Is Rich Media the Key to Social Media Success?
Rich media. Chances are you may not be familiar with the term but in all likelihood, you’ve already enjoyed the benefits associated with rich media features. It’s one of the fastest growing segments of the social media marketing and social media consulting field with small business owners searching for ways to increase sales, maximize customer retention and attract new clients in an affordable manner. Is there really a single source of inspiration capable of doing all this and more…yes! As a growing social media management firm, we’ve seen first-hand exactly how powerful rich media can be when properly utilized. On the other hand, we’ve also seen what can go wrong when rich media fails to live up to expectations. Immense amounts of wasted time, energy and expenditures are only the tip of the iceberg. Today we are going to cover the pro’s and con’s associated with rich media while shedding some much needed light into the essential elements every small business should consider when speaking with their social media agency.
Defining Rich Media
Before we begin, let’s take a few moments to actually define rich media. It’s one of those terms which everyone rather assumes they understand but in reality, it may mean different things to different people. Once upon a time, in the early days of the Internet, rich media consisted of gif’s (if you actually remember these you are showing your age!) but today, rich media may include anything from state-of-the-art video’s, interactive catalogs, flash, e-commerce environments that allow users to customize items to suite their own needs, zoom images and even 360 degree features. The possibilities are nearly endless and growing by the day. In a nutshell, rich media is capable of immersing the user into the online experience while allowing them to see, hear, interact with and modify the exchange.
Clients Demand Rich Media
According to Internet Retailer, “52% of consumers way watching product video’s make them more confident in their online purchase decisions”…can your small business afford to miss out on over 50% of all online shoppers? Of course not! Not only is the future of social media marketing increasingly correlated with mobile but it is becoming a richer experience filled with audio, video, product tours, interactive features and much more.
Does Rich Media Work?
Not only does rich media work but it works amazingly well…at least for now. Drawing from various resources, we know that 60% of shoppers will watch a video presented as part of the shopping experience making it highly effective as a unique selling tool or method of showcasing new items. Wondering who is using video’s in their sales? How about none other than Amazon.com! Take a look at many featured products (for example, Kindle) and you will see at least one video featuring the product…often multiple video’s are used to demonstrate different segments of interest. In fact, if a video is deemed informative, educational or insightful then 2 out of 3 shoppers will actually view it twice in order to make a more informed buying decision and 46% will share via Facebook, 40% via Email and about 14% via Twitter.
Which Form Works Best?
Okay, undoubtedly these are some impressive statistics but savvy small business owners will have already noticed one troubling trend…there are a lot of different rich media sources from with to select. It’s a valid concern. Choosing the wrong method – or the wrong message – or the wrong delivery style (you get the drift) can be a recipe for disaster!
While it could be argued that some rich media is better than nothing, that is not supported by the data. For example, it is well known that in the early days of online shopping, several major retail chains experienced major difficulty with their interactive catalogs and ordering systems. Not surprisingly, sales were lost but what might be of even greater concern was the total number of customers lost over the long run. Some industry experts believe exactly this type of delayed response was partially responsible for the demise of several major retail concerns.
To get a better understanding, let’s first begin by asking how buyers rate different forms of rich media.
- Just under 40% enjoy multimedia that includes video, flash, audio and images.
- 36% want interactive advertisements and product demonstrations.
- 34% expect product tours, the ability to spin and zoom onto products, video and animation.
- 34% enjoy interactive catalogs and online brochures.
While this sounds impressive, it is vital to understand that the product type, overall site design, method of accessing the site and other criteria should all be carefully evaluated prior to the decision to go with one form of rich media over another. This is where the experience and expertise of a reputable social media marketing firm makes all the difference!
All or Nothing Approach
There is another school of thought that tends to try it all…at one time! While this might work well in a few specific instances, it can also easily overwhelm customers who are left searching for the information needed or feeling frustrated by too many duplications. Once again, moderation and the scientific application of proper design is vital to the overall success of rich media initiatives. Aside from the specifics related to each individual site, there are a few items which are so important as to form the foundation for every rich social media marketing campaign:
1. Professionally produced video’s. If offering a professional service, it is all but imperative to invest in a professionally produced video or other rich media source including “how to” or technical views. Catalogs and other technical features must also work perfectly every time!
2. Casual consumer video’s. There is a time and place for everything and user generated reviews have been demonstrated to be highly effective in selling an item. Unlike “how to” video’s, client testimonials are well received among other users especially those from family, friends and other social media contacts.