Want to Create Awesome Video Content? Use This Four-Point Checklist

A study conducted by Kenneth Olmstead, Amy Mitchell, Jesse Holcomb and Nancy Vogt for the Pew Research Center on the “The Digital Video Advertising Market” revealed the following information:

To fully understand the state of digital video advertising and its potential for news, it is helpful to start with the entire advertising picture. Total advertising revenue amounted to $171.3 billion in 2013, according to estimates provided by eMarketer. Digital advertising accounted for a quarter of that (or $42.6 billion). Digital video advertising amounts to just a small piece (9.7%) of all digital ad revenue – an estimated $4.15 billion. It accounts for an even smaller share of all advertising revenue across platforms – just 2.4%.Still, digital video advertising is growing rapidly at 43.5% year over year. By 2017, eMarketer projects that digital video advertising will make up 15% of the total digital advertising market.

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Raymond dreamed of owning a barbershop from an early age in life and had accomplished so by the age of 22. Now fifty-five years old, Raymond is competing to stay relevant in his trade against newer, younger competitors and chain locations.

Raymond has always used the local yellow pages and placards for advertising his business, even having a commercial air locally on cable. As an addition to his website, his wife and son have both recommended he create some videos.

The cost of production and determining what kind of video content to post led Raymond to feel apprehensive about their advice. However, he has seen a marked decrease in ROI for his on-air commercial over the recent years forcing him to embrace his family’s suggestion.

Understanding the importance of quality, Raymond hires a content marketing firm to manage his business’ brand through video content online. To his surprise, the firm has asked for his input largely beforehand to understand what it is he desires from his marketing campaign.

Marketing campaign? This was another curveball for Raymond, as he thought much like his commercial in the past, the advertising agency would take care of it. Beginning to feel like he was being duped by the agency, he brought up his concerns with the project manager.

“We want to create an experience for your visitors and customers that is a reflection of you. We want to build the same level of trust you’ve built in-store, online.”

Willing to see the process through to the end, Raymond and his family began thinking of what he would share with his customers in terms of value.

User Generated Content: Video
Video, like any other form of content, must provide value to the customer. Ultimately, the content of your video will determine whether or not it is viewed. Statistics available through a Youtube press release reveal a stream of 300 hours of video is uploaded every minute.

With all this content being uploaded, what exactly are people watching?

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Studies from a 2007 report on the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed viewership was most popular in News, Comedy, Music and Education videos. It is understandable why news is most popular, and after taking a look at the graph legend it is discernible that comedy is clearly second.

From that we take that News is comprised of current events and Comedy is entertaining. If your content provides relevant information and in an entertaining manner you’re maximizing your potential viewership.

Equipment

Noting the amount of user generated content uploaded every minute, the competition for viewership comes from professional and non-professional users alike. To elaborate, viral video content does not have to be shot on the latest Sony RED if someone is able to gain a large viewership from a home video.

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, feature length film Tangerine was subject to critical claim, yet it was shot almost entirely on an iPhone 5S.

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In terms of video length, you may not be looking to shoot a feature film, so what length is right for you?

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Long form video content is watched proportionately up to the forty-five minute mark in the study conducted by KISSmetrics. However, their study, in combination with the Pew Research Center, shows a definite decline in short form video content approaching the two minute mark.

From this information we glean that if you’re shooting a short video, it’s best to aim under two minutes, preferably ninety seconds. This doesn’t condemn long form video, but rather suggests that if you’re going to make it significantly longer than two minutes it is best to pack in your most meaningful information early.

Taking this information and thinking back on Raymond, if an individual is seeking only online prestige and notoriety, why can’t he? Raymond absolutely can, and hiring the creative agency was a step in the right direction.

Professional expertise in content marketing paired with a client’s industry/trade knowledge allows for the best chance at innovation. To greater assure you of the quality of content you produce as you work with a creative agency, refer to this 4 Point Checklist to Create Awesome Video Content throughout your production phase.

4 Point Checklist

1. Storytelling

The first criterion to look for in creating awesome video content is to provide a story. Storytelling is an essential part of human nature and is how information has been passed on for centuries.

This phenomena has found its way around the wheel as the field of content marketing has made a noted shift in focus towards creating a great story. It allows businesses and consumers to connect with one another, establishing a shared/common narrative.

So, how do you go about creating a great story? In order to create a great storyline, you must follow the Three Act structure. You’ve probably come across this structure in every book you’ve ever read, as well as, television show and movie you’ve watched.

