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Four questions to ask before making a branded video

Over the past couple of years, there's been a surge of interest in content marketing. Brand-sponsored videos, for example, saw a 44 per cent increase in views from 2012 to 2013. But as the popularity of branded video grows, more and more companies express their interest in making their branded videos 'viral,' which is troubling for two reasons:

First, a truly 'viral' video is difficult – if not impossible – to plan, so don't even call it that. Videos need to have a purpose beyond going viral. (YouTube itself mocks the idea in this April Fool's Day video.)

Secondly, that marketers even want a video to go viral generally indicates the questions "why do we need a video?" and "what is the business problem we are trying to solve for?" haven't been asked.

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With this in mind, here are four questions to ask that will help you develop a plan for creating, distributing, and measuring a video for your business.

1. Why are you making this video? Defining your purpose is essential to creating a campaign that will resonate with your audience. There isn't a one size fits all for video. The spectrum is massive in comparison to traditional ads, so the question isn't how to create a video but how to create a video for you.

Video can achieve many goals, from educating your consumer through product b-roll or empowering an audience through inspirational content that tugs at the heart. Video can provide shock value or simply entertain with an April Fools Day prank.

Google Maps, for example, created a Pokemon Challenge, claiming whoever is able to "catch em" all will be their next hire as Pokemon Master. The purpose of this video was simply to engage an audience through a timely and trending topic – and it was perfectly executed in doing just that.

Once you've figured out your objective, the rest is a natural process.

2. How are you going to make it happen? The notion that video is for big companies with big budgets is long gone as video is more accessible than ever before. All you really need to start creating content is an idea and a camera. These two extremes make for very different content, but both can make a major impact when done right.

Think of a couple of the most notable pieces of content from major brands we've seen this year that continue to be referenced today: Pepsi Max Test Drive and Dove Real Beauty Sketches. These two pieces had two unique but equally clear messages that resonated with the audience and inspired them to share with their own social followings.

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Lowe's chose to make an impact of their own – but at a fraction of the cost. Their Vine series #LowesFixInSix began earlier and 2013 and continues to be updated and consistently referenced. This free video platform has generated Lowe's over 15,000 followers on Vine alone, and each post sees hundreds of likes and 'revines'. This simple life hack series directly helps the consumer, leading them to invest their own time right back into the brand.

Different budgets serve unique purposes – but each generate visible results and give the consumer an equally valuable takeaway.

3. Where will your video live? One of the biggest problems is what to do with your video once it's made. It's not enough to slap it on YouTube and see the views roll in. In fact, that won't happen. Instead, you need to consider who your consumer is. Are they young professionals on-the-go? If so, ensure your video is mobile friendly. Are people directly accessing your YouTube channel, or are they seeking out content through Twitter? Putting your video in the context of your user ensures it impacts the market you want to reach.

4. How well did your video do? The success of your video isn't found in how many views it generated, but who those views were. Ten thousand views means nothing if no one is engaging with that view through comments and shares.

Monitor the ROI. Track the clicks. Where's your video leading the consumer? The person who watches your video then chooses to purchase your product or engage your brand in conversation – that's where the success is coming from.

Video is more on-demand than ever before. Given the right strategy, reaching that million view count is not only possible but probable. As consumers continue to seek out content, carefully think about how your brand can use video to reel them in?

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Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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