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Creating and Using Web Video Never Easier

Video on the web has simply grown to become an expectation. Sites these days feature video for every imaginable use and visitors and users have grown to anticipate this engaging medium.Small business videosThe good news is that creating and using video on your websites and blogs has never easier or more affordable. (One disclaimer: Professional videographers can help you produce very high quality, engaging videos, just like a graphic designer can help you produce high quality print materials. Consider a professional option like TurnHere as well, but arm yourself with the tools and knowledge to get it done right either way.)

    Some reasons to use video

  • Interview customers and capture testimonials and success stories (Here’s a fun idea – hold a testimonial party)
  • Interview employees as they discuss what they do and how they help customers
  • Record a greeting from the CEO – don’t sell, just let them know your story
  • Use video as a call to action in your email campaigns (Here’s how)
  • Add video to your Google Maps profile, Facebook Fan Page, and LinkedIn profile
  • Create product and service training videos showing customers how to succeed
  • Record FAQs with real prospects or customer posing the questions
  • Interview your key strategic referral partners
  • Create all manner of “how to” video and screencast to help demonstrate your expertise

Getting started with web video

This is not meant to be the complete online video tutorial, but the following items will help you get started as you consider ways to enhance your online presence with video. (Some resources for that: ReelSEO, MakeInternetTV and Online Video Toolkit)

Capture

Recording video has become fairly simple. High quality digital video cameras have dropped below $200. Highly portable options, such as the Flip cameras make it easy to pack a camera anywhere and most new phones, such as the iPhone 3Gs, feature video recording capabilities.

Determining the best option for you depends a little on your objective. If you want to grab lots of impromptu shots out in the field a Flip is a nice option, if you are doing interviews or product demos the digital video camera is probably a better choice.

    A couple of things to keep in mind.

  • Get a camera with the ability to add an external microphone so you can get a lavaliere mic for interviews. The sound will be much better.
  • Use a tripod – you can’t hold a camera very still no matter how hard you try.
  • While HD cameras produce higher quality output, they also produce much larger files. Ask yourself if your use requires the higher quality

Don’t forget screencapture software for recording tutorials or capturing slide presentations in video. Camtasia Studio from TechSmith is the leader here (new Mac version) but Adobe’s Captivate is an alternative. Mac users also use ScreenFlow Pro

Another emerging option is live streaming video. Creating and capturing live video, much like a live reality show, is another possible outlet. USTREAM.tv and Livecast.com offer nice platforms.

USTREAM also offers a live streaming video app (this is an iTunes store link) for the iPhone 3Gs – you can point your phone now and stream live video.

Edit

Once you’ve recorded your videos you probably want to edit them in some fashion to make them more engaging, logical or professional. This is an area that can way technical, so I’ll just point out a few ideas.

Video editing software such as the very basic Windows Movie Maker and the more robust iMovie on the Mac are both standard and free. More robust programs such as Adobe Premiere Elements and Pinnacle Studio for PC and Final Cut Pro for Mac are also good options.

Publish

Video sharing sites offer an incredible service for the small business video publisher. Sites such as YouTube allow you to upload, host and stream your videos for free. Video files are large and demanding so hosting and streaming them on your own can get technical and costly. Video sharing sites make the process very easy. You simply upload your videos, create some setting and then copy the embedding code to publish the video, with player, right to your site. While most of these sites offer free versions, consider the pro versions if you intend to use this medium often. Pro versions give much more control and more professional end product.

    Popular sharing sites include:

  • YouTube – the Google owned grandaddy
  • Viddler – standard feature set and more flexible than YouTube
  • Vimeo – offers a paid version that gives you much more control
  • Blip.tv – focus is show format
  • Brightcove – more focused on creative video

Promote

Video promotion is one of those odd topic, because it can get lost in the whole viral conversation. If you’ve found a logical way to create a video that millions want to watch and share and that video supports your brand and marketing objectives, go for it. But, it’s probably not a great idea to sit around thinking of ways to create funny viral type videos unless they make sense for your brand.

Having said that, getting your video viewed by prospects is usually a good thing.

    Some video promotion tips:

  • Make your videos sharable – add social media links or tools like AddtoAny so people can pass you videos on
  • Optimize your videos – when you upload a video to a sharing site make sure you use keyword rich titles, descriptions and tags (getting your videos to show up in Google search is a good thing!)
  • Optimize the video pages – Search engines aren’t great at knowing what’s in a video (although they are getting there) so make sure you thoroughly describe what your video is about on the page or blog post where it resides on your site.
  • Publish your videos on social networks – Facebook Fan Pages, LinkedIn profiles and Biznik profiles are great places to run some video
  • Push your video to lots of places – video distribution services, such as TubeMogul, allow you to upload your video once and distribute to many sharing sites. TubeMogul also offer tracking as part of the service.

Video in Email Creates Higher Clicks and Conversions

Adding video to email is a powerful way to double and triple the click your call to action in an email campaign might receive. Obviously, this will vary with other elements, but it’s a pretty accepted and tested tactic.

Of course the trick you can’t simply slap a YouTube video in an email and send it out. To date, none of the traditional ways of creating and viewing video are compatible with email sending. A host of services are cropping up to try to create turn-key platforms that make using video in email much easier, but there are two methods today that many small business folks can take advantage of without too much technical expertise. (I believe you should be testing this right now)

1) Click to view – this isn’t really video in email but it creates the allusion of it and the video call to action is a very strong incentive for people to click through. (Who knows this may lose it’s effectiveness as many things do, but for now it’s more effective than a text link.) All you need to do to create a click to view call to action is capture an image of your video in what looks like a video player, complete with play button. When people click on the image it takes them online to the URL embedded in the image.

Video in email

You can host your video on YouTube, Vimeo or Viddler and send people directly to one of these sites to view, but I would take the extra step of embedding the video on your site or in a blog post. It’s terribly easy to do and that way you keep the brand experience going and can offer additional information and offers on the page.

2) Animated gifs – Animated gif files are pre 2000, you remember the days of the spinning chicken on your website, right? They have become much more sophisticated and can be used to deliver a richer, animated experience in an email. One downside is there is no audio, just motion. They also currently have issues in Outlook 2007 and show only as an image. You can create animated gifs in Photoshop and most email service providers allow you to embed them in your HTML templates like you would any other image.

Both of these approaches can only be delivered via an HTML email and the precipitant must enable images to view.

There are signs on the horizon that a true video in email experience is not far away – Google Gmail now allows a setting that will show YouTube video preview in Gmail. (You have to enable this setting in the Labs tab) Other 3rd party systems like GoodMail are trying to push for a certification system that would allow you to send video in formats such as flash as long as you were a certified sender in good standing.

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