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Video Marketing

The Wistia Guide to Social Media Video

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Picture this: It’s Saturday morning and you’ve already watched a video on social media before crawling out of bed. Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone. After all, video accounts for a staggering 75% of all internet traffic, and 6o% of people actually prefer online video platforms to live TV — go figure! So, while scrolling through your social feeds before even brushing your teeth in the morning might not be the healthiest habit ever, it does speak to the power of video on social media.

Whether you’re just diving into the world of video marketing or you’re already a seasoned pro, these ever-evolving social media channels force us marketers to stay on our toes, following the latest trends and adapting our video creation strategy to meet the needs of our unique audiences on every channel.

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In this guide, we’ll teach you some best practices for creating content for channels like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more. Plus, you’ll learn how to measure success once your videos are out in the world! Don’t have time to read the whole thing in one sitting? Bookmark the guide for when you’re feeling inspired and have some extra time on your hands.

What do peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, Lenny and baby carrots, and video and social media all have in common? You guessed it, they all work oh so well together. People spend tons of time on social media these days, and video is the perfect medium for conveying information both quickly and effectively. Afterall, our brains are immediately hardwired to respond to visual information — it’s easier for us to understand video and remember it, which is one of the reasons why marketing videos tend to be so successful for businesses.

As a general principle, as folks scroll through their feeds every day, they’re typically looking to fulfill one of the following desires:

  • Making connections: They’re looking for a way to keep in touch with friends, meet people with shared interests, and find business contacts.
  • Consuming information: They’re looking for answers to questions, news about the world, and solutions to problems.
  • Being entertained: They’re looking for ways to spend time, laugh, and blow off steam.

Because social media feeds are filled with tons of photos, texts, memes, GIFs, and videos from close friends, influencers, businesses, brands, and more, it’s the perfect place to experiment and break the rules of convention. You can start to uncover what makes your audience tick and spark valuable conversations by using video across social media platforms.

“You can start to uncover what makes your audience tick and spark valuable conversations by using video across social media platforms.”

But, before you start whipping up those eye-catching videos, you should make sure your business has a solid social video strategy in place. Getting in front of the right people at the right time will make all the difference, so let’s dig into the keys to success.

First and foremost, set some specific, measurable goals for video at your business and create a clear roadmap for how you plan to achieve them. For example, if your goal is to generate brand awareness with video on social media, you could put 4–5 videos on your roadmap that are catered specifically to Facebook, have broad appeal, and might resonate well with your target audience. This type of plan will help form the basis of your social video strategy moving forward, so be sure to have one in place before you start shooting!

Setting an explicit social video strategy saves you from having to scramble for content ideas on a daily basis (which is something we learned the hard way). It also comes in handy in the future when you set out to identify new opportunities or channels to explore, and when you need to reflect on the relative successes or failures of certain campaigns. Most importantly, your strategy keeps you on track, reminding you why you’re even making videos in the first place, and who specfically you’re making them for.

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Now, for some super-strategic resources:

Crafting a Social Video Strategy: If you’re looking for a broad overview of how to approach video on each social media platform, this guide is your best bet! It has everything you need to know about taking the leap from syndicated videos to native content creation for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, so give it a read if you’re just starting to lay down your social video foundation!

Creating a Channel-Specific Video Strategy: If an instructional video is more your speed, then this one’s for you! This in-depth webinar hosted by our own video strategist, Phil Nottingham, covers the ins-and-outs of setting up an effective video strategy. Phil addresses lots of topics, including:

  • Differences between site video and social video
  • How to get the most traffic and conversions from videos on your website
  • What kind of content works on YouTube vs. Facebook
  • How to maximize viral potential

Choosing the Ideal Aspect Ratio for Your Video: Before you hit the “record” button, there are a few key creative decisions to make — and aspect ratio is one of them. Aspect ratio determines how you frame your videos and what your viewer will focus on. Deciding on an aspect ratio depends on where you’ll be sharing your video. Here, we show you how to use the handy Wistia Aspect Ratio calculator, and offer some tips and suggestions about ideal aspect ratios for every platform.

