Because social media has become a marketing and PR must-do, everyone needs to become a content creator. This means learning new skills and honing existing ones. Everyone has to write better, take better pictures, and learn to curate. The latest must-do for 2017? Video.
Video has always been the most popular content on the web, but 2017 will bring an increase in video usage.
Hubspot’s 2017 State of Inbound reports nearly half of marketers said they would be investing in videos for YouTube and Facebook in the coming year. And according to Cisco, video content will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by the end of this year.
It’s time to take a deep dive into video. Make that commitment. Form a support group if you need it.
Full disclosure: I am just starting down this road myself. As a professional photographer, I never thought I would get involved with video. But here I am, sharing with you what I have learned so far.
How I Got Over My Hesitation to Get Started
To get started I needed to get over my fear and hesitation.
I learned I needed to keep a high-level view of this new challenge. Here are some thoughts that quelled my anxiety:
- Everyone has a story they can tell. Video is a great medium for that.
- We are more visually literate than we think. I look at commercials on TV and pay attention to how they craft a message.
- It’s not as hard as it seems. There are best practices to follow that make it easier to get started.
- Always keep in mind that it’s actually fun to make videos!
Getting Started – Getting Ideas
Before getting into the mechanics of producing video, let’s start with your ideas. The list can get very long. Sit with a colleague or friend and do what I call a brain dump. Write down as many subjects as you can. Choose two or three to get started and keep the list for future projects.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Introduce yourself and your business.
- Do a video tour of your office or facility. People love to see behind the scenes.
- Explain your product or service.
- Interview a customer.
- Answer FAQs.
- Say Thank You to your customers.
See? The ideas just come flowing.
Preparation – The Beginning of those Best Practices
Before we get into equipment and actual production, it’s important to understand who your audience is and what your message will be. If you haven’t written a persona of your typical user or customer, your message may be a little diffused. Personas are fictional, generalized descriptions of your typical customer. They are very useful in helping create effective content. Find more on personas here.
Once you defined who you are talking to, write a script. Keep it short. Videos should be between 30 seconds and two minutes depending on the channel on which you broadcast. On Facebook, the optimal length is 1 minute. You can go shorter but the longer the video the higher the chance the user will lose interest. Make your point and end it.
If you have more than one minute worth of content to share – plan two videos!
Before you shoot, take that script and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
Equipment: The Basics
I am assuming you are a beginner and that you own a smartphone. You may own a DSLR that has video capabilities. If you don’t own a DSLR, don’t run out and buy one before you try shooting some videos with your phone.
You will need a tripod and a tripod head that will hold your smartphone. This is not an option. To make professional looking videos, a tripod is needed to keep the image steady. Camera shake just looks bad.
Sound for Video
Current smartphones have great cameras but they don’t have good enough sound recording abilities. You will need an external microphone. Make a modest investment in a lapel or lavaliere microphones, or use microphone and boom setups for bigger shots. If you’re filming a video with a smartphone, you can purchase microphones that fit into the phone’s headphone input to quickly and easily improve sound quality. Don’t skip this, bad sound makes your videos amateurish.
Back up, Back up, Back up
Get a backup hard drive or hard drives. Video footage takes up a lot of memory whether on your smartphone, DSLR or computer. Video files are the largest in the digital marketing world. I recommend drives that are at least one or two terabytes. Again, don’t skimp here, you won’t regret it.
A Word About Lighting
You can spend a lot on lighting equipment. Don’t. Not yet. There are inexpensive options but try using natural light or lamps that are available for now. Shoot where the light is constant and doesn’t change. More on that later.
The Shoot – Are We Ready For Our Close-up?
You have your ideas, identified your audience, wrote a great script, rehearsed and got equipped. It’s time to shoot. Just a few bits of advice:
- Don’t shoot vertical, shoot horizontal (landscape). Always.
- Use a tripod!
- Use the external microphones recommended.
- Choose a location that has natural or consistent light that doesn’t change. Avoid overhead lighting.
- Set your phone to do not disturb so notifications don’t interrupt shooting.
- Use the focus lock and exposure lock (see your phone’s instructions or the video in the link I will provide).
- Back up the video files as the shoot progresses.
Shooting is the sexy part of this process – have fun!
Here is a link for more detailed information on shooting video with your phone. Watch the video.
Editing – Putting it Together
I find this part challenging. Editing can be a longer process than you might think. But once you have something roughed together it becomes very satisfying. If you are on a Mac you will have iMovie. I find iMovie to be robust editing software. It should be all you need for most of your editing needs. If you are not on a Mac you may need to find video-editing software if none came bundled on your PC. Fortunately, there are a lot of free options to choose from.
My process is to choose the best clips and string them together and watch the whole unedited video. I determine where to cut clips to make them shorter. Then I choose transitions and view the video again.
Finally, I add the titles and credits.
Personally, at this point, I need to walk away from the project for a day or two and revisit it to see if I find any reason to edit further. But that’s just me.
If you want to take a deeper dive into editing, Lynda.com has excellent tutorials.
Where Do My New Videos Go?
YouTube. It gets uploaded to your business or brand YouTube account. This is important for SEO. Google owns YouTube and makes SEO preferences for its own product. Your videos will be embedded to your website or social media platform from your YouTube account. There are other options but YouTube should be one of them.
Throwing You a Curveball
You’re going to be mad at me. Now that I led you through that whole process, I’m going to tell you to forget all that stuff. Go out and shoot a bunch of video clips. Get to know your smartphone’s camera and all the settings. Then go home and look at what you did. What do you see?
I am recommending this so you will not feel overwhelmed and just get started. You’ll see what worked, what didn’t and why. Hopefully, you’ll see how putting the best practices I outlined will help you make great, effective videos.
Finally, Be Advised
Now that you know how to create great videos, be careful who finds out. Everyone will ask you to produce videos for them!
Author: Tom Corcoran
Tom loves to learn new things, and currently, that includes video for the web. As social media emerged into becoming a vital role in marketing, he transferred his commercial photography skills into social media and content marketing. In the last five years, Tom implemented social media marketing strategy for business communications. As a Social Media Specialist, Tom trains people new to inbound in the foundations and trends of social media platforms and best practices.
Tom is HubSpot Inbound Certified 2017, and Google Analytics Certified (GAIQ)