Making Your Videos More Creative

In a world that’s over-saturated with videos, everybody is trying to find that way to stand out.  Creative filming and editing can make or break your video!  With practice and time, you can make your videos more creative.

First and foremost, tons of people are switching to DSLR cameras to film nowadays.  So if you don’t have one, I highly suggest getting one.  It’ll make your videos more creative right off the bat, and you can get a good camera with a lens or two for 600 – 800 dollars.  Using DSLR professionally for video is still in that awkward stage.  You’ll be showing up to a shoot with what looks like just a photo camera, yet it can produce powerful, vibrant video.  And a lot of people will think you’re taking photographs.  But that’s not anyone’s fault.  DSLR footage is awesome to work with because it provides the option for a shallow depth of field.  That means you can only focus on certain subjects (if you choose!)  Those videos with a nice blurry background and a clear subject are the work of DSLR cameras/lenses.  It’s fun to play around with depth of field and see what you like.
Also for creativity, be sure to mix your video with all different types of shots.  I’m talking close up pans, far away stills, low angles, etc.  DSLR video really packs a punch, and you will have to buy multiple lenses and keep switching them depending on the look you’re going for.  I’m not going to lie, using a traditional video camera is a lot easier.  But we’re after creativity here, right?  You can’t get that with a regular camcorder.

Editing is equally as important as filming.  Often times you’ll notice a video has great cinematography, but the editing lacks.  Or vice versa.  It always impresses me to see crazy good filming AND editing.  It really shows off a skilled videographer.  In editing, remember that it’s almost ALWAYS about keeping the watcher entertained, and NOT about the length.  If your final video ends up being shorter than you thought, your watcher will probably thank you.  Did you know the average attention span in 2012 was eight seconds?  Short and sweet is probably the way to go, as long as you’re not sacrificing good content.

But what about editing techniques?  Quick cuts, constant movement, and good music will do a lot for a video that’s supposed to be fast paced.  For slower videos, multiple angles and effects are important.  You can look into downloading free/legal film burns to add flavor and color.  Or you can get an 8mm or 16mm film camera and try to create them yourself.  You can also download free light leaks, or you can try a technique called lens whacking when you’re filming.  That will make your video dreamy and give it a feel like you’re really there.

And after you do all of that, your choice of where to put your video is very important.  For most videos that have a truly cinematic/artsy/fun feel, you’ll want to use Vimeo.  The Vimeo community is much more focused around professional video production than Vimeo.  The Vimeo help forums are extremely helpful, as well as their messaging system for contacting fellow cinematographers.  Video comments are clean and respectable 99% of the time, and you’ll sometimes get good advice without asking.  One of the biggest issues people have with Vimeo is that it’s smaller audience can lead to much fewer views.  While often true, it isn’t always.  A truly cinematic video can get more views on Vimeo.

Both of these (exact same) videos were published by the same filmmaker/company on YouTube and Vimeo, and the Vimeo one has about double the number of views:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YYaUom4rh8

Hopefully you found these tips interesting and helpful.  For creative video, it’s all about practice and developing your own style.  A lot of cinematic choices aren’t right or wrong, they’re simply up to the videographer.

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YouTube or Self-Host? The Ongoing Video Debate

It’s really no secret at this point that online video is taking off – it’s very rare these days that you log on to a popular website and don’t see options to view some video content. And why wouldn’t it be popular? It’s fun, it’s engaging and it’s a whole lot better than reading through a bunch of

text on a page.

But if you’re a marketer or a business owner, did you know that the way in which you implement your videos can greatly impact the results that they achieve for your website? It’s true – and there are two main choices that you have based on what kind of results you are looking for: host the video on YouTube or Vimeo or another public video sharing site, or host the videos on your own domain.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of both these major Web video implementation tactics:

YouTube Pros

Of course, YouTube’s biggest pro is probably the fact that it’s owned by Google, so it’s naturally the second largest search engine in the world. This means that simply having a presence on this popular social media site can potentially put your brand and your content in front of the eyes of millions.

Secondly, since YouTube is Google-owned, Google, of course, prefers websites to have some sort of YouTube presence. The search engine favors its own products – sort of similar to the way they encourage all brands to utilize Google+.