How to Edit Video for Social Media: When it comes to editing video for social media, it’s all about getting the right state of mind. Always start your video with a bang, consider the sound-off experience, and take advantage of the tools that are already in your toolbox. In this post, we walk through the basics of video editing for social media so you can plan ahead. We cover editing best practices, such as:

  • Setting your video intentions
  • Starting in the middle of the action
  • Optimizing for sound off
  • Downloading the right out-of-the-box tools
  • Adjusting your video to look platform-native

Now that you’ve got the lay of the land and know where you want to go with your social video strategy, you can dive deep into the content creation side of things. Start first by familiarizing yourself with the ways people engage with one other on each social platform.

There are key differences between posting videos on Instagram and Facebook, and even bigger differences between YouTube and LinkedIn. And of course, posting videos to social media yields different results than embedding videos on your website. It sounds like a lot to consider, and the truth is — it is! But don’t worry, we’ll break it all down by platform in just a bit, so wipe that sweat off your forehead.

“Start first by familiarizing yourself with the ways people engage with one other on each social platform.”

For marketers, it’s especially important to know where people are making purchasing decisions. According to one report, consumers engage with branded videos the most on Facebook (49%), followed by YouTube (32%), then Instagram (24%), and finally Twitter (22%). So, keep that in mind when considering the goals you hope to achieve with the help of video, as thast could influence where you invest most of your time and effort.

Once you understand the way people behave on each app, you can factor that into the creative decisions you make when it comes time to create your content. Now, without further adieu, let’s take a closer look at the unique features of each social platform and what that means for the types of videos you create!

IG

Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social networks, as well as one of the fastest-growing advertising networks in the entire world. In 2018, there was a 17% increase in the number of people who reported making a purchase based on something they saw on Instagram — now that’s wild! Because Instagram is a visual-first platform, it’s a really fun place to experiment creatively with content that can make people feel more emotionally connected to your brand.

Ready to explore video on Instagram? Check out these posts:

Best Practices for Instagram Video: Videos on the Instagram feed can be up to 60-seconds long, which gives you quite a bit of leeway when it comes to telling your story. Learn how to shoot, edit, and share a video in the Instagram feed to increase your reach and create a unique aesthetic in this post!

How to Start Creating Videos for IGTV: What exactly is IGTV and how can it help your business? Instagram’s newest video channel is entirely focused on long-form, vertical video. If you’ve never produced this type of video before but you’re interested in seeing what it’s all about, this how-to guide has you covered. You’ll learn technical facts like video specs and CTAs, as well as the strategic benefits of IGTV.

How to Make Square Videos for Social Media: Instagram was the original “square-format” platform, but now lots of other platforms are making room for squares. Square video is a versatile format with a major benefit: It takes up more real estate on mobile devices than the traditional landscape video. In this article, we teach you how to shoot square video on an iPhone as well as edit existing videos on your desktop to fit the square format.

Instagram Stories

You can’t talk about video on Instagram without mentioning Instagram Stories. You probably know by now how irresistable those tappable, 15-second videos can be. The hugely popular feature has 500 million daily users as of January 2019. Well-made stories can be extremely engaging, leading to increased brand awareness and purchase intent. Here’s how to make your Instagram Stories videos stay top of mind (and top of feed).

How to Tell an Effective Story with Vertical Video: Instagram Stories have made vertical video wildly popular. But the best Stories are like nothing you’ve seen before. To make an impact with Stories, don’t just take out your camera phone and hope for the best — use these innovative ideas we’ve laid out for you!

How to Shoot Professional Instagram Stories for Your Business: Looking to level up your Instagram Stories content? Want to increase sound quality, or add a little extra flair with effects you can’t get within the Instagram app? You’ve come to the right place. Here’s some insider advice about techniques and equipment you can use to polish up your stories.

Using Instagram Story Highlights to Show Off Your Business: While most Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, some stories are built to last. In this article, we show you how to humanize and promote your brand by posting video highlights in 4 categories: product, team, learn, brand.

How to Tell an Effective Story with Vertical Video: Instagram Stories have made vertical video wildly popular. But the best Stories are like nothing you’ve seen before. To make an impact with Stories, don’t just take out your camera phone and hope for the best — use these innovative tips we’ve laid out for you!

Facebook

Facebook is the largest social network on the planet — and one of the most competitive platforms for marketers. In 2019, it’s no secret that video can help you stand out on this social channel. Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities makes it easier than ever for marketers to reach new audiences, and with video being the most favored content type on the platform, combining these forces can yield some pretty powerful results. For instance, did you know that users linger on videos 5x longer than other types of posts on Facebook? Whether you’re using Facebook Live, 360 videos, Stories, or plain-old video posts, you can carve out a niche for your brand on Facebook using video.

