Video Essentials

PayPal Builds Community and Slashes Costs with Internet Video

[This is a guest post from Vzaar, a video hosting company.]

Internet Video is a strong and rapidly growing component of online e-commerce and business. Leading online businesses like PayPal and eBay use video in a variety of ways. For example, eBay sellers commonly use video (video hosting provided by Vzaar) to merchandise and market their products, while PayPal uses video to educate and engage its community of users.

The United Kingdom-based website PayPal Talk is part of the social media side of PayPal and functions as a portal that gets customers involved. In addition to building community, it serves as a media-based FAQ and customer service portal that answers many of the questions people have about using PayPal. In a just a few months, PayPal has seen its number of help inquiries drop as more questions are answered online via PayPal Talk.

Heather Taylor, social media manager for Paypal UK, is a strong advocate of using video to educate and engage PayPal’s customers. These videos include direct how-to instructional videos, interviews with staff and team members, and interviews with customers.

“We had found that many users perceived PayPal as distant and behind a wall,” Taylor explains. “By using Web video, we break down that barrier and enable our customers to see our team as real individuals as we answer their questions.”

Taylor is in the process of creating a comprehensive library of how-to videos developed in response to real customer inquiries, that walk users through PayPal’s products and services. These videos are then integrated into PayPal’s various help centers, such as the Ask Louise page in the United Kingdom.

Accessible on the various PayPal sites, these videos are hosted on YouTube.

“Not only are people familiar with the YouTube player and how it works, but YouTube videos are searchable. Whether they are accessed via one of the PayPal sites or on YouTube, PayPal users can easily find the answers to their questions. In fact, as Google now integrates YouTube video into search results, finding answers has become even easier.

“YouTube has evolved into the ultimate how-to library for people worldwide,” says Taylor. “Just type your question into the YouTube search box and within seconds, you can usually find numerous tutorial and demonstration videos that fit your request. The secret for video producers is to make sure that their video has an appropriate title and file name, and that the video description and tags adequately drive the YouTube search engine to the right result.”

The PayPal Web Video Production Process
According to Taylor, her team produces three types of videos: live interviews at shows and events, expert interviews, and how-to videos that consist of informational screen captures and demonstrations.

Taylor uses the Camtasia Studio screen capture program to follow the PayPal expert on a computer screen as she or he goes through the various online steps to accomplish a PayPal task. She then adds a voiceover, edits it with Premiere Pro, and uploads the finished video to YouTube.

“Each of our informational videos tackles just one subject,” Taylor says. “We try to keep our videos less than three minutes in length. That means keeping the video concise and targeted, with a beginning, middle, and end. We tell you what we are going to teach, we show you how to do it, we summarize it. Done.”

When shooting interviews, Taylor often uses a professional video camera along with a lavaliere or shotgun microphone. Audio is key. According to Taylor, “Make sure the audio is clear. If your audience can’t understand what you are saying, there is no reason to post the video. Take the time to capture high-quality, clear sounding audio. Use good microphones and wear headphones to monitor your audio. It is much easier to capture quality sound than trying to fix it in post-production.”

However, Taylor has also recorded and produced interviews using her iPhone. “I record the video and audio on my iPhone, keeping close to the subject. I then can edit it using the Reel Director iPhone app, add a voiceover or superimposed text, and, when it is complete, directly upload it to YouTube. It is amazing how well the iPhone video looks and sounds.”

Taylor offers three rules for good Web video:

  1. Keep it short and concise—under three minutes. It is better to do a series of short videos with individual messages than one long video with numerous messages.
  2. Know your audience. Develop and target your videos towards what your viewers want to know. Fulfill their needs.
  3. Make it visually interesting. Don’t just hold your camera on one talking head. Use different experts to explain the message and cut between them and also use cutaways to demonstrate what the interviewee is speaking about. Instead of zooming in and out or panning, make sure you use justified camera moves to follow the action.

Taylor concludes, “Our customers consist of individuals of all types who process information differently. Some prefer text, some prefer sound, and some have to see it. An online business should not only rely on text-based FAQs or a contact center to answer user and community questions. Video enables us to cost-effectively target those who have to see and hear to learn.”


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