If you log onto Facebook, you’ll probably scroll for only a few seconds before encountering the most dominant type of content on social media today: video.
Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video every day, a number that has undoubtedly grown since the company last reported that figure in January 2016. Meanwhile, YouTube recently surpassed 1 billion hours per day—the equivalent of 100,000 years.
But many small business owners still don’t embrace social video, even if they recognize its popularity in their own feeds. They struggle to create any videos at all, let alone simply maintain their social accounts. In Keap's2017 Small Business Trends Report, less than a quarter of small business owners planned to use video in their marketing.
“They’re like, ‘I have to figure out my email strategy, my content strategy, my social media strategy—now I have to figure out a video marketing strategy? When can I just get back to running my business?’” said Jason Hsiao, chief video officer and co-founder of Animoto, a tool that turns photos and video clips into video slideshows.
But Hsiao stresses that any small business owner can reap the benefits of social media video—and more easily than they might assume. He answered 10 common questions small business owners have about social media and video marketing.
1. Why should I care about video as a small business owner?
To start: Video is overtaking the internet, whether your business is on board or not. By 2020, Cisco predicts, 82 percent of internet traffic will stem from video.
“We’re living now in a video-first world,” Hsiao said. “Video just dominates everywhere. And it’s not just that it’s everywhere—it really is the most compelling kind of communication.”
Video can provide a more personal, engaging way for prospective customers to research products and services. Four times as many consumers prefer watching a video to reading about a product, a study by Animoto found.
“There’s nothing like a video that captures in a more holistic way what your brand is, who you are as a business owner,” Hsiao said. “It’s the next best thing to being able to talk to someone.”
2. I don’t have video experience, time, budget, or equipment. So how could I possibly shoot videos?
While lighting, a microphone, and a tripod always create more professional videos, small business owners already have the only required piece of equipment for video marketing: a smartphone.
For a small business, producing a video shouldn’t feel like a major project akin to launching a website. An effective video can be as simple as recording one piece of advice for customers, pairing music and text with a photo slideshow, or showcasing a single product.
“It’s not like every business has one video. It’s a way to communicate, just like email or Twitter,” Hsiao said. “A video can be as bite-sized as a Twitter post.”
For example, Nu-Era Bakery in Logan, West Virginia produced a video about just one of their many offerings: the pepperoni roll. The 45-second video exploring the history of the decades-old delicacy was shared more than 4,000 times on Facebook.
Nu-Era Bakery Pepperoni Roll -Video First Block by Beth Forester
“People don’t realize that even with a bakery, you have 100 different videos right there,” Hsiao said.
3. How can I come up with video ideas?
Start with what you’ve already got, Hsiao said. Video can provide a different way to communicate an existing idea, like a product description, a recent email about a promotion, or the content of your “About Us” page.
Testimonials also make for simple yet powerful video content. A 30-second video clip of a customer discussing her experience can be more impactful and more trustworthy than a review on Yelp.
Hsiao stresses that small businesses don’t need a unique strategy for their videos, website, blog, social channels, emails, and every other marketing asset.
“Not only is that so mind-bogglingly complex, you also run the risk of your customers or prospects feeling like they’re hearing from 10 different companies,” Hsiao said. “What we suggest is to simplify. Answer the question: ‘What do you feel like your customers or prospects need to know?’ Everything else is just a way to communicate that message.”
4. What’s the difference between Facebook and YouTube videos?
Because YouTube is a search engine and Facebook is a social network, viewers experience video differently on each platform. A longer, more in-depth video plays well on YouTube, where viewers have searched for your video and are ready to devote time to watching it. A short, 30-second video is a better fit for Facebook, considering that users will unintentionally come across it in their feeds.
“Facebook is good for quick announcements, teasers, maybe announcing a new product, or location or service,” Hsiao said. “With YouTube, you can get more into the storytelling of how your business got started, how a certain product was made, a how-to video.”
