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Video is the fastest growing content type shared across the web today. According to Cisco, 90 percent of consumer web traffic will be video by 2013. Closer to home, The Australian newspaper reported 80 percent of Australians watch online video on a monthly basis.

The other fast growing component is social media, which is becoming more powerful every day. Australians have taken enthusiastically to social media. Facebook claims to have 10 million users down under; that’s close to one in two, and about one million Australians use micro blogging site Twitter regularly. As of last quarter, Facebook surpassed Yahoo as the referral source second only to Google in driving traffic to online video content for media companies and brands. According to the Brightcove and Tube Mogul Online Video and the Media Industry report, Facebook now accounts for 11.8 percent of all referred video traffic to media companies.

These developments give new meaning to the phrase “business without borders”. Relationships and connections are codified to spread content and ideas. Customers are responding directly to their favourite brands. Businesses competing for consumers’ eyeballs and wallets realise that people are willing to pay more attention to a 30-second video than to a page of text.

So what can you do as a business to harness the power of social profiles to build brand awareness, nurture customer relationships, and improve your SEO/findability on the web?

A Match Made in Heaven

Video is a powerful and potent medium. Moving images show the full range of human emotion, topped only by talking to someone face to face.

Video wants to be shared. It reaches its highest impact when it goes viral.

High quality production is getting cheaper by the day, and cameras are everywhere – on mobile phones, webcams, flip cameras. Video has become the medium of the people!

The Business of Social Media

To get the most out of social media for your business, you need to be clear about the business goals you want to achieve for your business through video and social media.

These goals can include:

Traffic: Videos, whether or not they go viral, will inevitably drive more traffic to your site. A Forrester report shows that online video dramatically improves SEO. Pages with video stand a 53 percent better chance than text pages alone of showing up on the first page of Google search results. Sites with video are also more likely to be clicked in search results because videos grab searchers’ attention in text-based search results. Video metadata paired with text on the page will also significantly contribute to your site’s SEO. An example of this is iconic Australian brand aussieBum. The company successfully drives sales of its men’s apparels through the video channel on its website, aussieBum.com.

Awareness: Every business wants to build awareness of its mission and brand. By making use of social media, businesses can foster word of mouth promotions passed from customers to their own networks with incredible ease. The introduction of Facebook “like” buttons and click-to-share features removes all friction to make sharing a seamless and natural activity, and will result in introducing new opportunities for brand impressions to new prospects. UK retailer Marks and Spencer for example, built videos with a branded skin customised with the company’s distinctive look and feel, and used call to action buttons to accompany these videos, enabling viewers to play them in Facebook and share amongst friends, taking advantage of the implicit trust factor.

Engagement: Marketers want both potential and returning customers to have a reason to stay on your site and continue considering your products and services. Media publishers want to keep viewers coming back for more content to increase impressions. Engaging video content can keep people on your site longer. Socially shared videos have high engagement rates, which results in longer and more meaningful impressions that can stay with the viewer to influence their purchasing decisions later on. Shared video offered up 18 percent longer viewing time compared to video viewed through search results, Brightcove and Tube Mogul research showed.

Loyalty: Fresh video content gives loyal customers reasons to continue to engage with your company, especially if you continually share with customers that are following your activity through their Facebook or Twitter feeds. An example of this is Debenhams. The UK retailer regularly updates its videos according to fashion seasons. Fresh content for the year-end Christmas season also helps engage customers at the time of the year when buyers are actively looking to purchase.

Evangelists: Social sharing is quite possibly the easiest way for companies to empower their biggest fans to evangelise and share their enthusiasm for your company with their friends and followers. Social sharing buttons enable evangelism through sharing like never before. For instance, Thomas Pink, the UK garment producer, lets its customers share their favourite clothing in Facebook with a single click.

Context: Publishing through social media outlets is really all about context. By delivering video in the places where users spend their time, you have more chances of making a strong impression. You don’t have to drive users to your website to engage with them, and email is not the only inbox to push content to customers these days. Feeds are the new context. Putting your video in the social feed context lets customers interact with your content in their own preferred mode of consumption, whether that is through RSS readers, Twitter streams, or Facebook news feeds. A customer who might follow you on Facebook won’t necessarily be a Twitter user. The US State Department demonstrated how an organisation can use Facebook to reach out to entirely new sections of their constituents and deliver communications through video.

Picking a platform for your video

YouTube: YouTube is of course the ultimate combination of social video, as it was originally built to support social video sharing and response. YouTube is actually the second largest search engine, only behind its parent company, Google. Many businesses are beginning to adopt a blended video distribution strategy that uses a professional video to serve professional, highly customised video on their websites and uses YouTube for exposure and awareness building.

Facebook: Australians spend a substantial amount of time on Facebook. Facebook offers 40 percent of video traffic referrals, with longer viewing time (up to 18 percent) and has an implicit trust factor as it’s shared with friends. Small businesses can leverage this powerful platform by ensuring their video skin is customised according to their brand and is carried through into Facebook. Facebook users look to their constant updating stream to catch up on what friends are doing, sharing and liking. Videos that playback on Facebook News Feed allow viewers to watch without navigating away from their main browsing activity. It is important to note that the video publisher needs to be whitelisted to play video through Facebook. You would also want to make sure you have analytics on the video viewership.

Twitter: Twitter is a great way to draw attention to new content as it goes live your website. With a mere 140 characters at your disposal, every letter counts. Feeds are the new context to deliver fresh news and with a video specific short URL you can add video into that mix. The trend goes towards vanity  shorteners that display the brand.

Mobile: A lot of companies are developing mobile apps to keep in touch and bring their content to consumers when they are on the go. Mobile viewers are prime targets for social sharing. Because they view from a small screen, they tend to be very engaged, rather than distracted users who are toggling between multiple tabbed windows on a laptop. So if you put those social buttons prominently in front of your users, whether on your website or in custom mobile apps you develop in-house, you’ll remove all the friction for mobile users wishing to share with their friends.

–      Mark Blair is Senior Director for Asia Pacific, Brightcove.

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