Plus, You

Tube content is typically highly shareable, so you increase your likelihood of getting links to and views on your video content. To break it down even further, here’s a short list of some of the many pros to using YouTube for your video hosting needs:

  • Content gets in front of largest audience possible
  • Google favors its own products (YouTube)
  • Sharing is easy
  • Further branding is possible with custom channels
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched every month – chances of your video being seen are higher

Pros of Self-Hosting

On the other hand, there are some advantages to choosing the self-hosting route when it comes to the implementation of your videos on your website. To start, content on YouTube is meant for sharing, but each share doesn’t benefit your actual website – it only benefits your view count on YouTube itself. When you self-host, you’re putting yourself into a position to not only have your content shared directly from your website, but to build links for your site using those shares. These links will be natural and highly valuable, since they’ll be sending signals to the search engines that there is some piece of content on your website that’s worthy of sharing and linking to.

Additionally, self-hosting can help you in your search engine results positions for your top performing keywords. When optimized correctly, your video content will appear as a thumbnail in your search engine results directly beside your Web page. Since it’s your domain appearing with the video thumbnail, all click throughs will go directly to your website (if you were optimizing a YouTube video, you might still get the video thumbnail, but click throughs will direct to your YouTube channel rather than your website). So, here’s a breakdown of the top advantages to self-hosting:

  • Help with link building efforts
  • Can produce rich snippet search results for your domain
  • Rich search results lead to up to 80% increases in click through rates
  • Increased click through rates lead to increased keyword rankings

Know When to Use Each Option

Obviously, a lot of the way video is implemented on a website depends on the type of content that it is. Do you have a commercial for your company that you’re hoping to post somewhere? Or do you have a product video explaining the details of one of your most popular items?

Commercial videos tend to perform better on YouTube because the content was created with the brand in mind. And when you’re creating content as part of your overall branding efforts, obviously you want it to be seen by the largest audience possible. For this reason alone, YouTube is a great option, but your website itself may not benefit much from this tactic. YouTube is more about getting your name and your brand out there to as large of an audience as you possibly can.

On the other hand, if you have a somewhat dry video that maybe details the specifics of a given product that your ecommerce site sells, then the likelihood of that content “going viral” on YouTube is very low. For this reason, you will gain much more benefit from hosting this type of content on your own domain. Use a third party media server (we like Vimeo Pro) so you’re not using your site’s own bandwidth to run the video, and post it on your product page. Once it’s optimized correctly (see my February post on leveraging video content for SEO), your website will begin reaping the benefits of having this content of content right on your own domain.

Of course, if you’re ever in doubt, contact your favorite people at the marketing agency you’re working with and ask for their help. Make sure you know what your goal is with the video content that you have or are looking to create, and be able to communicate that clearly to your marketing team.

Before you just throw your videos up in any old place, make sure you take into account what goals you would like for the content to accomplish, and know at least the reasoning behind the different options for hosting the video. Your website, and your brand, will both thank you!

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Using Video Content for SEO Benefit: 3 Ways to Make it Happen

HD Cinamatic Wedding Videographer Videography Video Production AustinNow that everyone knows just how huge it is to keep fresh, high-quality, interactive content on your website that’s frequently changed, updated, added to, etc., it’s now important to understand just how to make that content work to your SEO advantage. Since I’m a video nut, I totally swear by the power of video content and the huge benefits it can have for your website, your brand and your business, but not many SEO’s out there know exactly how and why to implement it correctly.

The truth is, video can be used for a number of different reasons, and all of them have differing benefits for your site. Knowing how and when to use the videos that you have can make or break the success of your content marketing strategy, so it’s definitely something you need to learn now.

Brand Awareness

Tons of companies are now jumping on the video train to create corporate commercials that give some insight into their businesses – but what do you do with those videos once they’re created? The answer involves more than just posting these videos on YouTube, although that is a good starting point for this type of content.

In order to increase your brand awareness, you want to send a message to as many people as you possibly can, and YouTube is a great way to accomplish just that. Being the second-largest search engine in the world, behind only its parent engine, Google, YouTube is a fantastic way to get your content seen, and the more people that see your video, the more aware they become of your brand.

It will take a little more work on your part, though, than simply posting to YouTube and letting Internet users do the rest of the work. Overly-commercial content on YouTube isn’t going to be successful – engaging content will. Take this Nike commercial, which was meant for web purposes based on its length (2:30 is far too long for a television ad, but online, people will spend the 2:30 to engage with content that’s entertaining like this) – 2.6 million views later, everyone knows about Nike Free sneakers and how they stand for true love (metaphorically speaking):

If you wish to create this kind of content, keep in mind that your audience is much broader than your typical target audience. Insert and reflect your brand wherever and however possible, but know that the content still needs to be share-worthy. Then, after your video is posted, do what you can to share it. You can post your content across your social media platforms, write guest blog posts with the content embedded in it and simply share with your company’s contact list.

