Remember when infographics were the new and hyped thing?

Content marketers thought the shareability code was finally cracked! All you had to do was turn a bucket of “boring data” into an attractive image with flat icons and digestible stats, and people will share it out to viral status.

But people tend to do silly things with new and hyped things.

We get hit with an overwhelming sense of FOMO (“fear of missing out”) and blindly rush towards what’s hot and shiny. The result? Marketers have made silly infographics out of just about everything with not a lot of thought towards whether it made sense, whether the return was worth the investment, and whether it was of any real value to their audience.

Enter the exciting new medium of video

Video marketing is getting more and more attention every year. Globally, the amount of video in Facebook’s News Feed has increased 3.6x year-over-year with a whopping 76% of B2B marketers using video content marketing as a core piece in their strategy.

I can feel the mad rush: “We need video marketing, and we need it now.”

In order for us to avoid making the same rookie mistakes as last time, here’s a list of tried-and-true lessons from good ol’ content marketing that can be – and should be – applied to video marketing.

1. The average attention span of a human is now shorter than that of a goldfish

Putting aside what that shocking stat could mean for the future of humankind, one thing is obvious: Time is the most precious currency for today’s Internet users. If they don’t find what they’re looking for in the first 50 words, they’ll go back to their search results and try another source.

For video, this is the first 10 seconds. According to a study by Visible Measures, 20% of viewers will click out of a video in 10 seconds or less. YouTube gives sponsored advertisers just 5 seconds to hook their audience during auto-play.

Lesson #1: Skip over the intro. Identify your best story or the most compelling benefit of your product or service and use it as a hook from the start. Build the rest of your script by delivering bite-sized information in 8-second segments (around 20 words) in order to maintain the viewer’s attention.

2. “Going viral” isn’t a KPI

Let’s be honest: We all hope that our next piece of content is The One that goes viral. But no matter what people claim, virality can’t be distilled down to a simple science. Most of it is based on luck which is neither replicable or scalable.

“But it worked for Dollar Shave Club. Why not us?”

If you have this mindset from the beginning, your brainstorming session will circle around things like humor, shock value, and somehow figuring out a way to tap into the zeitgeist of our digital time. What do they all have in common? They don’t touch on the utility of the content.

Regular content marketing has taught us that a valuable post is one that speaks to a common pain point of our target audience. The more helpful you are, the more credible you are.

This doesn’t mean that a helpful video can’t achieve massive reach and shares. According to a New York Times study called The Psychology of Sharing, 94% of participants carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient.

Lesson #2: Instead of trying to write a script that will “go viral”, build on a known problem that your qualified audience faces. Treat it like an inside joke and appeal to their motivation to connect with others that will “get it”. An example of a brand that has successfully (and delightfully) done this is Slack, who plays up the common complication of inter-office communication in their intro video.

3. Create (or re-create) with ROI in mind

With regular content, we all know that there’s a wide range of content types we can create. But some (like ebooks, how-to guides, and even infographics) require a bigger commitment in time, resource, and coordination than others.

This gradient of investment exists for video types as well. For example, creating a video interview requires far less scripting and post-production work than an animated product walk-through. Or posting a recording of your webinar or demo is an easier way to take advantage of video than creating a separate how-to series.

Sorting your list of options by ROI is especially important for new content marketing teams that are pressed for quick results or working with a strained budget. Do an audit of your existing content to identify which topics can get repurposed for video use. Not only will this cut down on the amount of research you’ll have to do, but it’ll give you an indicator of what topics will work well with your audience.

Lesson #3: Being able to show positive returns is as important as generating those results. To secure continued buy-in, first try to knock out the types of videos that have the highest ROI compared to the investment. This includes user-generated videos for B2C companies and even curated third-party videos that may be relevant to your audience.

4. Bolster up the soft spots in your sales funnel

Content Marketing 101 has taught us that one of the most efficient ways to create content is to map it to your buyer’s journey: infographics and vertical-centric blog posts are top-of-the-funnel while comparative reports and testimonials hit further down, at the evaluation stage. These assets are then sprinkled throughout the website so that the most relevant information is delivered to the right people at the right time.

With more than 70% of marketing professionals reporting that video converts better than any other medium, we can strategically create and place video content at the weakest points of conversion.

To identify these soft spots, dive into Google Analytics and analyze your User Flow and Bounced Sessions. Determine the biggest point of drop-off and create custom videos that offer extremely focused information that’s relevant to that page.

For example, if a significant portion of your traffic is bouncing on the pricing page, reinforce it with a video that explains your pricing breakdown or one that highlights the cost-saving features of your service or product. If people are leaving right before the point of sale, place short testimonial videos before checkout to encourage them forward.

Lesson #4: In the same way that content is strategically used to encourage leads along a sales path, take advantage of video’s converting power by creating answer-packed clips for the weakest points of your website. Re-purpose these videos for your emails and nurture campaigns!

5. Don’t build your brand on rented land

When social networks like Facebook and Twitter became too big to ignore, many made the mistake of building their brands on properties that were not their own. They pushed their content on stream-based networks and nurtured communities that were off-site.

It’s only recently that content marketers are seeing the problem with this approach: there’s a lack of control and reliability, engagement doesn’t tether back to your home domain, and you miss out on deeper customer insight opportunities.

The same thing applies to video. While great for distribution and attracting new audiences, gigantic platforms like YouTube and Vimeo shouldn’t be the sole place where you host your videos. Not only do they lack the tools to extract deeper data based on individual views, there’s really no reason for your viewers to come back to your website for more.

Lesson #5: Instead of going to where the people are, focus on building a brand on your own domain. Memorialize your video content instead of pushing them out on streams, and integrate video analytics with your CRM to maximize your learnings and returns.

6. Storytelling (still) wins

This is a no-brainer but a lesson that I firmly believe applies to every type of marketing: Storytelling works. And it doesn’t do it by tricking you, or by using buzzwords and platitude. It’s simply how we appeal to our natural instinct for empathy and become better communicators.

From explaining your value prop to showcasing your happiest customer, take every opportunity to tell stories that get remembered. Tell it how you want to be remembered: fun, helpful, skilled, sentimental, honest, or whichever qualities fit your brand. Be someone that people want to talk to. Make them want to take their shoes off and stay awhile.

Lesson #6: With such a dynamic medium as video, storytelling becomes even more important and powerful. Don’t just make a video for the sake of making a video. Take every second to identify with your audience and grow a loyal community around your brand.

What are some of your tried-and-true video marketing lessons?

Erica Kim