainstream or ‘external’ media should still be a key element in your plan and you need to understand what content you can create to fit their needs.  Don’t forget, all news organisations big and small have websites and video is as important to them as it is to everyone else. They need content daily and if you can give them some, you can access their audience. A word of caution though. They won’t want promotional content, so you need to think of ideas that can work for them while also showing your organisation in a strong light.

It’s all about the content
Next, think about the content itself, so set out all the different types of video you could possibly create.  This would be divided into ‘own channels’ and ‘external media’ and would feature each different format or genre of content you might want to make or think could be relevant or find an audience. At this stage, give good consideration to what might be thought of as entertainment because, believe it or not, people like being entertained!

When looking at content, it’s important not to get caught up with internal opinions about whether a particular piece or genre of content is ‘appropriate’ for your organisation. Appropriateness should only ever be a factor in relation to content which might be rude, risqué, offensive (even mildly) or which could be seen as being in bad taste. For everything else, if it attracts a viewer’s attention, they enjoy it and have a positive feeling about your brand or organisation at the end, then it’s appropriate!

Don’t start out by placing boundaries around the type of content you might create – consider everything on the grounds of its potential to connect with and engage an audience. Your video strategy should not be guided by what your organisation thinks it should be producing. It should be guided solely by what people will be likely to watch.

Look at what others are creating and draw inspiration from them. If you operate in the food sector for instance and you’re not creating simple recipe videos you are missing a trick. Yes, this genre of video is already saturated but you can always give your content an edge with the right presenting personalities, the right setting and quality visuals. It’s purely a question of making your content stand out, not about creating something unique that hasn’t been done before.

Working with ‘talent’
This last point references what we in the trade call ‘talent’ – the people featured in the video. Talent has been redefined through online and social video and now, potentially, everyone is talent. Choosing who goes in front of the camera though is a critical part of your strategy and you need to ensure you’re making the selection based around a person’s desire to present, how comfortable they are speaking to a camera directly, their ability to look natural and at ease and also their factual knowledge of the content they might talk about.

It always used to be the case with ‘corporate video’ that seniority played a key part in being selected to go ‘on camera’ but this definitely shouldn’t be a part of your plan.  Yes the MD may have great authority and possibly the greatest knowledge of your business but if they’re not naturally good on camera (and this is a whole different ball game to speaking to a live audience) they should be kept as far away from the shoot as possible!

If you’re the one driving the video plan but you’re not the best person to be in front of the camera, stand aside. The audience doesn’t care who the person speaking to them is, they simply care whether they look and sound competent. There’s far more to lose by having the wrong person in your video than there is to be gained by ‘rewarding’ someone with a role in it.  This side of things is a whole specialist area in its own right, so just trust me!

Content opportunity
The last key element is to create a content opportunity database, which is different to looking at the different types of content you could produce. It is about being responsive to what is going on in your organisation and tapping into events and developments that will happen anyway and turning them into content. Look at key dates in a product development timeline for instance (launching a new product is always a strong content opportunity), consider what you might want to do around calendar milestones like Christmas, Halloween or Easter and look out especially for any social events in your organisations calendar. When you spot a potential content opportunity, make a note of the possible angles – how you might use it creatively.

Being attuned to content opportunities means briefing department heads so they feed leads to you. It means staying in touch with your PR team so you can either piggy back on announcements or effectively be a part of the press pack to produce a newsreel piece for your organisation’s Facebook page. It means seeing the day to day processes of your organisation as potential content that you can either just use as it is or adapt to create an offshoot.

Every organisation is different and so every video strategy should be different but the fundamentals are the same. Take time to look at how you can create better content and you’ll have the best chance of getting great results with your video.

Roger Burlinson is Mediapack’s Creative Director with over 20 years production experience.  He’s a social video specialist and has been producing online video and running channels since 2008. You can connect with Roger on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram

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