With the arrival of Pinterest, it is clearer than ever that the Internet is now a visual experience. People love images because they contain masses of information in a nanosecond and let’s face it, there is so much information out there (at least 8.5 billion pages according to Google) to stand any chance of getting through even a fraction of it you need to be able to absorb information at a rate of knots. I’ve often fantasized about being able to have information instantaneously uploaded to my cerebral cortex through a cable (Matrix style!)
While video and the Internet have long been close bedfellows, the explosion in visual information has seen many publishers reaching for video as the trump card to make their content more engaging. After all a moving, talking, a picture has to be better than an infographic no matter how ingeniously put together. Well, yes and no – video has many benefits including being able to stimulate both auditory and visual senses at the same time; however, seeing the video as a shortcut to increasing community engagement is possibly the latest road surface paving the way to hell!
If you want your video-good-intentions to be the way to successful community engagement then here are seven things you should avoid:
1) Launching into a big campaign, populating your website with lots of video content without first making sure you know your success criteria or how using video will meet your business and customer needs. Business 101 should say in huge letters: “Whatever you are going to do; start with a clear plan and smart targets!” Having a clear plan and smart targets mean you will know why you are doing it, what you are going to measure and how you will know it’s working before you waste loads on money on expensive flashy videos. For example, if your aim is to make your website stickier and raise the number of repeats visitors you are going to need highly engaging videos and regular fresh content.
2) Using your video to fulfill your frustration at not pursuing a career in the movies and seeing it as your chance to be the next George Lucas. In other words, making the video for yourself and not to meet the needs of your audience. To engage your audience your video has to speak to their PAIN – problems, aspirations, issues, and needs. Hence a video of your shiny new reception and production process may make your company look fantastic but how is it solving your customers’ pain
This mistake comes with a double whammy – the ego of your video production manager. Make sure that you don’t allow yourself to be persuaded to go for production gimmicks (likely to win the production manager a coveted short video of the year award) over content that is meaningful to your community.
3) Making your videos too long! One of the things I really admire about Google is their understanding that 30 seconds in video time is a long time and so being able to get the salient points across concisely and clearly has been their trademark. I’ve not checked but I’d wager that Google never produces a video that explains something about their service that is longer than 90 seconds (For those of you who take pride in checking facts and identifying errors feel free NOT to contact me on this one). The point is, if the Internet has gone visual, in order to convey information more rapidly, a 10-minute video not only defeats the object; it won’t get watched to the end by the vast majority of visitors to your website. Be concise, visitors will easily spend 10 minutes watching a series of short 60 to 90 seconds videos so if you want to keep people on your website use the lots of short video strategy with a playlist, rather than the one long one.
4) Trying to fit your entire message/portfolio into a single video. If you have a comprehensive service or a meaningful message it will have taken you a substantial amount of time and effort to develop it into its current form. Trying to cram it all into a two-minute video (mindful of the need not to bore your audience to death with a 10-minute video) really isn’t going to work.
5) Trying to be all things to all people. However great your video is you are just not going to please everyone. You can guarantee that someone won’t like it. Unfortunately, many publishers overlook this fact and it is evident from their video content that they were trying to appeal to everyone. The usual telltale signs are very lengthy videos and a confused message to an undefined niche. Instead of trying to please everyone, choose your focus for each video and concentrate on making a video for that specific audience.
6) Never updating your video content. When it comes to a text we all understand that in order to keep visitors coming back to your site as well as attracting new ones, your content needs to be dynamic i.e. regularly updated. Unfortunately, this logic seems to evade many publishers who produce one video and then never update it.
7) Putting video content in the wrong place. While there isn’t a right or wrong place for video, how you use it on your website should be in keeping with your aims.
In addition to the above seven, here are three tips for the DIY video enthusiast — clearly any publisher serious about incorporating video should be reaching for the phone to engage a professional video team. However, in case of circumstance finds you with a video camera in hand, here are the basic musts:
1) Use an external mic for videos that include people speaking to camera
2) Use a tripod
3) Avoid excessive camera zooms, pans tilt, etc.
Using video can have a major positive effect on your online engagement and brand awareness. However, these common pitfalls can prevent publishers from realizing its true potential. Don’t just tick the video box – master it and make the best out of it.
Lilach is a business owner, social media consultant, internet mentor and founder of Socialable.co.uk.