(Below is a re-post from ProActive Communications’ President Mark Serrano from his blog, PowerTrip)

Politicians have learned to do it. So have companies – from successful entrepreneurial upstarts to established Fortune 500 companies, as well as trade associations and effective communicators of all kinds.

In this case, it is the use of online video.  Businesses are employing online video today to generate sales through customer testimonials, explain shareholder results, and to keep stakeholders informed of key company developments.

A recent study by Cisco Systems found that in four years over 90% of online consumer content will be video-based.  This, after all, is the YouTube age. According to Cisco, all sectors of business will be utilizing online video for both internal and external communications, including for crisis communications, marketing, branding, positioning, advertising, consumer research, personnel training, the dissemination of quarterly earnings and other financial news, issues advocacy, and more.

For business websites, the shift to video will likely be more dramatic, noticeable, and faster than the transition from radio to television in the 1950’s as a major communications medium. While many in corporate America still see video production as a high-cost endeavor requiring the elite skills traditionally found on Madison Avenue, those days are over. Indeed, the plummeting cost of video rivals the once plummeting cost of personal computers.

In the last few years, for example, high definition quality video cameras, which are easy to operate, have dramatically fallen in price, sometimes by as much as 60% percent. Files are simple to transfer and displaying your content on a website or through e-mail distribution is easily accomplished.

A dynamic industry of online video platform companies has emerged in the past five years, including VOPED, that provides companies with turnkey solutions to convert, store, catalog, publish, and monetize video content online at a low-cost of entry. Pay-Per-View will now allow online publishers to do what cable TV has done for decades.

The upshot of all this is that a creative, emerging company can appear more sophisticated and successful through its online work than a much larger and more established competitor. How?

First, assess how online video can work in tandem with existing marketing or social media programs, or in lieu of initiatives that have been ineffective.

Second, gauge what both competitors and industry peers are doing in this regard, as well as industry associations. There may practices that you want to emulate, or an opportunity to stand above the crowd by launching your own creative and defined project.

Third, keep thinking, monitoring, and tinkering. Online video is not like the old days of printing a brochure and hoping that it will stay current for months or even years. It requires management, updating, new ideas, and creativity – the characteristics customers are looking for in this tough economy.

For many companies, it is now a question of when and not if they will employ and continually improve online video. Whether it is to kick start sales and growth in these trying economic times or to keep-up with competitors as they move forward with online video, the time for many companies to act is now.

Continue the conversation on Facebook: facebook.com/ProactiveCommunications and Twitter: @ProActiveComm @MarkVSerrano

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