The following article is a guest post by By Alyce Currier, Content Strategist at Wistia.
Video can be an extremely valuable tool in your marketing arsenal. It’s better than plain text at creating a human connection, and is a great way to scale communication. Instead of giving 500 in person product demos, shoot one demo video that can exist as a permanent resource and save you hundreds of hours. Sounds pretty good, right?
It’s a common misconception that for video to be effective, it has to “go viral.” The reality is, very few business videos will get that kind of following. Instead, it’s generally better to invest your time in making video that will integrate well with your existing marketing strategy. Here is a process that can work for any and every business and doesn’t require luck or a tweet from Ashton Kutcher.
Pre-production: Planning Your Video
- Studio Space
Production/Post-production: Shooting Your Video
- Hiring a Production Company
- Creating Your Own Video
- Video as part of an Integrated Marketing Strategy
- Video as an Iterative Process
- Video SEO
Planning Your Video
The first step in creating a video is to figure out the concept for that video. We suggest trying to find one simple thing to focus on, especially if this is your first video. Don’t try to tell your company’s entire story. Instead, decide on a target audience and the very specific message you want to convey. The idea here is that if you are successful with video marketing you are going to be making lots of video over time. Because of this, none of your videos have to tell the entire story of your company. Instead of 5 videos, tell or teach one thing and do it well.
Once you have a concept down, you can begin to flesh out a script. Write out everything you want to include to get your message across — then cut it like crazy. Most of our scripts at Wistia lose 25 to 50 percent of their content when we remove everything non-critical.
The ideal length of the video depends on both your specific audience and the complexity of the information you are trying to get across — but in almost all cases viewership is going to drop off over time.
For less information-dense videos, such as product launches, we generally aim to keep our videos under 90 seconds. For our “learning content,” we tend to make videos that are three to five minutes.
When you’re scripting and crafting a voice, think about your target audience and what might appeal to them. Think about your company, too — are you naturally funny in a way that would work well in this video? Is your company’s voice more serious and businesslike? Try to strike a balance between authenticity and what’s appropriate for your audience.
We mentioned that aiming for virality tends to be a pipe dream, but you can learn a little something from the best business videos that have gone viral. Why were these videos so compelling? Was it a great joke, a well-woven story? While you shouldn’t try to craft a viral hit from the get-go, there’s something to be said for pondering why those videos achieved such success.
After you’ve written your script, take it to a “table read.” Call in the people who will be reading the script on-camera and do a run through. Better yet, do several run throughs! Find the tongue-twisters and either read them until your tongue is untied, or re-write the line altogether! The goal here is to find the trouble spots and tweak the lines so they are more in-line with how the person on camera would speak in real life.
If you’re hiring someone to shoot your video, then maybe they’ll be providing studio space, but if you’re taking a DIY approach, not to worry. There are plenty of ways to work with whatever environment you’re using.
For offices where main areas might be noisy and distracting, we recommend using a quiet conference room and converting it to a video studio on the cheap.
- Backdrop: Shooting against an off-white wall will look boring, so use a paper background. Buy a roll of seamless paper from a photography supply store. We like Savage Paper.
- Lighting: Turn off the overhead lights and block out as much outside light as you can. You don’t need expensive studio lighting — three well-placed lights should do the trick. You can create your own DIY lighting kit for under $100.
- Audio: Shooting in an empty room can create echo and reverb. You can use sound-dampening panels, or just bring in couches, couch cushions, or hang up some blankets in a pinch.
Wistia has more great information about converting an office to a video studio.
Shooting Your Video
Hiring a Production Company
If you have the budget for it and don’t have resources to dedicate internally, hiring a production company is a great idea. There are tons of great producers out there so you’re sure to encounter someone with a style you like.
When choosing a production company, Demoduck’s Andrew Follett suggests looking not only at budget, quality, and creativity, but also at cultural fit. Working with a company will be a more enjoyable experience if you’re on the same page and they’re excited about your project!
Creating Your Own Video
Not everyone can dedicate the resources to hire a production company or an in-house video producer, but the good news is, it is possible to create acceptable video internally if you’re just getting started. For the most simple, lo-fi approach, you can use an app like Screenr to capture a quick screencast, or shoot a video using your webcam.
Lighting, framing, and audio are more important than using the most fancy camera you can find. The most important thing is getting your message across, so don’t be afraid to use equipment as lo-fi as a smartphone to shoot your video.
Video as part of an integrated marketing strategy
It’s very easy to treat video as an isolated set of assets with very particular goals, when in reality, video might serve you better as a part of every step of your marketing process. Examples of how to do this include:
- Bring your product / service to life with demonstration videos
- Use email marketing to share your video, and use video to spice up your email marketing.
- Teach prospects with webinars and other content marketing videos.
- Help customers use your product better with how-to videos, support videos, and product tours.
- Put your company’s personality on display with company culture videos.
Video as an iterative process
Views aren’t the only metric that you can use to figure out how your video is doing, and in fact, other metrics can be much more useful for figuring out what’s working and what’s not with your videos.
You can get started with thinking beyond views by looking at engagement and play rate.
- Engagement: How many people made it to the end of your video? When did viewers stop watching, and how could those sections be changed to keep them hooked? Did viewers rewatch certain sections? If they did, was it because they really liked them, or because they were confused and seeking clarification?
- Play rate: How many people clicked play? You can improve play rate by using a more enticing thumbnail (we’ve anecdotally found thumbnails with people in them most effective overall), changing the location of your video on the page, or, in some scenarios, using autoplay (we only recommend doing this when the user has already completed an action that seems like it should play a video, like clicking a thumbnail in an email that has a play button on it).
Video analytics can help you refine your videos over time. Your first videos might not be perfect, but at least you’ll have data that you can use to get better and better!
Using video can be a great way to get your page ranked higher in organic, rather than paid, search results.
Why does Google give so much credit to video for SEO?
- It’s harder to make
- It’s more information dense
- It’s less common than plain text pages
On its own, video is difficult for Google’s search robots to recognize and categorize, which is where video sitemaps come in.
While hosting videos on YouTube makes your videos more likely to appear in search results, the biggest disadvantage of YouTube for video SEO is that all the benefits go to their domain rather than yours. If you’re taking the time to make great content, why not get the benefits on your own website? Distilled has a great guide to setting up a video sitemap with different video hosts.
The basic steps of getting started with video SEO are:
- Host your videos in a way that you control.
- Create a video sitemap.
- Add videos to your sitemap regularly.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, getting started with video doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking, and the benefits can be enormous. Get out there and shoot your first video, whether you’re using a smartphone or a Canon 5D!