Way back in January one of my predictions was that 2015 would be the year of online video. With the amount of video being viewed and uploaded on a daily basis this seemed an obvious choice, but of course there's more to brand strategy than just filling a YouTube channel.

The measure of online success for our ongoing campaigns (#KierHeroes and #KierClients) is primarily increasing brand recognition for our myriad of services with the hope of generating positive user stories and comments. By telling the stories of our staff, audiences can look behind the facade of our company and get to know the people on the ground. Whether it is the man who fixes the bridleways or the woman who works on big projects like Crossrail these stories humanise our organisation and they let potential customers know who will be looking after their needs.

What has been an eye opener for me is how this seems to have followed the same pattern both with our internal and external audiences. Whenever I'm out and about they are a talking point and staff are proud to say they know the project or person featured in the video. This highlights how no medium can communicate the personality of the brand, or stir up emotion, quite as effectively as video.

Alongside this we've been increasingly creating new customer testimonials (with a number planned into our strategy). These are intended for potential clients/staff to feel less like they are buying a product and more buying into a community.

In order to properly seed this content we have been careful not to neglect social media and to ensure we are promoting across multiple channels - to fully utilise video's potential (and justify the time and cost spent) it must be easy for users to find and share it. With this in mind we have a weekly content strategy with every channel listed and the optimum timings listed for each based on what we have tested and learnt to date.

These weekly videos have also been carefully planned around internal and external factors to attempt to gain maximum exposure. This could either be the writing of an internal bid or a more national event such as National Walking Month.

It's also important to engage stakeholders for brand authenticity. For example we have a large contract with the Canal and River Trust. This is a subject in which many people are passionate so affiliating ourselves with them online means a much wider audience for our content. Relationships with joint ventures are important offline and exactly the same can be said online:

One part of this campaign I was really happy about was when we spotted the below Tweet from the daughter of one of the stars:

Not only does this bring the campaign extra authenticity and shows that Kier people are human too, it also adds some extra emotional depth by telling the story of a proud family member!

No digital campaign can be without regular testing and learning leading to the initial strategy being tweaked. Below are some examples of the metrics we are using to monitor the campaign's effectiveness (taken from the first few weeks):
  • 2,622 individuals have viewed a video (comparable with Blog)
  • 305 are staff (8%)
  • 668 individual visitors to website landing page
  • 450 have visited website after watching a video (via social media)
  • 218 clicked homepage banner and then watched a video (within page)
  • 89% have then viewed another page (56% have looked at our job site)
With proper benchmarking in place we can therefore monitor the uplift and if video really is becoming more powerful. On current trends and if it were two years in the future, there is every chance you would have watched this post instead of read it...
One of the big challenges of working at such a large and diverse company as Kier, is being able to showcase all of our services in one place and collate content from the many different divisions and offices in a way which gives them equal importance. We have offices all over the country (many of which I have already visited), and abroad, and part of my remit in the central team is to provide the tools for the regional teams to show off what they, and Kier, can do.

This is why I have felt it important to go out in person and talk to everyone who is involved in selling our services - so we can discuss what challenges we all face whilst looking at ways to share knowledge and content. I've even taken to documenting my travels with a bit of office spotting on my Twitter account to serve as an aide-memoire!
This has been a really positive experience and has allowed my team to use the feedback gathered to produce a powerful tool mainly for use by our business development managers. Entitled the 'Kier Showcase' it's exactly that, a showcase of our full range of work we can provide clients which supports our Vision 2020 to help grow the size of our business by aiding cross-selling across divisions.​ As well as being a useful sales instrument, Kier Showcase also helps colleagues to improve their knowledge of Kier, allowing everyone to get a good understanding of the services we offe​r.

This interactive presentation works on either tablets or laptops and can be talked through with clients or anyone else interested in Kier. We've also developed a quarterly schedule to update it and it includes all of our case studies by region and our growing portfolio of videos.

From a technical point of view I had to ensure that this was working on all senior managers tablets and computers but that it was easy to update for the regional teams. To achieve this we actually built it using Powerpoint but used some more sophisticated tools such as embedded videos and  animations in the navigation. Rather than then paying costly hosting fees to Apple etc. to put it on the app store I was recommended another excellent tool called iSpring. This is a Powerpoint plugin that allows us to export the finished 180+ page presentation in a variety of useful formats (.exe, Flash or HTML5). So for PC we use the former and then export an HTML5 version for hosting on a web server. From here the user just downloads the iSpring viewer app, visits the web address of the presentation and it automatically adds itself to their tablet for viewing offline.

As I always say, the technical bit was the easy part. Getting all of the content from the various business units was the most time consuming but the results have been so well received that even the people who were initially skeptical were eager to send us their updates for version 2!

In other news, this blog has made another awards shortlist! This one is particularly close to home as I've been nominated in the Blog category at the first Hertfordshire Digital Awards. I'm extremely honoured and excited to be able to be there with the best digital practitioners in the county and it also means there's only a short journey home from the ceremony in Stevenage! Tickets are booked (out of my own hard earned money) and there are six of us in the category meaning a 50% chance of a gold, silver or bronze. However, the really fun part will be being able to enjoy the night with my wife by my side as my +1.

Watch this space to see how I get on...!
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