This past December, I flew back home to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with my family, all of whom were very excited to show off the new flat screen in the living room. I don't blame them. It is pretty nice. And since our last visit, they also redecorated the room a big, squashy wrap-around couch and comfy armchairs, to create the ultimate family viewing experience.

So mom made hot chocolate and we all settled around the TV for our Christmas entertainment. But did we go to ABC or to the Hallmark Channel? No. Because even with the fancy flat screen, my family doesn't have cable. Everyone from my pre-teen nephew to my 65-year old dad goes to YouTube as their main source of entertainment. And they're by no means alone.

YouTube reaches more adults during prime time television hours than any cable television station on mobile alone, and it has more than a billion users on its platform (which actually accounts for nearly a third of all people online).

In the content marketing arena, video is quickly becoming a must-have. In fact, fifty-one percent of global marketing executives point to video over other types of content for best return on investment and marketers who use video grow revenue forty-nine percent faster than non-video users.

As content marketing professional, Tavis Bucklin puts it, "Video allows for a personal connection that is hard to make any other way outside of physically meet that person. If you were to meet a Hollywood celebrity on the street you would feel you know them to some extent. This is called parasocial interaction when leveraged, it can be one of your most powerful marketing tools."

But it's not enough just to use video in your marketing. It has to be entertaining and it has to be marketed well, so that your audience actually knows you exist. To give you some good ideas, I reached out to some of the talented bootstrapping filmmakers on Blue Fever, who took what they new about great entertainment and monetized it.

Here is some of their best advise for video content marketing:

Identify Your True Audience

In order for your content to resonate, you need to put it in front of your true audience. Not the folks who are the right age or "type" - the folks who are already talking about your subject matter.

"My boyfriend, Steven Krimmel, and I co-created a short film, Disconnection, based on our long distance relationship," says Kristine Gerolaga. "I searched for every long distance relationship blog I could find on the internet and shared my video with them in an authentic way."

Gerolaga didn't ask for anything in return and instead just hoped that it would resonate with the audience. As it turns out, there is a huge long distance relationship community that deeply related to the piece; because of this, they shared the video over and over again.

Utilizing social influencers is another great way to find your audience.

"Earlier this year, my co-producer and I released a short documentary series, Facets, says Yoko Okumura. "We scoured the web to figure out who curated the Vimeo staff pick videos, and submitted the series to them. One of our episodes, Lacey Baker - Defiant Skateboarder, became a Vimeo staff pick, and that video is still getting a lot of views."

As you find your audience and increase eyeballs to your video, it's easy to become obsessed with number of views and make yourself crazy. Marketers are constantly being asked the same question over and over again and that is "How do you create a viral video?"

Filmmaker and comedian, Josie Kaye puts it best when she says that the world of video content is like an ocean and each video is like a bit of plankton. "Everyone assumes they need a viral video but in reality, that's like winning the lottery," she explains. "Also, viral videos don't have staying power. It's a sudden flash that can be great for a short time but it's really not needed to have real success."

Remember folks, you can't be everything to everybody. The key to success will always be resonating hard with your niche and creating content specifically for them.

Invite Your Audience on the Journey

Shows like The Voice and Project Runway have been so popular because the audience becomes invested in the artist's journey and feels as though they had something to do with their success. This tactic works. Use it.

"Inviting potential partners into your project is different than trying to sell it," says Monica Sender. "For my feature screenplay, Personal Influence, I developed a vision book that invites my audiences and collaborators to share in the vision."

Find a way to creatively use the video medium to give your audience some insight into your company; even better, use it to include them on the creation of new products.

"We had a project, Sleeping with Earrings On, that started as a play," says Jaclyn Gramigna. "Later, we decided to make it into a film and shared the whole process with our audience, who was there with us from the beginning."

Gramigna and her team grew their reach this way and ended up hosting a crowd-funding campaign, which raised 166 percent of their goal. Bringing the audience into the creative process was so crucial because fans felt personally connected to the project.

Create a Distinct Voice

Authenticity has become a must - and yes, you can probably blame millennials for that. Because of the sheer amount of content we are served and how much we choose to consume, we can all spot BS from a mile away. As a content marketer, it is more important than ever to create and maintain your authentic voice.

"For me, the thing that has been most effective is that making sure across every social platform my voice is unique and consistent," says Maggie Levin, writer/director of VR series, Vain. "Creating a precedent with audiences so that they know exactly what they're going to get when they see your content gives them a reason to crave your brand and what makes it different."

Be very meticulous about maintaining your strong, unique voice. The production process may take a little longer, but it's worth it.

"As a general rule, prefer quality over quantity," says Celine Tricart, founder of Lucid Dreams Productions. "With today's social media, we are constantly served with bad content with low production value and no real impact. If the idea is good, if it comes from a place of honesty and truth and if the production value is high, it will find its audience."

Syndicate Your Content

Whether through video or written content, most entrepreneurs are looking to become thought leaders in their space. Producing content on your own site is great, but getting it hosted on a high-traffic site with a name behind it is even better.

"I recently collaborated with Refinery29," says Lara Everly. "They were looking for content to greenlight for their new comedy channel, RIOT, so I offered them my female-driven scripts - Trumped, Sugar Babies and Baby and Me Yoga, that were likely to resonate with their audience."

Since Everly's goal was exposure (not native traffic), this partnership was hugely beneficial to establishing an audience for her work.

If you are a business owner, think about doing a video series in which you share your expertise (in a non-promotional way), then pitch it to larger business sites. This is a win/win situation: they need excellent content and you need maximum exposure.

As you approach your video content marketing, think like a filmmaker and find deep ways to hit home for your audience, as this is the only way to move them to action. When you find what works, continue to evolve and perfect your content.

And finally, always remember that as a marketer, you are an artist. Act like one!

Published on: Jan 13, 2017