Video isn't just about cats and dogs anymore. More organizations today are turning to video to tell their story, get the word out about a new product or service and even recruit employees.
How can your business benefit from video? CIO.com asked dozens of business managers, owners and video experts to find out. Here are their top eight tips for where and how to use video for business.
1. Attract New Customers
"It's key to have an explanatory video on your homepage if your service or product is particularly innovative or simply requires an explanation for a new customer to understand it," says Lauren Grad, marketing manager at 99designs, a graphic design marketplace that connects customers to graphic designers.
To highlight its business's contest model in which multiple designers compete to win a client, 99designs created a video entitled "How it works in 60 seconds," and posted it to their home page.
Video can also set you apart from the competition, Grad says, by explaining to prospective customers the benefits of using your products or services instead of those from the competition. Home loan company Guaranteed Rate, for example, posted this video explaining its business to its customers.
2. Announce a New Product or Service
Video is a great way to get the word out and generate buzz for a new product or service, says Claudine Bianchi, chief marketing officer at Axceler, a provider of enterprise collaboration governance, administration and migration solutions.
"The fun and cheeky tone in our videos to launch our newest product, ViewPoint Enterprise, cut through the noise of other dry product announcements and encouraged viewers to visit the product's homepage to learn more," she says. "Since it launched, we've received [positive] feedback from prospects and analysts, and the videos have received [many] views on YouTube."
3. Recruit New Employees
"Finding the best employees is the single-most important function of any company," says Melissa Thermidor, marketing manager at LatentView Analytics. "Recruitment videos that feature company employees and promote the culture of the company can be very influential."
To help boost its recruitment efforts, LatentView created this engaging video, which helped increase its applicant pool tenfold.
4. Educate Customers
Video is a great tool for demonstrating how to use your product or service-and can often convey more information quicker than a photo or a written description, says Alex Glassey, CEO of StratPad, a strategic business planning app for entrepreneurs.
"In a recent survey, our customers said they needed help understanding financial statements," Glassey says. The company then created a series of short videos entitled "Financial Statements Made Easy," which explain income statements, balance sheets and statements of cash flow, which are featured on StratPad's website as well as on YouTube and Udemy.
"We aspire to make business planning simple," Glassey says. "The videos reinforce that message and have become another funnel for attracting new customers."
Similarly, for Sarah Yonover, the creator and founder of HipKNOTies, a line of multipurpose garments, using video to educate her customers was crucial.
"When I am in front of people and have the ability to physically show them the way that HipKNOTies can transform from one style to another, they are always amazed," she says. "However, I cannot be everywhere at all times. That is why video has contributed to the overwhelming success of HipKNOTies." You can see her how-to videos here.
"Some say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I believe that video is worth millions of dollars in sales," Yonover says.
5. Educate and Train Employees
Video is also a great way to share information with employees, says Carly Ramirez, social media manager at home loan company Guaranteed Rate.
"We send daily video tips to teach our employees and realtors how to use social media, mobile apps and useful websites to grow and market their business," Ramirez says. "People are very visual, and we found that our audience loves being able to follow along with a video tutorial rather than just reading plain text," she says.
For example, the company posted a "Call Me, Maybe?" video spoof, which highlighted some of the company's most popular video tips to introduce realtors to new or popular apps to increase leads and sales.
"Video also helps businesses scale their training," says Javier Perez-Karam, the founder of Green Carrot, a storytelling and production company. "Instead of having one-on-one training, the business owner can make sure all new employees or contractors learn from one source, at any time, with the ability to go back and review it."
For the video to be effective, Perez-Karam says, it needs to be both informational and engaging-and not too long.
6. Let Customers Tell Their Story
"Customer testimonials in the form of video provide an easy way to help validate your business," says Lauren Hill, video production specialist at Volusion, provider of ecommerce software and shopping cart solutions. "Not only do they build positive buzz about you, but customer success videos also create an element of social proof, emphasizing why someone should take interest in your organization," she says.
But you need to be careful about how you approach customer testimonials, Hill says. Some may ot come off as genuine. "By letting someone else sing your praises [as the founder of You Smell did in this video], you'll create a level of transparency that will help customers see why you're a business worthy of coming back to."
99designs' Grad says that video testimonials add a greater level of depth. "A video customer testimonial [such as this one from Startup Grind] conveys so much more to prospective customers than a quote or even a case study ever can," she says.
And, by featuring a happy customer singing your praises in his or her own words, a video helps build trust. "It can also show who your target demographic is and how your company serves them well, which is why having multiple video testimonials targeting different prospects is always a good idea," Grad says.
7. Share Best Practices
"We use both live and recorded video to create a community for our clients, bringing hundreds of Walmart suppliers from across the globe together each week for the purpose of sharing best practices," says Matt Fifer, cofounder of 8th & Walton, an education and consulting firm.
"Video [such as this one] has been an extremely popular and effective medium for us, as our clients are typically extremely busy throughout the week and prefer to catch up during what are often non-business hours."
8. Keep Remote Employees Connected
Many companies already use video conferencing and webinars to stay connected, but you may not realize that "video is a great way to strengthen company culture internally," says Brad Jefferson, CEO and cofounder of Animoto, an online video creation service.
Especially if your employees work in different locations, video can create a sense of shared community, like this one Animoto did to share its big San Francisco office opening or this video showcasing the company's volunteer work.
Do you know of another great way businesses can use video? Please leave us a comment.
Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a contributor to CIO.com and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping organizations better interact with their customers, employees and partners.
Read more about online marketing in CIO's Online Marketing Drilldown.
This story, "8 Ways Online Video Can Improve Your Business" was originally published by CIO.