youtube

How Short Videos Tell You More

Most people hesitate to do video because they are worried about having to create 1) long narratives with 2) high production value.

That said, we’ve noticed a cool phenomoenon: very short videos in places you aren’t expecting them.

I first noticed this while online shopping. When I look at clothing websites, a lot of them have short videos showing how the clothing drapes and moves, which is really helpful. It also helps higher quality items stand out in a sea of cheap clothing websites where people don’t feel the get what they are paying for. Here’s an example from Universal Standard:

Product Video Example From Online Store from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

I was telling a friend about this short video observation and she mentioned online dating websites adding short video formats as part of profiles and she was considering trying it. Of course, this made me think about this:

Really though, it’s daters answering questions, which can honestly give you a lot better idea of what they will be like in real life than tons of verbage in a profile can.

Vine (8 second videos) have gone away and with Instagram allowing 60 second (or less) videos, it might just be that the internet is a big experiment in the ideal length of short videos and what they can accomplish in that time. How short is too short? What kinds of information can be shown that would be difficult to show in another medium? I personally think we are just getting started.



Nonprofits can also benefit from using short videos. This example is from Friends of Acadia sharing the conditions of the trail at the Jesup Path. If you check out their video archive, you’ll find their weather related updates about trails and conditions are fairly short (less than a minute in length). Maine Coast Heritage Trust uses short videos in a similar way. (These videos all use raw footage- no editing, and no one having to worry about talking for the camera).

Wyman’s of Maine (the blueberry factory where Kassie worked in high school) shares a lot of short videos like these, sharing how to make smoothies and other treats using their products. Yes, there is a bit of production with this video, but you’ll notice there’s no one talking in front of a camera, and the editing can probably be done using a relatively inexpensive service.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC uses short video clips to offer glimpses of the space, discussions with authors, and closer looks at exhibits. Their video archives have a mix of short videos and longer form (up to 10 minutes).

If you have a cool product, a cool location, or a mission that supports cool activities, short videos are a marketing tool that you can definitely use. Short and sweet applies to online video, and your projects too.

Where else have you seen short form videos? Are you planning on using these in your marketing?



How To Use Audio To Your Advantage

Here’s something I’ve noticed in my tenish years doing this work. Most people HATE to go on video, mainly because you have to worry about how you sound AND how you look at the same time.

For example, I video recorded my pastor’s sermons for a few weeks. I noticed everyone was distracted by the tripod and the visible presence of my phone (which was the recording device). So I tried an experiment and this week: I just recorded the audio of the sermon.

Now you may ask yourself, “What I can do with an audio recording?” Honestly, plenty.



Put a still image with your audio and upload it to Youtube (or Facebook).
I see some podcasts that do this so they can host their podcasts for free (see next point down) but since Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google, having content on there people can find can be key. You could use one still photo or slides as the visual portion while using your audio file. Note: you’ll need to add a picture to your file or Youtube won’t accept it. Here are a few ways around their ‘you need a visual too’ requirement: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/3-ways-add-audio-podcast-youtube/

Use Libsyn or Soundcloud or similar service to host your audio files. 
Unlike video, audio-only doesn’t have free hosting options, which means you have to figure out where these files are going to live. If you want them off of your website, there are several audio services that allow you to do this. Soundcloud allows 180 minutes free and Libsyn starts at $5/month. Once you upload them to these services, you can embed them or link them other places. (Kind of like how you can’t share a video unless you put it somewhere and then link it – typically these files are too big/annoying to email).



Use Media manager or Blubrry in Wordpress (if you have a self hosted Wordpress website).
If your site runs Wordpress, you can upload an MP3 (sound file) to your media folder or use the Blubrry podcasting app, which is not only very powerful but also free.

Transcribe your recording as a text post. 
Whether you want to do this yourself or pay someone to do it, having the transcription of an audio can allow you to have/share detailed notes or simply make the content accessible in written form too.

Besides these advantages, I don’t have to worry about taking notes and can be fully present. Also, audio recordings take WAY less space than video. So if I think I want video but it doesn’t make sense to have video, audio is the next best thing. 

100 Youtube Videos


Inspired by a lot of short format content I’ve seen (and by friends who ask me questions that have answers which aren’t quite enough info for a blog post), I thought I’d see if I could do 100 videos in 100 days. I also wanted to see if they’d get more views or have different analytics than our longer format (more typical) videos. I’ll report back after the 100 days but if you want to check out the 30ish videos currently there in the meantime, subscribe to our channel!

