Social Video Marketing: A New Competitive Advantage

SMS Text

What do businesses mean when they say they do “social video”? Is it just about creating an interesting video and distributing it on YouTube and other social networks? Or is there more to it? Let’s explore what makes a video for business truly social, the special relationship between social video and search marketing, and tips for search marketers on starting to use social video in business today.

Social Is An Evolution In Marketing … And Doing Business

To best describe social video marketing, we first need to consider what it means to be social in business in today’s market. We recently moved from a sales culture built around one-way content and top-down advertising to a search culture where consumers find information and solutions relevant to their needs via computers. Now we are evolving more into a social culture built around sharing with our peers and a sense of community with brands themselves.

Social tools and technologies have helped us mature in how we choose to engage with other people online. Those who reap the biggest business rewards choose to participate in social media rather than stand on the sidelines. YouTube and other video hosting and sharing sites — along with blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Yelp, etc. — have empowered brands and consumers to better interact with each other and build meaningful relationships based on dialogue, service, and feedback.

Social is simply about how we choose to engage with other people, and it has forced many brands to start respecting their customers as online equals. From this comes a definition of social video as the blending of video with human relationships for the co-creation of value.

The 3 Cs Of Social Video Marketing: Content + Conversations + Community

Social video marketing (SVM) is the use of tools and technologies that support social activity around a given video — by businesses for business purposes. This can be done with video content creation, distribution, and sharing tools such as blogs, social networks, and support communities.

As Wikipedia’s page on social video marketing aptly states: “In a successful social video marketing campaign, the content, distribution strategy and consumer self expression tools combine to allow an individual to ‘add their voice’ or co-create value to a piece of content — then further propagating it out to their social circles.”

Social video marketing has helped many brands improve their quality of customer service. Whether it’s responding to audience/consumer questions (such as Google Webmaster Central’s YouTube channel or, or even reserving a consumer video platform (such as Zappo’s YouTube channel exclusively for consumer feedback, or for brokering video reviews of brand-name products), what we are witnessing is a shift to a co-dependent relationship between brands and consumers.

Video with social media has greatly increased the power that consumers have, requiring brands to treat them as equals in the business relationship — sharing each other’s content, ideas, and support toward building and growing an actual community. All of which can be summarized in the easy-to-remember 3 Cs formula for social video marketing today of Content + Conversations + Community.

How Social Video Impacts Video SEO

“Social has become a huge driving force now — not only for SEO, but for video,” says Mark Robertson, founder of ReelSEO. “Take for example, YouTube. It’s the second largest search engine, which people are searching non-stop on, and heavily indexed in in Google’s own search results (along with an increasing number of popular video sharing sites). Now, in order to rank well on YouTube, it’s important to describe your video properly, to have a good title. But more than that, it’s about making sure that there are comments going up, people are sharing that video, and that there are a lot of thumbs up,” says Mark. It also means responding to any negative comments quickly and completely. In short, engagement is key.

Social video marketing is not only about distributing video content to video destination platforms like YouTube (which we would argue is a social network). Social networks, which are starting to drive a lot more traffic to video, also need to be considered. These include destinations like Facebook, Twitter, and of course, blogs.

“Basically, social video marketing is about marketing a message through video, in the best way that you possibly can. In order to do that you need to disseminate your message to the largest audience (and most targeted audience) that you possibly can.” says Mark. “Video marketing is just that, and video SEO is one component of that. It turns out that while SEO is still a very strong component of video marketing, social is quickly becoming just as strong of a component.” Mark continues.

Here’s more proof of how SEO and social are coming closer together. Last December, SEOmoz’s Rand Fishkin reported on Google and Bing confirming that Twitter and Facebook both influence SEO. This involves Facebook “likes” and Twitter “retweets” influencing ranking in organic search. Videos on Facebook and Twitter are also being indexed by search engines and appear prominently in search results, which speaks volumes to the great impact of sharing video across social media. For that reason alone, search marketers need to be involved in social video if they expect to stay relevant in this business in the long term.

Adopt A Social Mentality With All Your Video Marketing

It’s very easy to get caught up in the technological advances around online video, especially concerning social media marketing. This makes it especially important to develop a proper mindset around what your specific social video marketing strategy needs to consider in your own business. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1.  It’s about real people — Social video is more about featuring real people behind your campaign. and your company sharing real stories, than hired celebrities giving paid endorsements or commercials with no real personal attachment to the brand.

2.  It’s about service — Social video shouldn’t feel like an ad, no matter how entertaining and well-produced it may be. An ad by its very nature is intended first and foremost to sell something. Social video, on the other hand, is initially about building relationships, so that anything that does get purchased feels like something natural to the customer, with no feeling of pressure.

3.  It’s about dialogue — Social video is not about talking at people; it’s about talking with people. You use it to engage with your audience on a direct, equal level with the corporate barrier removed — or at least minimized.

