A good online video can be broken into 3 components
1/ Video production values
2/ Content, performance, storytelling
3/ Marketing considerations such as call to action and linking
The first 2 are applicable to all online video including information and training video while the third is more relevant to advertising and promotional videos.
Video production values
Most people are familiar with TV and cinema and can easily differentiate a quality and professional production from an amateur one. Apart from conveying professionalism for a brand, business or product, a well produced video helps to make the viewer more engaged and connected. The main components of production values are lighting, sound and editing and without due care given to these, even the highest quality cameras will look amateur.
For a more detailed look at lighting, microphone placement and editing techniques read my post on video production tips.
Until recently there were some essential differences between online video and traditional video production based on bandwidth limitations and the small screen used to display online video. Web video works best with close-ups as wide shots are harder to see on a small screen. Also, video compression used for internet delivery often made a mess of motion in a video. Now, with increasing broadband speeds, better video compression and the ability to watch video in full screen, I tend to place less importance on these considerations and employ more traditional production techniques.
Video content and performance
Obviously, the content in information and training videos is provided by the matter in hand but it is always worth remembering that video’s big forte is in conveying personality, emotion and motivation. Getting bogged down in too much detail and statistics can adversely affect the viewers’ engagement. Often the detail is best left to supplementary written material although the video can provide the key points and motivation to find out more.
People relate to people not numbers and stories are often best told through the eyes of one or several people rather than a large number or statistics. Usually people come across best on video with a healthy mix of professional, informal, authentic, natural, relaxed and personal. It’s usually best to avoid trying to perform or be funny unless you’re a comic actor. Humour often works best inadvertently or through spontaneous situations. The great thing about video is that you can have as many takes as you wish which hopefully will alleviate nerves and pressure though I often find the first take to be the best and most spontaneous. Client testimonials and vox pops at an event are often more effective at relaying the company message than a member of staff.
The content of advertising and promotional videos needs some attention. A 2-3 minute advert, promo video or product demonstration can be highly effective when the viewer already has some knowledge of the brand, company, product or act. If the goal is to spread the brand more widely through the highly effective video marketing methods now available, then the content is best concentrated on more universal appeal. Probably the most obvious type are ‘how to’ videos. There are 35 million youtube searches each month on ‘how to’ videos and a genuinely useful information video loosely related to the brand can be far more appealing to the online audience than a direct sell. I’m currently working on videos for the launch of a restaurant chain involving ‘how to’ videos for a variety of recipes by a celebrity chef. Action, extreme sports and humour are other popular subjects for online viral videos and these can sometimes be incorporated into corporate videos to create a blend of entertainment and promotion.
Video marketing considerations
If the goal is simply to raise brand awareness then a simple ‘how to’ video with a logo or company name at the beginning and end may be sufficient. If the goal is more specific then an effective and quantifiable call to action will be needed. In video sharing sites such as youtube, the call to action needs to be compelling enough to rise above the inherent youtube calls to action such as watch related videos, comment, subscribe, like, share. If you can’t beat the youtube background noise with something like a compelling discount or promotion then simply join them with a call to action such as ‘subscribe to our youtube channel’. This at least gets your foot in the door of your viewers attention and they’ll effectively join your video mailing list and be notified next time you upload a video.
Whatever the call to action, it’s usually most effective when displayed visually and spoken at the same time. URL’s need to be kept simple so people can remember them easily and pass them on in conversation. It may be a good idea to provide a URL specific to the video to be able to track the video’s effectiveness. Eg/ visit www.—– for a %10 discount. The ability to click on part of the video and be taken directly to a given website is provided by some third party companies and will certainly be more so in the coming years.
Finally some thoughts on the optimum length for online videos. For spreading virally, I’d recommend an upper limit of 2 minutes and less if possible. Too short however, and the viewer may be left with no lasting impact.TV news channels often have a maximum lime limit of 90 seconds or so for news stories. For many performance acts and promo videos for businesses I find a length of 3-4 minutes a good balance between watchability and containing a substantial amount of material. For videos with a high entertainment value or compelling story the running time can go much higher and still remain highly engageable. The statistics that youtube has recently included on all videos enable you to see if viewers make it to the end of a video and if not, how far they get before switching off.
Other important considerations include where a video is placed on a web page, whether played directly via an online player or via a link and whether to embed a youtube video or upload it directly on a website. These issues and more are covered in my article ‘how to effectively distribute an online video’.
Creating high visibility in youtube’s search engine is covered in ‘youtube optimization tips.
The pros and cons of the main video sharing sites such as youtube, vimeo, metacafe,daily motion etc are covered in the ‘top ten video sharing sites’
For an overview on the use of video read my article ‘why use promotional and corporate video’