I’m not a video expert, nor do I play one on TV. I am a nonprofit staff member who produces, edits, posts videos to further the mission of our organization. I’m an amateur, not a professional, at video. So, my approach to videos is utilitarian, a means to an end. And I’m learning.
This piece is a product of that learning, a sort of pay it forward because others have helped me.
Video matters. Viewers see an average of 32.2 videos in a month, and about 100 million Internet users watch online video each day. More importantly, Online Publishers Association say 80% of Internet users recall watching a video ad on a website they visited in the past 30 days. Of that 80%, 46% took some action after viewing the ad. In addition, some 64% of website visitors are more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video.
According to research by Visible Measures, 20% of viewers click away in 10 seconds or fewer. You lose about 33% of viewers by 30 seconds, 45% by 1 minute, and almost 60% by 2 minutes.
While these statistics reference retail and general use, it is not a stretch to say that nonprofit organizations can benefit enormously from the increased, planned, and intentional use of directed video.
Here are a few principles for people, including a lot of nonprofit organization executives, who are new or relatively so to “doing video”:
ï§ Devise a plan on how many videos you need, what topics, what length fits the topic and fits the social media or website where you intend to post. Don’t just wing it. Think systematically about what you need and what result you hope to achieve.
ï§ Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just post longer videos and people will watch what they want. Not likely. They’ll either not watch until they get the message you want to make or they won’t watch at all.
ï§ Don’t fall in love with your own voice. Brevity is beautiful. Under 2 minutes is essential. 30 seconds is better, 15 seconds better still, and if it’s like a TV advertisement, just 6 seconds.
ï§ Video shorts can be specially produced, or you can create them from clips of your longer videos.
ï§ Don’t worry about identifying yourself or website. There’s not enough time in the video to talk about this. You can easily add name, title, website, other contact information during editing via banners and inserts or via a 1-2 second end slide.
ï§ If you need to do longer videos-and there’s still a place for 2-minute videos, or even 6 to 12-minute videos for certain presentations-write your text ahead of time, upload it to a teleprompter app (several are available), and use the scrolling text like a politician speaking at a campaign stop to create your new video.
ï§ If you’re using a mobile device to video, learn where the camera is on your phone or tablet, then look at the camera during short shoots or position your scrolling text so you can look at the camera. This allows you to “look into viewers’ eyes.”
ï§ If you’re on your own, use a tripod and if possible, a remote. If no remote, no problem, start your video, step into the frame, smile a second, and go. You can edit the front end later.
ï§ I mention smiling. If you’re a natural, good for you, but when I’m thinking or stressed, like doing a video, I can be unintentionally intense. So, I learned to smile big, even if at first it felt fake, at the beginning. My challenge now is to remember to keep smiling. Makes a difference in your video, as long as the topic fits the smile.
ï§ Be creative: indoors, outdoors, with one of your kids or pets, formal or informal, depends upon the subject and the audience.
ï§ Brief videos are about one topic or thought. Don’t try to say everything there is to say about your product or service. You can do more videos later. Get in, say something pithy or poignant or pungent, and get out.
ï§ Remember lighting. You can look like an amateur or a pro quicker with bad or good lighting, respectively, than about anything else you do. Most critical, you need good front lighting, then if possible, adequate side-lighting, and most challenging of all unless you are in a studio, some overhead lighting.
ï§ If you want top notch marketing videos then hire a top notch professional and pay the person’s freight. Nothing wrong with this. But when we’re living online these days, especially among the younger set, what we’re interested in is “authenticity” and “timeliness.” In other words, don’t be afraid to do a walking video, an in-the-street video, onsite at your service location with a bit of natural noise in the background. Be real. Be authentic. Communicate reality as you see it, which may actually be the opposite of “slick” marketing promos.
ï§ Don’t be afraid, in fact plan, to do several takes, or at least as many as needed to get the tone and message you want. Check your video after each take. Watch, look for forgotten things like that bit of clutter in the background or poor lighting or no smile, or your collar is lop-sided… etc. You don’t get great videos by accident. Work the process.