How To Increase Reach And Audience Growth With Video With Mark Robertson From Little Monster Media [AMP 047]
Video marketing: When you use it to grow your audience, it’s as much a science as it is an art. There are so many platforms, strategies, and networks… how do you know where to focus your time, money, and energy for the biggest return?
Today we’re talking to Mark Robertson, the co-founder of Little Monster Media, the founder of ReelSEO, and a digital video veteran. He’s going to talk to us about increasing your reach and growing your audience through video marketing.
Some of the highlights of the show include:
- Information about Little Monster Media and what Mark does there.
- What platforms to focus on for people who are new to video marketing.
- How brands can build their audiences using YouTube and Facebook Video.
- How brands can follow the practices of publishers to see success when it comes to advertising and content marketing. Mark gives examples of brands that create compelling content without being “in your face.”
- How to know whether video is a medium you should use and harness, as well as stats on how video affects the brain in comparison to how text affects the brain.
- The importance of testing and measurement when it comes to getting your material in front of the right people.
- What measurements and technical details to pay attention to in order to succeed with video marketing.
- “I truly believe that every brand should be involved in video marketing or content marketing one way or another.”
- “What publishers do really well is understand how to tell a story… they understand that engaging with the audience is important.”
- “Every brand should try video and it all comes down to strategy, audience, measurement and reiteration.”
Jordan: Growing your audience through video marketing is as much science as it is an art. But with so many platforms and strategies on crowded and noisy networks, how can you figure out where to improve or maybe even start for the first time? Where should you invest your time and money for the biggest return and audience impact? How do ranking algorithms work for different platforms and which platform should you focus on first? To find these answers, we ask Mark Robertson to share his strategies and tactics for increasing reach and audience growth through video.
Mark is a digital video veteran. He’s the co-founder of Little Monster Media, founder of Reel SEO, Keynote speaker and really, he’s been the center of some of the most important conversations around online video for more than a decade.
I’m Jordan from CoSchedule, now let’s take a deep dive into Video Marketing mastery with Mark. Hey Mark, thanks so much for being on the podcast today. To kick things off, can you tell us a little more about what you and Little Monster are up to these days?
Mark: I’ve been doing online video for about 10 years and digital marketing for since 2000. Probably dates me a bit. About a year ago, I met a few colleagues in the online video space who focus on algorithms and data driven insights to help brands and media companies. We’re really focused on geeky optimization of this and audience growth hacking
Jordan: That’s awesome. You’ve been in this for close to 20 years. You’re OG video marketing. If a brand is new to video marketing or they really want to up their game with it, what platforms do you suggest that they start with and why?
Mark: I truly believe that every brand should be involved in video marketing or especially content marketing one way, shape or another. Before we get into platforms, because my background going way back into website development, website marketing, I really think that every brand should be including video on their website. Whether that’s recruitment section to explain what the company’s culture is like. Whether that’s customer service, helping people understand how to use their product, etc.
In terms of platforms like social and YouTube, more and more so these days, it’s really important for brands and I think especially publishers to leverage as many of those platforms as are appropriate to maximize audience reach and really mitigate the risk of platform dependency. I don’t think YouTube is going away anytime soon, but we’ve seen Facebook embrace video for the last couple of years and it’s exploded. If your entire strategy was devoted to YouTube, and you weren’t paying attention, you may have missed some opportunities when Facebook started blowing up videos.
To boil this all down, embracing YouTube and Facebook is a no brainer to me as well as your website. Depending upon your brand and your strategy, one good way to answer that question is look at what your competitors are doing. What platforms are they on and more importantly, which platforms are they getting views and engagements on. When do they publish their content, etc.
Jordan: There are so many different platforms people could choose from. I really like talking about what is your brand, what’s your focus, what’s your angle. You need to be where your audience is. Let’s focus on Facebook and YouTube like you brought up. Let’s tackle the giant question of the day. How can brands grow their audiences using video specifically for Facebook and YouTube?
Mark: That’s a big question. Let me try and go through a few things and feel free to let me know if there’s more of it. There are lots of ways you can grow your audiences. Again, I already talked about this, but look at what your competitors are doing. Really to succeed well both on Facebook and YouTube, it’s important in my opinion to really understand the platforms and the differences with those platforms. That includes understanding, we’re going to get into this I’m pretty sure, how that algorithms work, how people consume content in those platforms.
I guess in video, one other point I want to make is that understanding what type of content works on each of those platforms, because that can differ. Across both Facebook and YouTube though, what doesn’t work anymore is sort of “in your face” advertising, unless we’re talking about paid promotion. If you want to go organically, you really need to create informational or enticing or inspirational content. And then we can talk about frequency of publishing and how important that is.