“Facebook’s ad targeting capabilities makes it easier than ever for marketers to reach new audiences, and with video being the most favored content type on the platform, combining these forces can yield some pretty powerful results.”

Get in on all the Facebook action by cruisin’ through these posts:

Becoming More Intentional with Your Video Ad Strategy on Facebook: On Facebook, creative efforts and measurable goals go hand in hand — afterall, you want to make sure you’re reaching the right people with the right message! In this article, we offer a step-by-step process for setting up Facebook video ads, from narrowing down your audience and deciding who to feature in your videos, to testing organic content and finally launching your video ads and measuring ROI.

Don’t Let Algorithms Crush Your Creativity: Facebook has been known to change its product unexpectedly, but don’t let algorithms get you down! What’s good for the user is good for marketers, too. In this post, we discuss recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm and how you can let those changes inform and inspire your next batch of Facebook videos.

Before You Make a Facebook Teaser Video, Consider This: Facebook posts are optimized to keep people on Facebook for as long as possible. Therefore, your videos should be easy to enjoy right there and then on Facebook. This article explains why it’s best to keep it simple and make videos that will entertain or inform people and not try too hard to get people back to your site.

Here’s an example of a video we created that (in our humble opinion) is perfectly suited for Facebook. We jumped on a Snapchat trend, and ended up with tens of thousands of views on this one silly video. Enter: Hot Dog Man.

How Video Could Improve Your Next Retargeting Campaign: Retargeting serves ads to people who have visited your site or specific sections of your site. Familiar faces are a lot easier to convert than people discovering your brand for the first time. In this article, we show you how to set up events using your Facebook pixel in order to capture these valuable leads.

YouTube

If you’re looking to expand your reach, then YouTube is a great channel to explore (so long as you’re taking a strategic approach). What does it mean to be strategic in this instance? So glad you asked! For businesses, when increasing your overall reach becomes more important than traffic acquisition (ie. driving viewers back to your company’s website), then investing in a well-thought out YouTube strategy makes sense. Remember, success on YouTube requires work and planning — don’t just throw every video you’ve ever made on there and call it a day!

Looking to take a more informed approach to YouTube? Check out these posts:

Developing a Better YouTube Strategy: Are you using YouTube as a video dumping ground for random ads, TV spots, and product demos? There’s a better way. Here we analyze whether you should be using YouTube for marketing in the first place and then discuss how to target your audience with original content and advertising on YouTube.

What Changes to YouTube Video Embeds Means for Your Business: YouTube can be a great platform for your audience to discover your content, but it’s important to be strategic with your approach. We don’t recommend using YouTube embeds to serve the videos on your website, however, using YouTube strategically to get more eyes on relevant content could be great for you business. Learn what the changes mean for your in this Q&A style post!

LinkedIn

As of just last year, businesses are finally able to upload video natively to the LinkedIn platform. And while LinkedIn may have been slow to jump on the video bandwagon, now that folks can upload content natively, we’re seeing tons of new videos pop up in our feeds every single day. Another bonus, is that many of LinkedIn’s users happen to be business-minded professionals, which means they might yield some significant buying power at their respective businesses. And what better way to tap into that with an engaging video?

The Guide to Getting Started with LinkedIn Video: You may have heard of “thought leadership” blog posts, but what about “thought leadership videos”? Now we’re cooking with gas! Set your business apart and become a thought leader in your own right by using video on LinkedIn. From video ideas and best practices, to how marketers and salespeople alike can take advantage of this platform, let us guide you through your LinkedIn video strategy!

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Streaming and live video

Whether they’re hosted on Twitch, Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media platform, livestreamed videos are still relatively new for most businesses. That means if your company can master the livestream video-game early, there’s a huge opportunity for growth! At Wistia, we’re really excited about the ways businesses can use livestreams to be more transparent, share knowledge and expertise, and ultimately, engage with customers and prospects.

“We’re really excited about the ways businesses can use livestreams to be more transparent, share knowledge and expertise, and ultimately, engage with customers and prospects.”

