Tagged: marketing strategy

Tips and Tricks for Capturing Quality Video with Your Smartphone

Social Content Marketing revolves around two goals:  Getting audience attention, and Keeping it. And the most effective way to do this is through video.

This information isn’t new. With the growing popularity of social media, marketers have found that videos of original content are up to ten times more likely to be embedded or shared than similar static social posts.

And a convenient way to get this content is sitting in the palm of your hand.

Your smartphone is capable of doing more than making calls and surfing for cat videos. You can shoot short-form, highly engaging video content perfect for Social Media simply by following these five guidelines.

Blog1. Turn, turn, turn

Do. Not. Shoot. Vertical. Video.

Websites, computer screens, televisions, movie theaters — even our own eyes — are engineered to be wide screen. Vertical video is squeezed between two black bars, giving the impression that your audience is missing out on the big picture. And it just looks bad.

Shooting horizontally, or in landscape, allows your smartphone to capture more of the picture, including backgrounds often missed in vertical shots.

And shooting a landscape will actually make your picture better too. By turning your phone, the video capture loads more resolution, allowing the video to be utilized on any platform, easily edited or even incorporated into existing higher resolution video.

Switching to landscape mode may also help with stability because it nearly forces you to use two hands.

2. Check Your Audio

Smart phone microphones are built to provide good sound quality for calls, but this does not transfer well to video, particularly when shooting at a distance.

And easy fix is to use an external microphone, which can be as cheap as $10.

Not so easy to fix is distracting background noises like traffic or voices. Even quiet sounds such as air conditioning fans can muddle your sound quality. To avoid these sounds coming through on your final video, film in a quiet, carpeted room if possible, setting the external microphone as close to the action as possible.

On outdoor, live-action or loud demonstration shoots, consider utilizing post-production music additions via a smartphone app.

3. Go Slow and Steady

Shaky-Cam may have made 90s horror films unique and exciting, but that camera trick doesn’t belong anywhere near your social media.

The most effective method of ensuring steady video is to place your phone on a tripod. These range from anywhere between $8 and $50 and are specially made for smartphones.

For shots that require mobility, invest in a gimbal. These handheld stabilizers hold your phone on an axis, allowing it to remain stable while providing a more fluid moving shot.

Gimbals can run anywhere from 50 to 400 dollars, so if you’re not ready to invest just yet, try this: start filming from a sitting or kneeling position, supporting your elbows on your knees to stabilize your hands.

If you need to pan, first stabilize your elbows on a solid surface such as a chair or table. Then pivot slowly, keeping you your elbows stationary. And although most mobile phones have a zoom function, the quality is better when the camera is moved closer rather than zooming in.

4. Switch on the lights

If you have ever had your picture taken with a smartphone’s flash, you know all too well that the photo is not likely to be flattering. But capturing video in low or poor light is not an option with a smartphone. They just simply are not advanced enough to capture video without adequate light. That’s why images and videos shot in low light look so grainy.

Consider investing in a lighting kit that includes a soft box. A soft box works by producing an even and soft light that reduces shadow without over lighting a subject. These start at $75, and an inexpensive starter kit with three lights can cost about $150.

For a more portable light source, an external LED flash and video light may be the answer. These wireless lights usually charge through a USB port and are easy to set up with any smartphone or tablet. These usually start at about $30.

5. Adapttangerine002

As useful as you smartphone may be, it does have limitations. But these can be overcome with add-ons that amplify your phone’s abilities.

For instance, if your content tends to center around live events such as races, sporting events or nature videos, consider investing in a lens adaptor. The adaptors can be used as external zoom lenses, fish-eye, wide angle, macro, filters…the list goes on.

These lenses run from anywhere between $50 and $500, but are worth it if you are looking for particular shots time and time again.

An external lens filter kit can give you special effects without utilizing an app or expensive hardwear. These small adaptors can split images into twos and threes, take closer video and add color easily, all for about $40.

Use Pinterest as Your Marketing Partner

Pinterest-logoPinterest is now valued at 11 billion dollars after a recent infusion of venture capital funding. The user base keeps expanding and Pinterest is rolling out new changes that just might prove to help with your marketing strategy.

