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Social Media Strategies: Video Is the Killer App

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What Should I Do First?

First, ask yourself a few questions. Why are we doing video online? (To build a brand or communicate more effectively, etc.) What do we hope to accomplish? (Sell more, grow more, respond better, etc.) How are we going to measure our success? (Hits, sales, web traffic, phone calls, etc.) You should ask your target audience members the second set of questions. What would they like to see? Is there something or someone they would like to interact with on a regular basis? Is there something dramatically different that you could share with them? Do they have stories or ideas that they could contribute?

The next set of questions is related to the nuts and bolts of the video, but they are very important questions. What will the format be? (Interview style, CEO/president Q&A, event-based, man-on-the-street, etc.) How long with the content be? (Keep it short; remember, the attention span of most online viewers is measured in 10-second cat videos.) Where will we post it? (Internally, externally, on YouTube, Vimeo, Veoh, Viddler, blip.tv, etc.) How will we receive feedback? (Via a blog, Twitter, Facebook, comments, etc.) Who is running the show? (Marketing, sales, team or individual, etc.)

Once you have these questions answered, write out a basic one-sheet mini business plan for your video. Make sure to set a target date for your goals. So we have a plan, what tools should we use?

What Are the Tools?

Every situation is different, and whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a one-woman shop, you will need to customize the tools to your situation and desired outcome. Whatever the situation may be, I would encourage you to use some of the free or very cheap tools to test the waters with your video strategy. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on hardware and software to have a successful result. 

Home Base

Every social media campaign needs a home base. This can be something as simple as a Facebook page or a YouTube channel. The positives of being on a large existing platform are quick scaling, an established wide audience on the platform, and built-in, easy-to-use social tools. The downsides are lack of privacy controls, no control over server issues, and very little customization. If you want to have more control, you can move to a WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger blog platform. For even more control, you can host your own site or minisite internally with a variety of software options. The most important part of the home base is to use that as the primary URL for everything you do. In the example of Old Spice, the company solicited responses and posted everything via its Twitter account (http://twitter.com/OldSpice) but drove all the links to its YouTube account. Arguably one of the most successful social media video events of the year used two free services as its home base.

Video Player

Depending upon which home base you choose, your video player should reflect that choice. You want to keep in mind that the explosion of video devices can mean multiple formats. Services such as blip.tv have stated that they are moving exclusively to HTML5 in 2011, but most other video hosting sites are still pumping out multiple formats that are either device-specific or OS-specific. Remember your target audience members, and give them the options that they want to see. Being able to share your player with other social tools is important. Most of the video player hosting services offer these tools right below the video, so with one click, you can add to Facebook, Twitter, etc.


The most important tools in the kit are the people who are viewing, responding to, and interacting with your videos. People have become jaded after years of being advertised and marketed to death. Be honest and respond appropriately. Great responses and interaction with even a handful of viewers can generate wonderful results. The most successful video social media strategies involve talking with your customers in an open environment. You can have every other component of your online video campaign in place, but if you are missing the human touch, it will all be for naught.

Final Thoughts

Launching into the social world with online video can be daunting for everyone from individuals to global corporations. But the best way to approach this is to realize that no one has figured out the secret yet. The space is so new, and it changes every day. We are still very much in the Wild West days of social online video. This means that you have a shot at figuring it all out, just like everyone else. Set your goals, listen to your audience, be honest, and have fun with what you are doing. Now look at your strategy. Now back at me. Now back at your strategy again. It’s as easy as a swan dive into a hot tub while riding a motorcycle. (Whistle nautical theme.)

Alyssa Milano'

You might not get Alyssa Milano to respond to one of your videos, but if you do it right, your social video campaign should generate genuine engagement and interaction with your customers—on their terms.

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