Who said livestreams have to be hard? Get inspired by these posts:

How to Set Yourself Up for Livestreaming Success: Want to learn how to develop ideas for livestreams, compare all the different platforms, and even build a DIY set for filming? It’s all here in this one-stop shop for setting up and executing your first (of many) livestream videos.

Is Your Business Ready for Facebook Live?: To stream or not to stream? That is the question for many Facebook marketers. Facebook’s algorithm favors live videos, but on the other hand … your audience won’t really leave the app (or necssarily ever visit your site!). In this post, we break down why it’s worth it to give live video a whirl anyways, and what you can learn from stepping into this somewhat uncharted territory.

Tips for Engaging Your Audience with Live Video: When done right, livestreaming can bring you closer to your customers. Afterall, it’s a shared experience that only happens once! In this article, we discuss how to communicate on livestreams, from promoting the stream in advance to responding to comments, to going off script. With these tips, you can put on a fun live event that also builds deeper relationships.

Need a little inspiration? Check out this Q&A we recently held on Facebook Live featuring Chris and Dan, two producers from our new video series, “One, Ten, One Hundred.”

We’ve talked a lot about ways to set your social video strategy for each channel, but here’s where it really all comes together: promotion and performance. Video “promotion” means more than just posting your video on social media and waiting for the magic to happen. It’s about knowing what kinds of interactions mean the most on each platform, and how to get the greatest return on your video investment. Let’s talk numbers!

Get the biggest bang for your buck with these social video resources:

12 Ways to Promote Your Video on a Budget: You’ve spent weeks planning, filming, and editing your videos, so don’t forget the final step! Here, we walk through 12 simple and affordable ways to show your video off, from emailing your videos, to participating in niche online communities, to taking advantage of prime real estate on your social pages.

Evaluating Your Video’s Performance Across Multiple Channels: When it comes to video metrics, one size does not fit all. In all seriousness, the hardest part of understanding your video’s performance is figuring out exactly what to measure. This post will show you what metrics to pay attention to across several platforms, including website videos, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Where to Share Your Social Videos if You’re a Small Business: Social media video is a great equalizer. Many small businesses beat out competitors twice their size because of their social media marketing. The secret is not to spread yourself too thin. Pick out the channels that make the most sense for your goals and then double down. We’ll show you which platforms give you the most bang for your buck.

Learning from Influencers About Growing an Audience with Video: While not everyone has the resources to invest in influencer campaigns, there are many valuable lessons you can learn from influencers about marketing yourself on social media. In this article, we discuss how to build a word-of-mouth brand.

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Promoting “One, Ten, One Hundred” on Social Media — The Perks of Repurposing: If you’ve made something you’re really proud of, you should share it in as many ways and places as possible! But that doesn’t mean just posting a link and calling it a day. You need to give people opportunities to discover your content in new and exciting ways. Here we use the example of our documentary series, “One, Ten, One Hundred,” to inspire you to build related content around your best, most buzzworthy work.

Introducing Publish to Social — Share Your Wistia Videos on Facebook and YouTube: At Wistia, our core product has always been about posting videos you own, styled to fit your brand, on your own website. But we also want to make it easy to build your audience and get the views, comments, and conversions you need on the wider web. That means producing native videos for social media. Our latest product, Publish to Social, can help you do that right within Wistia!

Social media is an amplification tool for your brand, and video is the quickest, most effective way to reach the people you want to talk to. By now you should be psyched about all the informative, entertaining videos you can create and share on social media. Always remember to set some clear goals around your video, and keep in mind that most platforms don’t play by the same rules!

Start increasing your business’ odds for discovery by promoting your videos and measuring your success. We hope that with these resources top of mind you’ll be able to compound the value of the content you create. So go on, get out there and make your first video for social media!



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Video Marketing

Why Your Content Strategy Should Target a Niche Audience (Not Potential Customers)

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As Raymond Williams once said, “There are no masses, but only ways of seeing people as masses.” As marketers, we tend to look at the world as three distinct masses:

  1. Existing customers
  2. Potential customers
  3. People who will never be customers

However, outside of our own lens, there’s usually nothing that unites the people within these groups. While, as a business, we tend to think of our potential customer base as a homogenous group of people who we can and should market to, this is rarely an accurate view of the world. In reality, those that are likely to buy our products and services are usually a hodgepodge of individuals from different communities and interest groups.

