It’s official. Video marketing isn’t just an optional extra for savvy marketers anymore – it’s a major piece of the content marketing puzzle.
People want to engage with content that is more memorable and less intrusive – and that’s where video content is ahead of the curve.
If you’re unsure about whether you should use video in your marketing strategy, consider the following statistics:
- Native Facebook videos get 135% more organic reach than any other type of post
- Half of YouTube subscribers between the ages of 18 and 34 would drop whatever they were doing to watch a new video from their favorite channel
- Over 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a bricks ‘n’ mortar store
- Embedding video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more
- Viewers retain 95% of a message when they consume it in a video as compared to 10% when reading it in text form
- The average conversion rate for websites using video is 4.8% as compared with 2.9% for those that don’t use video
- Viewers who watched an ad twice on mobile experienced a lift of 23% in unaided brand awareness and 47% in unaided ad recall.
Do you really need any more convincing?! Video can clearly make your advertising and content budget more valuable.
In my opinion, the reason many businesses hesitate to use video content is because it can be an overwhelming medium to get used to. It also has a reputation of being expensive and complex to produce – plus, it supposedly requires ongoing optimization across different platforms and audiences.
But that’s not necessarily true. I’ve created this post for those who want to introduce video content into their marketing strategy on a budget, or improve the video content that they already put out. It’s full of recommendations for free or low-cost shortcuts and heaps of tips to make your video content stand out. Hopefully, it will show you that there’s no real reason to avoid jumping on the video bandwagon already!
Without further ado, let’s get started.
The first step is to plan your video
One of the key reasons many marketers struggle with getting started with video is not knowing where to begin.
You may be a pro at planning and writing blog posts, sales copy and social media updates, but video content is a different kettle of fish. It’s a whole new medium and it’s understandable if you’d rather not use it at all than risk using it to distribute unclear messages that could cost your brand in more ways than one.
But jumping into filming without a plan is precisely what makes it expensive!
You need to start with a simple planning process and always keep a few checklist items in mind before hitting the record button.
- Determine your video’s length first.
While you may end up with a slightly longer or shorter final video than you planned, working towards a ballpark length will make your filming life easy. As far as the length goes, it’s always best to start small with a goal to build a video not longer than a few minutes.
A video length of two to five minutes is what Amy Schmittauer, author of Vlog Like a Boss, recommends in her book. This is even more important if you are just starting out; you will inevitably make mistakes, and they will be easier to overcome if you start small!
- Plan your visuals and audio ahead, too.
To approach your filming in a purposeful way, first define your topic. What is the goal of your video? Are you trying to educate people? Entertain them? How do you want them to feel while watching your content? Is the tone more casual or formal?
Once you’ve defined the goal of your video, it’s time to list all the visuals and soundbites you can think of that will enrich its key message. Who can you interview? What can you say to your audience? What kind of visual footage can you use to enrich someone’s audio statement?
- Come up with a compelling hook.
In much the same way as you write an introduction to a blog post that aims to keep the reader reading, you need to plan a hook for your video content to keep the viewer watching.
In the above-mentioned book, Amy Schmittauer emphasizes abiding by an 8-second rule. That’s about how long you have to convince the viewer that your video is worth their time – so make sure you’re consciously delivering that!
The next step is to film and build your video
This is the part most people overthink, and the one they get the most discouraged by. They want to create a brilliant video and they want to use the best equipment. Then they see these four-digit price tags and give up.
The key to building a successful piece of video content from a technical point of view is to have clear and well-lit visual footage, steady camera, crisp sound and a natural flow of frames and sounds.
That’s it. You don’t need thousands of dollars to achieve that – heck, you don’t even need hundreds. Free options can get you really far, and most options to upgrade are available for under $100.
You can create a small setup to start out for approximately $300 all up – giving you the opportunity to create many videos, learn along the way, and upgrade as you grow.
So let’s talk about the equipment you need.
Before we talk about any other equipment, let’s tackle the camera first. The amazing, but often forgotten fact, is that most phones today can record in 4K quality using the rear-facing camera.
To record high-quality footage with your phone, however, there are some key points to remember: use the rear-facing camera whenever possible; look directly into the lens; avoid using the phone’s digital zoom (as it will lower the footage quality and potentially make it grainy); and take advantage of the feature that locks the focus and exposure by tapping and holding your screen. All of these tips are applicable to both iPhone and Android.
You’ll also need to ensure your phone is stable and your scene is well-lit, no matter what it is you use to shoot. For now, I challenge you to take your smartphone and try making some video footage following the steps above.
Once you outgrow smartphone filming, there are a few upgrade options. If your camera budget is limited to $200, you can invest in either a Nikon Coolpix L340 ($184) or a Canon PowerShot SX610 HS ($199). Both of these will do a superb job.
Alternatively, if you’re ready to invest in a DSLR camera, you can buy a Nikon D3300 ($446) or a Canon EOS Rebel T6 ($449). Remember, you can always start off completely for free and upgrade as you advance your filming skills and needs evolve!
It’s one of the fundamental truths of shooting videos: if your footage is dark and unclear, your final video will be bad and perform poorly. But before you invest in lights, first think of all the ways you can use the one light source that is completely free – natural light!
While natural light comes with some restrictions as to what hours of the day you can film, it can also help you stick to a tight schedule and therefore be more productive. Always aim to have the source of light coming from behind the camera and avoid having the light come directly from above the person or object you’re filming to avoid harsh shadows.
