You don’t have to look too far to know that I love content – I share tons of it on Twitter and Facebook, I create it on this blog, and I spend the majority of my time at work building content strategies (and actual content) for my clients.

Several times a month, I get phone calls or emails from people who want help developing video content. Often, the inquiry sounds something like this: “Can you help me make a video for my web site?” .

Of course, I’m always up to producing video, but lately I’m finding that some people aren’t always seeing how that video fits together into the bigger picture of the experience they want their customers and prospects to have.

I’m a huge advocate of video – video that is done well is a very powerful way to tell stories in a clear and extremely shareable way. But too often I see videos being produced that are simply embedded in a web page (and not even using YouTube or Vimeo!) and left there, in the hopes that someone will happen upon it and give it a view. I’ve witnessed companies spending tens of thousands of dollars on producing videos that are simply left to rot, buried deep in the dungeons of their web pages, and it makes me sad.

If you’re going to create video, that’s great, but never, ever EVER go into any video project without first knowing what the goal of the video is. Is it to generate more business leads? To help people understand a concept? To drive them to specific areas of your web site? Clearly identify the purpose of your video, and you will be in a much better position to be able to make it a useful part of your overall digital marketing strategy.

A house will not stand if it doesn’t have a frame, and the same holds true for video. Creating and posting a video is one thing, but what kind of support structure are you putting around that video? Simply throwing it up on YouTube and hoping the Google gods will help people find it does not work. Yet I see so many videos posted that do just that.

For a video to be successful, you need to build a proper frame around it, to help support that content. Here are some things to consider.

Call it! 

A critical part of any video is to ensure a clear call to action. This could be a graphic at the end of the video that points people to a web site for more information, provides a phone number, or an email address. Make it really clear the action you want people to take. If you’re unsure of what that action should be, then you need go back and work on defining the purpose of your video more clearly.

Describe it! 

Every day, I see videos that are posted to YouTube that are left with just the default file names, no descriptions, and no categories, tags or keywords. If you’re doing this, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity. When you post a video, be sure to write a clear title that incorporates some keywords. Write a 3 or 4 line description and for Pete’s sake, make sure you include a link to the thing you want people do do after they watch the video!

Embed it! 

You’re using YouTube or Vimeo to distribute your video, right? Great. Then get in there and figure out how you’re going to build other content around that video. Embed it in your web site or blog (here’s how), and create some content around it that entices people to watch. Make sure it’s got lots of great keywords in it, and consider how you might link people to more information after they watch the video too (remember that call to action? Re-iterate it here!). Building a content-rich blog post or landing page for your video is going to go a long way to get people interested in not only the content, but the context of your video.

Share it! 

The way videos go viral is through sharing. Of course, you can’t MAKE a video to go viral, but if you create a video that is clever, creative, unique or funny, you will definitely make it more shareable. People share things for various reasons – because it makes them seem helpful, it makes them seem like they have a good sense of humour, or it makes them seem that they are informed and “up with the times”. Sounds kind of selfish, but it’s true. The things that people share online are often a reflection of some aspect of themselves. So, make a video that people can relate to on some level – because it’s funny, memorable, emotional, or clever – and you’ll have a video that people want to share.

And, share your video everywhere you can. Post it on your Facebook page (and get your team to share it on their profiles too), share it on Twitter (again, have people in your organization retweet it!), post it on your blog, put it in your email newsletter – hit people a bunch of times with your video, and encourage them to spread the word. If your content is solid and reflects your audience, you’ll get traction.

Remember, producing video is not just about slapping together some pretty picture. It takes time and energy to define your purpose, but also to figure out how you’re going to frame that content. Online video should never stand alone. Frame your house before you build it.


[photo by Thibodeau Photography]

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