Before you get started creating videos for your business, take a minute to acquaint yourself with the three types of videos you can make. Each has its own purpose and own benefits.
To get a handle on the topic, we spoke to Steve Crow, executive producer and founder of Crow Digital Media, an online video production company based in Palo Alto, California. Crow has been shooting profiles, how-tos, and videocasts for the Silicon Valley area and beyond for three years, and was a web producer prior to that.
Viral videos get the most attention, since the media is constantly latching onto some bizarre new YouTube clip, but they’re the most challenging for companies to create.
A viral video is one that’s passed around from one viewer to the next, building an audience by word of mouth. They’re usually non-commercial, featuring some unusual event from daily life. But ever since there have been hot user-generated videos, there have been companies trying to bring the same heat to their online campaigns.
Even with producers well-versed in viral videos, however, the success of the video is simply out of your hands. There’s no way to ensure that a video goes viral. In the end, it’s up to the audience, says Crow, and he thinks the chance for success is narrow. You can film whatever unusual stunts you want, but you can’t make people recommend your work to their friends. If you’re doing something outlandish, just be sure you don’t hurt your brand. There could be a backlash for something tasteless or controversial, Crow says, although it would likely be only temporary.
Most people creating online business videos are creating conversion videos, where you try to convert a viewer to a buyer, or simply make the viewer take some kind of action, such as clicking a link or requesting information. That defines the category too narrowly, however, says Crow. Creating a positive image of the corporate brand is also a successful result.
Before any kind of conversion can take place, you need to create an emotional or trusting relationship between the organization and the viewer. It’s a mistake to think that online videos work like television commercials or, even worse, infomercials, says Crow. Don’t create a hype-filled, inauthentic campaign.
There are some basic mistakes that Crow sees over and over with conversion videos. Don’t forget to brand the video with your company’s name and logo. You can’t build a relationship if your viewers don’t know who’s behind the video. And be sure to include a firm call to action at the end.
Don’t neglect the educational, or how-to, video, says Crow, because a lot of viewers are searching for them. If your business gives you some kind of expertise, create videos and share it on YouTube and other video hosting sites. The more you share, he says, the more your online reputation grows. When people turn to YouTube to learn how to fix a tire or cook a pizza, they could be getting your branding with the instructions.
This type of video can be done quickly and in-house. Make sure the sound quality is good, as viewers won’t watch something with poor sound, but the production values can be basic. Keep running time to three minutes or less. Use a variety of shots to illustrate your points, and make sure viewers can clearly see what you’re talking about.