Thinking Critically About Web Video

by Jim Berkowitz on June 21, 2010

Here are several excerpts from a post by Adam Singer (@AdamSinger), Thinking Critically About Web Video:

Web video is hot. Some say your chance to be a pioneer.

How hot, and how much of an opportunity? Recent reports from comScore, consistently say more than 80% of the total U.S. Internet audience views online video in a given month. Youtube’s fact sheet states every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to the network and 2 billion videos are being watched per day.

All this popularity has of course been driving a trend with marketers: the desire to create video as part of their digital marketing mix. Except sadly, it’s almost never approached strategically.

Agency-side marketing/PR/digital pros: how many times have you had a client approach you after creating a web video and said “hey, we made this video, now make it go viral!”

Client-side marketing professionals: how many of you have had a CMO suddenly discover web video, only to enthusiastically push the team to concept something “because our competitors are doing it.”

Due to these mistakes (and many others) most companies get web video dead wrong.

Their content is too advertorial, there is a lack of genuine reason anyone would want to watch it, let alone pass it on. It doesn’t pass the all important “so what” test of web content and feels contrived or lacks creativity. And these are actually just surface level problems, it goes deeper than that.

The real question you need to ask yourself is why am I making web video? What marketing problem does it answer, and how does it answer it? How does it feed digital marketing KPI/objective metrics? Am I doing it because I read an article about it in AdAge or because it’s an elegant way to express my brand’s story to the world?

Poorly conceptualized content has no chance

Unless you’re a massive brand with deep pockets that can work with a high-paid creative team to concept some remarkable content, you’re likely better off using video as you would any other social content. In other words: use it to connect with your audiences in a genuine, meaningful way that follows your larger content strategy.

The best part about treating video as you would any other digital content, is just like text: if you produce lots of it and experiment, you can begin to discover video content archetypes that work for you. Then, and only then, can you start to get agile with your video content production and iteratively get better until you can consistently create stuff that catches on.

With that said…you still need a community

Simply put, you need to build up a group who has affinity for your brand, its team members and ideas. Without this you’re not feeding something larger. Even if you have a popular video with hundreds of thousands or millions of views, what’s the point if you’re not continuing the dialogue over time and nurturing those relationships?


Placing web video on a pedestal, as if it’s so different from any other digital content, is the wrong approach. It has to be just as sharp, creative and relevant as your text-based content. Perhaps more so since we can’t just scan a video and get the gist of it. And just like your written content you will need to build an audience before you can have consistent success.

For long term results, experiment and play around with presentation, formatting and ideas. Work to discover what it is your audiences react to and ensure that video is created in a way that benefits your larger social and SEO programs.

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