I set some rules for myself during my 100 video challenge:

  1. Videos were as close to a minute long as possible.
  2. They had to be close captioned.
  3. They had to be useful as stand alone resources.

I’ve been a member of a BNI like organization for the last almost three years and since I give weekly 60 second presentations there, I found staying short to be relatively easy. It was hard, however, to both tell a story and a how-to in 60 seconds, so some videos were slightly more on one side in the other but ALL had an actionable item, even it was just ‘learn more about X’.

Youtube and Facebook both have built in closed captioning on videos (trust me, it’s much easier to go through and fix than type the whole thing yourself) so adding closed captioning was literally an extra two minutes but I think inherently valuable. I’ve watched videos with the sound off far more often than I’ll admit so I’m sure other people do the same.



You notice annoying speech tics in a whole new way when transcribing yourself.
The first few videos, I found myself saying ‘you know’ a lot. This is an old habit I’ve noticed from being video taped in my college public speaking class and later student teaching but something about writing out every time you say ‘you know’ three times in a 65 second video makes you nip it in the bud.

I videotaped a bunch of videos at once and scheduled them to go live in a playlist… but it looked like a bunch of ‘private’ videos to everyone else.
Whoops, I thought I was so clever. Thanks Jon Hill for noticing and telling me. May we all have a friend like Jon Hill in our lives. Share your videos with that friend so they can point out weird technical stuff like that, because it’s impossible to see some things while you are logged in or otherwise ‘in it’.

I felt slimy about putting it all as a blog post, as Facebook videos, as Youtube videos, etc.
Even though I tell people this is possible (to make something once and use everywhere), thinking about doing this daily makes me feel slimy. Now I understand why people pay for someone else to do this for them (someone like us), rather than do it themselves. I know instinctively that there are different people/audiences on each site but it can be difficult to press that “publish” button multiple times when it’s your own project.

I am glad I decided not to make them fancier.
I could have added an intro/exit to each video but I thought that would be pretty annoying to people wanting to binge watch a bunch at once. It also would have added about five minutes of work to each video. In the case of the short form video, I didn’t deem fanciness (background music, screenshots, etc.) necessary. I thought I might regret this choice part way through the process but I don’t.

I still have about 60 videos to make so leave a comment on this post about topics you want me to cover. I’ll report back at the end of the challenge but I hope you watch, subscribe, and share the most useful ones to you.



Periscope After: How Your Videos Live On

periscope-iconNot sure how many of you are into Periscope but I kind of love it. To those who haven’t used it, Periscope is a live video app/social network that is tied to your Twitter account (though since launching you can now use the app without Twitter). You film live video and people can leave comments, send you ‘hearts’ (if they like it) and more.

Some of the things I have watched on Periscope:

  • Quebec preteen answering questions about her life en francais
  • Skateboarders in Iran
  • Part of someone’s birthday party in France

Of course, beyond the day to day stuff, people are also using Periscope to build their brand, holding live Q and As or sessions about certain topics of interest. Honestly, if you are comfortable on live video, it’s a pretty cool way to connect with people.

Like any live event, though, there are only a certain amount of people who can be there as it happens. Some people want to watch it afterwards, or rewatch it. Here’s an example from my life.

I am on a local committee related to economic development in my town. They had someone come and present about tax increment financing (TIFs) from southern Maine, a good three hour drive away. The scheduled the presentation to start at 4 pm. Several of my friends couldn’t make it but wanted to see it and I immediately thought of using Periscope to capture the event.

I could almost feel the room collectively eye roll as I took out my phone and began filming. I saw people began watching. There were 25 people in the room that day but 52 people watched live. The reason I did it though was for the people like my friends who wanted to watch it after.

Periscope has recognized that both live and recent videos are valuable, which is why on both the ‘Home’ screen and the ‘Map’ screen, you can easily watch live videos (the red dots) or recent videos (in blue):

periscope-map-view

You may ask yourself, besides going on the Periscope app, how can people see my Periscope videos after the fact?

Make sure your Periscope settings for your account are set to ‘Autosave Broadcasts’. Otherwise they go poof.

