There was a time not so long ago when producing a video required thousands of dollars of equipment and some technical expertise. And even then, all you had was a physical video cassette and no way to easily distribute it to the masses.
How things have changed.
With the proliferation of smart phones and the emergence of YouTube and other online video services as a viable distribution network, video is becoming the preferred mode of internet communication.
By the year 2021, Cisco predicts, 82% of all internet traffic will be video. By 2021, a million minutes of video content will cross the global network every second.
Whether we like it or not, an entire generation that has been weened on internet video is coming into the marketplace. So if you’re in marketing, you’d better get those cameras rolling if you want to remain part of the conversation.
Video content marketing tips
The good news is that video content marketing isn’t some advanced discipline that requires years of graduate school to pick up. In other words, you don’t have to be Christopher Nolan to get started.
In fact, all you really need to get started is the smartphone in your pocket or the laptop on your desk. Of course, once you get the hang of it you can upgrade your rig to the nth degree, but this is a beginner’s guide, so we’ll keep it simple and stick to YouTube for examples since it’s by far the most popular online video network in the world.
At this year’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland, there were a dozen different presenters who shared their expert tips on video content marketing. I picked out some of their best tips for beginners and have summarized them below.
Since YouTubers are the revolutionaries of the online video medium, we’ll look to them for examples.
1. Have humans in your video
Pretty pictures and landscapes are nice, but your video needs faces. Humans crave human interaction, and if you want someone to listen to what you have to say, the message needs to come from a person, preferably someone who can smile naturally and act relaxed on camera.
Matthew Pierce, video ambassador for TechSmith, suggests drinking some water and having a snack before recording (hangry and parched isn’t a good look). It also helps to do a dry run (pretend you’re recording without hitting record), imagine that you’re just chatting with a friend, and do a throwaway recording (record with no intention to save the footage; unless it turns out great!) Here are some more tips from Vlog Nation.
A human with personality can cut through all the fluff and show the world that your team is made up of real people with real lives outside of work. It will make the message of your video seem less like a marketing pitch and more like one side of a conversation.
If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, find someone at your organization who is.
2. Be helpful
Sometimes it can be a nice change of pace to post a video that’s just for fun, but for the most part, if you’re not actually giving people information that they can use in your videos, they’ll stop watching.
That also goes for self-promotion. It’s OK to mention your product and show your logo, but if 45 seconds of your one-minute video is blatant advertising, viewers will click away and never come back.
Pierce says that about two-thirds of viewers who stop watching a video online do so because they were bored or not getting the content promised in the title.
Figure out your expertise, then share something useful in your videos.
Asana’s YouTube channel is a great example of helpful video content marketing. Rather than just promoting their product, their videos show viewers how to do something useful in Asana, which keeps them coming back for more.
3. Have an objective
Do you want to generate more traffic to your website? Cultivate sales leads? Get comments and shares? Make people laugh and remember your brand?
These are all worthwhile objectives to your video content marketing efforts. The important thing is to pick one (or two) and work toward it.
Daniel Glickman, chief marketing officer of Animatron, suggests specific visual techniques to match your call to action.
- Want viewers to read more content? Include a clickable URL at the end of your video.
- Want comments? Ask a specific question and point down to the comments.
- Want shares? Put an arrow in your video that points down to the social share buttons.
If you have an objective in mind when you’re making a video, you can script your video around that objective.
4. Don’t just wing it
Hitting record and then just riffing is a recipe for disaster. While you don’t need an airtight script with every piece of dialogue ironed out down to the letter, a la Orson Welles, you should at least prepare an outline for yourself or whoever is going to be speaking.
Ryan Knott of TechSmith suggests a simple two-column chart with one column for what’s happening on the screen and one column for narration or dialogue. Here’s a sample.
You may find that early on it is helpful to script out 30 seconds of dialogue, but as your team gets more experience with video content marketing, a list of talking points should suffice.
5. Keep it short and simple
Thirty seconds might not seem like a long video, but it’s more than long enough for a basic content marketing video. Cut out the clutter, make your point, and edit out the unnecessary stuff before posting. You want your video to end with viewers hungry for more content, not eager for you to just shut up already.
Andrew Davis, author of “Town Inc,” suggests that instead of worrying about how long a video should be, you should focus on whether the video is watchable in the first place (see Tip #2 above) and then making sure that the entire video is worth watching.
That could be 30 seconds or three minutes depending on your content. If you want to show viewers how to use a new feature in your software that takes 15 seconds, your video shouldn’t be 15 minutes long.
If you’re taking viewers on a tour of your new facility, it’s OK to let the video breathe a little. Just remember to ask yourself: Is the entire video worth watching?
6. But how do I actually record a video?
Here are some great tips from Wistia’s Chris Lavigne on the nuts and bolts of recording a video:
- Sit at a desk with your laptop open in front of you and the camera above eyeline (so you don’t have the dreaded underchin shot).
- Have it at arm’s length away from your face.
- Use a light or sit in front of a brightly lit window. If it looks poorly lit on your monitor it will look poorly lit in the final product. (Here’s a basic lighting kit for less than $100.)
- The same goes for audio. If it sounds noisy to you in person, it will sound noisy in the recording. Eliminate as much background noise as you possibly can.
- Keep it short, and smile.
- Rerecord if you think you can do better. You’re not using actual film so there’s no need to be conservative.
- Read your script/talking points outloud ahead of time to hear how they sound.
- In a pinch, hang thick paper behind you for a clean background.
Next steps for video content marketing
Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to grab your digital camera, launch your YouTube channel, and have some fun. Wistia offers a free Chrome Extension called Soapbox that makes it really easy to start recording a video, like right now.
Eventually you can do things such as upgrade your gear, ask for an email address in exchange for longer, in-depth videos, and put multiple hosts on camera.
But for now, the most important step is to just hit record. Even if you just try it out in-house for internal distribution, it’s a first step on your journey to becoming a modern video content marketer.
Let me know how it goes in the comments, or Tweet me @CapterraAC.
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