The format is slightly different for fictional works on the silver screen, but Steve Kreuser of ContentVia.com has developed a modified version for content marketing as follows…

Three Acts

  1. Setup- Who is this video for? Keep your target audience in mind, specifically in tone and style. This through-line is to be carried throughout the entire script; a clear understanding of who this product is geared towards will increase the effectiveness of the rest of the principles ten-fold.
    What is this video about? This should be the most obvious and simple questions to answer. Simply keep in mind the “Who” when introducing the “What.”
  2. Confrontation- Why does the consumer need this product? This is where the “sell” begins, refer to any marketing textbook to find a detailed list and description of the many types of persuasive selling tactics that have been successfully employed in marketing for decades, if not centuries.
    Once you’ve decided on the proper type of sell” for your client, again referencing the first rule above, you can begin to develop the “meat” of the story. This is where your audience will spend most of its time, in a well developed script.
  3. Resolution- Where and/or When can your product be acquired. The simplest of the principals as long as it is imbued with a strong closing argument and call to action.

By following the Three Act Structure you can be sure to create a complete story, however it won’t solve what you will shoot.

One of Raymond’s major concerns was the content of his video feeling like he had nothing to share with visitors. Don’t fret if you feel similar, use what you have to create awesome content.

There is a wealth of content waiting at your fingertips waiting to be created, for instance

  • Staff interviews which can include anyone from the CEO to the Front Desk
  • A “Day in The Life” video featuring office staff in different departments
  • Guest interviews or testimonials, if you have a store front location
  • Virtual Office/Campus/Gallery tour
  • Perhaps even videos of your staff dancing
  • Product Reviews

When customers are privy to more personal information it allows for a greater connection and establishes greater trust. In Raymond’s case he decided to share Basic Grooming Tips for Upkeep Between Barbering Visits in videos under thirty-five seconds.

Raymond provided a list of thirty tips to get started, along with basic information. From there the content team created a series of scripts for the video production to be shot on an HD Sony Handicam. During production, Raymond noted if each point of Visual criteria was addressed.

  • Composition– Each visual sequence was shot in the interest of aesthetic with the Rule Of Thirds in mind. It’s important to make sure your videos are properly composed for your audiences’ viewing pleasure.
    Rule Of Thirds– The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts.

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  •  Location– Your setting doesn’t have to be representative of your career field although it doesn’t hurt. However, you should be sure the environment you’re shooting in looks “active.” By active, I mean a space that is used or occupied regularly.
    To elaborate, you needn’t clutter your walls to avoid blank space in your LCD, as shot composition can help you trick the camera by reducing/increasing foreground space.
    If your walls are blank, try creating depth in your shot by moving away from the wall while maintaining space between yourself and the camera.
  • Lighting– It’s important to make sure you everything you shoot is well lit. Again, this is primarily for your audience, but can serve a technical purpose as well.
    A video that has poor lighting may be visible on a small device, but when blown up i.e. via projector for a presentation, the image quality will most certainly be too dark.
  • Audio Quality– Where video format is not of the utmost importance, audio quality is imperative. If your audience struggles to hear your video or it’s filled with background noise, even if it’s shot on Sony’s Scarlet, it will seem amateur.

Ever seen a bootleg version of a film with the audience talking? The immediate reaction to stop the film is most similar to your viewers if they have to struggle to hear what you have to say.

2. Hosting Platform

The next step is deciding what video hosting service is best for you. Earlier we mentioned video length not mattering, in order to give you creative reign over your ideas. However, once you’ve decided on short form or long form content, it’s necessary to pick a hosting service.

If you’ve chosen long form, the two best options available are Vimeo and Youtube.

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From the table, a few basic bits of information gathered are that YouTube is free while, Vimeo is not. However, Vimeo does offer users the option of a free account with a limit to one 250MB video upload per week.

Looking at the head-to-head, YouTube looks to be the outright winner with no caps on amount of video uploads or storage space, and the option to create a paid for Google Ad Words campaign.

Additionally, YouTube is owned/supported by Google giving it SEO leverage in Google’s search engine. Earlier we mentioned that over 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, leaving out that it has over 1 billion active users monthly.

Due to the large stream of user generated content, YouTube’s video compression rates do not retain full upload quality in order for ease of use. Vimeo by comparison uses a compression rate that retains full upload quality, in addition to the service not suffering from poorly created SPAM content.

The focus of Vimeo is on quality videos, hence no paid advertisements pop up as users search for content. Catering towards content, Vimeo’s service has a stronger community of artists and creatives of whom you can network amongst.

Consider the overall goals of your video content and how you would to affect your audience on a larger scale to provide the most value. In doing so, you can choose the hosting service that best fits you and your audience needs.

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If you’ve chosen short form, the two best options available are Instagram and Vine.

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From the table above we are able to discern some basic information. Both Instagram and Vine allow users to non-linear editing capabilities while neither allows user to upload footage from their camera roll.

A few perks to choosing Instagram include the image stabilization feature inside their recording app. Additionally, clips recorded in this feature are able to be deleted to free up space for new recorded footage.

To add panache to your video (or photo), Instagram also includes (19) image filters to personalize your visual aesthetics. Lastly, Playback time for clips posted to Instagram is 15 seconds almost three times as long as Vine, who limits user videos to 6 seconds.