Marketing best practice engenders this skewed perspective. By doing keyword research, user interviews, and creating buyer personas, we’re building up a picture of the world as viewed by a fictional cohort.

“By doing keyword research, user interviews, and creating buyer personas, we’re building up a picture of the world as viewed by a fictional cohort.”

In the world of content marketing, we’re then tasked with the challenge of creating content that appeals to the interests of these people. But how can you create content that appeals to a group of people who don’t really identify as a group of people?

Let’s take a fairly straightforward example — the equally fictional musical instrument repair shop, “Don’t Fret,” run by our very own creative director.

dontfret

The potential customer base for Don’t Fret is people who need instruments repaired in Somerville, MA. There are probably two characteristics that unite this group:

  • They own musical instruments that need repair
  • They spend time in Somerville, MA

Other than that, everything else will be varied. Some of these people will be musicians themselves, some will have children who play, and some will be restoring antiques or family heirlooms. Some will have guitars, some will have cellos, and there might be the occasional oud in the mix. Some will be professionals who need a set-up to withstand regular touring, and others will be hobbyists who mostly play at home.

In short, even for a small local business like this, there’s not a whole lot that unites the entire customer base. If my task is to create content that will appeal to all customers, I’m stuck with a fairly narrow brief: I must create something that will appeal to harpists and lutists, amateurs and professionals, collectors and layman i.e. everyone, and therefore, no-one.

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It’s easy to see how trying to be all things to all people, even for a local business with a clear audience and value proposition, often leads marketers towards creating uninteresting and uninspiring content.

Target customers, so defined, are not a group of people you can create content for. It’s a made-up group of people, an abstraction that can be helpful for you in categorizing users and interactions, but one that typically doesn’t reflect anything tangible in the real world.

While it may be incoherent to think of potential customers as a group of people to create content for, there are invariably plenty of very real interest groups that can meaningfully be served by great content marketing.

What makes them good targets are a clear shared interest that spurs a great deal of conversation, with desires and challenges related to that interest. These groups will tend to coalesce around things that significantly contribute to an individual’s identity — subcultures, passions, culture, vocations, and causes.

“These groups will tend to coalesce around things that significantly contribute to an individual’s identity — subcultures, passions, culture, vocations, and causes.”

Our challenge, as marketers, is to identify these niche audiences by finding extremely active and passionate interest groups that are tangentially related to our customer base i.e. communities that a substantial number of our existing customers are a part of.

image1

For the “Don’t Fret” guitar shop, we can see how different communities based on professions and hobbies can intersect with the customer base to provide niche audiences that have clear desires, needs, and challenges as communities.

image2

Now, there are some fairly straightforward ways of discovering these types of niche audiences for your business.

Interview your customers

Rather than just asking for their opinions on your product or service, use this opportunity to find out what makes them tick. Ask them how they spend their free time, what kind of websites they regularly visit, what organizations they’re members of, and what communities they consider themselves a part of.

Mine subreddits

If there’s a subculture, there’s usually a subreddit. Explore the depths of Reddit to discover what kinds of topics your potential customers are regularly talking about.

Explore Twitter data

Use tools like SparkToro and Followerwonk to find out what topics and content your existing customer base are most readily engaging with on Twitter. Discover if there are any trends in how people identify themselves in their bios, and look at the content of tweets to determine the topics that ignite passionate reactions.

Increasingly, effective word of mouth distribution is not only a “nice to have” that can help things go viral, but an essential ingredient in ensuring any successful content marketing campaign. Unless your content is being shared organically, both on private social networks (e.g. Slack, Whatsapp) and public ones (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), then it simply won’t be found. Both search and social are becoming “winner takes all” games, and the winner is the content that secures the most organic interest.

Word of mouth is fuelled by conversation, so the crucial first step in securing word of mouth distribution is picking a niche audience that talks to one another.

talking

Unless you represent a sports team, your customers probably won’t talk to each other on a regular basis, so this necessitates moving as far away from this broad, all-encompassing audience as possible and towards a very focused target group.

The more niche your target audience, the more likely you are to be able to create the best content in the world for that community. There’s a wealth of content that’s created to loosely appeal to broad demographics and industries, but very little that’s made for the communities of a few thousand people who are super-passionate about specific things.