If you need some help with this, click here. Anything you’ve recorded before turning on this autosave won’t be on Periscope anymore. Trust me, learned that one the hard way!

Decide if you want them on your device or online somewhere instantly.

So there are pros and cons to each of these. If you just have your broadcasts downloaded to your phone, you can put them in some video editing software and spiff them up before, say, uploading them to Youtube or your website where they will live.

I am more relaxed (or we can say lazy) and want this to happen automatically, which is where Katch comes in:

katch-screen

Katch is a service you can use that takes your video and allows it to go live somewhere besides Periscope automatically. As you can see, once on Katch, we get options about it. Here is the link to where this video lives online: https://katch.me/breakingeven/v/19807ccd-9fdc-3165-b923-c0c6b7bf8f80 (PS Periscope people get really annoyed when you don’t film vertically, regular video watchers get really annoyed when you don’t film horizontally. I switched to horizontal about 2 minutes into this broadcast. Sometimes you just have to pick your battles!)

You can sign up for Katch with a Twitter account and get this set up.

If you want about a bajillion other ways to save your Periscope video, this Quora post has them. 

I think it’s best to think of your Periscope video as having two audiences:

  1. The live audience that will ask you questions and give you feedback to roll with while you broadcast. For those people, be interesting and responsive.
  2. The replay audience who is watching it after the fact for information. For these people, wherever your video lives, give them a context and a reason to watch (what are the main points? who was your audience? etc.)

Thinking of both these audiences will give you the most bang for your buck. The revolution may be televised but a lot of people are still going to watch it after the fact.

Your Video ‘Style’

I would never market myself as a video producer. If you want someone good, go see Mike Perlman. But if you want short videos to stick on your Facebook page with light editing (as in maybe a title shot and closing credits with maybe some background music that fades in and out), I’m your gal.

So in talking about making these social media videos with a new client, I wanted to get at what her ‘style’ was. Here are a few I’ve come up with:

Option A: The Highly Produced Video


Pros: Short, edited, and educational, these videos are meaty without being overbearing. They are conversational, sure, but not much fluff.
Cons: You need a professional to make things look this great, which means having a budget and something specific you want to accomplish. Assuming you are able to put professional looking aspirations aside, you’ll be needing something to drive it in terms of content (ex: user questions, a very clear topic). Probably not likely to ‘go viral’ but, as you have probably figured out, that’s not what it’s all about.

(There are other times I mention Marie Forleo on this site. Try this blog post, this one,  and this one.)

Option B: Interview Style

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 4.35.59 PM
Pros: Involves other people, zero production value. To be fair, most of the big shots (Marie Forleo above included) started with these kind of videos. Also all you need is a webcam, a mic, (headphones too so there is less echo), and some screen capture software. You can get this whole tech setup for under $50. Clearly who you interview is infinitely more valuable. Plus, not only do you get to share the video on your network but also the interviewee will likely share it to theirs. Double exposure!
Cons: When you involve other people and have low production value (see the ‘Pros’ section), you have to be interesting. Because you are the interviewer, you should be ready to carry it if you have to (some people are not fun in an interview situation). Also, since you may each be in your own individual location, while you can control things like lighting and sound quality on your end, you have to trust the person you’re interviewing is taking an equal amount of care.

Think of interview type videos as the ‘you gotta walk before you can run’ of online video. It’s a good way to start.

Option C: Teaching Session


Pros: Can cover more material (or in more detail), can have notes, can market a series of these as a course in the future (yay money)
Cons: Makes people think of school so you have to be extra interesting about it (Look at the way Moz lays out the notes and this dude’s mustache as examples of this.)

This is an often overlooked style because few can pull it off. But if you’ve got interesting material that’s not going to ‘happen’ in less than 5 minutes, this allows your video to be meaty and get people your content in both visual and auditory ways. If you create videos this way, you can also turn them into an online course (more on that in a future blog post). Websites like lynda.com and Skillshare are popular for a reason!

Option D: Scripted


Pros: Scripted, can make it pretty short
Cons: Having to be ‘clever’

So you may ask yourself, Nicole, why did you separate this from the ‘Highly Produced’ option? Well, I’d say this kind of video (which I get is a commercial) is more scripted. I am doubting in Option 1 Marie Forleo has scripted everything she is going to say and has it down to the letter. I’m also doubting she’s thinking about scenes or storyboarding out what each frame looks like.