Good quality content will handle the rest – once you’ve done your part to share it, others should pick up on it.

Building Links

Say you want to get hundreds or even thousands of high-quality backlinks to your site, which has become so much harder to do in the post-Panda realm that we SEO’s now live in. It’s easier said than done, but if you have the right kind of quality video content, at least you have a starting point.

If you’re looking to build links, viral video content will be your best friend. You’re looking for something that’s going to be entertaining enough to be shared, and hence lead to more links to your website. So make sure you have a funny corporate video like the Dollar Shave Club guys (see below – this is my favorite!), or some kind of video that’s going to attract attention and encourage people to like and share your content.

Now, to help in your link-building goal with your awesome video, there are a couple of things you’ll have to do after you’ve implemented it on your website using a third-party media server (we like Vimeo Pro). First, when you’re loading your video on to your third-party server, make sure you click the settings to allow your video to be embedded anywhere. Then, embed it onto your website using HTML5 or JavaScript – steer clear of using iFrames, as these are difficult for search engines to read.

You can create custom embed codes to share with others so that when your video gets shared, your website gets credit for the additional embed. Target the page with your video content using optimized anchor text and make sure you give users the option to share the video across the major social media platforms (typically Facebook, Twitter and Google+).

Then, share away! Use your custom HTML5 or JavaScript embed code to share to your business’ own social media profiles, and let the quality of your video content do the work from there. Voila – natural, quality backlinks to your site!

Increasing CTR/Conversions

Obviously, every website’s goal is to rank on the first page of search results, if not own the #1 position. We all know how difficult that can be, and there’s no real trick to make it happen quickly, although video content, when implemented correctly, can definitely help move your website up in the rankings and increase your click-through rate.

Search users are proven 80% more likely to click on a search result that features a rich snippet thumbnail of any sort, especially video. When more users click on your search result over others, despite its position in the SERPs, Google interprets that as your site being of high-quality that people regularly find valuable information on. Then, Google begins to trust your site more, and then begins to rank you higher in the SERPs. As you rise in the SERPs, your CTR could increase by as much as 60% because of your video snippet. It’s really a cyclical win-win for all involved.

As far as your conversions go, having a video on a product page of an ecommerce site can hugely increase the likelihood of a customer purchasing a product. It gives a customer a chance to really “see” the product in a way that they can’t through images and text alone.

So, to implement a video for these purposes, simply create a product video that doesn’t necessarily have to be all too engaging outside the context of your website, and upload it to a third-party media server. Select the settings that hide the video from the third-party server to ensure the video will appear on your website and your website alone (so Vimeo or Wistia or whichever service you’re using won’t rank for content that’s yours).

Then, place it on the desired page of your website using HTML5 coding (the “old embed code”) that’s readable by search engines. There are some ups and downs to this – HTML5 is not readable by mobile devices, only iFrames are, but iFrames aren’t read by search engines. So you either have to choose which is more important to you, or program in a way to serve up different versions of the video to different servers/bots based on their entry point (mobile vs. desktop).

Mark-up your video content using schema.org Video Object tags, and submit a video XML sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools (some third-party media servers, such as Wistia, create these sitemaps for you – others, you’ll have to work with your web provider to create and upload to your website). Wait a week or two, sometimes more depending on the overall power of your website, and you should begin to see your video snippets appearing in search results when you enter the query for which you optimized your video for when you marked it up.

Here’s an example of a video we recently implemented earlier in 2012 for a phrase that receives 3,600 monthly searches and is highly competitive. This website ranked at the 46th position in the SERPs prior to video implementation, and after the video was placed and indexed, the search phrase jumped to the number 2 spot:

Now, that page of the website is one of the top performing pages, and the conversion rate has increased on the page, as well. The video, while not otherwise too terribly engaging, is serving its purposes of producing the video rich snippet in search results to increase keyword rankings, CTR and conversions, just as intended.

If you’re considering adding video content to your website, just make sure you have a plan in place based on your goals for the content prior to creation and implementation. How you place the video can change its overall performance drastically, so make sure you and the marketing company that your business is working with understand the goals and know how to implement your content properly to achieve them.

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