4.  It’s about conversations — Social video should involve you paying attention, and responding, to people engaging with your video. It should serve as a conduit for showing you’re paying attention to your customers, you’re listening to what they’re saying, and that you’re responding in a way that helps them out.

5.  It’s about quality of engagement — Social video isn’t about the number of views you get. It’s about the quality and enthusiasm of the feedback you get.

6.  It’s about participation — Social video isn’t just about “seeding” interesting content. It’s about participating with others in their own content and conversations.

7.  It’s about community — Social requires ongoing engagement with consumers and colleagues, where self-interest takes a backseat to group interest. A mindset of everybody benefitting results, because everyone in the community is more apt to share.

Adapting To The New Social Video Landscape

Search marketers need to adapt to the social media landscape if they are to stay relevant with audiences and in business. This means optimizing for people first, and search engine algorithms second. Audiences are spending more time engaging with video content and communities revolving around them, across many social media channels. That is exactly why SEM professionals can no long wait. They need to start learning how to put together interesting videos — or collaborate with video professionals who know how and have had success doing so. The videos need to actually help people out and make them want to share them with their peers, and build conversations around those videos. Then and only then, can one evolve from a search-only marketer into a search-and-social-video marketer.

Social video marketing is what will make search marketers spend less time obsessing over Google’s latest search engine algorithm, and more time on something much more personally rewarding — optimizing themselves and their businesses.

Grant Crowell

Grant Crowell

Grant Crowell is a self-described "videologist" covering the latest and time-tested best practices with online video since 2005, and a freelance writer in the search... Read Full Bio
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • “Is it just about creating an interesting video and distributing it on YouTube and other social networks?”<—honestly, that's probably what a lot of people do (because they're caught in the hype; not being strategic).

    "and it has forced many brands to start respecting their customers as online equals."<—this is great; just as it should be. For some reason, I just thought about google Panda; how it, FINALLY, empowers people who work hard (rather than make minisites, with nothing new and valuable on).

    "Social video is not about talking at people; it’s about talking with people."<—-good one….but isn't this what every successful social media-using company is already doing?

    Very well written, insightful and thoughtful, post:)

    • Thanks for sharing your comments and your compliments, Simon. You’re right, successful social media-using companies are already realizing that the purpose of social media (and social business for that matter), is not to dictate; it’s to communicate. Unfortunately too many enterprises today still treat social channels — YouTube and other video platforms included — as a means to just advertise and broadcast their content, without any real plans for direct communications with their audience.

      Video is the most powerful communications medium we have today. The challenge is to make it a more integral and streamlined part of our workflow, and meet the recipient’s expectations for quality content and follow-up communication. The next step beyond just increasing our reach and brand awareness is to provide person-to-person communications, and relevant responsiveness in the context of the platform and the individuals’ needs. I believe with our advances in social technologies and continually educating people on the opportunities and proven strategies with real-world business objectives, it’s a challenge that can be overcome!

  • Hey Grant… the Video SEO Hound here. Good to see your Social Video thoughts making the rounds. Good ideas and encouragement to be social in so many ways when we use video to help get our message across.

    • Hey Ronnie Video SEO Hound, good to see you following my stuff here as well! Thanks for the kind words, and yes we need to stress the importance and benefits of doing social video across other online marketing channels. SEO was one of my first practices even before the technology of online video became accessible, and with Social + Video is being given more weight in search results today, it naturally makes sense to inform others on the special relationship.

  • Marianne Doczi

    Hi Grant, a great article. I’d add a fourth “C” to your three: collaboration. I think great communities are created when all participants can have a voice. Companies and organisations would do well to invite their clients to become co-creators.

    • Hi Marianne,

      I fully agree with you on the importance of collaboration, which I consider an essential component for doing business today. Because there could be many possible “C’s” (conversions, capital, contests, etc.), I was thinking in terms of what could be the most basic way of making the point. One could argue that the idea of ‘community” requires an openness and encouragement for collaboration to thrive.

  • Very insightful article, especially the Video & SEO part. Haven’t thought about Youtube as a search engine before… Thanks


    • Yes, YouTube is actually the #2 trafficked search engine, right behind it’s parent company, Google! Plus you also have to consider that YouTube results (along with thumbnail images) appear in Google results frequently.

  • Great article and some interesting points. I have long thought of video no longer being an event but a conversation that brands/companies should be encouraging and engaging with their audience in!

    • Thank you, Rozlyn. I would say that video should no longer be treated as JUST an event where you expect others to react and do the promotional work for you. Like you said, it should be treated as a catalyst for conversations where the original brand and video owner gets involved, including person-to-person and person-to-people discussions that are relevant and helpful, and sometimes just acknowledging and assuring that you’re listening to them.