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November 17, 2016 4:02 PM, EST
Online Video Marketing: Medium Has Become Too Easy, Inexpensive for Fleets to Ignore

This story appears in the November 14 print edition of iTECH, a supplement to Transport Topics.

Joe Dysart
While video marketing already is on the radar of many fleets, recent indications are that the medium will continue to explosively transform the web for years to come. Video- and photo-sharing social media startup Instagram — a mere blip on the web’s radar a few years ago — now boasts 500 million users. Snapchat, another social media network that incorporates video, is growing nearly as ferociously.

And YouTube — the online video king — cruises along these days at more than a billion users. Plus, YouTube is reaching more 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable television network in the United States, according to the company’s statistics page.

“Clearly, video is something we want to leverage in the future to stay connected to our driver partners,” said Joe Weigel, director of marketing and communications at Celadon Trucking Services, which frequently uploads its own videos on YouTube to enhance communications.

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“In fact, we’ve invested in a mobile video studio that has a lighting system, microphone and backdrops,” added Weigel, whose company’s parent, Celadon Group Inc., ranks No 32 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Pat Hightower, vice president of business development at The Hightower Agency, a trucker recruiter that created a video-based recruiting website for trucking company American Central Transport, agreed: “Video is integral to our Facebook campaigns and as a component of social media campaigns. It’s a medium that’s a comfortable communications tool for millennials and for future drivers.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said, “We’re at the beginning of a golden age of online video.”

A 2015 Animoto study found that 55% of consumers watch at least one video per week on a mobile device, and 48% of millennials view videos exclusively on mobile.

But perhaps most telling is a prediction from market researcher eMarketer. By 2017, businesses will for the first time spend more advertising dollars on digital advertising — approximately $77.4 billion — than on television advertising, according to the think tank.

“We currently utilize web video to relay messages about recruiting, company announcements, tips for truck maintenance, health tips, company information and history and general information about the trucking industry,” said Todd Sanning, director of marketing at Crete Carrier Corp., which ranks No. 33 on the for-hire TT100. “All of the web videos we make are located on our YouTube channels with the Crete account hosting the majority of the content.”

Indeed, some trucking companies have been extremely successful with online video. Bison Transport Inc., for example, says its top-viewed video has more than 100,000 hits.

“Video has been instrumental in delivering our content-marketing needs,” said Lionel Johnston, corporate marketing manager at Bison, ranked No. 65 on the for-hire TT100. “We have used video to demonstrate the equipment we use and to highlight our culture and programs, to name just a few examples. Video has been a large part of our external communications, but it has also been utilized in many internal communication projects.”

Plus, carriers often find that by adding video, their websites do better in search-engine returns.

“Improved search engine optimization from videos increases your chances of a front-page Google search,” said Melissa Nishan, director of recruiting at Epes Transport System, which also posts its videos on YouTube. Parent company Epes Carriers Inc. is No. 71 on the for-hire TT100.

Anderson Trucking Service, No. 37 on the for-hire TT100, also sees visual content as “the key to great engagement,” said Joe Goering, the fleet’s vice president of recruiting.

“Not only are audiences more likely to engage with visual content — people also retain that content at a much higher rate than text-based mediums,” he said. “We’ve seen that proven in numerous campaigns and look forward to the level of success we hope to accomplish in future video marketing efforts.”

Sherry Sanger, senior vice president of marketing at Penske Truck Leasing Co., said: “Across all of our online video channels, we’ve achieved millions of views and our online video consumption continues to grow monthly.”

One example is Penske’s humorous take on fleet maintenance:

“We find online video provides an efficient way to reach an audience,” said Sanger, whose company’s subsidiary, Penske Logistics, ranks No. 22 on the for-hire TT100. “But it is often much more effective when used in coordination within the context of other digital content and campaigns.”

Fortunately, fleets looking to cash in on the seemingly insatiable appetite for video on the web have a cornucopia of tools they can use to put together videos of all types.

YouTube Director

Released this summer, YouTube Director is a suite of easy-to-use tools specifically designed for small businesses looking to make quick marketing videos from their smartphones.

“We know that creating a video ad can be challenging,” said Max Goldman, product manager for YouTube Director. “To make it easier for every business to get started with advertising on YouTube, we’re launching YouTube Director.”

The suite’s core product is a downloadable app featuring commonly used templates for video ads, which a fleet manager or trucker can use to quickly populate with his or her own video content.

Looking to put together an overview video of your trucking business? Want to create a profile of your CEO, or perhaps take your customers behind the scenes to show them how your business works?

YouTube Director has video ad templates for those marketing presentations and more. The templates also come complete with pre-packaged music that can be used to further polish the production.

Moreover, for businesses willing to spend at least $150 to advertise on YouTube, the video Goliath will send a local video producer right to your door to put your video together for free.

Live Video Streaming

Nothing engenders immediacy in marketing quite like live streamed video. And major social media networks are scrambling to provide this service to their users free of charge.

Facebook, for example, has begun rolling out a live streaming service that’s ridiculously easy to use on a smartphone. Users simply log in to Facebook, tap their “Update Status” button and choose the Live Video icon to start filming.

While you’re broadcasting, you’ll be able to see how many people are watching and how many of your Facebook friends are in the audience. Plus, your viewers will be able to live-stream comments to one another as they watch the video.

“Live is just one part of our overall video effort, but we think it has a lot of potential,” Zuckerberg said. “Friends go live because it’s unfiltered and personal. Actors and news anchors go live because they can reach bigger audiences.”

Similar free, live video streaming services are offered by Periscope, a Twitter-owned company, and YouTube Live Streaming.

Free Stock Images, Music

While online services such as Getty Images will happily charge you an arm and a leg for stock photography, there are plenty of sites on the web where you can grab tens of thousands of royalty-free images for your videos.

Some of these sites include:

•Pixabay — This site has hundreds of thousands images that are public domain. Plus, Pixabay offers vector graphics, illustrations and short video clips.

•Unsplash — This site offers a plethora of high-quality images. Photos are arranged in collections, or you can drill down for more specific needs using a search tool.

•Flickr — The Commons section on Flickr compiles images with no known copyright restrictions from museums, libraries and individuals worldwide, including the Smithsonian, the New York Public Library and the British Museum.

•Madeleine — At this site, you’ll be able to search for a photo by color, category, license type or simple keyword.

As with images, there are a number of sites that offer free downloads of background music for your trucking marketing videos. These include Amazon, Free Stock Music and YouTube Audio Library.

And Videvo is one of the world’s largest sources of free cinematic video clips and motion graphics.

Free Video Analytics

You’ll have a better idea of how well your videos are doing if you know who is clicking on links in your videos that lead back to your website, Facebook page or other web properties.

Google, YouTube and Twitter offer free analytics tools you can use to further understand what marketing videos are working best for you.

Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. Voice: (646) 233-4089. E-mail: joe@joedysart.com. Web: www.joedysart.com.