Video is tak­ing con­tent mar­ket­ing by storm, but you’ll have to do more than just make one to realise its full poten­tial

If it were five years in the future, would you be read­ing this arti­cle or would you be watch­ing it? As online video con­tin­ues its inim­itable rise, it’s an inter­est­ing ques­tion to pon­der.

By 2017, video will account for 69% of all con­sumer inter­net traf­fic, accord­ing to Cis­co. Video-on-demand traf­fic alone will have almost tre­bled. Leaf­ing through a swathe of sta­tis­tics on the sub­ject, I’m hard pressed to find any indi­ca­tor that does­n’t sug­gest rapid growth.

With online video quick­ly becom­ing a key means for peo­ple to sat­is­fy their infor­ma­tion and enter­tain­ment needs, small busi­ness­es that fail to include it in their inter­net mar­ket­ing strate­gies will do so at their per­il.

Video is the future of con­tent mar­ket­ing. That is, if it’s not the here and now. Var­i­ous stud­ies show more than half of com­pa­nies are already mak­ing use of the medi­um – a fig­ure that’s pre­dict­ed to rise as more and more realise the pos­si­bil­i­ties. Nielsen claims 64% of mar­keters expect video to dom­i­nate their strate­gies in the near future. It’s not dif­fi­cult to see why.

When it comes to poten­tial reach, video is peer­less. YouTube receives more than one bil­lion unique vis­i­tors every month – that’s more than any oth­er chan­nel, apart from Face­book. One in three Britons view at least one online video a week – that’s a week­ly audi­ence of more than 20 mil­lion peo­ple in the UK alone. Video can give you access to all this. Video done well can give you a slice of it. What oth­er form of con­tent can do the same?

The suc­cess sto­ries of videos that have gone viral are leg­end. A recent cam­paign from Volk­swa­gen, for exam­ple, saw a trio of its videos viewed a com­bined 155 mil­lion times. If such num­bers seem out of reach for com­pa­nies with­out 12-fig­ure rev­enue streams, they at least demon­strate video’s inher­ent share­abil­i­ty. Engage view­ers and they will share the video with oth­ers. They will spend longer on your web­site and more time inter­act­ing with your brand. For any social media cam­paign, any SEO exer­cise, video is with­out doubt one of the best tools in the kit.

It is nat­u­ral­ly engag­ing and, in an age of infor­ma­tion over­load, it’s vital for small busi­ness­es to offer con­tent that is easy to digest; if not, con­sumers will sim­ply move on. Video does this very well. If a pic­ture paints 1,000 words then one minute of video is worth 1.8 mil­lion, so say For­rester’s researchers. Lit­tle won­der then that Axonn Research found sev­en in 10 peo­ple view brands in a more pos­i­tive light after watch­ing inter­est­ing video con­tent from them.

But is video real­ly pos­si­ble for small busi­ness­es? Absolute­ly. Pro­duc­tion costs have fall­en sig­nif­i­cant­ly in recent years and you no longer need to be a tech­ni­cal whiz to work out how to use it. Apps such as Twit­ter’s Vine, with its six-sec­ond max­i­mum clip length, have dra­mat­i­cal­ly increased the oppor­tu­ni­ty for busi­ness­es on a lim­it­ed bud­get to get stuck in. Nev­er­the­less, if you’re to realise a decent return on your invest­ment, you will need to bear the fol­low­ing in mind.

Always con­sid­er the audi­ence you are try­ing to reach and ensure the video is rel­e­vant to them. If it’s not the most appro­pri­ate means of get­ting your mes­sage across, you are prob­a­bly wast­ing your time.

Do not neglect social media and be sure to pro­mote across mul­ti­ple chan­nels. If you want to ful­ly realise video’s poten­tial, you must make it easy for users to find and share it. Don’t neglect mobile either. Ooy­ala has claimed a tenth of all video plays hap­pen on mobiles and tablets, and it’s an increas­ing­ly impor­tant seg­ment, with mobile phones hold­ing 41% more share of video con­sump­tion at the end of June 2013 than at the start of that year.

Final­ly, be cre­ative, not only with the videos them­selves but in the cam­paign strat­e­gy you build around them. As my head of mar­ket­ing likes to say, cre­ativ­i­ty wins over the cost of pro­duc­tion every time. Get that bit right and video won’t just be the future of con­tent mar­ket­ing, it’ll be the future of con­tent mar­ket­ing for you.