I’m starting to explore a world I’ve so far avoided. The world of video, as a marketing tool.
I don’t watch much online video myself. I’m more of a word person. I prefer to read because I can take it at my own pace, scan quickly to find just what I’m after, or cut and paste or bookmark to refer back to it later.
Video doesn’t hold my attention because I can’t scan, and so I tend to get distracted and do something else alongside, or let my mind wander off.
And I only watch video if I’m on my own, because I don’t want the sound to affect other people around me (and I rarely have an earpiece with me).
What’s so good about video anyway?
More and more people are saying that video is great for business. I’ve even heard the phrase “must do” (see my last post for what I think of that).
I’ve heard good reports first-hand from clients and associates too. One client, who had been putting off their website redesign for some time, had a customer tell them “Your old website isn’t doing you any favours, but what convinced me to come to you was your video.”
Plus video is a good tactic for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Even though Google can’t see the actual content of a video, the reasons it’s good for SEO seem to be:
- It keeps visitors on your site for a longer time period (which Google takes as a sign they’ve found what they want);
- Google loves YouTube (well, of course they do, they own it…) YouTube is considered the second biggest search engine, after Google itself. Obviously the metadata, such as the title and description, need to be well-written to help them index your video content appropriately (more on that below).
- Videos are good for ‘social signals’ – likes, comments and shares that show people are engaged with the content.
- And of course, there’s always a chance it could ‘go viral‘.
So why have I been slow to embrace video as a marketing tool?
Besides feeling that I was lacking in the required knowledge and video technology to get behind the lens, I was reluctant to put myself in front of the camera. (You mean, I’ll need to get out of my pj’s and do my hair? On a work day?!)
Then someone said “well, you don’t have to star in it yourself if you don’t want to”.
Aha! Lightbulb moment.
Here’s a great post by Kate Toon about creating an “explainer video” using a product called Powtoon (which even has a free version). Kate used this software to produce short, sweet, animated videos that explain some of her offerings – and she didn’t need to appear in person at all.
Getting started with video
Now that I’ve researched it further, I’ve found all sorts of ways to create videos. You don’t need fancy equipment and a special room setup. You can even use your smartphone. As it’s no longer cutting-edge technology, there are now loads of apps and products like Powtoon to help you record and edit short videos. And of course, YouTube is free to post and share the finished product.
Here are some video options if you have a smartphone:
- Cinch – a fairly simple free video app for iPhone and Android
- Splice – with some basic editing and the ability to add transitions and text
- Cinefy – with lots of special effects, if that’s your gig (iPhone only)
On the desktop try:
- Powtoon – for simple and cool animated videos
- Screenflow by Telestream – if you want to create a video that includes recording (screen-scraping) what’s on your Mac computer screen
- Camtasia – similar to Screenflow, for PCs
Videos don’t need to be long. In fact, most would say brief is best. Try to keep them under 2 minutes, and no more than 5. If there’s a lot to cover, consider breaking the content into multiple short videos.
- A few months ago Instagram introduced video to its fold, and they are limited to 15 seconds each.
- The Montaj app only records 5 second clips, but with the ability to add a storyboard and music.
You can share videos in all sorts of ways too:
- YouTube is the most obvious one, and a YouTube channel is almost a “must do” if you’re going down the video marketing path. Besides, it’s free J
- Embed from YouTube onto your social media pages, blog and website (see http://www.wikihow.com/Embed-a-YouTube-Video-on-Your-Website for a step-by-step text version, or watch this how-to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnuwB35GYMY)
- Or check out Vimeo instead of YouTube. It’s smaller and nowhere near as searchable, but can look more professional, partly by eschewing annoying ads.
- Create and share directly on Instagram (see http://help.instagram.com/442610612501386 for how-tos)
- Pin them on Pinterest (see http://www.pinterest.com/videos/ for examples, and http://blog.pinterest.com/post/51081046917/pin-a-video for a quick intro)
Other tips on using video
Personally, I don’t like to sit through fancy intros, I just want a video to get started and give me information. But I do recommend you brand your videos in some way, whether at the start or the end, perhaps just with a logo and some text overlay.
For SEO purposes, make sure you name your file appropriately, with keywords and phrases that people might search. Give it an eye-catching title. Any description you add should help Google – and visitors – to understand the purpose and content of the video.
For those visitors who don’t prefer video (and for those with hearing or sight problems) supplying a transcription is considerate, and also good for SEO. An alternative is to add captioning on YouTube videos (see https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2734796?hl=en).
If it’s a long video, a nice idea is to include a text index alongside that names each ‘section’ and its starting time, to give your audience a chance to fast forward to the place they’re most interested in (this is especially good for instructional videos).
Time to kick my internet star into action!
Now that I’ve seen how simple and effective it can be, I’ve decided to give video a go. I think I’ll start with an animated one, but I’m also keen to play with Screenflow and provide some step-by-step instructional videos.
Once I’m comfortable with the technology, who knows? Maybe I’ll get brave enough to put myself in the frame.
What are your thoughts on video for business? What how-to videos you’d like to see?