wo young thought leaders from a family-run brokerage outside San Francisco kicked off 2019 by creating and posting content for a new YouTube and Instagram channel featuring short videos related to employee benefit plans.
BenefitsTV is the brainchild of Andrew McNeil, an adviser with Arrow Benefits Group and 2017 EBA Rising Star in Advising, and Rosario Avila, who heads up ABG’s Alianza division catering to clients with Spanish-speaking employee populations and was named to the 2018 EBA Top Women in Benefit Advising list.
“As audio or video platforms become an easier way to obtain information, building a library of short informational videos makes perfect sense,” McNeil says, noticing the need for branded content amid scores of clips posted by a nearly endless stream of sources.
To a large degree, social media content is a scattered frontier in arbitrary order. In some cases, subscriber buttons appear just to the right of content on YouTube searches. One such example is The Benefits Channel with just two subscribers, but no information about where and by whom it was launched is available, while in South Africa there’s a channel called EBnet – The Employee Benefits Network that has been posting content since 2012 to nine subscribers.
“From a marketing strategy standpoint, video is the king of all media,” according to Bart Camarata, a freelance videographer whose Benefit Advisor TV has helped employee benefit advisers produce video content since 2003. As a whole, he argues that video outperforms every other common marketing medium as a marketing tool, though there are always exceptions. He also believes it’s the quickest way to reach audiences on a grand scale.
Camarata cites various sources to support his case. For example, Hubspot reports a 200% to 300% increase in click-through rates when video is used in an email, while SmallBizTrends notes that social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined. In addition, Digital Information World found that 59% of senior executives agree that if both text and video are available on the same topic on the same page, they prefer to watch video.
Whatever the source of content being posted, brevity is a key theme for BenefitsTV. As a millennial, McNeil thinks it’s much easier to watch or hear a minute-long video with basic information that can always be researched further as people become busier and there’s more technology.
He admits to growing bored just 30 seconds into five-minute video clips. Of course, not everyone shares that assessment. McNeil believes older generations prefer to consume longer videos with professional production values.
Many of the younger employee populations that ABG serves are more comfortable searching for answers to benefits-related questions on social media, according to Avila. Some may be fresh off their parents’ health insurance plan without any knowledge of how their benefits actually work. Others might want to know more about their 401(k) or other benefits.
Given the nature of social media, McNeil says it’s critical to refresh the digital content so that it’s not seen as stale and viewers “know they’re going to get something new and fresh every day. And it gives them a trusted name over the long term.”
Since it’s a minimal time commitment, McNeil says it’s well worth the effort. “Once you shoot and edit a video and put it on your computer, it takes like five minutes to load, so it’s an easy way to get out good content,” he adds.
Most BenefitsTV videos are geared toward employers, though some target employees or individuals. They explain a myriad of topics, such as what an annual group medical deductible is, payment options at the pharmacy, health savings account contributions, workplace culture, etc. ABG’s team also has fielded a few questions on the Instagram version of its channel whose answers McNeil says other viewers could benefit from if they were thinking about asking the same thing. So far only one video has been done in Spanish, but more are expected.
McNeil has noticed more benefit brokers producing video content, which always could be used as a marketing tool, but he’s balking at that idea. His mission for BenefitsTV is that it be used as an informational platform, not a commercial. “There’s a fine line that I don’t want to cross with it, but we’ll definitely be sharing it with our clients and prospects,” he reports, “and over the long term, I think it will help build our recognition, not just as a company, but as individuals.”
Adds Avila: “We don’t have a tangible product that we’re selling, but we’re selling ourselves. We’re selling how we connect with clients and employees, and how we view things.”