Understanding consumer behavior is essential in order to fully leverage video on social networks, where video content is thriving: More than one billion people use YouTube, and the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes on mobile devices. Facebook reported in November 2015 that the social network generates eight billion video views a day, a metric that Snap passed in April 2016, when the company confirmed that the app’s daily video views had grown to 10 billion. Following Snap’s success, Instagram Stories was launched in August 2016, allowing users to share videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours.
Video content is effective—especially among travelers researching their next vacations. In TripAdvisor’s report TripBarometer: Travel Trends 2016, travelers ranked being able to review videos and photos of an accommodation online as one of the top five most important factors to consider when booking. As of 2015, more Google searches in the United States take place on mobile devices than on desktop computers. To reach consumers during this critical discovery stage, it’s increasingly important for travel brands to publish mobile-first video content on top search engines. “Most people don’t realize that YouTube is the second largest search engine online. Video content is getting higher placement through organic Google search as well,” says Giorgio Bentrovato, director of content marketing for RCI. “For vacation brands there’s a huge opportunity, because we can post videos that are authentic to our products and experiences and generate a high level of engagement,” adds Emily Sadlock, manager of content and publications for RCI. “If you create aspirational and helpful content and get it in front of the right audience, they’re going to love it.”
Whether you’re looking to start creating online video or produce more-powerful content, check out our digital video primer to learn how to create highly shareable clips and increase consumer engagement.
1. Make awareness your goal.
Online videos can be highly effective—but only if you realize what the format excels at: driving awareness. Use videos to spread the word about your brand. Consumers are more likely to search for a destination or type of vacation than a specific property, so optimize metadata to help your content rise to the top of upper funnel searches. On YouTube this means smartly writing the video’s tags, title and description. For example, general search terms such as Mexico or beach may be more popular than naming the exact beach shown in the video. You can also use YouTube’s search bar autocomplete feature to test out keywords and see what terms people are searching the most. Be sure to include a link to the brand’s homepage in the description. Successful videos have an amplifying effect on your other marketing efforts: By generating awareness of the brand, videos can bring consumers to your website or other initiatives. Videos may indirectly encourage bookings by showing off a property, but consumers are unlikely to click on directly promotional content. Engaging Millennials, a 2014 survey by strategic-marketing agency the McCarthy Group, found that 84 percent of that generation’s members don’t like traditional advertising; it’s better to provide valuable footage rather than a hard sell.
2. Shoot authentic content.
Consumers are more likely to respond to a video that looks genuine than a canned production. “The type of video that’s really effective in influencing someone to make a purchase decision is content that merchandises the experience in an authentic way,” Sadlock says. “Show travelers the property and the amenities, and consider having a staff member walk them around so there’s some personality. Authentic content can also include helpful information that travelers value. If you consistently receive the same questions, you can have resort staff answer them in a Q&A or how-to video.” Less costly videos shot on a smartphone can be just as effective as a highly polished video, since a slightly rougher piece without as much editing may come across as more authentic. If you have the budget for a more refined, aspirational reel that can work in tandem with a series of shorter clips, all the better—but authentic videos should be your priority.
3. Put the platform first.
Always keep the platforms you’re planning to publish on in mind as you shoot and edit content. Short-form video—about 30 to 60 seconds—is key when posting on Facebook and mobile-first social networks. Optimize for tablet and smartphones, and keep content simple: A quick clip of the pool, another of a spa treatment and a third shot of a chef preparing a meal will likely perform better on social than a single reel that’s three minutes long. If you have longer-form content, publish it on YouTube or on a brand-specific landing page, then drive your audience to this content by sharing shorter clips on social media that link back to it in the description copy. Consumers may mute videos on channels such as Facebook and Instagram, so add subtitles or produce videos that are audio agnostic. Or go one step further and craft a narrative that entices viewers to turn on sound. If you’re publishing on Facebook or YouTube, you can also engage with fans directly through a live stream.
4. Measure, measure, measure.
One of the benefits of online platforms is the constant stream of data. YouTube offers a Realtime report feature, which allows brands to see data on estimated views for the past five published videos. These metrics are available in an hour-by-hour graph, which looks at the previous 48 hours, and in a minute-by-minute graph, which examines the previous 60 minutes. YouTube also indicates when viewers drop off, so you can see exactly where you might be losing people’s interest, allowing you to optimize content accordingly. You can follow a similar approach on Facebook by boosting the video among a specific audience. “The right way to use an asset is to amplify it so it gathers more impressions against the audience you’re trying to target,” Bentrovato says. “Set the parameters accordingly and promote the video. From the analytics, you’ll get really good insight into how it’s performing so you can optimize the content even further.”
5. Be consistent.
Consistency and volume matter. In fact, they can be more important than the production quality of the content or even its length. “The key to success on YouTube is simple: Provide entertaining content that is relevant to your consumers’ needs and publish on a consistent schedule,” Sadlock says. “Get creative. There are a lot of different ways to make content interesting: video Q&As, FAQs, walking tours, testimonials, live streams and more.” Brands might also consider starting a vlog, a video channel for property news and updates that can be regularly shared. Your audience is another source for video, especially younger generations such as millennials and Gen Z, the digital natives born after them. Use your social channels to encourage them to create, share and repost videos. This strategy not only increases your supply of content but also acknowledges and promotes the work of your audience, which can help build loyalty and transform passive social fans into active supporters. And in marketing, whether you’re talking about brand advocates or video content, the same rule applies: Quality and relevance are key.
For more on how to boost your videos to the top of the search results page, read Tag Tactics.
Illustration credit: Sébastien Thibault