Using Multimedia Content to Engage Your Audience
The vast majority of content on the Internet is text. Multimedia content has a wider appeal, and is more compelling to users.
Media need not bee commercial in nature - in fact, brand positioning and sales pitches tend to fare poorly online. Sometimes, a clever ad can catch a lot of eyes, but you have to be careful about how it's promulgated.
One good idea: look to communicate information in your "knowledge niche." Providing media of an informative nature on a topic of general interest, without a commercial pitch, helps build the reputation of your company and its expertise in the field. A bit of marketing here on the "value" of thought leadership is that it creates a great deal more respect and trust than commercial messaging, which does wonders for your reputation.
The author mentions multimedia as being "text, images, audio, and video." Much is done with text, but little with the other three. (EN: He leaves out interactive multimedia)
Images communicate more information, and with greater credibility, than text. (EN: Also worth noting: in recent years, people react less favorably toward "staged" shots with paid models - candid photography speaks best).
A corporate Web site, devoid of photography, seems sterile. However, you should carefully consider which images are important to share - there may be instances where sterility is desired, or where too much of a candid and lighthearted feel could make a company seem less professional. The same is true of an individual.
There is a wide array of photo-sharing sites (Flickr, Picasa, Photo bucket, etc.) where individuals can post their photo collections. The author's tip is to "liberate" your photos from your local hard drive and get them online, where you can access them, ad where others can browse them.
At the same time, be careful: the photos albums you share, as the images you choose reflect upon you.
Video is gaining popularity, with an increasing number of individuals having broadband connections and video-creation capabilities being built into an increasing number of consumer devices (cell phones, digital cameras).
A survey done in March 2007 found that about 75% of individuals use online video, 67% have sent video links to others, 25% post comments on videos, and 20% have uploaded videos of their own. It's much more popular with the 18-29 age bracket, with a slight decrease in the 30-49 bracket, and a sharp one in the 50-64 bracket.
Video goes much further than a photo to engage viewers and deliver messages with a "full sensory impact." In addition to posting your commercials (where appropriate), also consider providing demonstrations and how-to videos, virtual tours, informal speeches, and other video clips.
The term "clip" is important: stick to small bytes: 30 seconds at least, two minutes at most. Keep it short and engaging. However, in some instances, a longer video is worth posting.
The power of video as a medium is suggested by reference to the "will it blend?" videos (in which makers of a blender demonstrated its power by 'blending' a wide array of unusual items suggested by users). Quirky video such as this tends to draw a lot of attention.
However, it can also backfire, such as when Chevy had a "create an ad" contest for its Tahoe truck, and a large number of unfavorable ads ("I create global warming") were created and posted on community video-sharing sites. Worth noting, the novelty idea of asking customers to create videos endorsing a product has become hackneyed, and people react negatively to being used in this manner.
The author also provides some outdated advice for video, so I've modified his tips:
- Use a standard video format, and allow it to run in a standard video player
- Engage the user as soon as possible to decrease the number of users who bail
- Use YouTube or another media sharing site in addition to (or instead of) creating a private video library
- Allow your video to be downloaded and shared
- As with photos, consider quality: too little, and it seems cheap. Too much, and is loses credibility.
(EN: This book was written when "podcasting" was all the rage. My sense is that the fad has died down quite a bit since then, but I'll preserve the information - just take it with a grain of salt).
Podcasting is a growing trend: 12% of all Internet users have downloaded a podcast, and nearly 18% of companies provide them. They are cheaper and easier to produce than video, and tend to have a longer shelf-life: a user will see a video once on the Web, but a downloaded podcast may stay in their playlist and be heard multiple times.
Even so, there is a limited number of subjects that would be appropriate for a podcast. Obviously, the subject matter must be something that can be communicated completely by sound, and it must be serial in nature (a single audio file is not a podcast, and a jumbled collection of random sound bytes is a very poor one).
SEO for Images, Videos, and Podcasts
Finding audio and video online is more difficult than text media because it is not searchable. There are a few methods for labeling media, but none has really caught on. As a result, much media content is largely invisible to search engines.
The only thing you can control, with the file itself, is the title. By embedding the file in a Web page, you have the ability to add additional descriptive verbiage that will help users to find the media.
Other Multimedia Content
The author fumbles about over a few different kinds of online media, such as Webinars, VR environments (Second Life), etc. He bounces around a few topics, skimming the surface but drawing no real conclusions.
The author uses the term "micromedia" to describe short clips small bits of information, delivered via audio, video, or text (Twitter, for example). He calls this "a great idea" but does not provide any information about its uses or impact.
He ends with a narrative about a single case in which a podcast mentions a video; a user views the video and sends links to his online friends, who post it to their various sites and share it with their networks. The video is a few company employees talking about how "cool" their work culture is, and the company gets several hundred unsolicited resumes from people - a quote is "I don't know what you do but I want to work at your company."
This is an example of how social media can pay dividends, even if the media is not controlled by the company. In this case, the company's only action was to not interfere.