Social Video Marketing, Explained

What exactly is “social video marketing,” if there is even such a thing? Is it just about placing video on YouTube, other video distribution sites, and social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – or is it something much more than that? I explored those questions and decided that the time is right to give our own definition. Read on and learn about the special relationship between video and social media marketing, and how understanding and harnessing that relationship can help you engage with your customers, and help provide a great competitive advantage with all of your marketing activities.

The challenge with defining “social video marketing”

“Social video marketing” and “social video” are both such relatively new terms in the marketer’s lexicon that even Wikipedia doesn’t yet have a definition for either of them yet.

The best I think we can do for now – which I consider to be a noble start – is to share our own experiences and observations of online video and social media in business, and try to connect the dots towards a general consensus on a definition. I would add that we should consider “social video” and “social video marketing” not to be static in their definitions, but rather dynamic, as technology grows and our business culture matures.

But first, let’s start with my own definitions for just a few of the individual words and phrases that make up “social video marketing.”

What does it mean to be “social?”

Borrowing liberally from the definition on my Mac laptop’s Dictionary software program (which I’ve included in edited format in the screenshot above), I offer this answer:

“Social” speaks to the need for relationships with other human beings.

  • The “social” also speaks to co-existence, plus individual and community growth. Some people are naturally more social than others, or have the opportunity and/or willingness to develop the behavioral skills suitable for their social relationships.
  • For marketers, the “social” tends to be about building relationships for the purpose of doing business with each other.

What is a “video?”

The term “video” can have a very expansive meaning with all of the new technologies that take us well beyond video taping and recording what goes on in the organic world. But I think the best definition is one that applies to all of the activity that can be recorded in our own world, before making the digital transfer to online. And that is this:

Video is the system of recording, reproducing, or broadcasting moving images.

(Note: The Wikipedia definition is very similar, although outdated because it chooses the world “videotaping” instead of video “recording.”)

What is a “social” video?

The simple response you may get from some marketers is that a social video is simply a combination of a video used in social media marketing. However that doesn’t really say anything about the inherently social nature of online video, itself. So I wanted to examine, just what is it that makes a video “social?” Here it is as succinctly as I can put it:

A “social video” is the blending of video with human interactivity for the co-creation of value.

I mentioned earlier that a ‘social video’ is a dynamic term because it’s dependent on the technology that went into building it. Before we could actually “socialize” with video, we had to invest in a technology platform that allowed us to experience it in a user-friendly environment and give us something better than what existed (i.e., television). With the increase in processor speed, storage capacity, and broadband access to the Internet, our digital devices can now display television-quality video clips and streaming media.

These advances in video technology bred audience growth and increased interactivity. We went from being passive to active participants in the online video space. We found that we could create, produce, publish, and promote video online for the purpose of engaging with fellow humans.  The line between consumers and producers, amateurs and professionals, content provider and distributor, had all been greatly blurred.

It’s important for marketers to realize that video isn’t just a media or a technology mechanism; it’s also an instrument of inherent value, and will increase value to the other online activities by the people who participate in it. Video is what allowed the most popular online social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to move beyond the limitations of text and the traditional consumer-brand relationship (which was very stifling to begin with).

What is “social marketing?”

Social marketing is also referred to by our industry as social media marketing. Wikipedia defines it as a recent addition to organizations’ integrated marketing communications plans – a practice for connecting with target markets:

“Integrated marketing communications coordinates promotional elements: advertising, personal selling, public relations, publicity, direct marketing and sales promotion.”

Unfortunately, I found the Wikipedia definition to really be just about using old marketing on new media. It places way too much attention on just being out in the space and getting consumers’ attention and interest, and then expects consumers to promote the brand without any actual engagement on a human level between brand representatives and consumers.

I do realize that for a business to be successful at both being “social” and “marketing,” it seeks to create and build social capital, and spend that social capital on influencing consumers and general users to gain interest on what it has to offer. And that’s the challenge for businesses with social marketing: How to monetize our relationships with others around the purchase and sale of goods and services. While it does spurn new initial relationships between brand and consumer, it often has the feel of just being a commoditized relationship, where consumers are not continually paid attention to after a marketing campaign. (I compare it to a short-term romance or even a fling, where the one enticing you takes you for granted and never returns your calls.)

Social marketing needs to be much more about just getting our attention and wooing us. That’s only the first step of engagement. What really keeps your customers is to continually participate in the social media spaces that they are in, and engage with them on an equal playing field.

Social video marketing, defined

“Social video marketing” is a video campaign that appeals to the need to socialize,
which co-creates value between the brand (producer) and consumer.

…IDEALLY, consumers are encouraged and empowered to interact with the brand as equals, and with fellow consumers, in this co-creation of value.

Video by its very nature is social. In my interview with Dale Evans, author of Social Media Marketing on an Hour a Day, he confessed to me, “video is naturally a social media, and probably more so than text.” We already know that when you can see and hear someone and  follow their expressions, it brings a much more defined social layer than any other digital media I can think of.

What makes for a successful social video campaign?

While there are so many examples I could choose from (and that will be for a future post), I can say this: A successful social video campaign is one that fosters companionship and a sense of belonging between the producer and consumer. It needs to encourage the continual and uninterrupted interaction with other people, that results in a positive effect on the marketing goals of the producer or featured brand.

Who should be doing social video marketing?

I find social video marketing works best for brands that are willing to actually possess of at least some of the following traits in their business culture:

  • Authenticity
  • Accessibility
  • Transparency
  • Interesting
  • Influential
  • Engaging
  • Personal
  • Responsive
  • A sense of humor

Social video marketing, further explored

Social video is allowing for improved social discourse between brands and consumers. Consumers are far more empowered in social video marketing by both the tools they use to create and share video, and by the  huge audience and individual communities they can exchange and build ideas with. Social video is what leveled the hierarchy of the big brand towering over the consumers, to create a more equal playing field.

If you’re willing to have at least some meaningful, ongoing dialogue with your customers, give them help where they need it, and incentivize them to participate in online video related to your brand; and if these things aren’t just about profits but also about your genuine business’ culture, then I would say you should seriously consider doing social video marketing. The first place for you to start is to actually be social with your customers. Find out not so much how you can entertain them, but how you can really impress them by showing that you’re listening to them. Take that to heart and build your video content with a social platform that shows you are responding and engaging with your customers and colleagues. This is an excellent way for not just doing social video marketing, but actually being social in your business.