No matter who you are or what you do, there’s no argument: media (REALLY) matters, especially online video. So much, in fact, that a growing chorus of media experts say we are witnessing a significant turning point in history–a “revolution” even, to use Dachis Group Chairman and CEO Jeff Dachis’ bold words: “The single largest shift in communication history”–wherein our lives are so pervasively saturated with media that we can no longer think of media as external or separate from ourselves. We are always-already mediated. In today’s “media life,” we live in media rather than with it.
I. It’s a marketing problem
Why does this matter?
Because with this new reality springs a whole slew of new communication challenges for individuals, communities, organizations and businesses alike. Conference and event organizers are no exception. The most significant challenge confronting conference and event organizers today is a marketing problem: Working in the “mediapolis,” you can’t deny the digital.
Today’s marketing must change, and its changes must respond to the new expectations and needs that propel the mediapolis and our media lives forward. Digital marketing must play a significant role in your marketing strategy.
This is overwhelming, of course. In a lively presentation at the first annual Content Marketing Summit (below), AOL Digital Prophet David Shing notes that a challenge facing marketing in a hypermediatized world, a world in which images and messages are constantly bombarding us at all times is: “How do you cut through the fatigue?”
II. The Need? Shift your focus.
Conference and event organizers need to resist a traditional mode of thinking focused on selling content, on selling a product. Content matters, of course. FORA.tv prides itself on the richly engaging and high quality content we feature on our site. That said, anyone working in the conference and event industry is really in the business of experience, not content. Or should be. “It’s about the human experience,” Shing stresses, and our aim should be to “drive the human experience.” We’re not selling content; we’re selling the opportunity to engage with content.
WIRED co-founder Kevin Kelly makes a similar argument, insisting that today’s digital landscape requires a shift in focus “from ownership to access.” For conference and event organizers, this means experimenting with ways to shape an audience’s experience of access and, as Shing echoes, give your audience of consumers “the ability to engage in your brand in unique and different ways.”
III. The Solution? Video.
Referring to forecast data for how we use our phones, Shing explains, “It’s all about video. Video seems to be the experience that people have been betting in, big time.” Why? Why make an online video solution central to your digital marketing strategy?
- Video lends itself to experiential engagement. Its liquid capability to mold content to many forms provides consumers with a variety of experiences- including an increasingly demanded mobile experience- that “fuels conversations, connections and engagement.”
- The human experience is a social experience. Likewise, “Social” is a doing. “Don’t think about social as a place you go. Think about it as a thing you do.” It’s about action.
- Video encourages “doing.” Video encourages “doing” in a way that other mediated forms do not on account of it’s form.
- Doing is a life-force. The human experience itself is one of survival, of “staying alive” and participating in living networks. This includes engaging with media content. When you do something with content, it keeps it alive. It translates the life of the activity of engagement to the content it engages. In the words of media scholar Henry Jenkins, “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”
- Video makes content spreadable. Video goes viral. Inviting countless forms of engagement and editing, video represents the ultimate in “sharability.” (And in todays mediated world, “sharing,” according to BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, is “the highest bar of quality”. With Twitter integration, for instance, viewers select FORA.tv videos, including live streams, and share this video in tweets, disseminating content dynamically across vast digital networks. A “day in the life” of the FORA.tv video of David Shing, referenced throughout this post, for instance, can find its way rapidly across devices and across the web in various forms: as part of a full length program video, as a separately edited chapter or clip, as part of a Youtube playlist, as illustrative screenshots or as hyperlinked Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn posts.
IV. The Strategy: Organize your viewers as suppliers.
What should you consider when developing a digital marketing strategy with online video? How to organize your viewers as suppliers. Here are two tactics to get you started:
1. “Harness pre-existing communities.”
When selecting platforms to host and distribute your video content, look for platforms with an established and active following. It is a surprisingly small amount of people who make the majority of impact, and your aim should be to get your content on the radar of media power-users who will find it relevant and take ownership of it. Targeting pre-existing online communities, including relevant niche audiences, ideally positions your content for uptake and encourages a shift in the role of your viewers from consumers to suppliers who disseminate your content across their networks.
2. “Embrace platforms”
The growing pervasiveness of media in everyday life has led to more and more stories being told across media platforms in ever-changing ways. Online video is central to this media-user trend. “Embracing platforms” means taking advantage of emerging technologies and web platforms built for sharing as a form of story telling. Think of platforms as pathways that offer invitations to engagement. The invitation is a crucial component here, and is related directly to a digital marketing strategy of organizing viewers as suppliers; As Shing explains, “if you allow people to get embedded inside your experiences, they’re going to brag about it.” Choosing the right platform is crucial here, for it determines the kind of invitation you are extending (which reflects on your brand), and informs the quality of the reply.
What other online video tactics do you plan to experiment with in developing your digital marketing strategy?