A few weeks ago, I worked with my friend Amy Hardin to create a series of short web videos. Here’s the result. It got me thinking about web video since I get asked at least once a week about how to do it or why. So here’s my easy guide to on-line video. But first, see how it’s done.
Make it look good.
I know you can buy a Flipcam and crank out a video. In fact a toddler can produce and upload videos to YouTube as easily as diving headfirst out of his high chair. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea if you are attempting to create a credible image of your company. If you are doing an informal series of tech tips or if you are hilariously funny, you can get away with the Flipcam approach. (Shooting your blog sitting on the toilet could work…). But the fact is, bad lighting and bad audio makes viewers skip to something else. It makes you look amateurish and cheap. I don’t know of many companies who are fighting over the Cheapskate Amateur position (although I’m sure they are out there). Decent lighting and sound isn’t that hard to achieve. In Amy’s case, we rented a small studio (you’d be surprised at how affordable it is) and used decent microphones (you can rent them for about $35). Lucky for Amy, I know how to light and record this sort of stuff.
Make it short.
Rambling on and on while saying nothing works well for politicians but here in the real world, we need to get to the point. If your video is longer than about 3 minutes, you better make sure your critical points are in the first two minutes or nobody will ever see them. People on the web have the attention span of hummingbirds. You’ll notice Amy is pithy. She knew what she wanted to say and she nailed it. It helps to know what you are talking about. Keep it in short sound bites so you can spark some interest. If the viewer is interested they will dig deeper and spend more time. If you drag on, they’ll skip over to that site that shows that Chihuahua that pees while doing handstands.
Look into the camera.
I see a lot of videos where the subject is looking off to the side. I want to scream “Hey! I’m over here!” What are they looking at anyway? Probably some fat producer doing a funny little dance (that’s my trade secret – don’t even think of stealing it). Looking in the camera lens equates to looking into people’s eyes. You are talking right to them. This is important because people naturally engage with their eyes.
Why do it in the first place?
On-line video is a valuable tool in the marketer’s quiver for many reasons including:
It shows that there is a person behind the company, not a faceless corporation.
As a visual and auditory medium it is immediate and holds interest better.
You can use video to deliver value before the sales process even begins by showing your knowledge.
It enhances search engine placement
It is easily shared
Well produced video projects credibility and professionalism.
I know I will get a bunch of emails from people who disagree that production value counts. After all, there are many videos on YouTube with millions of views that look like they were shot with a box camera from 1920. The key is that good content will always prevail. But if you have good content AND good production values, you will realize more benefit from the effort. Unless you can suck linguine through your nose while riding a unicycle wearing nothing but a thong to the beat of Lady GaGa. In that case, you can forget everything that preceded this paragraph.