As a consultant, often times my job is to make technology a non-issue. I’m not explicitly asked for it, but hidden within your questions and comments is a yearning need to find simple ways to hop aboard the social media train without requiring such heavy investments in time and money. This is particularly important during a time of declining budgets.
I agree, a business case for executives to sign-off on social media is difficult to establish. Without an easy avenue for proving value, marketers are left woefully dreaming for that day when their executives will be enlightened by an experimental urge to try something new in order to get ahead of competition.
As a marketer on a mission, you must overcome the gap imposed by executives who misunderstand the promise of new technologies. All too often there is a mistrust of new technology concepts because there is a constant need to find proof of business value after going through a bubble-era, rife with hype and overt messaging. This proof is difficult to articulate in terms everyone can understand — especially in a retracting market so unstable it’s forcing everyone to look for the most stable options. Social Media, perhaps out of all web technologies, seems to project the most risk and instability precisely because of its sophisticated story and the contrived way in which some choose to talk about it. What is perhaps even worse, is that with all the noise there is paralysis across many businesses that cause them to avoid participating.
In actuality, when it comes to social media, I always note that the technology implementation is the easiest part. The hardest parts come before and after you have launched your social media program.
Often what I find is that clients become wrapped around implementation details that they do not fully understand. This overly sophisticated view of how technology should play a role causes more variability to lurk into the equation and creates difficulties that, in many cases, can be prevented or ignored.
I’m not saying technology has become so advanced you don’t have to think about it. I’m simply saying the technology driving social media is not that difficult to harness, and should be the least of your worries. It only seems difficult because the end product is spectacularly sophisticated. In reality, we are dealing with primarily the same marketing components as before, except this time they are placed into much smarter tools that organize and present them in a different way.
Thanks to tools like YouTube, JS-Kit, and Blogger, what used to require a team of highly paid developers can now be yours free, and what would’ve required weeks or months to implement, can now be done in minutes. This massive change in how resources are spread, presents an opportunity for businesses to finally shift them from implementation to where it matters most – planning and producing content that will drive social media communities of ultra focused, energized, niche players who want to go beyond the standard point and click experience. These are the fanatics who will build on your message and influence newcomers.
Start Your YouTube Channel ASAP
YouTube is a viable marketing tool for any video producers wanting to share their original content with the world. This does not just mean amateurs and people at home on their web cams. If your company has even one video, which could be nothing more than a product slideshow with a voiceover, as long as you own the copyright, you have something that can be posted and viewed by visitors on YouTube. With a massive user-base of 60 million viewers per month, the opportunity for capturing attention is huge and you’re definitely missing out by not exploiting it. Of course, only certain types of videos will be successful on YouTube. However, do not let this limit you from trying; you never know unless you start your own trial.
Remember when you used to download and play videos in a media player? Even that was a difficult process for novice users the first few times, especially when you add on the common issue of slow connections. Video used to be a luxury rarely looked at. But not now. When you finally realize YouTube can be an effective platform for your business, video sharing suddenly becomes a non-issue in your online marketing strategy. Suddenly, many of the problems you were faced with begin to vanish, and you find that you have this new freedom to spend time worrying about other things.
Once you are ready to start, create a channel for your business. Creating a channel is simple; in fact all you have to do is add a single video to your account. Then, just watch for subscribers and respond to their comments. Where it goes from there is subject to what kind of community starts to form around your content. What’s important now is that you understand just how easy it is to hop aboard the new social media train.
It certainly goes beyond my simplistic example. Just think about the day you and your executives will start to see increasing technology as a non-issue. What ends up happening is we realize it’s all about the content and communication. All this time you were concerned about perceived cost, and suddenly you’ll realize the costliest aspects can be handled within your capabilities. All you need is a little help setting-up the vision so it follows best-practices.
Consider content creation itself as your next major hurdle. After all, you want to create an alluring reason for viewers to subscribe and watch your channel. Do not become paralyzed by the perceived burden involved in getting this done. You are not expected to constantly produce a never-ending stream of content like conventional channels. Instead, you must use a measured and steady approach that consistently delivers a piece of video content that provides your audience with insight.
Insight, huh? Easy for me to say, right? Even content strategies themselves can take months to deliver, but in the interest of getting some motivation behind this philosophy, it is essential I give you at least a few examples:
- Give a tour of your factory or walk through the production process for a popular item. One of my absolute favorite parts of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was when he would present a video about something being made. It was always something simple like crayons or horseshoes, but nevertheless it was captivating and inspiring for me to see something made from raw materials. Likely your intended audience is full of current or prospective customers who are curious about how it’s made. Imagine what kind of insight your audience will get once they see the effort put behind certain aspects that may have been forgotten.
- Interview your product managers and have them answer highly technical questions about a specific detail of your product or the research process. More likely than not you will find that the topics your internal subject matter experts are most passionate about can produce volumes of content. The challenge is isolating the highlights and breaking it up into a series of smaller topics, since the best format for informational segments on YouTube is an easy to digest format, that is 4-6 minutes in length. A very effective setting for this kind of talk is to answer the question in front of a white board where the manager can use visuals and numbers to tell complicated stories.
- Demonstrate your product and somehow simulate its use in applications not easy to articulate with words. Sometimes you need a visual and the benefit of seeing a product in action is clear. The most passionate users of your products are likely the ones who will want to know more about its inner-workings, and these tend to be the people that will actually take the step towards commenting on your video or channel and thus providing the self-fueling insight that will attract others to join the conversation.
Do Not Let Budget Stop You
Cost concerns are preventing many of my clients from going forward with video. They often feel a professional has to do it in order for it to look right and feel right. This is not an argument I want to have with anyone, as there are various complexities of media production, of which I admit I am not an expert. I do know; however, that there is an army of hungry digital media video artists who have literally started a new industry of freelance bounty jobs that allow for the best digi-AV editors to bid against each other for your jobs. The trick is to find the talented editors who don’t realize they should be charging Hollywood rates.