The most important thing in my opinion is to be incredibly active in both YouTube and Facebook, understand the analytics, understand the audience, engage with the audience. So many times, I’ll see a brand publish a video to Facebook and then just let it go. If you think about it, every time somebody comments, if you reply to that comment, they’ll get a notification, they may come back, they make like your comment which adds another interaction and adds another view which helps with the impressions of that video.
Engaging within these platforms is important and by doing so, and by publishing with a decent frequency, you’ll learn and understand these platforms especially as they evolve. I know that’s really high level. In terms of specific strategies for growing your audience, I think there’s a combination and again going back to depends on your brand but there’s a combination of organic audience growth, which is in my opinion critical for every brand. But there’s also some huge advantages for paid promotions.
Jordan: One of the things you just said that I think is really interesting and I’ve heard you talked about this before, but you’re talking about brands but also you say publishers. I really want to know a little bit more of what you mean by a brand becoming a publisher and how it’s done, and even if you some examples of brands who are doing this well, because you talked about content that isn’t just “in your face” advertising but things that are inspirational or things that are informative and really doing things that a publisher does. What do you mean by becoming a publisher and how do people do it?
Mark: In particular, I think it’s true for really large brands. Across the board, if you think about some of the trends with consuming content in the age of the internet, again, dating myself, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, consumptions happening on mobile. Companies, in my opinion, need to be the source of valuable information. Because these platforms are really rented land. We’ve moved from an era of interrupted advertising to what I think needs to be more engaging and captivating messaging that works natively within these platforms.
What publishers do really well, since their focus isn’t necessarily on selling products, is they understand how to tell a story, they understand the arc of a story, they understand that engaging with the audience is important. It’s not just shoving messages down their throat. That’s what I mean by embracing the notion of becoming a publisher, it’s not necessarily the case that every brand needs to have a video released every hour like a publisher might, for example. But I think understanding how to create compelling content that isn’t “in your face” but through association really raises the alertness of you brand is important.
I think you asked about some good examples. I think the best example and everybody is probably familiar with this, in my opinion is Red Bull. If you look at them eight years ago, they were an energy drink and now, they’re a global media brand. Red Bull Media House is part of their company where they actually sell and license content. When you watch Red Bull videos, they’re not saying “Drink Red Bull, it’s great,” obviously they have those commercials running as well, and any marketer should have a holistic vision in terms of their marketing which includes advertising and infomercials and such.
When I talk about brands becoming publishers, look at Red Bull, that content doesn’t shove it down your throat. In fact, if anything it doesn’t even really mention Red Bull. It conforms with their target demographic lifestyle and interest and it’s content that they own and by association, promotes Red Bull. GoPro is another good one. Coca Cola is another good one. I don’t know if you saw but today, Apple launched, they’re deeming it at a movie or a film, I’d argue otherwise. It’s a bit more of a commercial but they invested in some content and some big promotion around this, this video joining “The Rock” Johnson and Siri. It’s pretty entertaining. I think it’s only three minutes long, that’s why I have a little bit of an issue with it being called a movie or a film but that’s content that a publisher might do.
I hope that answers your question. It’s sort of something I always say but I guess what I mean by that is brands owning content, understanding how to tell a story and captivating the user and being the source of value for the customers they’re looking for.
Jordan: Yeah. That’s huge and I really like the Red Bull example in particular because you’re absolutely right. That content is 100% paired with what their audience is doing, what they care about and what they’re into. Would you say that that’s at the core, this kind of brand storytelling and some of those things you’re talking about, that it’s really about creating content that is 100% aligned and tailored to who your specific audience is, who your specific niche is.
Mark: But yeah, definitely. Think about it, Red Bull, a lot of their target audience is into extreme sports, into music and Red Bull has these huge advanced and does great video content around that. You’ll notice way, way, way in the background, the Red Bull sign.
Jordan: What if someone came and said, “Mark, that’s really, really cool. I love what Red Bull is doing and it makes sense to me but how does my medium sized company that doesn’t have a Red Bull media house backing us up? With this publisher mindset, how do I know when video is the best content to create versus other media? It still is a little bit more expensive and time consuming. How do they know when video is going to work real well for them versus other content? Let’s say they could do one video to they could maybe knock five blog posts in a white paper out with the same amount of effort, if that makes sense. How do they know when video is their medium that they should harness?
Mark: I’m obviously video centric, that’s what I intend to talk about because that’s what we do. Every brand, unless they’re a broadcast media publisher and some might consider them brands, and even them, really, should be doing all sorts of different content. On Facebook, like we’re talking about earlier, I think it would be a poor strategy to just do video. Unless your brand is that of a video publisher. I think it’s important for brands to continually engage with customers and oftentimes that means posting photos, or status updates or GIF links to the website. In an advertising, those pay per click, etc. But video, I got some stats here that I prepared and then I always reference but video definitely is engaging and works tremendously well across most platforms.
