Since the invention of the internet, businesses have harnessed it to communicate with potential customers, partners and employees. Not only has the technology advanced over the decades, so too has our skill in using it to market our products and services. As distribution of online content has advanced, the methods once used by a select few are now utilized by the many.
From day one businesses have aimed to create a realistic relationship with potential customers virtually. And finally they have the tools to do this.
A brief history of business online
In the 1990s, the internet is available to anyone with a dialup connection; bricks-and-mortar businesses have online listings with their contact info and basic description. Current and potential customers from their area and beyond can go online and learn about their products and services.
By the late 1990s, the addition of imagery and personalized web addresses allow companies to create what is essentially an online brochure. Services, products and staff are highlighted on a single page – in a more engaging way than the text-only predecessors.
In the early 2000s companies add additional pages, plugins for maps, contact forms, and then tiny low resolution videos, allowing customers to more easily connect with businesses.
The mid-2000s sees the explosion of online video, with the launching of Vimeo and YouTube. Suddenly everything you’ve ever seen is available online, and businesses start uploading all their old TV commercials – an attempt to connect with customers through video, but one that ultimately felt nostalgic, not genuine.
Online video awakens
As online video matures, content creators begin to use the online distribution model for what it is: a new way of consuming media, not merely a version of TV. Businesses start making content purely for online viewing. With the rise of social networking and easy sharing, videos shorten for bite-sized watching. The growth of mobile allows for even more accelerated distribution and shorter content, which gets us to where we are today: a time where instead of a customer having to go and look a company up online and be delivered some basic, functional content, companies can now reach their customers (current and potential) through a variety of touchpoints, throughout the day, in highly emotional ways.
Modern businesses of any size now view video as the hero of their marketing mix, with everything else there to support the distribution of video. The cutting-edge company will create a video whenever they launch something new, are looking for new staff, training new employees, explaining how a product works, sharing business information and communicating their mission.
Video isn’t a fad, it’s the destination
Whether you consume it on a screen, or in a VR headset, the experience of video is the highest form of human interaction you can have on the web. Sure, frame rates and resolution will increase, but the fact remains the same: watching a moving image is the closest you will come to knowing a business without visiting them in person. And connecting a business with millions of people in a way that feels personal and genuine is what the internet does best.
If you’re a company already creating successful online video, congratulations! You clearly have an understanding of the power of video. And if you aren’t, well, it’s never too late to start. Consider all the messages you want customers, partners and employees to receive, and then think about how they can be delivered as short entertaining, informative experiences. We’ve arrived at the destination, now we need to populate it.