“We want this video to go viral.”
This is a popular statement we have heard from credit union marketers and executives when producing online video content for them.
There is a problem with that statement as it places emphasis on the wrong goal. Viral is not a goal, but instead a result of many factors, including luck.
To be honest, if one of the CU Grow videos caught the viral bug, was shared across the internet and became an internet meme, I would celebrate. How? I’d go to the nearest store, buy the cheapest bottle of sparkling wine, come back to the office, give it a good shake and act like I just won the national championship.
And once the celebration concluded and gravity pulled me back down to Earth, I would ask myself, “Does it really matter that our video just went viral?”
From a brand perspective, being exposed to millions of eyeballs would have a tremendous effect on CU Grow. We would see bump in website traffic and social media. Video views would increase and as result, video engagement should remain relatively high.
But I would continue to ask myself, “Does this matter?”
While it would be wonderful for the brand of CU Grow, would it really move the needle of performance? In other words, would our revenue increase just because our video went viral?
Despite this hypothetical scenario, it’s extremely unlikely that one of our videos does indeed go viral, in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, I would be quite shocked that something of this scale would occur.
Why? Because the content we create is for the business-to-business marketplace, not the general consumer. Put another way, the content we create is for a highly focused niche market of bank and credit union professionals.
This does not mean we think small when producing video content. In fact, our desire is to create content that is helpful for our audience, so much so that they want to share it with their peers. In a sense, we want to create pieces of content that become viral within the financial services industry.
The same should be true for your credit union. Because virality is a result, not a goal.
The Perpetuating Myth of the All Powerful Video View
So what goals should you be setting for your online videos?
The first step is to dispel the myth of the “all powerful” video view.
A while back, I stumbled across an industry publication highlighting the success of a credit union’s YouTube video series. In the article, a key metric mentioned was the total number of views the online video series generated.
But why are views seen as the metric for success?
For starters, it’s an easy figure to see and compare against others. You can watch a video on YouTube and quickly see how many people have previously viewed it.
Media outlets further perpetuate this myth when reporting on the latest viral videos as they often highlight the total number of views the video has received.
However, video views are simply a vanity metric, much like website visits, Facebook likes and Twitter followers.
Video views tell a simplified story of viewing behavior.
It’s like reducing the Lord of the Rings books to the following synopsis: “Frodo destroyed the One Ring in the fiery pits of Mount Doom. One point for Good. Zero for Evil.”
Besides, views can be purchased easily on the internet.
Sidenote: Be wary of the marketing or advertising agency that promises you XX,XXX number of online video views. You’ll risk angering the Google gods more than doing your pocketbook good by going down this route.
More importantly, when looking at the superficial metric of video views, what does a view from China, South Africa or Sweden mean to your credit union? Granted, from a brand perspective, if your video is receiving hundreds of thousands of views from around the world, which is unlikely, it will help boost your brand’s image in those countries.
But for the average credit union, will this help your financial institution’s bottom line?
5 Ways to Measure the Success of Your Online Videos
If views are of such great importance to your financial institution, I would advise you to take a different approach. One must look at other metrics in addition to views to get a better understanding of an audience’s viewing behavior.
Setting realistic goals for your online videos should be one of the first areas of discussion in the pre-production process. To begin, first identify the purpose of the video.
And to help further facilitate this discussion, I’ve outlined some of the primary key performance indicators (KPIs) as well as the influential forces that impact these metrics.
Views: This is simply the number of times a person has clicked play to watch the video. Distribution channels and how you drive traffic to your video will greatly impact this metric.
Play Rate: This is calculated by taking the total number of plays divided by the total number of times the video has been uniquely loaded by an individual. Creating a compelling thumbnail should help you to increase this number.
Engagement: This is simply defined as those who watched a certain percentage of the video. If your video is engaging and resonates with the intended audience, their engagement should remain steady. The length of your video will also contribute to this metric.
Action Taken: This can be tracked and calculated if you have a specific call-to-action during the video that takes them to a specific landing page. If there is a compelling offer along with a single call-to-action, you can measure the effectiveness of action taken by using a Google campaign URL.
Lead Scoring: If an individual watches a certain percentage of a video, a score can be attributed for this behavior and used as part of a larger digital lead scoring strategy. This relates back to the video’s story and the audience’s engagement.
That’s a Wrap
Digital marketing helps marketers better understand consumers’ behavior, even when it comes to their online video viewing habits. Simply sticking to vanity metrics without attributing success to a digital channel, whether that’s your website or online video, will gain you nothing. Except maybe a thumbs up from that random viewer in Denmark.