There was a study done couple of years ago in Publishing Psychology Today, that was studied about video versus text and the perspective of the brain. They found that the human brain processes video 60,000 times faster than text. And if you think about it, a picture is worth a thousand words and there’s 24 frames in a video per second, you could do the math but let’s skip that. A lot of people are watching video. There’s plenty of stats on that.
A couple more stats that I think might help explain why video is so important and how in many cases it works better. Earlier this year, Facebook did a study themselves and they actually wrote that video on Facebook and Instagram, that people gaze fives times more often at video than they do static content.
There was another study by a social analytics firm. Their specialty is not in video, they just look across all social and look at what’s working. They found that for every video that you post, you get 236 more people to engage with that, versus a status update on Facebook.
Twitter said that videos are six times more likely than photos to be retweeted. I think video is a critical component in my opinion and according to a lot of studies. It obviously works really well and arguably better than other content formats. TO just do video, with the exception of YouTube because that’s what you do, I think would be a poor strategy.
Jordan: Let’s talk a bit about reach. You mentioned before one of the big questions is how do the algorithms, the ranking algorithms in organic reach for Facebook and YouTube work respectively. How do people know how their content is going to get in front of the right eyeballs?
Mike: Ultimately, going back to the last question too, it’s really going to be about testing and measurement. If a brand wants to dive into video and create content, find out through the analytics, is it working better? It’s a little bit more difficult in my opinion to determine ROI with video. If it’s not working, it’s not working.
In terms of the algorithms on Facebook and YouTube, there’s definitely a difference between social and between YouTube, at the moment at least. It’s sort of this push versus pull. If you think about it in Facebook, the majority of video that’s viewed on Facebook is viewed in the news feed. It’s pushed to you on your newsfeed because someone shared it with you or because you engaged with similar content in the past.
Whereas on YouTube, while there’s some of that, a lot of YouTube content is viewed from searching, it’s the world’s second largest search engine when you just look at the number of queries. I think it’s important to understand that difference, but over the past few years, algorithms across both platforms have really been refined over and over again to reward content that keeps viewers on the platforms. I think that was 2012, YouTube changed their algorithm for search to reward videos and it drove more watch time.
Essentially, they rewarded videos that kept users on YouTube longer. In 2014, Facebook confirmed that time watched is also an algorithm factor. I think at the end of the day, there are differences that affect strategies and tactics right now for success. Ultimately, I think a lot of these differences will converge. In other words, whatever works best for the consumer will ultimately be adopted by both platforms. Their intention, those platforms will continue to be dissatisfied, the users of those platforms, and drive more time spent on those platforms.
We’ve seen some of that with recent changes. Facebook, just last year, added video search and a video tab in the mobile app so that you can search for videos. Whereas that wasn’t there at first. YouTube in October, I think it was, of 2016, totally refined their suggested videos algorithm with using machine learning. It’s pushing more and more content once someone’s watching your video. More content that’s relevant to the particular user watching it. And actually, just last week, we noticed that they’re starting to experiment with animated thumbnails which is similar to Facebook’s auto play.
There are differences now. It’s sort of this push versus pull, there’s more mobile consumption in Facebook but YouTube’s got a lot and it’s growing. We talk about reach and how to reach people, understand the differences now but ultimately it’s going to come back to publishing content and satisfied viewers. It keeps them on those platforms.
Jordan: In a sense, you’re saying the most important code to crack is what does your audience want to consume. What keeps them around, what keeps them engaged, because ultimately as the algorithms change for Facebook and for YouTube, it’s going to continually reward people who can keep their audiences around to watch more of their videos. It’s like figure out what your audience wants, what they’re going to consume, what’s going to keep them around. The algorithms are almost going to catch up to people who are doing that.
Mike: Yeah. For YouTube, a great example is this. Let’s say you create a video, somebody does a search, your video shows up. Perhaps, it’s got a misleading title or perhaps it seems like it’s greater than it might be for this particular user. They click on that search result, they start watching your video, and they go, “Ah, this is not right for me,” and they go back to the YouTube search. That’s a pretty strong, negative signal to YouTube to not rank that video as high the next time. It doesn’t drive ongoing “session watch time” which is ongoing viewing.
Ultimately, here’s the cliche, content is queen or content is king.
Jordan: Let’s jump into a few tactics to close this out. You set us up really well. What are some of the keys to the kingdom then, in content performing well in a technical way? Anything, things like meta data, keywords, ideal length or frequency, what are some of the things that people should pay attention to as they’re using video for marketing?
