by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff

How to produce a must-see small business video

May 03, 2017
InternetSmall and Medium BusinessVideo

Video experts and small business owners share their tips for creating videos that grab and keep viewers’ attention and offer advice on how and where to showcase them.

executive pointing to video play button icon
Credit: Thinkstock

When recently surveyed by Animoto, an online video company, more than half of small and midsized business owners (55 percent) responded that video marketing was a “must-have” to stay relevant. An even larger number responded that video marketing had a direct impact on their business.

[ Related: 6 ways video can boost your business ]

And while in the past shooting a business video could be expensive, today you can make a buzzworthy video with just a smartphone. However, if you want your next business video to go viral, or at least be viewed by the right people, here are seven things to consider before you say “Action!” as well as several tips for how to get your video noticed online.

[ Related: How to use Facebook Live for business ]

1. Think about the reason you are making the video

“Every single thing you do as a business needs to have a purpose. A video is no exception,” says Anthony Neal Macri, founder and president, ANM Consulting. “If you are creating a video that doesn’t have a goal, go back to the drawing board and brainstorm until you know you’ve got a video that has purpose.”

2. Have a customer-centric point of view

“A video that solely talks about how awesome your business is or how great your product is [will] die within minutes of being watched,” if it’s even watched all the way through, says Macri. Instead, make videos “about your customer, [showing them] what [your] product will do to make their lives/businesses better.”

Even better, feature a customer, or customers, in your video, and/or encourage customers to make and share their own short videos about your product or service.

3. Make the video helpful and entertaining

“Solve a problem in your video that leaves your audience wanting more,” says Jessica Stansberry, owner & head business nerd, Hey Jessica. And “find a way to make your videos entertaining while solving a prevalent problem so people [will watch the entire thing].”

4. Keep it short

“Keep your video short and to the point,” says Matt Edstrom, head of marketing, BioClarity. “Studies… have shown that on average single topic videos that range from 30 to 90 seconds in length receive the most views. Given that… people [have short attention spans and want] instant gratification, by keeping your business video precise and dialed in to a single thought, it will also increase your engagement metrics tremendously.”

5. Include a call to action as well as how to contact you

“Regardless of how great your video is, it is essentially useless unless it moves the viewer along in the buying process,” says Evan Harris, cofounder and CEO, SD Equity Partners. “Therefore, it is necessary to include a call to action at the end of your video as well as in the accompanying description.”

Your call to action “could be as simple as directing viewers to your website to learn more or including a link to a form viewers can fill out to receive a follow-up email with more information,” he explains. “Regardless of which call to action you choose, make sure it fits with the overall message of your video.”

And be sure to include contact information both at the end of your video and in the description accompanying it (on YouTube or Vimeo and whatever social pages you post it on).

6. Make sure your video is easy to see and hear

When shooting your video, make sure your subjects (e.g., employees or customers), or products, are easy to see – i.e., shoot in a well-lit room or a place that gets good natural night, being careful to avoid shadows or overexposure. Similarly, make sure voices or narration can be clearly heard – avoiding or filtering out static and/or external noise.

7. Consider live video

“Video on demand is good, but live video is better,” says Chris Michaels, streaming industry evangelist, Wowza Media Systems. “For most viewers, live video creates a better sense of authenticity, because it’s not necessarily rehearsed, edited or overly produced.

“Interview a customer, do a video news release or even create a commentary about something that’s happening in your market,” he suggests. “You can insert simple polls, answer questions from the audience or create your own creative interaction.

“All you need is a mobile device that’s connected to your platform of choice and a decent plug-in microphone, or a laptop with a good webcam,” says Michaels. “There are free tools like Lightstream that turn your web browser into a powerful production studio. If you have multiple places you want to send the video (Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, your website, etc.), use a paid transcoding service like Wowza Streaming Cloud, which can send it to multiple destinations and streamline your workflow.”

3 tips for getting your video noticed online 1. Optimize for mobile “Granted, every year marketing blogs and experts will say ‘video on mobile is the next big thing,’ so it doesn’t feel like fresh advice. But at this point if you aren’t optimizing for mobile, you’re missing a large chunk of your market,” says Divya Menon, founder/consultant, Bad Brain. “Mobile-friendly videos should be quick to load, not involve too many visual details that would be overlooked or overwhelming on a tiny smartphone screen and allow for both consumption with and without sound.” 2. Promote your videos on social channels, especially Facebook According to the Animoto survey, SMB owners rated Facebook more effective than any other social platform. Though YouTube and Instagram were also highly rated. However, “rather than simply uploading [videos] to YouTube [or Vimeo] then sharing the link on your social channels, upload your video to the given social platform directly,” says Edstrom. “This will allow you to take full advantage of the auto play function social channels like Facebook have put in place. By presenting a good business video with auto play rather than click to play, it will allow you to attract additional viewers that would have otherwise proceeded to scroll over your post.” 3. Share a link to videos in email marketing “Video is a great addition to any introductory [or marketing] email,” says Heather Clark, brewery rep, Video Brewery. “Including the word ‘video’ in your email subject line has been shown to increase open rates. [And] an image of the video will increase click-through rates.”