A powerful medium (in the right hands)

Online video that is shared has obvious potential benefits related to campaign reach and impact of message, but only for brands that throw their best at it.

If it’s true that 90 per cent of all data that reaches the brain is visual, then social video is a potent marketing elixir.

But, as with all powerful stimuli, it really should carry a pretty significant health warning (may cause: wasting of funds, nausea among target audience, false sense of popularity, loss of sense of purpose, and more).

This is the first time our Digital Focus series has alighted on social video –video that is online and, hopefully, shared. If you’re looking for ways to avoid those potential side effects, and for answers to the myriad questions that creating social video raises (not least, were the time and budget worth the outcome? Oh, and by the way, what was the outcome?), then you are bound to find insight in the pages that follow.

Top tips from the experts? Encourage conversations more than "likes", garner the feedback, and continually learn and build (7th Chamber). Aim for the long-play, with branded entertainment informed by PR skills (Be On). Why limit social video to brand-building – it can be a flexible and powerful sales device, too (MBA). Combine the emotion of film with the intimacy and immediacy of mobile and you’re on to a winner (Millennial Media). Just don’t try to do it by replicating your TV or online ad. Indeed, look to leverage social video across multiple devices: three-screen campaigns are 90 per cent more effective in generating brand recall than online video alone (Videology).

And, finally, a plug for my favourite of our essayists’ top YouTube videos: James Middlehurst’s choice of "Embrace life – always wear your seat belt".  One of those that feels worth it, even if seen by just one person, once.

Suzanne Bidlake, consultant editor, Campaign

Social video 2013

Telling tales Lots of brands have twigged that branded content is a great way to get noticed, but the trick is to go beyond 'number of views' and seek something deeper.

Mobile and the moving image Mobile video is a fantastic opportunity, but it's wasted on those who simply repurpose TV and online ads.

The multi-sensory sales assistant The flexibility of online video makes it ideal not just for brand-building, but for actually driving sales too.

A brand love story Brands need to take a leaf out of the PR rule book if they are to engage consumers in the long term.

Follow the leader Consumers are viewing content on multiple screens in various places - and only video-savvy brands will reach them.

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