Why B2B video marketers should not be trying to create viral videos

Why B2B video marketers should not be trying to create viral videos

Video marketing is a core part of any sensible B2B business’s marketing strategy. In 2013, the Online Video Marketing Survey and Business Video Trends Report looked closely at how businesses are working with video.

52% of the 600 respondents to this survey were B2B marketers. 93% of the total number of respondents claimed to be using online video in their marketing. The vast majority (82%) said that video marketing had had a positive impact on their business.

So, one thing appears to be clear: B2B marketers are definitely wise to spend money on video marketing. The question is: should they be spending money on creating viral videos to raise awareness of the business with as many people as possible?

The nature of B2B marketing

The Internet is an essential tool for B2B businesses. It is a way of hunting new products and services, or suppliers. Online video is a major part of B2B connections in that video has the power to bring a brand to life. It enables businesses to talk to each other about who they are and what they have to offer. The way that online video is used in B2B relationships is very different to the way it is used in the B2C environment – but it is just as important.

Where B2C marketing is emotionally charged – because it is driven by a goal to get customers to connect with the brand on a personal level and therefore buy into it – B2B marketing has a more complicated nature. B2B video marketers need to convince a number of key decision makers in any one organisation. B2B video marketing therefore has to take into consideration how it’s own business goals are aligned with those of the businesses it is trying to convince.

To offer an example, FedEx have done a great job with the following video, because it is entertaining and memorable and yet it still manages to communicate it’s key environmental values and how it is putting them into practice.

Investing in video that focuses on the environment isn’t necessarily the sexiest way to spend your budget, but FedEx aren’t trying to be sexy. They are trying to appeal to businesses who are becoming increasingly more aware of the need to consider the environmental impact of their activities.

The true nature of virality

marketing a viral videoimage source: http://www.socmedsean.com/

So how do the complicated aims of B2B video marketers fit into the context of viral video making?

It might help you here to see our previous post on the essence of viral videos. If there was a formula for creating a viral video, everyone would be doing it. There are definite commonalities between many videos that have gone viral (humour, emotional engagement, support of social seeds with big followings), but this doesn’t necessarily mean that virality can be recreated.

For B2B marketers it is important to recognise that ‘view count’ is not always a useful measure of success for a video. Here is a list of ideas for measuring success that we feel is more appropriate to B2B video marketing videos:

  • What is the size of your target audience? If you have an idea of how big your audience is (e.g. how many people are employed in your target market’s industry sector) then you can judge your video views against those figures – rather than entire populations. Depending on the product or service that is the focus of your video, your audience size will vary and this should be taken into consideration too.
  • How are your competitor’s videos performing? This might be setting the bar too high or low, depending on the size of your competitors, but looking at how their videos perform can give you a more relevant comparison than how many views ‘Charlie bit my finger’ has had.
  • Is your audience engaging with your video? Views can happen for many reasons – sometimes, reasons that you don’t understand. A great indicator of the relevance and usefulness of your video to your audience is how many times it has been shared. You could generate some useful information by calculating the number of shares as a percentage of the number of views each of your videos has had.

The value and benefits of a niche audience

It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking of video success in terms of ‘going viral’. But when you have a niche audience, should virality really be your aim? The obvious answer is…no.

Maximising view count shouldn’t be the aim of a B2B business’s marketing videos. When you have a niche audience, your content should be driven towards their goals and needs – this will be diluted if you are aiming to cast a wider net for the sake of more views.

Take the Cisco video below as an example:

As a worldwide leader in IT, Cisco is targeting businesses who can make use of their products and services. The video above showcases some of their finest video communications products in a business context. They have done well to make this video fun and engaging, but the message is firmly one of using their products and services to make the business process more efficient.

Cisco are leaders in their field and have some very impressive technologies. However, these technologies are only truly impressive to the businesses and professionals who can make use of them. Their video marketing strategy is therefore to target those people and demonstrate how their products are achieving results for other businesses, all over the world, every day.

Why making a ‘viral’ video is a risky strategy

Rather than jump on the viral video bandwagon, take a step back and think about what it is you are trying to achieve as a B2B marketer.

As proponents of an ROI based video marketing strategy, at MWP we would argue that investing in producing one so-called ‘viral’ video is akin to investing in creating one great blog post, leaving it, and hoping for the best. Video is just another form of content and so should be incorporated into a thoughtful marketing strategy.

You might just get lucky, like the team at Mirabeau Wine. They set out to make authentic videos about their experience of the wine-making industry. An off-the-cuff video about opening a bottle of wine without a corkscrew went viral and the positive effect of the views rippled through the business, bringing in more customers.

Our advice to B2B video marketers is to have a strategy and focus on creating great video content over a period of time. Your content should be very specifically targeted towards your audience and should set out to meet their needs and solve their problems. Do this in an original and creative way, and you might just achieve the added bonus of appealing to a wider audience, causing your views to go through the roof. Also, don’t forget that your strategy should include a distribution plan that gives your videos the best possible chance of reaching your audience.


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