You create word of mouth by finding your nerds. Take again, our creative director’s fictional repair shop, “Don’t Fret.” We could create content about how to restring a guitar‚ which would appeal very loosely to most of our customers. But, there are a million and one tutorials online that explain how to restring a guitar, and ours would be adding nothing new to the pile, meaning very few people would care, and the content likely wouldn’t get found.

“There are a million and one tutorials online that explain how to restring a guitar and ours would be adding nothing new to the pile.”

However, if we decide to create some content about how to reduce humidity fluctuations in a dive bar, aimed at sound technicians, we’ll be creating genuinely unique content that’s extremely interesting just for the small subset of people who manage live sound at neighborhood bars and clubs around the world.

Because it will appeal to those folks specifically, this content will stand a better chance of being shared, and these sound engineers will grow an affinity towards our brand because we created something genuinely useful and interesting for them. They might then recommend us to the people they speak to regularly (musicians), who in turn discover and recommend us to those they influence, and so on.

image3

This content will then eventually lead to awareness and affinity amongst our target audience, even though the content is far too specific to be of interest to the vast majority of people who need an instrument repaired.

This is why, paradoxically, targeting extremely niche audiences, and making the best content in the world for them is the most scalable way to increase affinity amongst a broad base of potential customers.

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Season 1 is Done: Binge-Watch All of Brandwagon

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Phew, releasing our weekly talk show for marketers, Brandwagon, has been a super exciting ride (car pun intended). And if you’ve been keeping up for the last 10 episodes, you might’ve learned why Mailchimp is investing more in content and less in advertising, gleaned insights about building authentic brands from inspiring leaders like Lauren Fleshman, the Co-Founder of Picky Bars, and Nancy Dussault Smith, CMO of Hydrow, and you might’ve even learned why Rand Fishkin, co-founder of SparkToro, hates Google so much. Not only that, but you saw our team expense a ‘91 Volvo wagon and commission an artist to make it the ultimate — you guessed it — Brandwagon.

Binge-Watch Brandwagon

And if you haven’t been following along, we think it’s safe to say that you have some catching up to do. But, no need to spin those wheels! Now you don’t have to pump the brakes between episodes, because the entire season is out and ready to binge-watch. So, bust out the snacks, tune in at your desk (it’s an educational show, after all), and learn what it takes to build a memorable brand from experts in the marketing industry. Ready to binge-watch Brandwagon? Click below to hop on in to the first season!

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5 Key Takeaways from Season One of “The Brandwagon Interviews” Podcast

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If you’re a marketer and you like podcasts, then the first season of The Brandwagon Interviews might just be the perfect podcast for you. For 10 weeks, we invited 10 special guests from an array of industries onto the set of Brandwagon to talk about all things brand marketing with Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage. From Mailchimp to UM Worldwide and Harpoon Brewery to ProfitWell, we’ve learned a lot from the masterminds behind these amazing brands.

microphone

In this post, we’re highlighting the most valuable lessons learned from all the conversations that were featured on The Brandwagon Interviews podcast. Be sure to listen to each episode on your favorite streaming platform and read on for our key takeaways!

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

When Dan Kenary, CEO of Harpoon Brewery, and Mark DiCristina, Head of Brand at Mailchimp, dropped by our studio, they both knew what it was like competing in saturated markets. Despite being in different industries, Kenary and DiCristina knew that the best way to stand out amongst the competition was to differentiate their brands.

Harpoon Brewery was one of the first craft breweries on the East Coast. However, it wasn’t long before competition exploded in the craft brewery and microbrewery space. So, how did they differentiate themselves? Kenary explained that the company focused on building a strong brand and connecting with their customers. Even without flashy advertising, this strategy helped the brand cut through the competition. To differentiate themselves further, Harpoon also created a sub-brand called UFO, which helped the business appeal to a new segment and grow in unexpected ways. And today, knowing their brand like the back of their hand, Harpoon manages a house of five distinct brands all under the Harpoon umbrella.

