It’s amazing what you can do with an HD camera that is smaller than a smartphone in a dark bar when the mood is right. Kimberly Fairchild and David Reinstein lit up the Ghost Bar at Detroit’s legendary Whitney on a cool spring Friday night and I happened to be there with my Tiny Cam. Is the video grainy? Ya, a little bit! But sometimes, it’s all about the vibe.
3-16-11 My friend Kurt Hines at HLC Technology Solutions just sent me an excellent article in today’s New York Times about a whole slew of companies that have started communicating directly with their customers via web video. It also mentions one thing I’ve been saying for years, that video now is what having a web page used to be: the way to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. It’s well worth the read.
My favorite points from the article:
1. A series of videos posted on one company’s website reduced customer questions by half. This not only freed up sales staff to be more productive, it actually allowed the owner to avoid hiring several more employees.
2. The videos also allowed the same company to shave 40% off their customer service budget and do away with phone support completely.
3. Instruction manuals and how-to guides work much better as videos for more and more companies.
Here’s the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/business/smallbusiness/17sbiz.html?_r=1
Google recently announced that they would extend “instant preview” in order to make video searches faster and more interactive. The idea is to let viewers spend less time searching and more time watching videos by including more information during the search process. Users just click on the small magnifying glass to the right of the search description in order to see a pop-up with more detai. The catch is, depending on your browser, it might be easy or not so easy to enable instant preview so that you can see the magnifying glass in the first place.
Exact measurements of web video’s ROI are difficult to come by since video is usually a piece of a larger social media puzzle. Using video means buying into the bigger picture of how best to engage clients in a web environment. Online video is an effective way to promote your brand and practice good business ethics – in this light, it is likely to help in some ways that you can measure and some ways that you can’t.
Being married to a dancer, I have learned a lot about dance by osmosis. (I also used to play piano for dance classes, but that was in another life.) Since Geiger Classic Ballet Academy is the premiere dance school in the region, I thought they deserved an educational video that was also a promotional video that showed people how exceptional they are. I was lucky enough to get the assistance of Kirsten Haglund, Miss America 2008, who feels that she owes a lot of her success to the Academy and its founder, Mary Geiger. (She studied there for several years). This mini-documentary video features interviews with Kirsten, Mary Geiger, a dance student and her father who all give their unique perspective on what the academy has to offer. It’s a great compliment to the articles, information and pictures on the dance school’s website.
When visiting a website for the first time, it’s nice to have the option to view a short intro video or welcome video. Even if you don’t click on it during your first visit, chances are you will eventually get curious and give it a look. If the homepage video is simple, informative and to the point, you might even watch the whole thing. Here is a great example of a personal welcome video that adds a lot to the site. A short from-the-heart statement like this one will reach more viewers than pictures and text ever could, especially for a non-profit website with a clear purpose. And you don’t have to be Miss America to pull it off! Notice that Kirsten Haglund (Miss America 2008) speaks without a script because it is her own website and foundation and she knows exactly what she wants to say. And even though she is an amazing public speaker and a delight to watch, the slides and photos on the left side of the screen add a lot to the experience. A homepage video like this one is relatively inexpensive to produce and can make just about any homepage more interesting and professional.
Ryan’s Auto Parts is Detroit’s premiere junkyard, yet many people outside of the neighborhood still haven’t heard of it. Enter a little social media outreach powered by web video advertising. Quick editing combined with informative narration and a little background beat make for a perky, one-minute web promo. Without the pressure of stuffing everything into a 30-second TV spot format, Ross, the narrator, was able to mention all the special features he wanted to highlight. Since this commercial web video consists of three basic ingredients: location footage, narration and music, it is inexpensive to produce and delivers a lot of bang for the buck. It’s also full of information, so that even people who have heard of Ryan’s Auto Parts or Ryan’s Pick-a-Part will probably learn something new.
Even if you’re not into cooking shows, chances are you’ve seen one or two. The ones on TV are usually personality driven and web cooking shows just tend not to be very good. Here is an example of an internet cooking show with a twist: the laughs are more important than the food. Videoburst hired actors who made an actual recipe from scratch, but we don’t actually expect people to run out and make it. While Jeff and Joyce successfully make a delicious and healthy Apple Tree Salad, they actually spend more time arguing with each other, sometimes forgetting the viewer is even there. The idea is that a restaurant chain, grocery store chain or popular food website can use an amusing cooking show like this one to reach out to a larger audience. This particular cooking show webisode is a pilot created to show potential sponsors how a series of short, entertaining videos could drive a branding or social media campaign. If it’s professionally produced, quirky and a little bit different like this one, it just might develop a following and go viral. In that case, a modest investment reaps huge rewards for the sponsor.
My buddies at Affordable Website Specialists twisted my arm, set up my blog, updated my website and finally got me to get on the other side of the camera for this website testimonial by yours truly. It was my way of putting my money where my mouth is when I tell my clients how easy it is to make a video testimonial. The basic ingredients are a green screen headshot and lots of time lapse footage from my personal collection. It was fun to do a favor for my friends, play around with seemingly unrelated video clips and come up with some pretty corny double meanings in the narration. Hopefully the point of this web testimonial was not lost in the special effects: these guys know what they’re doing and I recommend them.