Tyler is VP Marketing at Vidyard, co-author of The Visual Sale, host of the Creating Connections podcast, and father of four wonderful kids.
The traditional written blog is showing its age.
For the last decade, many content strategists have built their inbound marketing plans around the long-form written blog. But a lot has changed since 2011.
That’s not to suggest that the blog is dead. But long-form written content is no longer the only game in town, and the expectations of audiences have significantly changed. Since more people are now listening to podcasts, watching videos (paywall) and watching short-form video content, brands should figure out how to integrate these new formats into their marketing programs — and how to take a “media-first” approach to their inbound and content marketing strategies.
This isn’t just a matter of keeping up with the Joneses; it’s a question of strategic viability. As the vice president of marketing at a company that offers video tools for sales and marketing teams, I’ve found that customers are increasingly turning to video, audio and short-form content as a way to explore new topics and ideas. The phenomenon is especially apparent in online searches, where Google is now featuring videos in the results for some search queries.
Remember: You Don’t Need To Be A Hitchcock Or Rogan
If a shift to entirely new formats sounds daunting, I get it. So much is already changing in the world of business, and now you’re expected to become a media producer? The key point to remember is that, in my experience, the laws of supply and demand for rich media are making it much easier for businesses to adopt.
The good news is that I’ve found that audience expectations have realigned, particularly when it comes to video and audio. In today’s world, content value often trumps production value. Much like your existing blog strategy, it all comes down to how well you answer the questions your audience may have and how effectively you tell your best stories. What’s more, anyone can create video content, social media stories and even original podcasts at a reasonable cost.
Some might shrink from the challenge and assume that they’ll never be as good at making rich media as they are at writing blogs. Who says you need to become another Alfred Hitchcock or Joe Rogan? Through practice and experimentation, you can integrate these skills into your routine so that they become second nature. And just like the written blog, the best content comes from those who understand the needs of their audience and how to craft a narrative that piques interest, offers value and leaves their audience craving more.
Another factor in your favor: I’ve found that audiences have different expectations around what now constitutes “good enough” when it comes to rich media. They don’t necessarily expect or prefer highly produced content.
Additionally, very simply produced media content often feels more genuine and authentic — and therefore more valuable and trustworthy. It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card for marketers who no longer need to spend a ton of money to produce really effective content.
Use The Four 'Es' Of Video
Video is often the media type that marketers struggle with the most, as it incorporates all aspects of scripting, storytelling, on-screen talent, visuals and audio. People often ask me when and where to deploy video in modern marketing programs. I advise people to refract question through the prism of what I call the “four Es of video”:
• Education: You can use video to help educate people by demonstrating and supporting your message with clear visuals so they can more easily comprehend what it is you’re trying to explain. That’s especially useful when it comes to explaining esoteric or complex topics.
• Emotion: If you’re trying to cultivate a connection with your audience, you need to create something that resonates on an emotional level. You can create videos that make them feel more connected to you and your people, to make them laugh or to get them inspired.
• Engagement: Truly engaging your audience through written case studies and articles is very difficult. You can use video for more creative storytelling and draw your audience into your message in ways that captivate and leave them wanting more.
• Empathy: Video can help you establish real human connections. You can generate empathy by putting your own people on camera and having them communicate with your audience as peers who genuinely understand their problems and can work with them to find solutions.
When it comes to adopting new formats, don’t be your own worst enemy. I’ve seen companies start a podcast series and then drop the idea after only five episodes. The same goes for videos; content teams sometimes balk at learning a new set of skills. Developing a cadence is key, and making it an in-house competency is critical.
Don’t look to do more; look to do things differently. Instead of writing eight blog posts each month, how about writing four and producing a couple of videos along with one interactive infographic? Choosing a smaller number of topics and bringing them to life in different ways and formats can prove to be a lot more valuable to your audience. And it will keep you sane.
Meet Them Where They’re At
The role of content is to attract audiences and actively connect with them throughout the entire buying journey — including education, engagement and, ultimately, conversion into customers.
But your customers now live in a friction-free, on-demand world where the role of content should be broader and deeper to allow them to learn on their own time and through their mediums of choice. You can try and fill the gaps with written content, but that only goes so far. Video, audio and short-form social media content can offer powerful ways to tell stories that will truly connect with your audience and hold their precious attention.
And you may not get there if you’re still stuck within the confines of the static blog.
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