What I would do with your video budget
You’ve heard it before: Video is a big part of the future of content marketing. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth 1,440,000 (you know, if it’s 60 seconds long and shot at 24 fps). And in the world of content marketing, where viewers and consumers have tiny attention spans, that means a whole lot.
Video is an integral part of our marketing efforts at Flywheel. We love implementing videos into our content. Whether it’s a simple, 10-second video to announce that “we’ve got some big news” or a screencast-heavy video that shows customers how to use our product, we use it as much as we can, and it works.
Why I think you need to use video
We have yet to determine whether or not a video that announces a new feature will make people more aware of the feature than a simple blog post would. We do know that because of video people are a whole lot more engaged with our company and have a vested interest in us as individuals.
Flywheel is all about software and servers, i.e., our industry is boring. But video adds color to ugly, boring things.
Here’s an example. Last November, we released a feature that lets users add things like SSL and CDN to their site on Flywheel more easily; it was creatively named Add-Ons. For many of our users, this doesn’t mean much because they don’t need to do that stuff, but for others, it’s an awesome feature that will make things easier.
Regardless, it’s boring. I, for one, could not care less about adding SSL to my personal website.
To announce the release of Flywheel Add-Ons, we wrote a blog post. Cool. But to make it a little more interesting, we also made a video. The video was two things: A) helpful and B) fun.
For someone who is really excited about Add-Ons, they can watch the video and easily figure out how to do it. In one minute. As a bonus, their eyes won’t glaze over from reading a 500-word blog post about it. For someone like me, who will probably never use Add-Ons, it’s a fun watch, and now I know how to use a new feature on Flywheel if, for whatever reason, I ever decide to use it.
Here’s what you need to get started.
At this point, you might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, I know video is the future of content marketing. And I know that my company/agency/team should be using it. But I have no idea where to begin. Oh, and I don’t have $5,000 to spend on gear.” That’s cool — we’ve all been there (me included). Let’s go over the basics you’ll need to start creating some amazing video content.
Find someone who knows how to make video. This person can be your marketing guy who used to do freelance video, an intern whose job is to create videos, or (even better) a new hire whose job title is in-house videographer. Whoever it is, make sure that video is at the top of their to-do list and that they either have used a non-iPhone camera before or are willing to get to work and learn how to use one.
It’s a hard truth: You’re going to have to buy some things to make good video. The good news is that you don’t need a $5,000 budget to make your video look and sound amazing. Things you’ll definitely need:
1. A camera. There are tons of affordable cameras these days that make amazing video. At Flywheel, we use a Canon 5D Mark ii, but you can buy other cameras that are cheaper and will still do the job.
A few places to start:
If you’re going with a dSLR, the kit lens will certainly do the job. I also love the Canon 50mm f/1.8 (or the “nifty 50”). It’s a $100 lens and is hands down the best bang for your buck when getting started.
2. A tripod. It doesn’t have to be fancy (unless you’re trying to do fancy things), it just has to keep your camera sturdy.
3. A microphone. Good audio is key to a good video. Chances are, your camera’s audio functionality is crap (audio is still not a priority on most dSLRs), so you’ll need to invest in a mic and an audio recorder. We use a Zoom H4N hooked up to a Sennheiser ME 66, but there are tons of options when it comes to capturing good audio. You can learn more about finding a good microphone here.
4. Good light. You’ll need to make sure your subject is lit well. That means you’ll either need a room with lots of natural light that also happens to be very quiet, or you’ll need to buy some lights. We put our lighting rig together with help from our friends at Wistia.
5. Editing software. At Flywheel, we use Final Cut Pro, and Adobe Premiere is another option that’s equally as powerful. Don’t want to shell out a bunch of money for a program? iMovie for Mac works wonders if you’re not trying to do anything too complicated.
Having a bunch of gear is one thing, but being able to tell your story in a compelling way is another. When I first started at Flywheel, we were a tiny team. The founders were a big part of helping craft the stories that we told in our videos because they knew how they wanted that story to go. That’s the first person you need to help craft the story: someone who knows the story.
If your video’s goal is to explain something that’s complicated, bring in someone who doesn’t understand that complicated thing. I’m one of the least technical people on the Flywheel team, and that’s a big asset. If someone has explained a complex, technical problem to me at a basic level, that means I can create a video that’s useful for everyone. Videos shouldn’t be too complicated, especially if they’re being used to explain something.
Someone who has tons and tons of ideas is another good person to have around when you’re crafting stories. It’s a whole lot easier to come up with ideas when you’re collaborating with others, and someone who throws out an endless number of ideas can be a great catalyst for that one amazing idea. Just make sure to counteract that person with someone who isn’t afraid to speak up when an idea is crap.
You’ll also need someone who can write well. A script needs to be understandable, concise, and easy to speak aloud. Some things that look great on paper sound really weird when said out loud. Find someone who knows how to write well and can keep things short, sweet, and to the point.
Inspiration can go a long way. Here are a few of my favorite video resources:
Once you have those pieces put into place, you’re ready to start creating some amazing video content. Stay tuned for another post soon about implementing video into your marketing strategy.