Hit the Ground Running with a 2011 Online Video Strategy

Rich Fahle, Founder, Astral Road Brand Media

Ah yes, January.

Arriving with its own built-in sense of urgency, January wills us to take heed and hit the ground running. It is a month of action; synapses are firing, thoughts are born, and big plans are put into motion.

Adding to this month’s feeling of immediacy are the various predictions from industry watchers and analysts about what to expect in the coming year, including this thought-provoking list from Video Commerce Consortium founder Justin Foster.

The month’s “just do it” mentality provides the perfect environment for marketers with big ideas to expand your brand’s horizons. And for the fast-developing online video platform specifically, urgency is precisely the order of the day.

Run, Forrest, Run!

Now more than ever, it’s time to run. As I wrote in a previous post, every company should consider itself a media company. Video has become a standard method of entertaining, educating, and communicating with your audience. For businesses and brands of all sizes, an aggressive online video strategy has become vital to meeting your audience where they live.

But in addition to your vision and desire, there’s actual evidence – the kind you can use to push an online video agenda forward – to support more aggressive activity.

Fuel for the Fire

If you’re a brand marketer looking for ways to sell the idea up through the management hierarchy, the most recent quarterly online video report from Brightcove and TubeMogul contains a number of useful nuggets reflecting emerging trends for brands, online media, magazines and broadcasters.

Perhaps most interesting: For the first time, newspapers have surpassed broadcasters in total online video minutes streamed. Once bastions of the printed word, newspapers are rapidly adopting and producing video content in a drive to stay relevant and protect their turf as news gatherers, regardless of previous format restrictions. And while the shorter-form style of video content for newspapers is different than the longer form favored by traditional broadcasters, this shift is still quite significant. The lessons here for brands are obvious: Engage your audience in the manner they prefer or risk irrelevance. Evolve or face extinction.

The report also confirms a topic that Justin referenced in his list of predictions last week: The spectacular growth of Facebook as a video referral service. For the first time, the uber-popular social platform surpassed Yahoo in the number of video streams referred. In the survey, Facebook accounted for 9.6% of all referrals, making it second only to Google. The role social platforms like Facebook and Twitter will play as primary content discovery and viewing destinations will only accelerate, with some predicting that Facebook will close the gap on Google search by the end of this year.

The Facebook video data represents an important internal selling point for brand marketers, too. Because while some executives may be less savvy about creating their own media channels or extending their brand into video entertainment, most corporate leaders understand the importance of having a dynamic Facebook presence. Use this information as a way to demonstrate the effectiveness of online video, and expand from there.

Need more incentive? The convergence of Web and TV continues. Over the top (OTT) devices like Apple TV, Google TV and others are still in their infancy but expected to take further root with your audiences this year. A recent study showed that of all connected TV users, roughly half are watching YouTube videos on their television sets. In other words, the online video opportunity will become even more far-reaching, to the point where “online video” is indeed too limiting a term.

So let’s get serious about this opportunity and get down to January-style business. Over the course of the next three weeks, we’ll provide a guide to creating your own in-house video production studio. We’ll cover the following areas to help you sell your ideas and run faster:

Week 1 – Selling the Idea

In this post, we’ll discuss how best to convince internal colleagues of the value of in-house video production and offer a common-sense road map to demonstrating the potential for success before investing big budget dollars.

Week 2 – Logistics and Cost

Here we’ll examine in-house versus outsourced production, including an inventory of what you’ll need – and what you won’t – to get started with in-house production. We’ll also look at the real-world costs of video production in your recommended setup.

Week 3 – Production Style, Format, and Quality

This is important. Are you looking for brochure-format, TV-style entertainment, or something completely different? In our third post, we’ll discuss how best to determine a production format and style appropriate for your brand, plus take a look at producers, on-air talent, staged sets versus real-world settings, and other everyday production components.

Many of you are already far along this path. Some are just starting. To steal a phrase from my personal trainer, it’s a process, but absolutely worth the effort. Start today with a steady jog and you’ll be running flat out before you know it.

Rich Fahle is the founder of Astral Road Brand Media, a brand platform marketing agency for authors, artists and content creators of all types. He is the former Vice President of Content, Digital Outreach and Entertainment for Borders. Email Rich at rfahle@gmail.com or follow on Twittter @richfahle.