Creative use of video may make lasting impressions with clients and prospects
By Heather Lockwood
Online videos seem to be all the rage these days, from child prodigies, to seemingly tranquil travels through a forest that turn into something that scares the pants off you, to four-legged farm animals on trampolines. Consider that as of May 2011 (YouTube's sixth birthday), there were an estimated 3 billion views per day. When has there ever been a more robust audience in one place just waiting to hear what you have to tell them?
As technology moves forward, agencies are provided with more and more avenues to talk to their existing customers and potential customers. The combination of video on YouTube and marketing through Facebook, blogs and Web sites provides a unique promotional combination that can really boost your agency's visibility and tell your story, building your agency's personality and reputation.
Through the dual push to YouTube and Facebook, you can really tell—and show—viewers what your agency can do for them.
When thinking about whether video might be the right medium to promote your agency, remember that content should be easily digested by your target audience, and should say something about your agency that the audience may not have considered…and say it in an entertaining way. Here are some other things to think about before you launch your debut video.
1. Know your voice and stick with it. Make sure you draw a line between your professional and personal persona. Your agency videos and posts should stay on the professional side.
2. Be brief. When posting video links, just give a brief lead-in. Videos themselves should tell the story in about a minute and a half. Twitter posts can provide the link to your YouTube video and Facebook posts should be short and to the point. Don't say more than you need to. And don't give away the punch line.
3. Be real. People can tell the difference between manufactured personality and real conversation. Real people tell real stories and offer a sense of camaraderie—a connection based on similar likes or interests. Have an idea what you want to say and practice it a few times before you create your video so you don't stumble through it.
4. Entertain. People don't want to get a hard sell over social media—especially as it relates to insurance. Keep videos entertaining and interesting, fun and creative, and people will seek out your Web site and want to learn more about your agency.
5. Give people the opportunity to share. Invite them to interact. Ask them to forward links, to retweet, and to invite their friends and family to visit your pages. Word-of-mouth referrals are priceless and people are more inclined to buy from someone already doing business with a person they know and trust.
With video, you are able to broadcast your message in a way that is relatively inexpensive (less costly than traditional print advertising) with the potential to reach a virtually limitless audience. You also have the stage to create the personality for your agency and the tone your followers will become familiar with when doing business with you.
Make sure you have realistic expectations. Just putting a video on YouTube and expecting it to go viral is probably unrealistic. You need to promote your video through other means, such as a Web site, blog or Facebook page. And you can use your Facebook page to market your videos to a more specific audience—the users who like your page. According to the official Facebook Press Room statistics, there are more than 500 million active users; 50% of active users log on to Facebook on any given day; the average user has 130 friends; and people spend more than 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. There has never been a better opportunity to reach that many people at once.
When using Facebook to promote your video, don't delete or screen negative comments. This is a great opportunity to take the conversation off-line and see what you can do to change the negative reaction. You might not always be able to, but at least it will show your audience that you are having real, honest communication. That lends credibility.
You can also provide quick video answers to questions or posts on your Facebook page so users know that you are checking your page and listening to their comments. This tends to create a more personal feeling and helps the audience feel connected in a less formal way.
Video business cards
There are constant innovations in what people are doing with video. And just when you think you have successfully added the use of video to convey your message, you will hardly believe what comes next. Video business cards.
Everyone in business knows that a particularly interesting or unusual business card can get people's attention. Now there are business cards that, according to Mashable.com "…can help differentiate you from others and one way in which we're seeing people attempt this is through augmented reality. Augmented reality cards can provide a wealth of information including additional text, images and even video just by holding the card up to a webcam. When done right, it yields quite impressive results."
So, you can have a business card that, when viewed through a webcam, can show your portfolio, link to a live Twitter feed, even produce 3-D images and allow you to call the business owner right from the card. For some examples of this innovative approach, go to http://mashable.com/2011/05/30/augmented-reality-business-cards/#At2ABQBULwI.
There is no end-all, be-all marketing solution, but adding video to your agency's social media strategy is a great and inexpensive way to connect with customers as a real person with a real message. They are already out there. Shouldn't you be?
Heather Lockwood is advertising manager for Foremost Insurance Group. For more information, visit ForemostAgent.com.