Four Common Mistakes When Using Video Online

Providing tips to fellow marketers on using video online is what I love to do, but sometimes, telling marketers what not to do can be just as important.  To that end, this article will present four very common mistakes made in using video online.  

Going long for the sake of it. There's always a temptation to make your online video ad longer than a standard commercial length because with online, there aren't the limitations you have with TV and other media. If you really want people to see you entire message or video, don't do it!  In fact, if anything, you should try shorter versions of your message wherever possible.  If pure length-of-engagement is your only goal, some studies suggest that a minute to a minute-and-a-half might be viable, but for our purposes today, we'll focus on completion.   

Online video is still an intrusive element and click-outs are commonplace.  Keep it short.  In fact, a fellow marketer friend of mine told me that his company's research indicates that you should never let your online video exceed 30 seconds, tops!   

Having overzealous quality concerns. Many marketers insist on having the highest production values applied to every piece of video they produce, regardless of where it is going to be used. Don't do this, either! If your video is intended for online use only, it is absolutely OK to take some shortcuts.  Remember, you're usually talking about a tiny little screen, compared to a 46-inch flat-screen TV.  And if your viewer happens to blow it up to full-screen size, it would rarely look great on a computer screen anyway. 

Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars through traditional production companies makes little sense for a Facebook or other social media site video deployment. With limited exceptions, there can be no worthwhile ROI on big-ticket spending for the still comparatively low viewing numbers generated through social media alone.

Banking on viral. I've written about this before, but it bears repeating: Don't bank on any posted video going viral to get you the exposure you seek. It won't happen! If it's a strong enough message, buy some views and get it out there in front of consumers. 

As Alison Provost noted here on Video Insider back in July, research shows that one in 500 brand-placed videos on YouTube ever reaches 500,000 views.  That is, one in 500 videos produced by major brands ever makes it to the nirvana of a free half-million views. Instead of hoping for such nearly impossible luck, consider placing a media buy that will deliver a couple of million views; make it easy to share the video from the point of origin; use a sophisticated blogger and opinion leader outreach program; and then, you can still keep those fingers crossed for a viral miracle.   

Repurposing a worn-out TV spot for online. Let's be honest.  Most of us hate these repurposed spots, don't we?  Taking a classic 60-second spot and slicing and dicing it down to a 30-second; or worse yet, taking that 30-second and squeezing it down to a 15-second execution just doesn't work.  You've already seen the spot on TV a gazillion times.  You know the scene and the punchline by heart already.  

Remember, if you pulled it off your TV schedule because it's just plain worn out, don't mess it up further by expecting it to have any value whatsoever in online, beyond nostalgia. You may just be asking your loyal customers to "un-friend" you at the next available opportunity.  Instead, start anew either in-house or via crowdsourcing, and give your online customers an all-new, interesting online video to watch.  It's the least you can do for them and for your brand. 

These remain heady times for the world of online video.  Periodically it's worthwhile to reflect not just on best practices, but also some common mistakes to avoid in the process of engaging your consumers with the combined power of sight, sound and motion.

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