Read before you shoot: 6 tips for better videos

We at Sitka Creations are very interested in video. Video is a key tool in SEO marketing, though many small businesses do not have a budget for it. Thus, we found this article by The Worcester Business Journal to be very interesting. We have requested permission to re-publish it and think you will find it very helpful if you are using video in your marketing.

By Christina Davis

So you’ve put a few videos of your kid on YouTube and you think you’re an expert and you’re ready to train your lens on some quality online videos to promote your business.

But before you buy a director’s chair and shout, “Action!”, check out these expert tips on what makes a good — and bad — online video.

Have a budget

You get what you pay for in most businesses, and online video is no exception. Andrea Ajemian of AA Films in Worcester has fielded her fair share of calls from business owners who think they can pull off a Super Bowl commercial-level video for $500. Not surprisingly, that’s just not going to happen.

But having only $500 to spend doesn’t mean you’re out of the game, according to Ajemian. It just means your expectations have to be realistic.

“If you only have $500, it’s got to be real simple,” she said.

Joe Pagano of Worcester-based Pagano Media said he asks every video client to outline a budget before he puts together a proposal.

“I design for the budget,” he said.

The amount of money you’re willing to spend is going to have a big impact on what you film and how it’s put together.

Plan ahead

It’s not a great idea to walk into a meeting with a video producer and not have an idea what you want. Ajemian recommends doing a little homework, including clicking around the web to find videos you like and don’t like. Share links with your videographer so he or she can get a sense of what you’re looking for. Also, pay attention to style.

“It’s good if they know if they want the video to be upbeat and professional or very documentary style or something else,” she said.

Keep it brief

Everyone thinks their story is fascinating and worthy of 90 minutes. The truth is, your story is probably not that interesting and probably worth only 60 seconds.

That’s a little harsh, but the reality is that attention spans are short, particularly online. That’s why Ajemian encourages clients to think in terms of bite-sized videos.

“I think instead of just one video, what I’m seeing more and more of that seems to be working is a series of videos,” she said. As an example, she said a restaurant could do one three-minute video. Or they could do three one-minute videos, then post each over a month or two.

Distribution network

Say you have a video that’s about a minute long and sure to go viral. You put it on your website, but no one’s watching. What gives? Is everyone who claims online video is the future wrong?

No, it just means you missed a pretty important step — distribution.

Many colleges’ websites have profiles of interesting alumni that include videos. But Matthew Bruun, head of Fitchburg State University’s public relations department, said simply putting a video on the home page is not enough.

“Once we produce these videos, we use them in many places — the home page, YouTube, Facebook,” he said, adding, “Not everyone comes to us through the front page.”

Bruun’s colleague in charge of digital marketing, Kathy Mahoney, agreed, noting that a recent video promoting FSU admissions found the biggest success off the college’s site.

“We found that it didn’t do as well on YouTube as it did on Facebook,” she said. “With Facebook, it’s right there in your feed. … That was definitely better for us.”

Think about the small touches

Pagano sees one of his pet peeves when people run a lot of small text in online videos that are mostly being watched on tiny iPhones.

“That drives me crazy when people think you have to have two lines of text under every person’s name,” he said. “It’s not a print piece. It’s not going to be seen on a 6-by-8-foot screen. You have to think about how it’s going to look on a mobile device.”

Once your captions are trimmed, Pagano also advises clients to think about music.

“I think music helps establish an emotional connection with the viewer,” he said. But you also have to be flexible. Securing the rights to include the latest pop hit will likely be too expensive. Luckily, there’s a lot of copyright-free music out there that can work just fine.

Multiple uses

If the prospect of spending thousands of dollars on a video sounds daunting, think again. If you can repurpose that video for multiple uses, you may be able to rationalize a bigger spend.

Pagano said he often works with clients who ask him to make a video that will be shown at an event, then live on in different forms online.

“Everybody wants to get mileage out of videos produced,” he said. “Everything ultimately ends up on the web.” n

By Christina Davis at The Worcester Business Journal. This article has been re-printed with permission by The Worcester Business Journal. To read the article, follow this link.

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