By Hadley Newman, managing director at Omobono Middle East
When YouTube was launched, it’s unlikely the founders expected its most significant traffic would come from Saudi Arabia. With the largest number of YouTube consumers per capita in the world, it is no surprise then that the social media channel chose the Kingdom to host its first FanFest event in the Middle East.
While YouTube shifted social dynamics, a compelling platform for business-to-business interaction on social media, which leverages the power of visuals, had been lacking. For businesses, creating quality YouTube videos has been a high-cost proposition with little tangible returns guaranteed.
This ‘white space’ is now being addressed with the launch of LinkedIn Video. A powerful tool for fostering engagement with B2B brands and interaction online, it can bring transformational opportunities for businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Middle East region.
The reasons go beyond the well known high internet and smartphone penetration rates in the UAE. With Google ranking the UAE as leading the global smartphone penetration rate (at 73.8%), and the region having an average of 90% of businesses classified as SMEs, the power of fast, responsive and shareable videos in driving B2B interaction cannot be overstated.
That is why at Omobono we believe that LinkedIn Videos is a game changer. The first reason, no doubt, is the compulsive value that videos bring in communications. Dr. James McQuivey, an expert in defining the power of digital disruption on traditional businesses, in his seminal study on ‘How video will take over the world,’ observes that a ‘one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words.’
Secondly the reach of videos, in contrast to blogs and written posts, is far higher, and is underlined in Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, which reports that video, as of 2017, accounts for 69% of all internet traffic, with video-on-demand traffic having already trebled in volume.
A report on video marketing statistics presents several persuasive arguments on the role of video, stating that over 100 million internet users watch a video daily, and that 90 percent of online shoppers find videos helpful in making a purchase decision.
But how does a social network such as LinkedIn bring extra value for businesses? How can what could be perceived as ‘just another’ platform for marketing be decisive to the success of businesses?
The answer lies in the ‘trust factor.’ According to a study by the American Press Institute, LinkedIn is the most trusted social site for news, while Facebook ranks lowest. This may in part be attributed to the unforgiving nature of LinkedIn users, who will often call out users who break the unofficial rules of LinkedIn etiquette. This active moderation by LinkedIn users could hopefully prevent brands polluting LinkedIn Videos with over-branded and limited-value videos, a fate suffered by all other social channels.
With the opportunity to share native videos – ranging from 30 seconds to 10 minutes – businesses have a greater probability to engage with peer and target groups. Specifically in the UAE, 97% of the respondents in Omobono’s What Works Where 2017 – The State of Digital in the UAE survey said, they use LinkedIn for B2B marketing, and 43% cited it as the most effective B2B channel.
This is in line with the global trend, with B2B marketers regarding LinkedIn as the ‘most effective and popular platform to distribute content,’ according to the B2B Content Marketing Report with 94% of organisations surveyed stating they used LinkedIn to distribute content and 66% observing that LinkedIn is the most effective followed by Twitter, YouTube and SlideShare.
With 84% of the respondients in the UAE in the WWW 2017 survey considering digital as important to achieving their marketing goals, and 60% stating that their top priority over the next 12 months is to develop brand position, the use of online videos as part of the digital mix is clearly set to increase.
The growing popularity of online videos is further highlighted in the study on Top 25 Video Marketing Stats in 2017, which states that including a video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%. An exemplary example is the new website for the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, www.dmcc.ae.
The role of online videos is also underpinned by the fact that for cosmopolitan nations such as the UAE, digital marketing requires businesses to connect with multiple cultures and to operate in unfamiliar langauges. The power of video in this regard is obvious.
The Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2016 offers further evidence on the power of visuals for B2B engagement, reporting that 60% of marketers currently use video in their marketing and 73% plan to increase the use of video, with LinkedIn serving as a clear preference for B2B marketers.
It is a no-brainer then that marketing budgets are moving towards video content. Nielsen reports that 64% of marketers expect video to dominate their content while the WWW2017 survey identified that marketing professionals in the UAE expect 7% of their B2B digital marketing budget to be allocated to online videos. As businesses plan to spend, on average, at least US$500,000 on digital B2B marketing in the coming year, there is a clear opportuntiy for the growth of online video content.
There are challenges relating to retention and duration of engagement on LinkedIn. Reports show members spend on average just two minutes a day on-site. However, a knowledgeable partner can guide you through the journey to help you articulate the right message using the most appropriate style to create high-impact videos that increase brand recall, generate leads and help your customers better understand your products.
With access to rich data and analytics on LinkedIn, the launch of LinkedIn Videos comes as a cost-effective, measurable and relevant tool for content marketing. From product launches to consumer stories to a swift response to a crisis, LinkedIn Videos has the potential to take your business to the next level.
With nearly 40% of the respondents in the WWW 2017 survey pointing out that their online video content is all or mostly outsourced, the consultancy of an agency with a proven track-record in managing the business of B2B marketing will be invaluable.
So ask yourself: ‘Should I wait and watch? Or should I grab the opportunity… right now?’