Online video has become a massive part of our lives. It’s almost impossible to imagine a time before YouTube or Vimeo. How did we get through our days without watching a short clip of a cat falling off a chair? Can anyone remember how we got through long bus trips without watching Seinfeld/zombie mash ups?
Videos have a long and powerful reach. As a medium they are far more effective in recall than any well-honed text. And they are watched by a lot of people. You might be familiar with the often quoted statistics that a third of online viewing involves video watching or that oner 100 million people watch an online video a day. Or that the average user spends around 16 minutes watching video ads online per month. In fact, it’s probably easier to work out when people AREN’T watching videos.
With this reach, quite simply, using videos as a marketing tool for your business has gone from being a nice luxury to being utterly mandatory.
But how do you stand out from an increasingly crowded market? How professional do you have to make the video? What should the video be about? How auteur should you be – does it need swooping crane shots and Dutch tilts – or will you find it hard just to stay in focus?
Know who your market is. Tailor your content to the audience. This is very important in terms of how much information you’re giving out in the video. Are you preaching to existing customers who already know your products/ services? Or is the video aimed at those people who may not have come across your company before? Any research data you have on your clients/ audience is highly valuable. So this will then inform your videos in terms of style, tone and language.
Keep the video short and sweet
We live in an age where everyone has short attention spans and we’re all increasingly frantically busy with our work. Asking people to give you their fullest attention for more than two minutes is like asking an NRL player to create rainbow coloured doilies. If the video seems long really ask yourself if everything in there is really necessary? It’s often good to get a second or third opinion from someone who wasn’t involved in the process and can be more objective.
Keep it engaging
This feeds on from the last point. It sounds screamingly obvious but making dry, unengaging videos is a very common mistake. The best way to approach this is to try and step back and ask if you would find this video interesting if you knew nothing about your business?
Avoid corporate/ tech speak and use plain, fun language. Keep the presentation upbeat. Make sure that your main presenter is someone who can articulate the company line in a down to earth fashion and is comfortable on camera.
What should the video be about?
Increasingly, we’re seeing videos about businesses with similar content models to TV. In other words, they’re less about aggressively pushing a product and more about drawing in the viewer to the branding or making them feel part of a community.
It always helps to humanise your business. There are many ways to approach this:
- Staff profiles: Perhaps roll out a different profile each week – have someone in the office talk about their job and role and things they enjoy, challenges they face.
- Customer Testimonials: Nothing gives your business more authenticity/ credibility than having a happy client go on camera to say how great you are. Viewers will take this far more seriously than any slick video you put together yourself exulting your own fabulousness.
- Conferences/ events: Special events such as conferences; expos; trade fairs; community/charity work or even fun social occasions can be really good things to film as they show your company in a different light to normal. It’s another avenue for showcasing a different side to your company, perhaps in terms of you being a good corporate citizen or just to show your organization having fun.
- Video advice/ tips: You can use experts within your office or else ask a guest speaker to give some sage and useful advice or share an innovative idea. People love hearing something new and feeling like they’re part of an exciting ideas sharing community.
Filming tips: Channeling your inner Scorsese
- Don’t use a camera phone or tablet camera to take videos. Yes they can look decent but unless you’re extremely adept with them they will look like bumpy hand held footage. Canon 5D cameras can take fabulous movies and are very user friendly. It’s worthwhile investing in something like that for your business.
- Make sure that whoever you’re filming isn’t wearing anything very stripy or shiny as this won’t translate very well to the screen.
If possible use a tripod. Unless you’re very good at filming handheld you’ll end up with slightly sea sick footage that’s also quite difficult to edit.
- Keep the video as vibrant and as interesting as possible. Stay away from a single talking head. Try and overlay the video with interesting and appropriate images (for example, other workers in office or on location or working with customers to solve a problem).
- When filming for online remember that people may be watching on a mobile device or something equally small. So try and shoot close to medium shots so that your images are clearly visible and your people don’t look like tiny ants scurrying around a large office space.
- Try not to talk over the top of the interviewee – again this sounds obvious but is a common pitfall. It will make it much harder to edit if you and the interviewee are chattering over each other.
- Keep it conversational and light and cheerful as this will infect the tone and manner of the responses and make the interviewee much less nervous and more engaging.
- Stay away from being too scripted as the person being filmed invariably sounds like a robot. Aim for bullet points or conversation points they want to cover and that will help keep it spontaneous. Film it a number of times until they’re happy.
- Invest in a decent editing program – for example Premiere Pro or Final Cut X are both cheap and reasonably easy to use.
- Make sure you stay on message. It’s very easy to end up with more content than you need. Or for a planned two minute video to blow out to become a seven minute video. If you find that the video is going off on a tangent then cut them into shorter pieces. For example, a piece on customer service that morphs into a discussion about some of the new technology used by your business could clearly become two separate and shorter videos.
- Watch out for using any images or music – make sure you are obeying the copyright and licensing laws. You can generally source images or music free through Creative Commons website. Using a Beyonce song on your video, for example, could end up being a very expensive exercise, and you’ll probably have to pull it down.
- Tell a story. Ensure that the video has its own narrative trajectory. That it starts at point A and goes through to point C. For example, perhaps you’re making a video about the secret of someone’s success. We’ll want to see or hear about the problems they encountered, how they solved them and any innovations they came up with that made them successful. Make sure that each point of the video is driving toward this conclusion. Look at TV programs you enjoy (for example, current affairs or lifestyle programs) and see if there are any story models you could follow.
- Don’t overcomplicate. It’s very easy to fall in love with video and want to make something with all the whistles and bells. And yes, viewers are very media savvy and expect sophistication. However, always keep it clean and simple. Don’t hit your viewer over the head with too much information. If you’re using text on screen (supers) keep these to a minimum. Too much text will distract from the message and the images and also can be clunky and cluttered. Stay away from lots of tricky and clever dissolves or special effects unless there’s a purpose to it. Again, not everything will translate well online. Viewers using more basic browsers like Internet Explorer may struggle to watch your mammoth, video masterpiece especially if it’s using complicated transitions.
Finally – make sure you have a video planning and scheduling system in place. How many videos do you plan to upload per week/ day? Make sure you’re being realistic here. You don’t want the business of making videos to interfere with your core business. Also consider outsourcing or hiring a freelance videographer to create videos if you don’t have anyone within your business who feels confident doing it.
Now go forth and shoot!