With technology advances meaning that great video quality can be produced on everyday handheld devices, and then uploaded instantly to the web, producing and using video content on the web has never been easier or more relevant.

Video is a personal way of communicating and reaching out to prospects. Compared to boring text, video is engaging (which is what social media marketing is all about after all), and enables viewers to get a real and truthful idea of who you are; either individually or your brand and the values it holds. Videos can energize and amplify a social media campaign due to the way in which they’re easily digested, and can go viral very easily. Short, highly shareable video can be used to attract qualified leads and increase lead conversions. Additionally, online video content is excellent for search engine optimization (SEO) and is a relatively under-utilized way of climbing the Google ladder.

Producing video content can be as simple or as flashy as you like. Effective online video content does not have to be a fully professionally edited video; it can be made on the latest hand held devices with most smart phones offering HD camera recording facilities. Used in conjunction with a microphone plug-in (such as the iRig for iPhone), excellent audio visual material can be produced easily with minimal expense. That combined with instant publishing to the web means you can create and share easily from a device. On the other hand, if you’re a large business with a bit more cash to spare you can use a professional production company to put something together for you.

How you create your video content will not only depend on budget, but as with any aspect of a social media marketing plan, you need to know what it is you want to get out of the video (for example, is this a branding exercise or way to generate sales), the market you hope to share it with, and where your current community is based.  For example, is your Facebook presence your strongest presence and if so, who are your friends, what do they want to see, what are they most likely to share? This ties in with the bigger social picture and highlights that video should not just be online ‘noise’ but part of a bigger social strategy. If you’re creating a corporate video to get sales, be careful where you post it; a self promoting video may not be appropriate for Facebook sharing.

If your video content is to be used across different platforms, make sure there is consistency with the tone and style of the piece, and the message itself. The impact a video has can be maximised by linking it to other images and other content. Ideally there should be a pathway to your own company’s website or landing page to enable lead conversion. In order to maximise share-ability, videos should be short. The top 50 most shared videos in 2012 were under 5 minutes in length, and 2 minutes or less is an the ideal duration in order to encourage sharing.

Deciding the content of a video, or video channel, depends on how you want your brand to be perceived, the product or service you’re selling, the demographic of your target market or audience, the budget available, and the platforms you want to utilize. You need to define your target audience and create content of interest. Different types of content might include comical skits, corporate information about yourself or business, interviews, snippets from a trade show or exhibition, ‘how to’ videos, and video blogs. You can also curate and share other viral content that is relevant to your business or social media marketing goals, for example by creating a playlist of relevant speakers on a topic and then sharing it. Videos are often used by the online community as a resource for solving problems, or learning about something, or can be used for pure entertainment. Your video should be useful, funny, extraordinary or emotionally engaging in some manner.

Including captions or a transcript with your video makes your content suitable for those hard of hearing, and also good for those who prefer to read. However, this should be used with caution as it can put people off watching video content, get in the way, and be out of place. A transcript can be repurposed for blog posts, articles, tweets etc, and the content can then be spread out and reused, although be wary of using the same content across different platforms. A cross-platform approach should be part of your overall strategy, but when it comes to content it is certainly not true that one size fits all. Some variations on the theme will need to be created.

Once a video is posted on YouTube, it opens up the content owner to comments, and they might not all be positive. However, this can be used to your advantage as it is an opportunity to personally engage with users, and further promote your product or service with excellent customer skills and problem solving skills. Alternatively, you can avoid comments all together by keeping the video privately listed end embedding it in your own website. This then doesn’t show the comments. Another trick is to combine your video with a blog post. If the video is embedded in a blog post, and the blog link is shared or publicised (instead of a video link), this will result in more views for your blog as well as the video.

YouTube is the most obvious destination for video content. It can be seen not just as a video upload tool, but a social networking platform and search engine. In fact, YouTube is the second biggest search engine with 4 billion videos being viewed daily. When uploading a video to YouTube you need to ensure that it is titled well, that the associated information contains a URL to direct viewers back to your landing page, that a description of the video is included (with key words), and that relevant tags are added. A YouTube channel can be created in order to add fresh content regularly, and can be designed so that its visual appearance reflects the brand. And don’t forget to add information in the ‘About Us’ section; another means for showcasing your brand!

There are some useful video tools within YouTube, such as basic editing features, and the ability to enhance style, lighting, stabilise. Video owners can blur faces, add annotations and captions, and share and embed. Statistics and analytics are also available for your video, as well as for your competitors. Once a video has been uploaded to YouTube, you can then share to various social platforms.

You don’t need to be the next Martin Scorsese to create effective and meaningful video content. As well as giving you the edge over your competitors, video provides colour and vitality to your social media marketing, thus promoting customer engagement, and hopefully sales. Happy filming!

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About the Author

Jessie Apo is a social media enthusiast and professional with more than ten years of experience. She has helped big and small enterprises alike to set up their social media presence and create meaningful relationships with their audiences.