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Q: Which companies are doing video “right”?

A: I think the question should actually be “Which company’s videos resonate with you?” That’s the ultimate benchmark of “right.” We spend so much time trying to figure out who is the objective “best,” and then we try to replicate that same model, but a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to be successful. So the key is finding what works for you as a viewer and a consumer. Which videos do you remember long after they are gone? Think about what makes them tick, and use that knowledge to help shape your videos.

Q: What’s a good tool to stabilize your iPhone while shooting a video?

Joby tripod for iPhone
Image used with permission from Joby.com

A: The Joby GripTight is a mount that works with any kind of smartphone and will attach to any kind of tripod; the GorillaPod (also made by Joby) is a micro stand that can be used as a freestanding or flexible tripod.

Q: What editing program do you recommend?

A: If you’re teaching yourself how to edit, start with whatever is cheapest and free. Upgrade once you get good enough that you feel limited by the program and start to want more features. There are a lot of great programs out there, but the best editing program will always be the one you know best, not the one with the most bells and whistles.

Q: Music adds a lot to a video. Where can we find music without violating any laws, and do you have any advice for requesting permission from songs’ owners?

A: Tunefruit makes music licensing easy and affordable, and Marmoset is another awesome company that makes the process easier. You’re spot on about not wanting to risk violating any copyright laws—that’s territory where messing around is really not worth it.

Q: If we use a single video shoot to create multiple videos for a variety of topics and services, what release schedule is best?

A: The best release schedule is the one you can sustain. I always recommend clients start out slow. If you’re looking to create regular recurring content, don’t start by cranking out three videos a week – if you use up the content you’ve created before you get the chance to put the finishing touches on new material, you will lose the attention of the people who came to expect it and it might be hard to get back. Look at your goals, and at your other outlets of information. How long will your stored content last? Does it make sense to put something up in November that you filmed in March? There is no one best schedule that’ll work for everybody, but if you can create and maintain a regular release pattern, you’ll be able to increase engagement over time.

Q: What should a company do when they have too much video content?

How do we manage consistently creating content while highlighting the videos we’d like to bring attention to, making sure they aren’t being lost in large amounts of content?

A: First of all, if you have so much content you’re struggling to manage it, start releasing it less frequently. If somebody’s drowning, you don’t pour more water into the pool. You stop what you’re doing, help them come up for air, and figure out what needs to happen next. Similarly, making content just for the sake of making content doesn’t make sense. Have a goal for your channel and your playlists; have a goal each time you create a video. Be more diligent in your content creation and turn it into a destination people want to visit.

Secondly, reorganize your videos so that your featured content stops getting lost in the shuffle. Try to reorder your content into a collection of playlists, rather than a big pile of videos. Each playlist should have a clear title and an obvious benefit, and every video should fit into a category. That way, every time you create new content, you’ll know exactly which playlist to add it to, and you’ll know if you need to create a new playlist topic.

Q: What are some ways to get clients in front of the camera…

so we can build engagement, rather than just marketing?

A: It can be tough to get people on camera. You have to be candid about your goals and plans for the video; tell them where the video is going and what it’s going to be used for. We recently shot a testimonial video for a client with one of THEIR clients. They were excited to be featured because it’s more press for them, it showcases a specific element of their business they are really proud of, and it works with the timing of an announcement they are making. Ask your client what would be beneficial for them. Sometimes it helps to work backwards. Also be open to ideas from them; it’s a great way to start a dialogue.

Q: What do you think about Vimeo vs. YouTube?

A: Both are great video-sharing sites. YouTube wins on SEO, and is a lot more well known, so if those factors are what are important to you, it’s a better option. It offers suggestions based on what you watch, which may lead to visitors discovering more of your videos and your channel. Vimeo is a much more artistic community that’s less noisy and more aesthetically based than YouTube. It doesn’t offer suggestions based on what you’ve watched.

