In the era of social networking and democratization of the web, connecting with ones customers and audience on an emotional level is becoming ever so important and crucial for businesses.
Using video for digital storytelling has shown to be effective, but it has been, and still is, a bit of a mystery land and non-option to many companies due to high prizing and technically advanced solutions, combined with the requirements on high video quality.
23 Video from Denmark, Europe, or as Robert Scoble puts it,” the country that nobody visits!”, has just finished its international launch tour with a mission to make own videosites accessible to everyone. Everyone should have one, and everyone should be able to afford one. With over 200 running websites and paying customers, 23 Video is now going global offering 100 partners in 15 different countries.
23 Video has already been called for the WordPress for video by the tech savvy media, allowing one to get started by swiping a credit card, choosing a design and a domain name. With a self funded team of ten, 23 Video is taking up the fight against competitors like Brightcove and Ooyala, who combined are good for $145 Million in funding.
Case Study in Building Product and Launching Internationally
Moreover, 23 Video is a great case study on how to build a product and launch internationally in a very competitive landscape.
1. Solving real problems: Listen and Learn
Get early adopters and customers and work together with them to get feedback. Go hunting for feedback. Show your product to everyone you think might benefit from it. Listen, digest, and focus.
“23 Video is determined to kill that mumbo jumbo and difficulties surrounding setting up ones own web-tv channel”
One quick look at the feature list tells that it’s exactly what the team’s been busy with during the past year.
The team have been breaking down every possible barrier to entry there is for a small business to get started with online video. How about features like one price and no limitations, or as to quote Thomas:
“Why have limits, we believe in empowering instead of limiting users”.
The list continues with all the goodies like HTML5, API, distribution across all platforms, SEO friendly, own ad serving (partnership with Videoplaza), and access control in case you’d be into paywall solutions, to name a few.
2. Build your fanbase
I can not stress this enough: Involve people early on in your product. You will need ambassadors to help with feedback on the product development, spreading the word and making those important connections and recommendations. For example, do a feedback tour like 23 Video did.
To disrupt an industry and behavioral habits is normally a long process and never simply done just by introducing a new technology. Sure, both luck, timing and a great product is needed, but foremost, it’s about hard work educating and enabling both the customers, and their customers.
23 Video has been working with tutorials, workshops, as securing and educating partners to fully utilize the product. How easy the platform and tools might be, one still needs help and inspiration to produce the content.
4. 100% Human
23 Video is all about the people, for the people.
“23 Video is just a tool: it takes humans to make the most of it. Instead of automated responses, you will have your very own contact person to help you out.”
Many companies today are struggling to humanize their brands to be able to meet the increasing customer demands regarding transparency in customer service and company communication.
5. Launch with help from your fans
Everyone can throw a launch party: hire the works, invite “important” industry people, potential customers and press (no guarantee for show up), but as at most of the times, it’ll end up being yet another launch party soon to be forgotten, without having created none whatsoever connection or relationship with the brand itself.
Or, you can launch in smaller scale, inviting few special people recommended by your fans and trusted peers to create something that sticks. Instead of spending lots of money on eyeballs, spend time with people. 23 Video did that by having team of four doing informal launch dinners in San Francisco, London, Hamburg and Stockholm, finishing back at home in Copenhagen. Be creative. Be a person and socialize.
More reading on digital storytelling on Bub.blicio.us.
Paula is online strategist and startup evangelist. She is also a mentor for startups at Seedcamp. She blogs at paulamarttila.com and here at Bub.blicio.us.
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Drop her email at paula.marttila[at]gmail[dot]com