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How to build loyalty via social networking

Modera (Social Media Portal) - 13 July 2009

How to build loyalty via social networking

Siim Vips from CMS and CRM software company Modera discusses how an open social web can facilitate conversation between brand and consumer

In challenging economic times and with an extremely competitive online environment, brands need to do more than create (and sustain) awareness.  They also need to focus on building loyalty with their online audience – which in turn will drive repeat visits and sales.
Banner AdPhotograph Siim Vips, CEO of Modera LLC

Video is a very useful tool in driving awareness and sales as it can be used to communicate products and services in an easy, digestible and useful format and shared easily.  There are business areas where video has more obvious advantages and natural appeal such as FMCG, entertainment and lifestyle, but with the right production there isn’t any reason other sectors should be excluded.

Content that has been specifically created for an online audience can convey a multitude of messaging and can be managed in so many different ways to suit requirements, capturing the essence of what the target audience can experience and then entice them to go to learn more at their own leisure. Video doesn’t always have to be as highly entertaining as brands owners and marketers may perceive... it’s not about creating the next Phil Collins loving gorilla.

For many brands, video can be an excellent tool in providing more in-depth messaging.  The nature of video is best suited for originally created and tailored content, so that what is presented can be consumed as intended.  The added benefit of more focused content is that it appeals to specific user groups who may be inclined to share the content with friends and peers in other UGC and social environments who they feel would have a mutual interest in the video / product / service, and thusly the brand.

Flash video players are becoming extremely flexible with a number of assets, including the obligatory management of the playing of content, the ability for users to embed the video player into their blogs, websites, share functionality, links to e-commerce, playlists for similar content, the ability to define the use of other videos e.g. music, artists, line-up and podcasts and so on.

There are three obvious three choices available to marketers wishing to bring video into the fold.  The first is looking to create a channel in a third-party service (such as YouTube, Dailymotion or MetaCafe etc) and host videos there, secondly videos can be hosted directly on a brands own website and the third is to manage a combination of one and two.  Each option has its own pros and cons and the deciding choice should be determined by factors such as the goals of the brand, costs of hosting and maintaining technology internally versus a third-party and the objectives of the content – how it is to be communicated and consumed.

It may make more sense for some brands to create a presence (channel) in an environment that the target audience already has an existing relationship and frequents often.   This makes it easy for users to follow a brands content by subscribing to its channel (a concept they are already very familiar with as opposed to subscribing to a video RSS feed), and also be introduced to similar content under that brands channel umbrella.  Stakeholders that build content around a similar subject matter can also do the same, which has the bonus of bringing in their audiences into the additional the channels that are created which ensures that content is fresh, up-to-date and appeals to both broad and niche requirements.

Hosting videos in a third party environment offers not only an inbuilt audience, but also advancements in technology as and when they become available / adopted by the site and also the use of multi-video channels, which can be effective way of catering for a range of requirements from interviews, podcast diaries, marketing and promotions.  Video hosted in a UGC environment therefore becomes extremely useful and flexible for a number of different audiences whether they are the target audience, media and other important stakeholders.

An additional advantage of managing video via a third-party is that in conjunction with brand, it in effect extends its longevity, certainly beyond any given moment as the brand can experience the benefits of universal search and the other social media benefits of how videos can become viral, if given the opportunity and steer to do so.

One of the downsides of third-party hosted content however, is the advertising and ‘related’ content that gets served up may be of a questionable or competitive nature and marketers have little to no control over this.  Another is that if there is ever a problem with the site (in that it goes down temporarily or permanently), brands run the risk of losing their content, positive feedback and inbuilt audience.

Many brands find that hosting its video content on its own website and servers works very well and also provides flexibility and ensures there is complete synergy with a web destination.  This enables brands to choose the right elements to accompany its content, such as they may want users to forward to friends, embed on their own blog or social network but may not feel it necessary for the audience to rate or leave comments.

Brands hosting their own content are also not reliant on a third party service implementing any developments in technology and user interaction that may be of benefit / interest to the target audience.  Own-hosted content also does away with advertising or competitor’s content being served up and ensures the safety of the content (should anything happen to a third party service).

Brand owners looking to go down the route of creating and hosting their own video library need to be able provide an environment that accurately reflects what the content is about and that will resonate with the audience. Modera has incorporated design and build to accommodate video, including Flash video players so that they can sit perfectly in microsites or websites complimenting the brand goals and objectives.  This can be managed easily via a content management system (CMS), or if required, building a bespoke video library and player to control the video content that is created for the brand.

Modera’s top five tips when considering online video include the following

1. Ensure the original content is created is of a high quality, created for Web (so has the right tone and pace) understanding where and how it is hosted

If third party content is used, assess what is used how it impacts upon your target audience (culturally, legally, morally etc)

3. Have contingency plans for third-party content if it withdrawn, or if the service itself is no longer viable to host it

Consider how the content can be displayed in line with the brand and can be made search friendly (the video itself) and where it sits

5. Ensure that the video has the right assets to accompany it, it is viral, so it can be passed along easily amongst parties whether it is Web or mobile

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