The problem for most marketers is that video production feels like an intimidating process or they're daunted by the expense associated with producing very professional-looking output. In this, my latest in a series of posts on effective content strategies, I thought it would be helpful to look at how broadcast journalists work to overcome both these issues.
The Cost Factor
Hiring a professional, third-party video production company to make a slick video for your company might make sense. But it is also possible to do low-cost video production in-house that is still effective and engaging. Start by asking the same sorts of questions broadcast journalists ask:
1. Who is your audience?
2. What is your thesis or news hook?
3. What objectives do you have (i.e., to inform, to educate, to entertain)?
4. How would you like your audience to react (i.e., share this video, visit a website, or make a purchase)?
5. Where and when will your audience view your video (i.e., on your blog via business hours from a computer, or via your YouTube channel on the bus from a smart phone)?
Once you're clear on the answers to these questions, also look at your budget. Professional video production is almost always expensive, but if your audience and the pay-off are both big enough, it's definitely worth the investment. Alternatively, if your audience will be limited or the pay-off is incremental, in-house production can be both a simple and cost-effective solution.
Roll Your Own
You'll need a few basic resources to effectively produce your own video. First and foremost you'll need a team member who's genuinely interested in doing it. Your first few in-house videos might not win any awards, but they will likely get the job done, so be supportive of a learning curve. Start small - a small audience, small objectives, small outcome expectations - and learn with each new project as you slowly increase your ambition.
In terms of tools, believe it or not, you can start with just an iPhone and a video-editing app. You can also use a Flip HD camera with a basic, easy-to-learn video editing software package (iMovie comes standard with Macs, but there are plenty of good packages for both Mac and PC). Ideally you'd have a high-quality HD camera with an excellent integrated mic, but also a lavalier mic (the ones worn on a lapel). And many people use Camtasia as a great all-in-one package to capture computer screen recordings with narration to create "how to use our application" videos.
Produce, Optimize, Distribute and Promote
To produce your video, start with a storyboard - which is a way to organize your story and the list of content that will illustrate it, including a script. Your first few videos should be short and sweet. If you'll need screen shots, use Camtasia or shoot them with your video camera. Make sure you have the correct forms of logos and other graphic artwork to add during the editing process.
When shooting a person speaking, make sure you get the framing right. Watch your local news or "60 Minutes" and try to mimic how the professionals frame individuals - notice how much of the screen they're using for a close-up, for instance. Or you can shoot someone's presentation at a conference and edit it as your first stab at video production. Make sure your closing frame is a call to action, such as "Learn more at..." or "Visit us at..."
Importantly, your video's title must be carefully chosen. Consider both your keyword strategy and the video's content, and then construct your title. When publishing your video on, say, YouTube, be sure to use your title in the title field, and naturally include your keywords in the description and tags fields. In the description field, be sure to insert a clickable link to a landing page that relates to your video's purpose. And when you embed your video in a blog post or website page, use the text around the video to describe what's in it (again, reflecting your keyword strategy) so the search engine crawlers know how best to index it. Promote your video via newsletters, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and track views, shares, likes and click-through rates. Oh, and conversions. Track those, too!
I know, I know... I've left a million things out! There's just not enough space, but use the comments space below to add your ideas and recommendations. Next week in my content strategy series: what radio teaches us about good audio and producing effective podcasts.