If you are a less confident presenter, having the script (and potentially working with other people, having multiple camera angles, etc.) gives you options.

As important as what your video is about, having a style can give you a structure to work with, especially if you are feeling a little blocked. I’m sure now that I’ve named these, you can think of other examples of each. If you are thinking one style speaks to you more than the others, watch videos like the style you want to emulate for more pointers. How long are they? What are good things you should copy? What’s the pace like? Take notes and you can keep these in mind as you make your videos.

So stop thinking video equals perfection. It doesn’t. People just like watching videos… so go make one already!

 

The Revolution Will Be On Video

I’m on video not because I’m vain but because that’s where things area headed. We can learn a lot from video’s less intimidating predecessor: photos.

When I began my website, a fellow blogger (after seeing a picture of me on Facebook) told me I should add my photo to the sidebar of my blog. She reasoned that I was attractive and it could only help for people to see me. (For context, in case you don’t know me, I am no great beauty. I’m not the kind of person who would cause a traffic accident or inspire Train would write a whiny song. My brand of attractiveness is soccer mom/Tylenol commercial, which honestly is just fine with me.)

It’s probably hilarious for you to hear a story about someone suggesting someone else upload a photo of themselves (and me not just doing it immediately), but this was kind of novel. Back in 2007, not many people had their pictures on their websites. And even parts of the internet you would actually associate with having pictures (ex: real estate listings) had a limited amount. For example, in 2009, the Maine MLS data feed fetched tenish photos at a time. I remember because the real estate agent wanted 25 photos but since they weren’t in the feed, we had to custom program the page to display the ten photos from the feed plus additional ones.

In 2015, can you think of even a low end real estate listing with only ten pictures? I feel like I see 25 photos of some peoples’ breakfasts sometimes.

I looked for a graph supporting my observations and thought this was a pretty good one (originally on The Atlantic- click over to see other fun graphs!)

photosonplatforms

Anyway, photos were a new frontier and having them made you cutting edge. In 2007-2008.

In an age of Instagram, Facebook albums, and phone cameras, we now get to be clever with photos. They are not novel but expected. Now taking better photos is important, which is why we have a workshop about taking photos with your smartphone happening this week at our business.

Video is now the novelty.

As I try to coax clients to be in videos (because we always want to be ahead of the curve), there is more resistance then there was when I was begging them for headshots. It does feel more personal for someone to see your facial expressions, hear your voice, and see your unfiltered face (though some video software, like Google Hangout, lets you do some flattering edits if you take time to figure it out). Video also feels like a bigger deal to do. You want a tripod, lighting, a non crappy background, perhaps a microphone or a non-echoy room. There is just more to consider.

Because of this additional consideration, there never seems a time you feel ‘ready’ to make a video. Every time I think of making a video for Anchorspace, for example, I am usually not wearing makeup or otherwise feel not suited for the camera. So two weeks ago, I decided to do a voiceover with photos and stick it on Facebook as an initial video. I spent about two hours on it after I finished cleaning the Anchorspace bathrooms and kitchen. (I really want to set this up as glamourous as it was.) The resulting video was kind of low budget but under 1 minute and got through my main marketing messages.

For comparison, I’ve been posting still photos of the inside of Anchorspace as well. Let’s look at the stats for this somewhat crappy photo:

facebookanchorspace-imagestatsNow here are the stats for my similarly crappy video:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.30.59 PM

Yes there are more views but honestly, the impressive thing is how many more times it was clicked on. And that some people watched the whole thing (5% but still).

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.25.13 PM

For the final version of this experiment, I should do a real video (me on camera talking at least part of the time) but this just to show you even a crappy video will get you more attention than a photo, probably because novelty. So don’t be afraid of making something and putting it out there.

Now if you think this was my cop out, I assure you you can see more of us on video on our Google+/Youtube channel: https://plus.google.com/+BreakingEvenInc/posts  And yes, every time I see a video of myself, I always think ‘Is my face that round?’ and ‘Why do I move my hands so much?’ But despite my lack of perfection, I am more than willing to be ahead of the curve and in 2015 that means with a camera rolling in a video sense.

I urge you all to consider video… because I bet you can expect where a graph of video uploads between 2013 and 2018 is going to be trending when it exists. Be ahead of the curve and get out from behind the lens. You may be surprised who watches.

1 2 3