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Strategies for Social Video Victory

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Congratulations! You have done it! You have a YouTube account. Your business has a Facebook page with thousands of fans. You have used streaming video for events. You have finally figured out how to use online video to help your business. You got retweeted by that semifamous person in your industry. You have cracked the code on this whole “social media revolution” thing and can actually see real-world results affecting your bottom line. Now you can relax, rest on your existing marketing-plan laurels, and take that much needed vacation. It’s over ... right?

I agree you should probably take that vacation; you deserve it. But hurry back because the battle may be over, but the war has just begun. While you are slapping sunscreen on your shoulders and sipping a fruit-rimmed beverage on a sandy beach somewhere, there is an army of geeks guzzling Red Bull and launching the next killer social video tool. It is a bit disheartening to think about how much time and money we are investing in tools that may be gone by the time we have figured them out. But it should really help us focus on what is truly important. So what is truly important in the ever-changing world of social media? Is there any hope of keeping up with the constant flow of new products and services that are radically changing how we do business? Will I ever be able to dig my toes into the sand and relax again? While I can’t promise you an endless vacation, I will at least try to answer the questions about focus and change.

Tools vs. Tactics

I recently spent 2 hours speaking with a business owner about social media. He had a carefully drawn chart of five popular social networking sites with lines crossing back and forth among them all. It was clear he wanted his entire sales team to have an account on each site and then have all that content aggregated into the company website and blog. He understood the power of social media, but his focus was only on the tools. He was more concerned with picking the right sites than he was with how they should implement them. So what should our focus be? If it isn’t about the tools, then what is it all about? One word: tactics.

A quick look at some of the greatest victories in history reveals an interesting common thread. It had very little to do with the tools and everything to do with tactics. The American Revolution was, on paper, no contest. The well-trained British soldiers were better equipped and better funded, and they had every advantage that should have led to success. But the Americans’ tactics won the day. Hiding behind trees dressed in brown was a much better tactic than marching in a straight line and wearing red. And we wonder how a broke, no-name high school student can achieve millions of views on YouTube while Fortune 500 companies are spending millions trying to get a few thousand views.

Scanning the list of Underdog Victories on Wikipedia offers a testimony to how important tactics are and how unimportant tools are for success. We all know this, and yet we still spin our wheels thinking that if we only had the right tools, we could build our businesses. There is truth to the statement my father repeated to me as a child: “Use the right tool for the job.” You have to have tools to create, share, measure, and engage, but our obsession with tools has blinded us from what’s truly important. The hardware and software we have for video is the best it has ever been. We almost never use all the features at our disposal, and our gadget lust has tricked us into complacency. It’s time to use what we have and go into battle!

What you will find here is not only a battle cry to spend less time worrying about the tools but also some very simple tactics for how to use video and social media. I will also provide tools and other resources when appropriate—but remember to use what you have. It’s time to charge up our batteries, shake the dust off our accounts, and start shooting and sharing!

Tactic No. 1: The Rip Van Winkle

I am not a fan of car dealership commercials. Most of the yelling, screaming, and silly gimmicks are annoying; these tactics only turn me off from shopping with any of those dealers. So it was with a sense of trepidation that I recently visited with the owner of several regional auto dealerships. I politely stated up front that I was not interested in working with him if he was going to use some of the traditional approaches to selling cars. But I was pleasantly surprised in our conversation to hear that he was open to taking a dramatically different approach to building his business. The recent economy and surge in social media usage has everyone scrambling to figure out how to survive and grow in the new business world order. What was most interesting to me though was one small part of an initial review of the dealership’s web content. The dealership had started a YouTube account more than a year ago and had posted a bunch of mostly canned car reviews (most with zero views), but there were a few videos that stood out. Someone had taken a 3-minute video just sitting in and walking around a car, pointing out its features; the video had thousands of views. The owner was unaware that it had any views at all, much less a respectable number. After a quick dig into some of the analytics, we found that this video had been viewed around the world and was posted on several car sites. It turns out that this small southern dealership had become a trusted resource to people interested in this specific model of car a year after the fact.

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