Are you thinking about adding video to your business marketing efforts this year? A record high of nearly 31 billion videos (yes, billion) were delivered to more than 170 million US Internet users in November 2009, according to comScore. Clearly, video is hot.
No one knows this better than Steve Garfield. Steve, who’s been at the forefront of online video since before YouTube, has just published Get Seen: Online Video Secrets to Building Your Business (Wiley, 2010). And there is no one who can speak with more inside authority on this subject than Steve.
Recently, Steve and I caught up on a gray winter afternoon, to discuss how business can tap into the power of video.
AH: What advice do you have for business owners or marketer, who are looking to incorporate video into their online publishing?
SG: First, decide [on your goals]: What's most important to you, content or quality? Depending on the answer to that question, you'll have a very different experience with online video.
If a high-quality video production is important, it'll take more time, money and effort to put something together. Maybe it'll take too long.
But if content is most important, then you can start up very quickly, and test the waters. Using something as simple as a Flip camera can get you going with web video.
And knowing your goals will make it easier, down the road, to measure the effectiveness of your videos.
Yes. There are many ways to measure the results of putting video online, including increased sales and web page views. But there are also intangible benefits of site visitors getting a better sense of who you are… and what you do as a company.
So it's also a good way to humanize your brand: literally giving your company a voice, and bringing it to life.
One great way to use video is to give site visitors a view into what your company does and/or what it's like to work with you and your team. One great example of this is from friends of mine, the Bui Brothers. They have a photo/video business and they document “a day in the life” of what it's like to work with them on a shoot day. It's a wonderful way to let prospects see what you do and how you do it.
So let's say you aren't as comfortable as the Bui brothers might be with video production, but you want to produce some videos as you describe. What's the best way to start?
One great way to start is to make videos without a video camera. There are many ways to do this including mashups of existing video, screencasts and photo slideshows.
In the book I explain how create these videos without a video camera. I also show you how to make animations where you can have characters speak for you. It's like making your own Avatar movie, but not really exactly like that. (laughs)
You can also do interviews from behind the camera, where you interview employees or customers.
Product reviews are good too.
Anything else come to mind?
One easy way to get into online video is to do live-streaming broadcasts. You can use a laptop, a desktop, or even a cell phone. The beauty of going live is that once you stream your video, the event is archived and people can watch it after the fact.
One of the benefits of this method is that you don't have to get involved in editing the video after you shoot it. That could also be seen as a problem for some web viewers who are expecting something like a professional TV broadcast. But for those that watch live and have the opportunity to see an event that they could not get to, or to interact with you live in real-time, they will take value away from the broadcast.
As more companies explore live-streaming and the interactivity it presents, we'll see more creative and unique uses of live broadcasts.
What's the biggest mistake companies make, with video? Other than not using it, I mean. (Ha.)
The first mistake companies make is being afraid to try. Just like some companies are afraid to let employees blog, they might be tentative. Like I said earlier, it's a decision that you make as to what you want to present.
An early example of this is what Microsoft did with Channel 9. They let Robert Scoble loose in Microsoft with a camera, and he interviewed lots of Microsoft employees and then posted the interviews. It humanized Microsoft. [The effort] was a huge success and an example for companies to this day.
So I guess… yes, not using it might be the first mistake!
Second, companies should find a natural-born video blogger to help them with this effort. Just like they have already identified natural bloggers to write for them, they should find employees are going to be good at making these videos. Maybe they already have someone on staff that fits the bill.
And in that vein, should the CEO be the "face" of your company? Or not? Does that matter?
Depends on the CEO. Robert Scoble was the face of Microsoft and that worked for them. Gary Vaynerchuk is the [CEO] face of his company and that works for him.
There's also the conversation part of putting a [CEO-based] video out there. You could just post videos as “pamphlets,” without any way of interacting. Or you could post the video as part of a blog post… and have a conversation with site viewers, in the comments section, just below the video.
Is your CEO interested in doing that? Some are, some won't be. I'd prefer to watch and interact with a CEO who was in the video and was ready to engage in a conversation with me. I think that would be enormously valuable to a company.
So you've been putting video online, or video blogging, since, when...? I know it was before most of us were even blogging.
I put my first test video online on July 24, 2002. This was after I got an in-house editing system of a Canon GL/2, MacBook and Final Cut Pro.
Prior to that, I was editing at local public access station, learning everything I could about video. It was a passion I pursued after regular work hours. At public access TV, I also did a weekly live show, “Steve's Show,” a precursor to what I do now. It had interactivity by people calling in on the phone. (laughs)
When you started, I'm sure the process of getting video online was a whole lot more complicated than it is now.
Way more complicated. You had to figure out everything.
It was 5 months after I started putting video online, that I saw Sorenson Squeeze at MacWorld San Francisco. That software helped make it easier to put video online.
I was self-hosting videos then too. YouTube was created in February ‘05, beta-tested in May ‘05, and launched in November ‘05.
[Meanwhile], I made my first videoblog on January ’04.
Videoblogging made it easier for people to put video on the web. I was one of the first to figure that out. And along the way always shared the knowledge I learned on my blog. I'd post videos and explain in the text of the blog post, how I did it, so others could learn from my experiences.
Just like now.
Bio: Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer ofMarketingProfs.com, which provides strategic and tactical marketing know-how. She also blogs at her acclaimed personal web log. Follow her on Twitter @marketingprofs.