Have you thought about creating videos to promote your business? Video can boost your search engine rankings and is an effective way to increase customer engagement. But how do you go about making a video?
According to YouTube they have more than a billion users - almost one-third of all people on the Internet. That's impressive. But perhaps even more impressive is YouTube's status as the world's second biggest internet search engine.
My point - because I'm not just singing the praises of YouTube - is that video has become a hugely powerful medium. Dig past the plethora of cute kittens, TV clips and skateboard accidents, and you'll find businesses everywhere are incorporating video into their marketing strategies.
The power of video
Here's an example. A friend of mine decided it was time to buy a new tent. She intended to buy one that was reasonably priced, but found herself veering towards the Outwell brand. It meant going over budget but she soon figured out how to persuade her other half.
How? She showed him Outwell's website and played him the videos so that he could understand why it was worth paying more.
Outwell is a great example of a business that really understands what information customers want and how to communicate it.
Video is known as rich media content and it can boost customer engagement, increase the time spent on a site and help convert sales. Used cleverly and with a purpose, video can transform your website into a dynamic interactive site that will attract repeat visits.
And it's not just YouTube. Video is available via many different platforms and services. Vimeo, for example, is a video sharing site that is similar to YouTube, although tends to feature more professionally-produced, arty clips and recordings.
Most video services allow their users to discover your videos via their own websites and apps. You can also usually embed videos on your own website - and in other locations, such as your tweets, Facebook pages and Instagram posts.
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What can I put in my videos?
How you use video will depend on your type of business and the services or products you offer.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Show off a product. If you sell a physical product, video is a powerful way to give people a sense of what the product is actually like, how it feels and what it's made of. For instance, if you sell furniture, a video can help convey its build quality.
- Explain how to do something. How-to videos are a good way to give people some useful information, while also reminding them of your product. For instance, if you sell car shampoo, you could create a video explaining the best way to wash a car.
- Bring testimonials for life. Many companies use written testimonials on their websites. But you can create more interest and authenticity if you interview people or invite customers to upload videos of them using your products.
- Upload new videos regularly. Building a regular audience for your videos isn't easy, but can give your business prospects a big boost. Create new videos regularly and encourage people to subscribe via your YouTube channel.
- Add a personal touch. Welcome visitors to your site, introduce your staff or film a "day in the life". This type of content will add personality and bring your business to life. This could help someone decide they'd like to do business with you.
- Incorporate music. You can buy sound clips from websites like Shutterstock and iStockPhoto. Ricall, which offers well-known songs by popular artists and emerging acts, ready for use by small businesses and non-profit organisations.
- Share industry expertise. You can use video to provide commentary on industry news, or to offer detailed information about your industry. This can help build your reputation and can form a key plank of your PR efforts.
This is just scratching the surface, of course. You can use video in any way you choose. And as shooting, editing and sharing video is much easier and cheaper than ever, you can try different things to see what works for you.
How easy is it to create video?
Making a video is no longer the preserve of professionals and nor is it a costly exercise.
Having said that, professionals can produce sophisticated, polished videos from around £250 each. This can be a worthwhile investment for high profile projects, although with a little time and effort you can get great results by doing it yourself.
There are many online services and pieces of free software that make it easy to upload, embed and share video content. For instance:
- Animoto helps you make and share videos online. It's super-easy to use and can create videos that look highly professional.
- Microsoft's video editing software, Windows Movie Maker, is straightforward and can produce good results. It's included with some versions of Windows or can be downloaded for free.
- If you have a Mac, iMovie lets you combine clips to create videos you can share. Again, it's free - if it's not already on your Mac, you can download it.
- Time lapse videos can be created with ease using the Instagram app Hyperlapse.
- Adobe Spark is a free iPad app that makes creating animated videos easy. It includes a library of images and sounds you can use in your videos.
- Stop Motion Studio is an easy to use app that lets you take photos (or import ones from your camera roll) and string them together to create stop-motion creations. You will need a tripod and some patience!
- Animated videos (and presentations) can be crafted using Moovly, Raw Shorts and PowToon.
- Magisto lets you combine videos and photos into interesting clips to share online. You can choose a theme and add music - it's easy to use but offers relatively basic features.
You can shoot video with virtually any digital camera or smart phone, although it may be worth spending up to a couple of hundred pounds on a dedicated video camera.
Think about what sort of video you want to shoot. For instance, if you plan to interview customers, consider a model with a connection for a separate microphone, so you can record the interview clearly. If you want to shoot action sequences, a rugged model like a GoPro might be a better choice.
Make sure your video gets found
Once you've created your video, upload it to video sharing websites such as YouTube and Vimeo as well as social media sites:
- Facebook allows you to post videos of up to 45 minutes in length (1GB max file size) - but bear in mind that the average video on Facebook is only 44 seconds long, and popular videos are often even shorter.
- Twitter allows you to record videos (using its camera icon); these can be up to two minutes and 20 seconds long. You can also upload videos you have already created.
- Instagram allows you to record videos of up to 60 seconds in length (150MB file limit). You can add filters, captions and details of your location. You can also upload videos onto Instagram from your phone.
- Another increasingly popular option is live streaming on Facebook and Periscope which allows you to broadcast to your customers at specific times.
Make sure you add interesting titles and clear descriptions to your videos, to give them the best chance of getting found and viewed. Finally, encourage viewers to share and embed your video so they spread it for you.
Sarah Orchard has more than 15 years' top level marketing experience on leading UK and global service sector brands.