Video marketing is gaining prominence in the B2B world, fueled by the growth in size and scope of social media outlets and mobile technology. While viral marketing has been leveraged for publicity stunts by many consumer brands, B2B video, perhaps less sensational in nature, is also on the rise as more companies invest time and money to generate video content for their business audiences. As a Forbes study from late 2010 showed, at least 63 percent of C-level executives viewed work-related online videos from business-related Web sites or YouTube at least once per month, and about 20 percent of respondents did so daily.

There are a number of ways in which B2B companies can leverage video. The most straightforward use is to provide information about offerings in a more interactive way. Also, video has been growing as an outlet for C-level executives to establish thought leadership in the marketplace and for marketers to build a brand around influential personalities running the company. Product endorsements and references also tend to be more trusted and reliable when they are delivered directly from satisfied users.

Video has the advantage of being interactive while demonstrating the versatility of non-rich-media formats – they can be searched online and shared on multiple social media platforms and corporate Web sites. A number of free video-sharing Web sites (e.g. Brightcove, Google Video, Photobucket, YouTube) are making circulation and access to online videos easier and more affordable. Advances in video recording and streaming technology (e.g. HD streaming, mobile formatting, tagging) are also driving increased usage of video to deliver marketing messages.

According to DoubleClick, in 2010 the B2B industry soared to second place in producing the highest video completion rates — a big jump up from eighth in 2009. This is be another indication that the B2B audience is starting to engage more with video content. Whether in terms of increased focus, increased spend or perceived effectiveness, video is consistently being ranked by marketers as one of their top five online tactics — along with search, email, social media and Web sites.

Ultimately, video content can achieve increased impressions through posts and re-posts, more online mentions and more Web site traffic. To achieve these goals, video content must be either highly informative (but not “salesy”), thought provoking or funny — without being in poor taste. Also, when deploying video, make sure there’s a continuation of the engagement process after the user has finished viewing. Online videos should be accompanied by feedback mechanisms (e.g. comment fields; like, retweet or +1 buttons; links to social media pages). Like other tactics, video should not be used in isolation but as part of a broader multi-touch inbound strategy that leads users through a series of steps to nurture their interest.