Editors Note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on video marketing.
Years ago you typically needed a professional crew, some fancy equipment and actors and actresses with some semblance of talent to put together a decent video production.
But these days you dont exactly have to be Steven Spielberg to create the kind of video that will attract links, traffic or a high ranking in the search engines.
All it takes is an HD video camera (you can get an HD Flip cam for under $200 and less if you search for a bargain) and a little imagination and you can be on your way to a low-budget masterpiece.
The first thing to determine when creating such a video is its purpose. Are you trying to get the video to rank for a particular keyword? Are you going after links? Do you want the video to be a traffic hit? Or are you swinging for the fences and trying to make this a viral video? In a perfect world you would create a viral video that attracts loads of traffic and links all the while ranking, but focusing on one of those goals often makes success in that particular area more attainable.
But before you can even start thinking about links or going viral, you need to know how to make such a video.
I have already recommended a Flip cam for those video marketing amateurs out there because its relatively inexpensive and incredibly easy to use. You literally just turn it on and push the record button and you will have high-quality footage in a matter of seconds.
If you are doing a still shot, I would highly recommend using a tripod to eliminate camera shake and to get a perfectly still picture. If your video is something you need to record on the move, practice taking a decently still shot. One way to practice is to squeeze tennis balls to build up the hand strength that lessens shake.
When filming with a Flip, you must always try to minimize outside noises and make sure your actors and actresses project their voices. The biggest negative to the Flip is that it doesnt pick up sound very well, but you can always pump up the volume a bit when editing. Still, be aware that without a microphone the sound quality is not terribly high.
Once your footage is in the can, the next step is to edit.
If you are making a simple video and only need to make basic cuts, you can use the free FlipShare software. However, I would at least recommend using the iMovie software that comes with a Mac (if you plan on doing many video projects, Macs are advisable to PCs).
With iMovie you can execute a full complement of cuts and transitions as well as add title slides and background music, but if you plan on doing more complicated stuff than a full-service program like Final Cut Pro (which is expensive but powerful) is probably the way to go.
Full Viral Video
If youre aiming to make a video that goes viral, you should first research the kind of movies that have gone popular on YouTube. You will find that they are often simple yet hilarious videos that get hot out of sheer luck such as David After Dentist (65 million), Charlie Bit My Finger (218 million) or even the Sneezing Baby Panda (73 million).
Its no coincidence that children and animals being adorable are the theme of all three of those examples, but be warned that these results are outliers. Its smart to try a variety of different ideas because you never know which one might hit. In this regard, its smart to always have your camera on you because you never know when a situation that will play well on the web will ensue right in front of you.
How To Benefit From Your Video
When you do hit it big on a video, you want to make sure all the positive benefits in the form of traffic and links benefit you and not a site like YouTube. It does you no good if YouTube gets all the traffic and links, so in an ideal world you would host said video on your very own site so you can soak up all the benefits.
At the same time, for the widespread distribution necessary for a video to catch on, you might want to post it to multiple video sites such as YouTube, Vimeo and Metacafe, particularly when you want the video to rank. Still, the video should be embedded on a page on your site that you are driving traffic to as well.
While uploading the video its essential to optimize the piece for the particular keyword youre trying to rank for. That can be accomplished by including said keyword in the title, preferably at the beginning, posting a link to your site at the beginning of your description (except in Vimeo, which doesnt like HTML) and including the keyword again in your description.
Theres no way to assure that your video will blow up virally, but if nothing else by optimizing the title and description you can put yourself in a position to rank for your keywords with a video.
Whether youre looking for traffic, links, rankings or just want to tell the world a little about your company or a particular service, video marketing is a great way to go. A simple video can be easier than you expect to create with some of the video shooting and editing technologies available today.
Here at Vertical Measures we went through this process by creating seven short videos for our website on our services that we posted on YouTube and Vimeo with optimized meta data. Our aim for these videos was to add a more personal touch to our web site that would also engender more trust in our company and thus more conversions. In Part 2 of this series on video marketing next month, I will discuss the statistical information we gather from this project.
Arnie Kuenn is the author of Accelerate! Content Development & Marketing to Grow Your Business Online (April release) and has held executive positions in the world of new technologies and marketing for more than 20 years. Kuenn is the founder and president of Vertical Measures, a strategic Internet marketing company located in Phoenix, AZ. The company specializes in web content marketing and development, search and social marketing.