When you do want to invest in a more reliable source of lighting, the best options on a budget include: an on-camera LED light, like Neewer Photo Studio 176 LED ($27); a quality ring light, like Neewer Ring Light ($80); and an umbrella lighting kit, like Fancierstudio 2 Light Kit ($40).
Image Source: Neewer Ring Light (Amazon)
In most cases of filming, a stable video will be necessary. Unstable video is rarely tolerable so you’ll want to make sure you can stabilize your camera while shooting. The good news is that you can record a perfectly stable video simply by using your surroundings – shelves, books and tables are all available props!
Sure, it may be challenging to find the perfect angle, especially at first, but it’s possible – and free!
To make the most out of tripod set-ups, keep your camera ideally at eye level or slightly above it, and minimal space in the frame above the person talking to the camera.
If and when you want to invest in a proper tripod, great options can be found for under $15: the AmazonBasics 50-inch Tripod ($13); the JOBY GripTight Gorilla Pod ($20); and the LOHA Flexible Tripod ($29).
Image Source: AmazonBasics 50-Inch Tripod (Amazon)
If there’s one piece of equipment you can’t do without, it’s a microphone. The microphone built in your smartphone or camera will usually do a decent job, so if you truly want to start out for free, this will give you a solid basis.
However, there are some issues you may come across early on with the built-in phone mics, such as it not picking up enough sound, and background noise or wind interfering with sound quality.
Luckily, there’s an incredibly low-cost option to solve this problem right off the bat. There’s now a broad range of external, smartphone-compatible microphones, and the most affordable one is the one from YouMic – it does a great job and its price is only $12!
At industry standard, another affordable clip-on microphone is the Rode Smartlav Lavalier, starting at $79.
Image Source: Rode Smartlav Lavalier (Amazon)
Before you share your video with the world, you’ll obviously need to edit your raw footage into a final product that delivers great flow and an abundance of value.If you’ve never edited a video before, this part may prove the most challenging part of video content creation for you.
If you’re a Mac user, you’ll already have iMovie on your machine, so I’d suggest looking into that first. However if you’re not on Mac or simply aren’t a fan of iMovie, there is another brilliant, easy to use, feature-rich editing desktop app called HitFilm Express. It is completely free with no length, size or feature limits, and the only thing you need to do to access it is to share it on social after creating an account.
To get started, hop over here.
A second option is the web-based app Adobe Spark. It comes with less features, but offers very straightforward and simple editing tools – and it’s free, too!
Now, it’s time to optimize and amplify your video
Why is this important, you ask? Well, because you’ll get a higher return on investment if you ensure proper optimization in your video strategy execution. We all consume content differently based on which platforms we prefer to use, so don’t skip over this part of the process.
Across social media, video content has enjoyed incredible growth over recent years. For each platform, the differences are small but crucial.
Over 8 billion videos are watched on Facebook every single day. This is a massive opportunity, but also a challenge – how do you make your content stand out? To increase your views, shares, and engagement when sharing your video on Facebook, try to upload videos natively, not as a link from another platform like YouTube.
Add captions as videos will likely autoplay without sound, and advise viewers to tap the screen to achieve sound. Experiment with video length to see what gets the best response from your followers.
Twitter video hasn’t quite attained the popularity of Facebook video yet, but all that means is that there’s more chance to stand out if you do it right. Aim to upload native videos, as they seem to receive higher overall engagement compared to third-party hosted videos, and ensure your video is no longer than 140 seconds.
Alternatively, you can use your Twitter video as a teaser for a longer video published elsewhere (on YouTube, Facebook, your website, etc).
Through harnessing the power of conventional Instagram posts and Instagram Stories, you can leverage stronger engagement by publishing video content on this visually-powered platform. Make sure you always adjust your video to the specific dimensions and nature of both: use the square (1:1) format for conventional Instagram posts and the tall (9:16) ratio for Instagram Stories.
Be prepared for your video to auto-play without sound, just like on Facebook, and flag this possibility in the caption by advising people to tap for sound. Generally speaking, your video can’t be longer than 60 seconds.
As a video-based social sharing platform, YouTube allows you to have more space to describe your video and the freedom to experiment with longer narratives. To make the most out of YouTube and increase your watch-time and engagement, ensure that you add clever captions and optimize your video’s title with keywords.
You can also input these into your description to improve YouTube’s ability to understand what your video is all about. Always use the highest resolution available, too, as high-quality videos perform the best in search.
And that’s it!
Video can play a great role in your marketing strategy as well as your email campaigns, so increase the value of your content by trying your hand at creating one today.
Don’t forget, to upload any video content you do create to your website or emails, you can simply embed it there or add an image of the video as a thumbnail that links through to a landing page. That way, it lasts much longer than when it stays in a newsfeed.
Hopefully you can now see that video doesn’t have to involve a costly investment or a risk to your brand’s reputation – ultimately, it’s all about carefully planning and accounting for every step of your video content creation.
Now it’s your turn – are you ready to get started? Which combination of platforms sounds the best to you? Comment and let me know below!
Guest Author: Marijana Kay is a content writer and strategist who specialises in B2B, marketing and SaaS. She’s obsessed with improving content marketing one business at a time, focusing on conversion-driven insights.