LET'S GET STRATEGIC
How Marketers Will Use Video in 2021
by Linda Pophal
Video continues to be a popular and effective way to boost marketing efforts, especially with the emergence of video-first platforms such as TikTok. And, with the proliferation of do-it-yourself (DIY) video options, the demand for professionally produced, high-production-value video content no longer looms as the must-do priority it used to be. Today, marketers of all types and sizes—even those with very small budgets—can successfully use video to augment their marketing communication efforts.
Another big driver in the uptick in video production is COVID-19. With so many organizations and individuals operating in new ways and finding themselves needing to be socially distanced from people they formerly met up with in person, video has become a go-to tool for interactions that include business development, education, and infotainment. Marketers are becoming increasingly creative in terms of how they intend to use video as part of their overall content strategy moving forward. Here’s a look at how marketers are planning to incorporate video into their marketing mix in 2021.
SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT
Video for social media engagement is a natural starting point for marketers of all kinds. Bernie Wong, founder of Social Stand, predicts this: “More brands will be turning toward using videos when it comes to their marketing strategies, and we are anticipating the rise of video content across the internet, particularly through social media.” Fifteen-second videos, Wong says, will be most prominent. In addition, though, he notes that “we are also focused on producing quality live-streaming shows to engage with users across social media.” He found this approach to be especially effective in 2020.
Eric Wu, co-founder and COO of Gainful, a sports nutrition firm, agrees. “With [the recent] explosion of TikTok and Instagram creating Reels to stay relevant in the social media market, video is becoming more relevant day by day,” he says. The pandemic is also contributing to driving video marketing popularity, and that’s likely to continue into the foreseeable future. “Consumers are spending more time online than ever before,” Wu notes.
While video will remain popular, there have been some changes in the type of content that delivers the most value, says Wu. “Quick, educational, and attention-grabbing content is far outperforming the visually stimulating and aspirational content that was favored in previous years,” he states. “People don’t want to feel that they are wasting time on these platforms. They want to be entertained while simultaneously learning tips and tricks on how to improve their lives.”
When developing any kind of content, it is imperative to stay focused on the needs of the audience—what they value and what will provide value for them. In a world in which so much is changing, education and information on a variety of topics are resonating with consumers across a wide range of platforms, driving a demand in elearning for both personal and professional pursuits.
With much of the world learning virtually these days, at all levels of traditional education as well as for professional pursuits, video is a natural way to engage learners. “Video is immensely effective in elearning,” says Sander Tamm, founder and CEO of E-Student. It’s also greatly effective in marketing, he says. “Studies have shown that video increases attention and retention among students and customers.”
Elearning applications can be a good strategy for marketers of all kinds. Stanley Tate, founder of Tate Law, which helps students with their student loan problems, says his company will be using a lot more video in 2021, based on some “great success” in 2020 “We used a chatbot to engage with our website visitors using video,” says Tate. “The whole experience gave website visitors a feeling that they’re on a video call with me. It also saved them a lot of time by showing only information that they really wanted.” He felt it was an approach that was more successful than explainer videos.
Whether sharing information to boost career-related skills or teaching consumers how their products and services can meet their needs, taking an elearning approach can really resonate for marketers of all kinds. Another natural application for video is product demonstrations.
Marketers want to be as efficient as possible with their budgets. In light of that, creating evergreen content can be a productive way to extend the life of any kind of content. With video, says Colin Palfrey, CMO of Majesty Coffee, product demonstrations can be a great way to create something once and, potentially, use it for years. “If your assortment doesn’t change that frequently, consider using video to highlight the different aspects of your products,” he suggests. “You can put product videos on product pages to give your customers a better buying experience.” In addition to the value of evergreen content, video also can be a first step in a repurposing strategy to extend the life and value of original content.
Creating content obviously requires time and energy, and marketers want to be as efficient as possible. Thinking about how various types of content could be leveraged and repurposed at the outset can help save time and money, while extending the value of content across various channels and platforms.
Ken Fortney, a technical writer for digital marketing B2B companies such as GRIN, advocates a video-first approach. “Repurposing content is easier from video to written or visual than the other way around,” he says. In addition, Fortney notes, “Instagram and TikTok are creating more opportunities for short-form video and ephemeral content. It’s easier to digest and creates excitement.” But there’s a counterpoint: “In long-form, tutorials and FAQs are our favorites. YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch are some of the best places to [put] this content.”
James Surrey is founder and chief editor at Review Home Warranties. One way he’s planning to use video in 2021, he says, is to create informational content via whiteboard animation. It’s a way to help simplify the content of his long-form posts on home warranties. “While I try to keep the information laymen-friendly, it can still be tricky to navigate for some readers, especially given the long length,” he says. Surrey feels that presenting the same information in an audio-rich and video-rich format will be a way to make it more digestible. But, he adds, it’s not something he will attempt to tackle on his own. “If I proceed with this approach, it will definitely be done by a professional company or freelance videographer,” he says. “It will not be done in-house; after all, I’m in the business of reviewing home warranties, not graphic animation.”
Tamm agrees that animated videos are a hot trend. “Especially in a pandemic situation where there is risk in assembling a filming crew and actors, animated videos are a simple solution,” he says. “With the available software, they can be put together easily and cheaply for any purpose, such as explainer videos in marketing or interactive videos for elearning.” Like Surrey, though, he cautions against taking an approach that is too low-budget. “Low-quality video looks cheap and reflects poorly on the product, service, or course,” he states.
At this point, no one knows what 2021 is likely to hold for marketers and whether or when the pandemic will eventually subside—allowing marketers and the customers they serve to get back to some sense of normalcy. However, one thing is likely to remain certain: Video will continue to play an important role for marketers hoping to connect with and engage consumers in 2021.