Mark: One of the things that hopefully the listeners aware of because the change happened a couple of years ago. With Facebook especially, because YouTube this is obvious, uploading natively, meaning uploading a video to Facebook versus sharing a link from YouTube is where it’s at. There’s about 1,100 times higher share rates on Facebook native videos versus links. Taking the video and uploading it to Facebook rather than just sharing a video from YouTube is a key tactic for Facebook. Across both platforms, again, metadata does matter but it’s really about the content.
Even more important is getting right to the point. Starting your video with a bang to drive immediate interest because on Facebook, you have about three seconds to capture someone’s attention before they bail. On YouTube, they stress the importance of the first five to ten seconds. The old school notion of showing a bumper right at the beginning of a video doesn’t work in either environment. You really want to tease first. If you need a bumper or branding, add that a few seconds in.
Use really strong visual. On Facebook, you wanna have big font text overlays. Both platforms, you wanna really think about the importance of thumbnails. I think thumbnails are often overlooked. Both platforms, you can upload custom thumbnails. If you think about it, you gotta put yourself in the mindset of the viewer. Whether it’s Facebook or YouTube, when you see a video or you’re searching for a video, the title is definitely important, arguably as important. The thumbnail is really what gets someone to click on the video content, the thumbnail and the title together.
Thumbnails are important. I do think titles are important. My feeling is that there’s a reason why a platform asks you for metadata when you upload a video. In part, that’s because machine learning and AI and recognition technologies aren’t quite there yet. You should leverage all of that because it’s going to help that platform understand your video and who to deliver it to properly.
One last tactic that I think is overlooked and is in particular really important for Facebook is close captions and subtitles. I think on Facebook, there was a study on Digiday two months back where they said that according to multiple publishers, 85% of the views that happen happen with no sound. According to Facebook themselves, they say videos with closed captions average 12% higher watch time. When you think about you’re scrolling through your newsfeed on Facebook, often times those first three seconds if you can have text overlays or closed captions, that might help someone click on that video and view it. There are some search algorithm and indexing components that can leverage close captioning.
That was a long answer. There’s even more.
Jordan: That’s why it’s this whole ball of yarn, because there’s so many layers to it. But the close captioning thing, even that’s really interesting. To your point, make it as easy as possible for people to know what value they’re going to get out of your video. It’s like the first three seconds on Facebook, you’re getting the close captioning, so even if they’re breezing through and sound is off, they could have a chance to read like, “Oh, this is what I’m going to get in this video.” Get to the point as quickly as you can and that’s just another way to do it given how the platform works.
Mike: The other thing is because I talked earlier about how platforms are more and more rewarding content that keeps people on those platforms. One of the strategies that used to work five years ago that doesn’t so much anymore is creating a video where you tell people, “Click here” in your description or “Go here to our website immediately after” that interrupts the session. As a result, while you can still do that, I think both platforms have really made a push. When your interest is in driving purchase to a product for example, directly from the video, these platforms are encouraging paid promotion. We talked about tactics for organic optimization but really, organic plus paid is important for brands.
Jordan: Mark, thank you so much. You gave us a good stem to stern overview with Facebook and YouTube with how to grow your audience there and now, we got some awesome tactics. You’ve been doing this for a really long time. You’re in it every day, you’re speaking about it, giving keynotes. Thank you so much for taking the time to be on our podcast. I learned a lot, I’m sure our listeners did too. This was fantastic to have you. Thanks so much.
Mark: No. Thanks, man. I’m stoked to be a part of this. I hope the audience learned something from me and I didn’t come across too robotic because I actually am really passionate about this stuff. I think every brand should be trying video and it all comes down to strategy, audience, measurement and reiteration. Hopefully, people can excel with video, more so and more so. Obviously I can spend another hour jabbering on about this but it’s been a pleasure. I appreciate it.
Jordan: Lovely, Mark. Thanks so much!
Everyone talks about Video Marketing, but it can be tough to do it well and I’d never met a marketer who’s excited about investing in something they worry will underperform. Fortunately there are some evergreen methods to growing and building an audience with video. That’s especially on key platform like Facebook and YouTube. Surprise, surprise, quality content is still queen. The savvy marketer can take use from brands like Red Bull, who’d become true publishers, they create content that’s 100% aligned with their audience.
So thanks, Mark, for sharing your hard won insights on increasing reach and growing an audience with video. And thank you for listening in. You just heard from Mark Robertson. He’s the co-founder of Little Monster Media, the founder of Reel SEO and the nearly 20 year veteran on the online video world. You can get even more marketing insight in this episode’s show notes and full transcript at coschedule.com/podcast.