The time has come at last.
The last few years have seen the simultaneous coming of age of 3 separate trends. The last year has seen them coming into alignment together. The result: the most significant opportunity in corporate communications to happen in decades.
These three trends are
1.) Corporate Social Responsibility’s rise as a full-fledged marketing trend.
2.) Social media’s rise as a delivery platform for corporate communications.
3.) Online video as the premiere medium for corporate communications.
For years these three trends and technologies have all been maturing and evolving separately on their own. But now the three have come together in cosmic alignment, literally tripling their individual potential. As a result, today we are being met with an unprecedented opportunity in corporate communications.
If this seems like an overstatement, take a minute to stop and consider where we were less than a decade ago. Back then there were two main options when it came to marketing: Advertising, and Media Relations. Both of these options were costly and risky. In the case of advertising, corporations had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase either time on television or space in magazines and billboards. In the case of media relations, companies could invest small fortunes in celebrity endorsements, gimmicks, and campaigns which, regardless of the investment, could wind up with little to no media coverage. Even when a campaign was lucky enough to meet with media coverage, it would still have to contend with the massive filters of news directors and editors. Both these strategies at reaching an audience have always come at great cost as well as great risk. Alas, they were the only games in town.
For years marketing professionals were looking for a different method, an alternate means that would allow them to reach stakeholders directly. Social Media was the answer. With the rise of Facebook, Twitter and others, marketers finally found the means of communicating their message directly to consumers at a significantly reduced cost and with considerably less risk of completely striking out.
Meanwhile, while online video has been around for quite some time, it’s really only been in the past few years that technology has made watching a video online enjoyable (think of the recent rise of Hulu and Netflix starting to offer streaming online videos.) Once video picture quality was improved, video became one of the most popular ways for people to consume information online. Evidence shows that video posts are three times more likely to be viewed than mere text. As the saying goes, if content is king, then video is the king of content.
This is not to say, however, that any and every piece of video content will succeed online.
Despite the combined power of online video distributed and promoted via social media, companies can’t simply throw anything at their followers. Regular, commercial advertising never seems to fit in an online world – particularly if it is being promoted via social media. On social media, people pull information towards them, rather than having it pushed at them. Online promotional videos need to come off as less jarring, less sales-y and more subtle if they are going to be tolerated (especially when getting rid of a commercial is as easy as closing a tab.) What fits that bill perfectly is CSR communications.
The reason why CSR communications succeed online more than regular commercials comes down to two simple elements: tone and subject matter. Video’s that aren’t pushing a product or service, but that are instead promoting a company’s environmental commitment or recent social initiative come off as far less pushy and invasive. The subject matter of CSR communications does not attempt to appeal to the baser instincts of the consumer, such as vanity or greed. CSR communications aren’t trying to sell you a new car or tell you what sort of beer to drink. Instead CSR communications appeal to aspects of our character we can take pride in; our acting as conscientious consumers, our environmental stewardship and social activism. These aren’t aspects of ourselves that audiences typically want to turn away from. In addition the tone of CSR communications tend to be less loud and gimmicky. CSR communications don’t clamor for our attention with loud music or special effects. They feel less like a pop-up advertisement, and more like a public service message. They are not only more tolerated by viewers, but are ‘liked’ on facebook, tweeted, dugg, enjoyed, promoted, and passed along through various social media channels.
With video as the communications tool, social media as the communications platform, and CSR as the content, corporations finally have at their disposal an unprecedented, unbeatable triple combination with which to convey their cause marketing efforts. At long last companies can reach out directly to stakeholders with impactful, easily shareable stories of the good they are doing.
These three major trends have at long last come of age. The ability to communicate your message directly to people online via video is what marketing professionals have been anticipating for ten years. It’s happening right now. It’s time to get on board. Odds are that your competitors already have.