One thing that has improved due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the use of video platforms, not only for pushing out key marketing messages but as a way of keeping in touch with customers, delivering services and providing a revenue stream for businesses that have been unable to welcome people to their premises.

According to a recent report by HubSpot, video is now the most commonly used form of content marketing, overtaking blogs and infographics. One of the likely causes of this is that people who were perhaps not comfortable in front of a camera pre-COVID have been forced to use video in order to keep their business going and this, in turn, has led to it becoming a more valuable platform for marketers.

The report goes on to say that, “Media uploads increased by 80% YoY in 2020, as consumers spent most of their time at home passing time by watching content. Consumers watched 12.2 billion minutes of video in 2020 (as shown in the image below), equivalent to 23,211 years of content.”

As well as people being more comfortable with creating video content, the demand certainly peaked in 2020 and businesses quickly latched on to the amount of time people were spending online, watching video content. This change in consumer behaviour is expected to carry through into 2021 and video has become an integral part of the consumer journey.

Storytelling is better on film

One of the key reasons for the increase in the amount of video content created and consumed is that video provides a more personal way of telling your story. People can relate more to an actual person telling their story through video than they can on say a blog or even a podcast.

As video consumption is now such an integral part of a consumer’s journey, HubSpot Senior Copywriter and Brand Campaigns Manager Alicia Collins and Senior Motion Designer Megan Conley says, “This [consumer behaviour] also indicates that video can be used throughout all parts of the flywheel…businesses have historically used it as a means of introducing their brand and product or service offerings. But that’s not the case anymore.”

Businesses are no longer simply using video content to push out top of the funnel brand awareness content. They are instead using video as a way of engaging more directly with customers at all stages of the consumer journey and that means we are starting to see more new and innovative uses of video content as a way of engaging with the audience.

Whether it’s short-form video content like TikTok or longer-form content that can be used to really tell a brand’s story, businesses are really getting creative in the way they are using video to enhance their overall user experience.

The virtual world we live in

As well as the increase in the use of video for marketing purposes, perhaps the biggest increase in the use of video has been to create virtual experiences when physical contact was not possible. Here in New Zealand, during the Alert Level 4 lockdown, it was possible to replicate lots of physical experiences virtually – yoga classes, gym classes, golf lessons and school classes are just a handful of examples of the way we embraced video in order to keep the country moving.

Whilst replicating very personal experiences like a yoga class or even teaching kids can be difficult to replicate, everyone quickly adjusted to the ‘new normal’ and even after the lockdowns were lifted, many people still continued to deliver classed via video, allowing them to reach more people, cut down on costs and expand their ‘local’ audience.

Whilst the world slowly starts to return to ‘normal’, don’t expect behaviour to change overnight. The new ‘normal’ will be a combination of a return to more face to face activities and continued use of video as people still try to limit interactions.

Another thing to come out of the enforced working from home restrictions is that business practices have been forced to adjust and in doing so, many businesses have realised that there are huge cost savings to be made from allowing people to work from home and utilising video conferencing. This is particularly true of businesses that have typically relied on a lot of travel, both domestically and overseas. Video conferencing has allowed them to carry out dealing with businesses throughout the country from the comfort of their own home or office.

The future of video

It should be noted that video is not right for every business. Whether that’s for marketing or as a communication channel with your customers, for some businesses, it just doesn’t work. You may remember the movie Up In The Air starring George Clooney and Anna Kendrick. The premise of the movie is that Clooney’s character works for a company that handles redundancies in companies throughout the USA. He is on the road 24/7, flying from one city to another. Kendrick comes into the business and tries to change everything by introducing video calls as a way of ‘firing’ the employees of businesses located all over the USA.

The problem?

Making someone redundant is an extremely personal interaction. Trying to replicate that over video just doesn’t work. So, in the end, Clooney got to stay in the air and Kendrick moved on to other things.

There are other barriers to video adoption as well. Cost can be hugely prohibitive if you are looking to create high-quality video content. Quality can be another issue. Whilst phones have dramatically improved in terms of the quality of video you are able to shoot, this doesn’t mean that the person doing the recording knows how to frame a shot or ensure the sound quality is sufficient. Sometimes, it’s the videos you choose not to use that say more than the ones that you do.

However, there is no doubt that there are some great opportunities for brands that do embrace video. Focus on quality over quantity and have a clear idea about what you want to use your video content for and you can really start to engage with your audience, whether it’s as a marketing tool or as a customer service too.

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