On day three of Hubspot’s Inbound Conference 2012, it’s clear that content is king. Of 64 sessions, most were about using content; creating content, managing content, sharing content, or tracking content. There were many examples of content in the wild, most of it textbook-perfect material designed to appeal to customers and drive shares and inbound links. That’s the point.
But despite all this, only about 8 sessions went into branding in any way. I suppose with 2,800 attendees, most of whom represent marketing companies or departments, the scope of content runs from everything including installation manuals for laser printer parts to videos of cheerleaders jumping out of airplanes. So an in-depth branding discussion would be irrelevant to the majority.
This happens a lot when a business idea is presented in the form of a case example or application. Many companies try to create a lot of them so at least one will appeal to clients. In the consumer realm, the bias is much easier to see, which is why clothes, movies, shoes, toothpastes, cereals, mobile devices and everything else we buy are available in so many varied options.
So all that content not only has to be in various forms, such as blog articles, whitepapers, webinars, and case studies, it also has to cover all the possible options for vastly different customers. If you have several customer profiles for brand messaging, does this mean you should write different material for each of them? Can you say crisis?
Dynamic Branching To The Rescue
Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a kid (boy, am I dating myself)? These were a series of books that ‘branched’ several times, leading to different events and different endings. I don’t think I ever made it through one properly, because I always skipped forward to see the outcome before making a decision.
Today, it would be possible to prevent me from doing that using branching technology. In fact, role-playing games, both analog and online, could be considered a close relative of these books. Gamification is a rapidly growing concept, and it’s expected to play a major role in marketing. This translates as rewards programs, sharing promotions, tracking of ‘levels’, and it could also mean branching experiences, where no two customers have exactly the same relationship with a brand.
Video delivers this experience in a way that no other medium can. Instead of a flat, static experience, the effect is dynamic, like a movie where the viewer can change the outcome. You can create as many options as you can fit into the flow, and edit these options at any time. You can track viewers whenever they make choices, and you can even lock out transport control, so nobody can skip ahead and cheat, the way I used to as a kid.
How It Works
Imagine the possibilities with branching video; viewers can self-select from a series of options, showing them the product features they are interested in, while suppressing the rest. If your brand means ‘convenience’ to some people, and ‘value’ to others, you can let them drive the relationship, and you can also learn more about your customers as they click the options and offer feedback that you can track and measure.
If you play your videos in multiple chapters, you can either break them into smaller groups and store them in a library, or you can run the entire video in one long presentation. This means the viewer must either choose from a list or set of thumbnails, or watch the entire long video, skipping through the parts they’re not interested in. The effect is one of searching and browsing, and hoping the content will match their interests.
With branching video, your series of videos are chosen through a unique interface that emphasizes a linear experience instead of a bulk search, yet, the viewer is able to create a flow that matches their interests and needs. There are some video hosting and presentation providers that deliver this kind of built-in application, including YouTube and KnowledgeVision.
The possibilities are extremely varied when you use branching, which means the detail you get back about your audience will be rich and thorough. And you’ve given your customers what they need, in a new and interesting way.
Originally posted on the KnowledgeVision Fresh Ideas Blog.