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You don’t need expensive equipment. You can get started with a smartphone and lights from Home Depot.


Q: How can small businesses get started in video production?

A: There’s a perception that production costs are too high, so a lot of smaller companies shy away from videos, making it a relatively small field. In many ways, however, small businesses have the most to gain from video marketing, so don’t let production costs scare you away. Rather than outsourcing the video production, you can edit footage on your own computer; rather than buying expensive klieg lights, you can buy lighting equipment from Home Depot for less than $100 or just use natural light. Nobody’s expecting each of your videos to be a Spielberg-level production – your videos don’t have to be high cost to be high quality.

Q: If video increases conversions by up to 300%, how do you define conversions?

A: That varies with every business. The traditional definition is a lead who converts to a customer; for you, it could be getting someone signed up for a trial account on your website, converting someone who watches a video into a Twitter follower or a member of email list, and so on.

Q: What industries benefit most from video?

A: Nearly any industry can benefit from video – you just have to figure out how to deliver valuable content and form a relationship with your audience. Video is a medium that allows you to show rather than tell; this means that companies that have something to show tend do especially well with video. This isn’t necessarily a physical product; a demonstration of an SaaS solution, for example, can make a great video. But a company that sells data might find it harder because there’s less to show.

Q: How do you avoid a stiff and overly-scripted video?

A: There’s a difference between writing out a full script and storyboarding the video out. Storyboarding is always a good idea, and will ensure that you know the layout and direction of your video; having an outline of the video will enable you to mix pre-written material with improvisation. If you’rewriting out a word-for-word script, be careful to stay out of automaton territory. You can soften your script by writing it in more colloquial, conversational language, rather than stiff professional language that will make you sound like a narrator reading the fine print in a medicine infomercial.

Another technique you can use is to break your script up into two-sentence takes. It’s easy to memorize two lines at a time, so deliver them to the camera, memorize the next two, and repeat. You can break these up by using B-roll footage (of the office, the product, text, and so on) and jump cuts. This style of shooting appears a lot more natural because you’re not um-ing and ah-ing your way through winging it, nor are you overly stiff and too-memorized. And above all else, unless you’re President Obama or Anderson Cooper, never use a teleprompter!

Q: Can you compare live action to animation for video marketing?

A: Both formats can be extremely effective. If you want to convey something about your company or culture, it’s best to show real humans – their passion, enthusiasm, and personalities will shine through. But if you want to explain a complex process, it can be easier to demonstrate when you can eliminate background noise and break down the concepts with animation.

Q: Do you recommend using normal employees or professional actors?

A: If you’re still in the early stages of video marketing, use the resources you already have – including your own team members. You won’t have to deal with unions or casting, and again, the business’s own personnel’s enthusiasm and passion will come across to viewers, leading your company to be viewed in a more positive and relatable light. This can also be very helpful for recruiting and hiring; if you’re using real employees in videos and they look like they love their jobs, more people will want to apply. On the other hand, sometimes you have to use an actor, if it suits the content and there’s not someone in the company who’s comfortable in front of the camera. And that’s fine too.

Q: How effective is Vine/other forms of very short content?

A: Vine videos are over-the-top and, though very fun to watch, they’re not a medium through which you can include much actual content. You have far less control over your brand image, and six seconds per video leaves absolutely no room for immersive storytelling, but it can be successful at getting your name out there.

And finally, asked in a comment on last week’s blog post:

Do you have any stats to share to answer the question “Is 2014 the Year of Video Marketing?”

A: Yes! Studies have found that YouTube is the second-most-used search engine in the world; that 50% of users watch business-related YouTube videos once a week; and that 75% of users will visit a marketer’s website after watching their content. Google is spending a ton of money on original content and in support of content creators; with online video growing every day, it seems like video marketing’s future is bright and growing brighter. Our friends at DigitalSherpa have compiled a much longer list of video marketing stats, so if you’d like to see some more, click here.

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