It seems as though Instagram is the clear winner when you include the number of social platforms its content can be shared across.

However, Vine, much like Vimeo, has its own x-factors making it competitive. For starters, Vine was created by Twitter and the mobile app receives full support from it’s sister company. To elaborate, Vine videos are fully embeddable allowing ease for easy visibility within your Twitter timeline.

While Vine’s six-second time limit seems like a hindrance this feature appeals to the online “.Gif community” on sites like Reddit and Imgur. It is ideal for the looping feature that until recently was only utilized by Vine; Instagram adopted the feature in early February 2015.

A looping video longer than 6 seconds doesn’t have the same effect with a longer time constraint provided by Instagram; Instagram users are not forced to use all 15 seconds of recording time.

Much like Vimeo and Youtube, the hosting service you choose for your video content should best suit your long term needs. There is no clear winner, only what is best for your business strategy.

3. Publishing

Now that you’ve created this awesome content, you need share it with your audience. Simply upload and you’re done, right? Not completely. Earlier we touched on the massive stream of video content uploaded to YouTube alone in a minute; 300 hours.

That much user generated content is sure to provide competition, be it direct or indirect, for your audience’s attention. To help your users find and share your content, make it easy for them.

  • Title: A keyword rich title featuring the core message of your content is essential. Using proprietary software like Google Trends will help you craft a title to help your audience find your valuable content.
  • Metadata: A description of your actual video content utilizing keywords again is helpful for Google web crawlers looking to rank your content.
  • Tags: Tags works in much the same way a bookmark does. It will allow you to label your content with keywords and organize it amongst similar topics.
  • Thumbnails: One of the key features of storing video content online are thumbnails. They are oftentimes a video still taken from the recorded content. This important because the right digital still can have a tremendous effect on whether or not a user decides to click-through and view your content.
  • Links: The number of links that point to your video will help drive up its rankings in search engines.
  • Sharing: The best part of finding valuable information is being able to share it with others in your personal/professional life and social circles. Be sure to make sharing as simple as possible, so that the joy of discovering said information doesn’t wear off before your user can invite others to view it.
    Be sure to include quick share buttons/badges to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit and Google+.

Other things to consider when publishing video content, or any content, is to align it with events on your company calendar. If you’re hosting an event, attending a trade show or launching a product, releasing your video content at least a month in advance will allow you to build a buzz.

4. Engagement

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The last step in our 4 Point Checklist is to ensure you engage with your audience once you’ve posted your video. The chart above displays how users engage with video content across specified demographics.

From the information it can be gleaned that on average at least 50% of viewers across the board receive & send video links along with watching videos with others. The 18-29 age group has the highest probability of commenting on videos and men overall are more likely to engage with online content than women.

How does this information help you though? While this data set doesn’t provide you with ways to engage with your audience, it provides insight into your potential viewership. Looking at the marked decrease in social engagement while ascending the age range doesn’t necessarily mean older generations aren’t engaging.

Instead of looking at this information as a way to rule out/include video content engagement for generational groups, realize that people are engaging with content. Ultimately, these numbers don’t necessarily represent the level of interaction you can expect for your brand.

The best way to determine if users will engage with you is by engaging them. Here’s a few tips:

  • Address your viewership directly by responding to questions posed in the comment section. For example, responding to the top comment/question posted in a video series will assure users you’re paying attention. To earn bonus points, give a direct shout out to the commenter with their identifying tag or username. This plays slightly on the concept of social proofing, encouraging visitors to interact with you by virtue of other viewers.
  • Include a video transcription. Not everyone is a visual learner, and some may even want to transform the information into a hard copy or soft copy file for later reference.
  • Don’t rely solely on a video hosting service (Vimeo, Youtube, etc.) as your only distribution channel. Place the video on your company website as well in a forum or blog, where your core audience (business professionals) are more likely to find it. Don’t just place it there and expect users to interact with it either. Give them a reason to by posing a question to open the room up for discussion.

Conclusion

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Let’s look back on what we’ve learned:
Awesome video content doesn’t have to be long, short or shot on the most expensive camera. What it does require however is,

  1. Solid Storytelling– At the end of the day, it’s not what you’re shooting on, but what you’re shooting.
  2. Right Hosting Platform– Great user generated content can go to waste if it’s not hosted in the right place for the right audience.
  3. Publishing Tactics– Publishing Tactics, or SEO, is necessary to help viewers navigate the quickest route to your content for consumption and sharing.
  4. Positive User Engagement– Establishing value and trust amongst your viewership is important and a key ingredient in doing so is establishing user engagement.

Now that you’ve accessed this 4 Point Checklist for Creating Awesome Video Content, it’s time to get out there and start producing!

I leave you with one question. Now that you’re on your way to creating great video content, how will you utilize your videos long after they’ve been posted?

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