Video Essentials

Finding a Subject: What to Shoot for Effective Online Video

Content Rules, an extremely useful book by Ann Handley (chief content officer for MarketingProfs) and C.C. Chapman (founder of on creating all kinds of online content, has just been released in paperback. We’re thrilled to present this excerpt.

But What Am I Going to Shoot?

To answer that question, consider your audience, business, and comfort level. If you are scared to talk on camera and you are a one-person shop, video may not be the best choice for you, and that is okay. (Content Rule Number 11: Play to your strengths.) But then again, you could just as easily film around your shop and talk about what people are seeing rather than being on camera yourself.

No matter what your business is, here are some ideas for videos you could shoot:

  • Diary-style videos of people or groups talking to the camera: These are usually short and insightful. They might offer tips or tricks for using your product, answer a common support question, or simply give an update on how your business is helping its customers.
  • Interviews with staff, customers, or those who might be considered rock stars in your industry: Putting a camera on a tripod and then having a conversation with someone makes for great content. Think beforehand about the questions that your audience might be interested in hearing answers to. In fact, you could ask your audience via Twitter, Facebook, or your newsletter what questions they might like to hear answered.
  • Product tours highlighting the features of your products: Think how great it would be for a restaurant to show the specials of the day in a video on its site instead of just listing them on a menu. Or instead of seeing only photographs of your inn, you could watch a video tour of the rooms.
  • Behind-the-scenes videos: These types of videos are always popular. Musicians have used these for years to give fans a peek into their lives. Businesses can show what goes on in their day-to-day world that people don’t see but might be interested in. What about showing, for example, how a popular product goes from concept to rolling off the assembly line? Something that seems completely everyday to you could be exciting and fresh to your fans.
  • Event videos: Videos that share your experiences at a conference or other event are almost always interesting, especially to business-to-business (B2B) customers. Sharing your thoughts and giving people a peek into an industry event they couldn’t attend could certainly help gain new customers for you.

The biggest fear most people admit to about appearing on video is that they will look silly. Realize, however, that nearly everyone has this fear . . . and just move beyond it. Cameras are everywhere nowadays and people are sharing their most embarrassing moments online, so any video you create for your business is not going to be as remotely embarrassing as what a quick YouTube search would turn up.

Just get shooting and have fun doing it. Trust us, it will work out.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, Revised and Updated Edition by Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman.  Copyright (c) 2012 by Ann Handley and C. C. Chapman. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

Video interview image via Shutterstock.


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