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Behind the times

In South Africa, perhaps because of historically poor bandwidth, or the (not necessarily correct) assumption that producing video is a costly exercise, branded video content has largely fallen through the cracks as an effective way of getting your brand message out there and engaging with your existing and potential customers. This is unfortunate for a number of reasons, not least of which because it represents a missed opportunity for local companies (yes, and agencies too!). Video gives you the chance to portray your brand tone and sentiment in a much richer and more nuanced way than text or images can. It’s also an opportunity to tell a story, and everyone loves a good story. Last but not least – it’s a great addition to your search marketing tool box.

The tide is turning

When it comes to online branded video content in SA though, things are looking up and, perhaps unsurprisingly, big brands (with big bucks) are leading the way. What is important to note here though, is that it no longer requires big money to make a winning video. Think of all the hit videos you have watched over the last year, and consider whether you ever really judged them on the production quality or more on the message. Don’t forget too that your brand may have the option to inspire and leverage user-generated content too. Harvested carefully through competitions or whatever other means, these can be repackaged and shared with your brand name firmly on the front cover and backed by the best kind of endorsement possible – authentic and rich. Just remember to manage your rights correctly and make your usage intentions clear from the very beginning (but more on this another time).

But which channel is right for you?

Choosing which channel to use depends entirely on who you want to talk to and what you’re trying to achieve. YouTube obviously springs to mind as the video-sharing platform of choice, but it might not be the right one for you.  The top branded videos in South Africa so far this year (around about half a million views) have succeeded well in terms of views and shares, but have fared rather poorly in terms of user engagement (under 100 comments).

On the other hand, while the engagement rates on YouTube might be low, what you do get is the opportunity to share on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and whatever other social media platforms you use – with relative ease. YouTube videos can be as long as you want, but you really don’t want to take too much advantage of that.  The most viewed videos of South Africa’s top brands are around the 2:30 minute mark, so you definitely want to stay under that.

Other platforms you might want to consider:

  • Vine gives you 6 seconds to do your song and dance and make yourself heard. Vine might not be as big here as it is in the States for example, but the fact that 6 second videos have caught on and achieved an almost cult-like following speaks volumes about where we are headed with video (and how long they are) in the online and mobile space.
  • Instagram gives you up to 15 seconds to get your message across, so you have just over double the amount of time to sing and dance. Instagram already has a solid following in South Africa so has a wider audience to tap into. With the recent announcements of advertising on Instagram, and the removal of the ability to not have videos play automatically means this is a space to watch.

And when it comes to the videos, our top three tips are:

  • Keep it engaging, interesting, amusing and not just about your brand.
  • Don’t waste the first few seconds on nothing – the attention-span of most internet users is diminishing at an alarming rate so try not to lose them before you’ve even began to tell your story.
  • The SEO value of good video content is nothing to be sneezed at (and a topic for a whole other conversation) but it’s all about shareability and you want the video shared, shared and shared again.