Today I learned that 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video, according to this report by Syndacast. When I read it, I had to sit and think for a bit. Three-quarters is a lot. We've got fast (and mobile) internet, and the ability to watch it nearly anywhere our smartphones can get reception. So, it makes sense. But still. That's a lot.
What does this mean for you and your business, if you're getting into the swing of content marketing? Well, if you're not already creating some kind of video content, then you're going to want to in the near future. Maybe you've always meant to, but the last time you tried, things...didn't quite work the way they were supposed to. If that's the case, then this article is for you. Today we're looking at the pros and cons of producing short videos for content, and how to do it better.
Video Content is Great Because...
It's a general rule of thumb that the richer the media content, the greater the level of engagement. It's why text posts with images garner more attention than text posts without images. It's why infographics gather more clicks than text posts (of any kind) and why video trumps them all. For email and social media marketing, video has proven itself to be a key player in boosting and retaining engagement levels, sitting at the top three for social media marketing, and raising click-through rates of emails by 65%. In addition, more than half (52%) of marketing professionals name video as having the highest return-on-investment out of any kind of content.
The strengths of video content don't just lie with the statistics party, though. Video content allows your business to foster a closer relationship with your buyers, especially so if you've got workers from your business in front of the lens as well as behind it. This kind of content becomes less like digesting an essay and more like having a conversation, to the point where your customers are going to feel like you are friends with them, rather than just a dispenser of goods.
How good does a customer relationship like that sound? Having the next-best thing to a face-to-face relationship with your customers will mean they'll connect better, they'll trust your expertise, and they'll follow through on the advice you give.
Speaking of which, when was the last time you viewed a YouTube tutorial on something? I find it fascinating how many different kinds of video tutorials exist - everything from disassembling a nerf gun to removing heat rings from the dining table - there's a real connection between an action and the result, and that's great for answering practical questions that your buyers might have. You can use the video format for diagnosing issues, for small and larger repairs, for showcasing products, and a myriad of other options. Deciding what to cover is up to you and the questions your buyers most commonly have.
Video Content Needs Careful Consideration Because...
Perhaps you're no stranger to video content. You might have even tried filming a tutorial on something before. But when all was said and done, something was just off. Perhaps there was some kind of weird background noise you didn't notice at first, or one of the lights was flickering during filming. Perhaps your message felt overshadowed by your co-host's 'uhms' and 'uhs' as they worked their way through the script.
Your content is the message you're looking to communicate. Production quality is how that message is conveyed. If your content is marred by poor production quality, then it's going to be a lot harder to communicate your message - same as how you can't mumble across a crowded room and expect the words to be heard (even if they're really good words). (Don't panic if you think this might be you - we're going to get to raising production quality in a minute.)
Short films need to be concise. Don't make an eight minute film if you can say everything clearly in three minutes.
Ask yourself, 'what kind of value is being offered here?' when you're sketching out the content. Sure, your customers are likely to take time out of their day to watch a cat jump into a box and fall over, but if that doesn't help further your cause, then why are you making it? Every video you make needs to add value to the customer experience; otherwise it's just entertainment and it won't further your business. (Although, if your game is entertainment, then go right for it.)
How To Create Better Video Content For Your Website
These areas are some of the basics for capturing videos well. They alone won't make your content output super-mega-ultra crisp, but they're the tools that can be used to get you there. (And you don't need state-of-art gear to get started.)
Diffuse and Boost Your Lighting
Whatever camera you use isn't going to be as good at adapting to low light as your eyes. This is something that we all forget, so unless you're already aware of it, you can end up with grainy and dull footage. If you can, shoot in areas with a lot of natural light (either outside on a bright, overcast day, or close to a large window). If natural light is off the list, then add additional lights to wherever you're filming indoors - even a stand light or a desk lamp pointed at the ceiling will help. Choose warm lights (incandescent) over cool lights (fluorescent) as they make skin tones look nicer.
Avoid lighting setups that cause harsh shadows - pay attention to where your light sources are coming from. You might not notice it now, but the sharp-edged shadow of your presenter's nose on their cheek is going to be really distracting later. This is why overcast days are great - the clouds help diffuse sunlight evenly and soften shadows that are cast on your presenter and their props. If you're shooting indoors, you can diffuse light by either fitting a softbox over it (this is a piece of photography equipment - they're fairly cheap to buy online), or by pointing your interior lights at surfaces that will reflect light into the frame rather than at your presenter (like the white ceiling, for example).
Take Control of the Autofocus
Unless you're shooting on a camera that has all the bells and whistles, it's highly likely that the equipment you have has some kind of an autofocus function. This is handy for shooting candid videos (because it can keep a moving object in focus), but in low light, autofocus can be horrendously distracting. Because the camera doesn't have enough light to decide what object to focus on, it'll continually shift in and out of focus, making it nearly impossible for your viewers to decide what they should be focusing on.
This issue can be remedied in two ways. Either increase the amount of light you've got in your setup, or disable the autofocus. Preferably both, if possible. If you've got your camera mounted on a tripod, then you'll barely miss it.
Tripods Are A Superpower
Camera shake is for monster movies, not for your video on how to clean out vacuum cleaners. These tools are a really cheap and effective way to make your video look smart. For longer videos, consider filming multiple takes from different angles so you can splice together different angles of the same dialogue. It'll add a dynamic that a single camera, single viewpoint can otherwise lack.
Record Your Sound Separately
Recording your sound, be it speaking on-camera or adding voiceover later, is better done separately. This will allow you to have a greater level of control over the two different feeds - video and audio - and will often give higher-quality audio as a result. The built-in microphones on most point-and-shoot (and digital SLRs) are pretty terrible, so recording with a lapel microphone or similar will make it easier to hear what your presenter is saying.
Add in Backing Music
A little ambience helps when you're reviewing, when you're voicing over, and when you've got to cut to external footage. It also does wonders for emotionally engaging your audience (which, as we've established in the past, is a great way to encourage them to purchase).
Just...don't use music you don't have the licenses to. It's not worth it. There's stacks of royalty-free music available online, which can be downloaded and used for free. Check through the libraries available to find something that suits your needs.
Choose the Right Editing Software For Your Needs
Not every one of us can afford Sony Vegas Pro or Final Cut Pro. That's okay - you don't need high-end software to get the job done. Check out the default video editing software that your computer has to offer - Windows Movie Maker and iMovie have different levels of capability, but they can cover most basic needs. If you're looking for something third-party, then this article also recommends Lightworks and Avidemux, among others.
As far as audio editing goes, Audacity's been my go-to since high school. It's simple, it's free, and they've got a well-established support base.
Don't Forget About Your Calls To Action
With video, you've got the ability to have a face-to-face conversation with your buyer. Sort of. The human connection is there, so why not leverage it? Invite your viewers to take action before the end of the video; whether that's following on social media, encouraging more content consumption, or scheduling a consultation.
Use Video to Build Additional Content for Your Website
Of course, for those who are able to view your content as video, there are those who aren't able to. Maybe they live in a reception black spot, or they prefer reading text - either way, you should certainly consider publishing the text and any relevant images below your videos for those who would rather read along at home. In addition, text-based content can be indexed by search engines and help boost your authority with them (as well as make it easier for people to search for you.)
If you want to start producing engaging video content, you'll need to not only deliver a concise, value-laden message to your buyers, but you'll need to do so in a way that is clear and free of distractions. Video content allows you to connect on a more emotional level with your buyers than any other kind of content. It's also a content form that is rising in popularity, and provides a sizeable return on investment.