If your organization is still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to creating and sharing video content, you need to understand that you're missing out on one of the single most effective communication platforms available. Don't just take my word for it. Consider this:
- 74% of all internet traffic will be video in 2017 (Syndacast)
- Between April and November of 2015, the number of daily video views on Facebook went from 4 billion to 8 billion (TechCrunch - November 2015)
- Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content (buffersocial)
- 51% of marketing professionals say video is the type of content with the best ROI (Digital Marketing Blog - April 2015)
The most common excuses
Video is where the eyeballs are. So why have so many businesses and associations failed to make it part of their content strategy? Some of the more common excuses:
It costs too much
There was a time (not that long ago) when creating even a short corporate video was a major production that came with a major price tag. Those days are over. You can create a decent quality video for free, using equipment that your business probably already owns. And you can create excellent quality videos with just a few thousand dollars of equipment. And, of course, the distribution platforms for video (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram) are free.
We don't have the know-how
Creating well-framed, decently lit videos with good sound quality does require some skill. But people with those skills are easy enough to find. Someone on your team might have video production experience. If not, you can hire an intern who's looking for real-world video production experience, or a freelancer or former TV journalist on a project basis. Failing that, someone on your team could pick up the necessary skills by a) watching a few instructional videos and b) doing some trial and error practice videos.
We don't have anything to say
Really?? Are you sending out newsletters? Magazines? Email updates? Advertisements? Updates from your executives? Are your people doing presentations? Having sales meetings? Do you run conferences or other events? Every organization has stories to tell. If you haven't found yours, you aren't looking hard enough. No matter what business you're in, there are opportunities for how-to videos, demonstrations, explainer videos, interviews with experts, messages to key audiences, etc.
We don't like being on camera
It might feel safer or more comfortable to send out an email update rather than a video. But if you want to get on your audience's radar, video is the path of least resistance. Based on organizations I've worked with, the engagement metrics for videos absolutely crush the metrics for written posts. One health care association I work with was getting decent engagement rates on their written posts (handfuls or dozens of likes, shares, comments). When a big issue came up for them this past spring, we decided to try a five-minute video from the Executive Director. Within two days, the video had reached more than 210,000 people, had been viewed 75,000 times, was shared more than 1,800 times and generated more than 900 likes and over 100 comments. We've done two subsequent videos which have had similar results, both outperforming more than 95% of their other posts.
While you can create decent videos using nothing more than a smartphone and some simple editing software, if you want to create higher-quality videos, you'll need to invest in a bit of equipment. Unlike paying for corporate videos back in the day, however, this is a one-time investment in equipment that you own and which will serve your organization for years. Here's a quick overview of the equipment I use:
Video camera: While I have a few cameras for video, my current favorite is the Canon EOS 70D camera. Having said that, there's no right or wrong brand or style of camera. Do your homework and pick something that works for your budget, is versatile and gives you great video quality. One of the reasons I like this particular camera is that it has an input for an external mic, which means much better sound quality (more on that below). Approximate cost: $1,500 (Cdn).
Light: Poorly-lit video is horrible to watch. You don't need a ton of equipment to provide adequate light. Where possible, work with natural light sources. But this little number has proven very useful. It's a Lumahawk on-camera LED light. One of the features I like is a dimmer that lets you control how much light you want in any given situation. Approximate cost: $250 (Cdn)
Editing software: Your computer already has some pretty solid editing software (iMovie for Mac and Movie Maker for Windows). These programs have everything you need to edit a basic video. For more sophisticated or multi-camera projects, you can move up to a package like Final Cut Pro X.
Memory cards: Video uses up a ton of memory, so there's no such thing as having too many memory cards on hand. Spend the extra money for memory cards with decent speeds.
Tripod: A tripod is a must-have. Don't buy the cheapest one you can find. Keep in mind that your tripod is supporting a high-value camera. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a tripod that's solid, rugged and includes features that allow for fluid panning, etc.
Wireless mic: Sound is one of those things you don't notice in a video unless it's bad. And there's a lot of bad sound out there. We've all seen those videos - they're well-framed and in-focus but as soon as the person starts talking, it sounds like they're in a cave. Bad sound will make someone click out of your video. I've been using a wireless lapel mic for the past few years and it has made an incredible difference in sound quality. There are a bunch of them on the market. The one I use is the Samson Airline Micro Camera Wireless System (approximate cost: $330 [Cdn]). This is a great option if you do the occasional video and in situations where there will be one person speaking at a time. The sound quality is very good. If you have multiple people speaking in each video at the same time or you're shooting on a more regular basis, however, you might want to opt for a more powerful system. But for most organizations getting started with video, a setup like this will be more than enough.
Some parting tips...
If you're ready to take the plunge and start shooting and uploading video for your organization, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Keep it short - Attention spans are shorter than ever. Tell your story as quickly as possible. Be ruthless in the editing process. Watch other great videos for guidelines and inspiration.
Framing - There is an art to framing a shot, even if it's of an executive sitting at a desk. Here's a good post on how to frame a shot properly.
Editing - Like sound, editing is one of those things no one will notice unless it is bad. Aim for clean cuts. Stay away from the artsy transitions and titles. Avoid edits that result in weird visual jumps or which detract from the flow of the story.
Captions - When a Facebook video starts playing, there's no sound. You have to click in order to activate the sound. Some smart content creators insert captions into their Facebook videos so that the viewer can see what it's about even with the sound off, which might increase the chances of them clicking for sound.
Post on both Facebook and YouTube - While many people assume YouTube is the most important destination for your videos right now, the answer is actually Facebook. But don't make the mistake of uploading your video to YouTube and simply including a link to that video on your Facebook page. You have to actually upload the video in BOTH places. Here's why: Facebook gives videos uploaded directly to its platform much better treatment than it does to YouTube video links. The video will look better and you'll have access to fantastic metrics (remember, these companies are competitors). I recommend you upload to both platforms so that you'll get the organic reach and metrics that Facebook offers, but you can also share the YouTube link your audience members who might not be on Facebook.
Tell a story - This point is important enough that it's worth repeating. Video is just the medium. The story needs to be there for your video to result in engagement. Before you go for the camera, figure out what story it is you're trying to tell.
I hope this has been enough to convince you to stop thinking about video and to actually start using it as part of your organization's marketing strategy. If you have any tips or lessons you've learned producing video content, please leave them in the comments section. Thanks for reading!