The Video Game
Why franchisees and franchisors must embrace video – now.
By Bill Corbett Jr.
The mobile revolution is here and mobile video is a major part of it. It is time that every franchisee and franchisor gets in the video game. Sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option; failure to leverage this powerful tool will leave your organization and individual franchises in the dust of smarter and more video-savvy competitors.
On the corporate and franchisor’s level we know that controlling the brand message is critical. Video in the form of commercials as well as internal communications has been used effectively for decades. The radical change that has taken place is in the growth in the use of mobile devices and the fact that consumers and corporate executives all want video content.
With more extensive Wi-Fi networks, 4G and broadband, it is very easy for consumers on smart phones and tablets to consume video content. There are approximately 224.3 million smartphones in use in the United States and 172.4 million users of tablets, according to Statista. These users have a ravenous appetite for video content of all kinds.
Video watching on the go is growing at an astounding rate. Mobile data traffic was 7.2 EB/month in 2016 and will grow to 49 EB/month in 2021 (1 EB or exabyte = one billion GB). Ericsson reports that video represented 50 percent of the mobile data load in 2016. It will become 75 percent of the load by 2022.
Marketers are leveraging mobile video for awareness and branding, lead generation and sales. With higher-quality and faster smartphones with apps like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that feature video, it is not surprising that everyday users are both watching and creating video content. The lessons learned from these adopters must be used by franchise companies and franchisees alike.
Why Do They Watch It?
What makes videos interesting or watchable, re-watchable and worth sharing are important questions. While every video will not go viral, video content is preferred and will attract attention and keep consumers watching. Short videos, 15 seconds or less, are shared more often. This makes it clear that brevity counts. This is partially due to the fact that the average attention span has dropped to just nine seconds, according to the BBC; shorter videos are also easier to share because they load faster.
Companies and individuals that post interesting video content see greater engagement across all platforms where they are using this strategy. Engagement and frequency build trust and brand awareness, the building blocks for customer acquisition and loyalty. The enhanced power of the smartphone combined with applications that encourage video posts has opened up tremendous opportunities.
Live video has exploded over the past two years with Facebook Live attracting significant attention. Going “Live” on Facebook creates a raw video that captures the moment and has the ability to present a message without the hassle of editing and uploading. These videos are real and in the moment, and when done properly will attract significant attention.
At the time this article was written, live posts were still being favored by Facebook, meaning that they were pushed to more people. More eyes means more awareness and potential. From a live video perspective, Instagram (also owned by Facebook) offers live posting. Twitter’s Periscope, which was first on the live video scene, has continued to be a platform of interest and is more easily accessible today directly through the Twitter app than it was when initially launched as a separate app.
Live video has been a game-changer by allowing content to be directly fed to social media sites and giving audiences real-time engagement opportunities. For those unfamiliar with doing or being on live video, it’s is a bit like walking a tightrope without a safety net. However, the authenticity of these kinds of videos is often unmatched.
The fact is that video makes a product or service, an individual (a franchise or team members), organizations (companies – individual franchise units and franchise companies) and locations (specific stores) more interesting than images and text alone. The key to success in today’s fast-paced world is grabbing – and keeping – attention. The time that an audience gives to you is valuable and you have to regularly fight for it.
Every moment that members of your target audience are watching and listing to your message they are not dedicating time to a competitor. The fact is that we are all competing against each other for attention, one of the most valuable commodities of all.
Where Do They Find It?
While franchisors adopted the use of video many years ago, they now must adapt and make certain that their video content is easily found and easily viewable on mobile devices. Mobile websites and social media must prominently present video content, while remembering the challenge of keeping this content focused for segmented audiences of consumers, prospective clients, employees, potential employees, franchisees owners and prospective franchise purchasers. Simply having videos is not the answer; they must be well positioned and prominent.
Consumers use video in their decision-making process. Online shoppers who view demo videos are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers, according to insivia. They will also more frequently visit a restaurant or call a vendor after watching a video. This is no secret – TV advertising has been driving business for years. However, today content is delivered directly to consumers based on their searches, preferences and interests. When given the option to read about a product or service or watch a video, more and more consumers are opting for the video.
From an email marketing perspective we also see that embedded video in emails converts 200 to 300 percent more than email without. Studies show that simply using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts the open rates by 19 percent, insivia reports.
Franchise companies understand this, and we see video being used on all platforms designed to assist in driving traffic and leads to franchisees. Franchises need to leverage this content and use it as well as combine it with locally created, customized content. Local content drives local traffic and business. Video will generate interest; however, it is the engagement on the local level that creates relationships that grow into loyal recurring customers.
Although we may gravitate our thinking to restaurant franchise brands like McDonald’s, IHOP and Taco Bell, “local” video works for service-focused franchises offering bookkeeping, professional services, education and pest control. They all need to build awareness, loyalty and market share. Often owners of these businesses are also salespeople and lead business development. They attend chambers of commerce meetings, belong to service organizations and support local charities. Videos that support these activities impact the sales cycle and the individual’s personal brand and reputation.
Franchisees need to embrace video creation and dissemination. In local markets, owners have the ability to spread video through a variety of channels to achieve a number of different goals. From a personal branding and marketing perspective, owners should use video to tell their personal stories, talk about their interest in communities and support for charity, as well as demonstrate their leadership. When community members, a.k.a. customers, recognize an owner and their personal commitment to being a good neighborhood business, interest is sparked, trust is established and returning customers are born. If the owner wishes to stay behind the scenes, then team members or managers can take up the role, with rules of course.
Rules do apply, and many franchise brands control social media sites and require franchisees to use only company-provided websites. There is certainly an argument to be made for maintaining the purity and consistency of brands and controlling these digital assets. Policies should be developed where franchisees have freedom to create and share video content.
The point here is that there are tens of thousands of franchise owners and millions of people working at franchises. These people have smart phones with video creation and posting capabilities. Their abilities, interest and power should be leveraged to achieve both franchisee and franchisor goals.
It is known that one of the key ingredients in attracting talent and quality employees is leadership. Owners and operators who are outward focused and engaged through video get onto the radar of prospective employees. Using Facebook Live to promote events or simply having owners talking about employment opportunities creates a whole new level of awareness for brands locally. Owners that do this stand out and create reputations that give them a competitive advantage when recruiting, and more choice in terms of a hiring pool. Adding employment and other opportunities into the video content mix will yield results.
This leadership-focused approach is even more evident when it comes to franchise organizations that seek to recruit sales talent. Real estate franchises are a prime example: broker/owners who are known and seen as local leaders online are recruiting more effectively and more often. Videos on YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter each offer the ability to reach different audiences.
When discussing recruiting, LinkedIn is always part of the conversation. In summer 2017, LinkedIn added the ability to post videos directly from smartphones through its mobile app. Why is this a big deal? The ability to post easily to this platform that comprises more than 300 million people (customers, recruits, future franchise owners) offers tremendous opportunities for branding, recruiting and franchise lead development.
It is clear that video, especially mobile video, is important for marketing, sales and lead development, talent acquisition and organization growth. Many franchisees remain unfamiliar with how to create videos, what to create and where to share them, all of which continues to be a barrier to their complete success. These owners are similar to most small business owners – they lack experience and marketing knowledge to advance this effort.
Training and practice are critical when going on camera and developing a program that includes video as a marketing tool. Franchisees should look for media training and video training programs to acquire these skills. Franchisors must add video and media training as well as video creation tips and support for franchisees. By offering these resources, they support the development of better and more effective content and give franchisees and staff the skills and confidence to get into the video game and win.
Bill Corbett Jr. is president of Corbett Public Relations and creator of Grow Your Personal Brand.