In the early days of Mailchimp, a marketing automation software platform, the company wasn’t the biggest or well-funded fish in the sea by a long shot. DiCristina described how Mailchimp understood they wouldn’t be successful by playing the same game as everyone else. Instead of outspending other companies and competing with them on a dollar for dollar basis, DiCristina said, “ … our approach, which is really a credit to Ben, our CEO and co-founder, was to be as different as we possibly could and use our weakness as a strength.” Ultimately, DiCristina said what ended up helping Mailchimp stand out was their appetite for being weird and playful, and their belief in creating real connections with their customers.

mailchimp

From the experiences of both Kenary and DiCristina, it’s clear that making your brand a key differentiator can help you stand out in markets where everyone is stuck in a similar mold. Let your brand communicate more about your values and trust that you’ll connect with the right folks.

The second lesson we learned was about consistency and why it’s a crucial part of the recipe for creating a strong brand. Veronica Parker-Hahn, SVP of Growth and Innovation at Effie Worldwide, and Dan Kenary of Harpoon had a few words to say about the importance of strategic rigor and remaining consistent.

Parker-Hahn began her career in the advertising industry, and over the past 15 years, she’s worked with major brands like DirecTV, State Farm Insurance, Reebok, and many more. Over the years, she’s learned that creativity is only a fraction of what builds a strong brand. Building a strong brand and creating an effective campaign starts with a deliberate, well-thought-out strategy. In addition to strategic rigor, you need to identify your values, and she emphasized, “ … what your brand stands for should permeate everything you do.”

veronica

Kenary also shared similar sentiments about remaining consistent with your brand. At Harpoon, they built the brand under the banner, “Love Beer. Love Life.,” and to this day, they ensure every interaction they have with consumers is consistent with what they’re trying to represent. In Kenary’s mind, if you’re not consistent, your brand loses meaning and people stop paying attention. Whether it’s communicating with someone in customer service or hosting a seasonal festival, every touchpoint with the consumer matters.

So, when thinking about building a stronger brand for your business, remember to always start with a solid strategy. Then, when it comes to executing on that strategy, make sure you understand the audience you want to reach and what makes them tick. Stay super consistent with the values you want to convey, both internally and externally, and you’ll be able to create a well-loved brand with a ton of loyal fans.

“Stay super consistent with the values you want to convey, both internally and externally, and you’ll be able to create a well-loved brand with a ton of loyal fans.”

Speaking of knowing the type of audience you want to reach, it really helps to know your niche inside and out when building your brand. Lauren Fleshman, Co-Founder and CMO of Picky Bars, and Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, have discovered the many benefits of appealing to a niche audience.

As a former Nike-sponsored athlete, Lauren Fleshman grew to become an exceptional storyteller. In order to renew sponsorship deals, she recognized the importance of marketing her values, and when she started her own business, she marketed Picky Bars in the energy bar industry leading with the brand’s values. Lauren believes brands should lead with their values because it helps you find out why people like you in the first place. Then, you can lean into your niche and trust your brand will build from there.

One of the ways Lauren dove deep into Picky Bars’ niche was by starting a podcast with her husband called Work, Play, Love, where they chat transparently about all the mess-ups and struggles they’ve encountered running the company so far. Not only do they talk about the business, but they also open up about their relationship and balancing all the chaos of regular day-to-day life, giving their audience an opportunity to have a deeper connection with them and the Picky Bars brand.

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At ProfitWell, a subscription software company, Patrick Campbell is appealing to a niche and building an engaged audience for the brand by creating binge-worthy video series. Along with their series Pricing Page Teardown, Subscription 60, The ProfitWell Report and Protect the Hustle, Campbell told Savage that ProfitWell has over 10 distinct shows in the works. Episodic video content has become one of ProfitWell’s primary marketing vehicles because traditional advertising campaigns and written content have become less effective for them over the past few years. Producing shows doesn’t guarantee more conversion, but they’re better at keeping their audience engaged with their brand, rather than aggravating them with intrusive ads.

Trying to reach a niche might sound counter-intuitive, but Campbell encourages people to get comfortable with marketing to niche audiences. You may not see the impact right off the bat, but there’s inherent value in developing an engaged audience over time.

For Picky Bars and ProfitWell, going all-in on their niche audiences has helped their business’ build better brand affinity than if they tried appealing to everyone. After all, the number of impressions you make with a campaign does not equal the number of people impressed.

Want to learn more about Brand Affinity Marketing? Check out our new four-step playbook for all the nitty-gritty details.