5. How can I get people to watch my video on Facebook?
The idea of saving the best for last doesn’t apply to Facebook videos, where any video is competing against a constant stream of news and photos from friends. The goal of any Facebook video, Hsiao said, is to get the “thumb stop” from users scrolling their feeds.
If you’re using a Facebook video to share a company announcement, don’t bury the news 20 seconds in. If you’re sharing a photo slideshow, start with your best photo.
“You need to make sure that what you have in your first few seconds is going to be something interesting enough for the viewer to stop on,” Hsiao said. “It’s about hooking their attention, pulling them into their world.”
Take this Facebook video from Awkward Family Photos, which manages to show a boy’s formal portrait with a vacuum cleaner, a toddler picking her nose, and a donkey thrusting its head into a car—all in the first five seconds.
6. How can I get people to watch my video on YouTube?
By default, the maximum length of a YouTube video is 15 minutes, but with a verified account, you can post videos up to 12 hours long. Either way, YouTube shouldn’t provide free license to upload your company’s version of a feature film, Hsiao said. Just like on social media, YouTube videos need to capture and hold attention, or users will bounce to the next option.
“When people hear that YouTube is better for longer video, they think of a film where you’re building up to this big, exciting ending,” Hsiao said. “This is not a theater where you have a captive audience. Every second that goes by in your video, people are falling off.”
Remember, too, that YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine and that YouTube videos often appear in search results for its parent company, Google. Research keywords people use to search for your products or services and incorporate them into your video title to help your video content be discovered.
7. How do I know if my video was effective?
Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter track how many people stopped watching the video after 10 or 30 seconds, allowing businesses to optimize video for their audience interests and habits. And by using tools like the Facebook Pixel and Google tracking links, businesses can trace video clicks all the way to leads and sales.
But low-tech means of measurement can also provide insights into video effectiveness, Hsiao said. Don’t forget to ask customers the age-old marketing question: “How’d you hear about us?” And on Facebook, keep tabs on how your video performs compared to your typical posts.
“If you usually get 20 likes and you do a video that gets 200 likes, that’s probably a pretty good indication,” he said.
8. Do I have to be on Facebook Live now, too?
For small businesses, Facebook Live presents an unprecedented opportunity to interact with customers in real time. Plus, Facebook has said it prioritizes live video in the News Feed—and live video can require less work than filming and editing a recorded video.
Before going live, Hsiao said, consider whether your video idea would benefit from a live element. For example, a behind-the-scenes tour of the company feels more personal and authentic when it’s live, and Q&A allows you to take questions from your audience in real time.
“If your small business has an announcement or a new product, that’s something timely that’s great for Facebook Live,” Hsiao said. “Your ‘how to fix your dishwasher’ video—that content is evergreen.”
9. Can I afford to do video advertising?
Not long ago, video advertising used to mean TV commercials. Now, it means advertising on social networks, which can cost as little as $1 a day.
Facebook and YouTube offer targeting options that allow your video to be shown based on users’ age, location, gender, and interests. With YouTube, you can also target keywords, just as you would with Google AdWords. Both advertising platforms are accessible enough for small businesses willing to pay for exposure to a new audience, Hsiao said.
“With the click of a button on Facebook, you post a video and you can boost it,” Hsiao said. “You can advertise your first video in less than a minute.”
10. How can I generate leads with video?
Don’t worry about filming your version of a Super Bowl commercial, Hsiao said. Just keep this in mind: New leads don’t know about your business yet, and video can serve as their introduction.
Use video to humanize your business and differentiate it from competitors, Hsaio said. If you run a family-owned business, for example, tell the story of how your relatives started the company.
“Show who you are as a business owner, as a team, as a couple,” Hsiao said. “I think for a lot of people, when they’re trying to decide between pet stores or lawyers or dentists, it comes down to, ‘Hey, do I resonate with that person?’”
And videos can be used to generate leads not just on social media, but across all your marketing assets, from your website to your blog to your emails, Hsaio said.
“With videos, they get to live everywhere on the internet,” he said. “Once it’s there, it can be there forever to be discovered.”