Video Marketing

Co-operative social networking is a win-win

Co-op social networking sets off the fireworks
Co-op social networking sets off the fireworks

by Debbie Bateman

I’m sure that you know how important networking is for connecting with potential customers. When we need a product or service, we all tend to ask someone we know for a recommendation. The advantage of this approach is that it gives us confidence in the quality of the product or service being offered. If the person we know was satisfied, we believe we will be satisfied too.

It used to be that word-of-mouth spread by phone or face-to-face contact. Nowadays it spreads by the internet and the message reaches an exponentially increasing audience. Thanks to social media for business, satisfied customers can share recommendations and business owners can share their expertise with a huge audience.

The key to sharing expertise and winning new customers is to provide value-added content. It demonstrates your expertise and it makes people happy because it solves a problem. Video is a great platform for this purpose because it grabs people’s attention.

But what is value-added content? If you figure out what your customers need to know and give that information to them, you are providing value-added content. For example, a lawn care service might explain how to remove fairy rings. A roofing company might explain how to tell when a roof needs replacement.

Customer recommendations and value-added content are good, but what if your marketing budget is limited? You may think that you can’t afford videos. The driving force behind all social media is people helping each other. The same force can be used to expand the budget available for video and the number of people who will see the video. If businesses that market to a similar customer base combine their resources and create a video that is shared on all of their social networks, the reach of the message virtually explodes.

Let’s look at a simple example. A butcher shop wants to highlight the quality of the meat it provides. Local chefs want to showcase the wonderful meals they prepare at their restaurant. They decide to join forces for marketing. The butcher shop provides the steak and the chefs prepare a meal—all of this is captured on video. You can almost taste the steak it looks so good. Both businesses share the video on their social networks. The message reaches more people. Both businesses gain new customers as a result and they both were able to stretch their marketing budget. Talk about a win/win.

Here are a few other potential matches:

  • a cheese shop and a wine shop
  • a business offering kayak tours and a nearby resort
  • a photographer and a wedding planner
  • a realtor and a landscaper
  • a childcare service and a yoga studio

There are hundreds of combinations. You already know which businesses fit best with yours because you already network with them. Share the cost, fun, creativity and adventure while increasing your social reach. Let’s find someone you can team up with and together we can create that next great video sensation.


Video Production Visual Storytelling

Shooting video with a smartphone

Smartphone videoLots of articles have been written about how to produce videos with a smartphone. Most of them describe how to use the equipment and skip over the need for video production skills. This can be misleading. If you don’t have video production skills, you won’t create useful videos and it doesn’t matter what type of equipment you use.

Don’t get me wrong. I think using a smartphone to shoot video is a great idea. Why? Because it enables you to see if you can develop the skills that go into producing an effective video. And you can do that without spending a lot of money. If you’ve decided to shoot your own video using a smartphone, these are some of the skills you’ll need.

Skill #1: Shooting strong visuals

A smartphone lets you practice the basics of capturing strong visuals: composition, camera moves and lighting. With a smartphone, you can experiment with angles and level of focus. You can try simple camera moves like panning and tilting. You can also learn about effective lighting. Try shooting under various lighting conditions. See what the shadows say when they move across a person’s face. Lighting allows you to capture mood, but when used carelessly it can ruin a video.

Most people go through a few stages in their discovery. Your first reaction may be, this is cool. I can actually shoot video. Wow. Your friends and family will cheer you on. Then the next stage will arrive. You will start to discover errors. If you care about improving, you will likely reach the stage at which you think everything you shoot sucks. Congratulations, you are on your way. The everything-I-shoot-sucks stage is the most important stage because it means you are actually learning to tell the difference. Dig in. Soon you will begin to improve in significant ways. There will be plateaus, yes. Never mind. Keep pushing and soon you’ll move up the learning path.

Skill #2: Capturing quality sound

As your images improve, you may come to realize that the sound quality is not on par. Try watching a selection of YouTube videos. People will stop watching a video with poor sound sooner than they will stop watching poor visuals. If you’re going to produce your own videos, you need to learn how to capture quality sound. This will likely involve using a better microphone than the one on your smartphone. You’ll need to test microphones and different techniques until you find the best ways to get quality sound. This will take you as much time and effort as developing visual skills.

Skill #3: Telling an interesting story

The whole time you’ve been learning about visuals and sound, you should be developing your storytelling skills. Without story, videos are boring. Watch anything good. The more a video sticks with you, the better its story. A person who cares about creating good stories should be constantly looking for them in books, movies, newspapers, TV shows and everyday conversation. Whenever you find a good story, ask yourself what makes that story good. Many books have been written about story plots and how they work. You can excel at storytelling if you take the time to study these books.

Skill #4: Editing down to the essentials

The final step is editing. Without editing, you will not have a video people will watch. Everybody shoots stuff that is not useful or engaging. If material doesn’t add to the story, take it out. Keep reducing, always challenging yourself to remove more. The better you trim, the sharper the end result.

So those are the essential skills and they take time to learn. As with any skills, the more you practise, the better you will become. And yes, you can do all of this with a smartphone.