Throughout The Brandwagon Interviews, we also noticed that many of our guests were strong believers in taking risks and experimenting with new and innovative marketing tactics. When it comes to building a stronger brand and surviving (and thriving!) in any industry, risk-taking often seemed to be a necessary part of achieving success.

As the CMO of Hydrow, an in-home rowing machine company offering a live outdoor reality experience, Nancy Dussault Smith discussed why it’s important to make space for experimenting with different types of brand marketing tactics. Having worked with innovative products like Hydrow and Roomba in her career, Dussault Smith says she always dedicates a portion of her budget to testing things out, and that’s where she’s seen many wins come in. By using small victories from experimentation as proof, she’s convinced C-suite executives to take bigger swings with their investments when it comes to building a brand.

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Rand Fishkin, CEO and Co-Founder of SparkToro, is no stranger to taking risks, either. After all, he ended up building an iconic brand around his “Whiteboard Fridays” video series at Moz simply because he was tired of writing blog posts week after week. In order to convince people at your company to get on board with investing more in brand-building activities, he recommends you show value early on and highlight the fact that your competition is already doing it. To urge higher-ups to invest even more in brand, he recommends putting together research and presenting it along with suggestions for next steps that’ll level the playing field. Similar to Nancy’s approach, Fishkin also said that making one small investment can be used as a proof-point to justify another small investment.

“In order to convince people at your company to get on board with investing more in brand-building activities, he recommends you show value early on and highlight the fact that your competition is already doing it.”

Over at UM Worldwide, a full-service media agency, Brendan Gaul, Global Chief Content Officer and Head of UM Studios, is exercising innovative thinking on a large scale and with a bigger budget. He pointed out that brands need to think of interesting new ways to connect with people because consumers are moving to ad-free platforms. For example, when Johnson & Johnson wanted to elevate the image of nurses around the world from doctor sidekicks to the heroes of healthcare, Gaul pitched a rather out-of-the-box idea for a documentary film called 5B. While this was certainly a risky investment for the brand, the documentary went on to win the Grand Prix for Entertainment at the 2019 Cannes Lions Festival for Creativity. This big win validated the notion that brand-funded content can be accepted by audiences and that creative risk-taking can pay off for brands.

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“He pointed out that brands need to think of interesting new ways to connect with people because consumers are moving to ad-free platforms.”

No matter what industry you’re in, getting comfortable with risk-taking and knowing how to convince others to get comfortable with it, too, is key. After all, in order to compete in a constantly changing marketing landscape, you have to innovate and take risks to stay relevant and stand out amongst the competition.

The final lesson we took away from the first season of The Brandwagon Interviews, is just how important it is to create content for your audience that offers real value. Mark DiCristina of Mailchimp, Brendan Gaul of UM, and Patrick Campbell of ProfitWell, all have something in common — their teams create engaging video content that helps build better brand affinity.

Recently, Mailchimp has been releasing short-form video series, films, and podcasts out of their own new content studio, Mailchimp Presents. DiCristina said, “Mailchimp’s mission has always been about empowering small businesses and helping them succeed and grow. We’ve always done that with software, but over the last couple of years, we began to feel like there are other ways that we can do that.” With content that inspires, motivates, and makes people feel like they’re not alone, Mailchimp Presents has developed a valuable platform for an audience of entrepreneurs, while increasing the amount of time people spend with their overarching brand.

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As we mentioned before, ProfitWell is also engaging niche audiences through multiple video series of their own. Not only is their content valuable for consumers, but they’ve also found value in repurposing clips for their marketing efforts. What ProfitWell is doing here is treating their video content like a product, which is advice we took to heart when promoting our own four-part docu-series, One, Ten, One Hundred (and spoiler alert, it worked!).

At the end of the day, consumers are able to sniff out content that’s solely based on trying to sell them more stuff, and people are keenly aware when brands are phony with their intentions. That’s why brands need to know when they have — or need to earn — permission to be a part of important conversations. For smaller companies, the need to create powerful content like the biggest brands can be overwhelming. But, approaching content humbly and understanding the value your company can genuinely offer to a niche audience will help you define your brand.

Now that you’ve heard from several masterminds behind amazing brands on The Brandwagon Interviews, get out there and put their wisdom to good use. From one marketer to another, establishing a strong brand in the modern marketing world is more important than ever. So, let these key takeaways guide you toward building a better brand and creating a more engaged audience who will stand by your business for a long time.

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