We’ve talked about Pinterest in this space before. Most notably about how Pinterest is not just for women – perhaps one of the greater misconceptions about the website. In fact, men are now the fastest-growing demographic. At last count, males accounted for 12 million Pinterest users. That is more than the subscription base of GQ, Esquire and Sports Illustrated magazines combined!

To get men (and women) to pin (and buy) from you, make sure your website has pages with your products and services that are pinnable. To do this, check out this Pinterest page on how to build a Pin It button.

So, here are some ways you can take your marketing up a notch with Pinterest.

  1. Take Advantage of Improved Search Functionality

Pinterest has recently updated their search feature. Search results are now more relevant to the user. So to make sure you are found in the new Pinterest Guided Search, always include descriptions in your pins and pinboards that are keyword-rich. Use keywords that are unique to you and your business.

You can even influence how your blog post images are found in Pinterest! When you upload an image to your website or social media site, make sure you include “Alt Text” for each image. Pinterest automatically reads this “Alt Text” when someone pins your image. When they do, your “Alt Text” becomes the default description for that image.

Additionally, Pinterest’s Guided Search looks at pin descriptions to determine which pins are relevant to show in user searches. So be sure your “Alt Text” includes keywords relevant to your business and the image.

  1. Enhance User Experience with Rich PinsPinIt-1cwcc34

A Rich Pin is a special pin that offers more information than regular pins on Pinterest. There are five
types of Rich Pins: Article, Product, Recipe, Movie and Place.

The most likely ones for business use are the Article, Product and Place pins. These are not just for big brands. Bloggers and website owners can add Rich Pins to their content.

As an example, an Article Pin could include a blog post headline and the article’s introduction below the image. A Place Pin could show a map of your business location and driving directions. Once you have added Rich Pins to your website and blog posts, the data populates to Pinterest when someone pins your image.

There are three steps to adding Rich Pins to your online content.

  1. Add Open Graph or Schema.org markup to individual posts or pages of your site.
  2. Use the Pinterest Rich Pin Validator to make sure Pinterest sees your Rich Pin data.
  3. If Pinterest gives you the thumbs-up, click “Apply now” in the validator to submit your Rich Pin to Pinterest. Make sure to select “HTML tags” when you’re applying.

If your blog or website is built on WordPress, use the Yoast SEO plugin to add Open Graph data to your posts for the most Rich Pin types. There are several WordPress plugins available to make the process easier.

Learn more about Rich Pins with this Pinterest article.

  1. Buy Promoted Pins

Yes! Pinterest is launching advertising! Using the Pinterest Promoted Pins program, you can get your pins placed in other users’ feeds.

Promoted Pins blend seamlessly ith other non-paid pins in a user’s feed. At the time we posted this blog, Pinterest ad prices are considerably less than other social media sites. The Promoted Pins program is only available to U.S.-based businesses at this time.

One blogger and graphic designer is using Promoted Pins to direct users to a blog she posted with a call-to-action for a PDF of the blogger’s branding guide.

The blogger is getting a 74 percent opt-in rate on that blog post. That means a huge majority of Pinterest users are signing up for the guide after reading the post. With similar Promoted Pin campaigns, the blogger brings in 800 to 1,000 new subscribers every month. All this for less than $125 for the Pinterest ads.

For information on how to set up Promoted Pins, which will help you reach more people on Pinterest, see this Pinterest page about starting your first campaign.

  1. Prepare for Pinterest’s Buyable Pins

zcXeRe7MiIn early June, Pinterest announced they are going to allow users to buy products directly from the Pinterest Mobile App. Once launched, users will see a blue “Buy It” button on items that are available for direct checkout through the mobile app.

If you use Shopify as your shopping cart service for your website, you can get the “Buy It” button for your products now. You can also get on the waiting list for Buyable Pins by clicking this link. Pinterest will alert you when Buyable Pins are more widely available.

Click here for more information on Buyable Pins

Embedding big and bold graphics and images into your online content is more important than ever. Images encourage your users to share your work and Pinterest is a great place to share. There are many tools and resources to help you create compelling graphics. If you’re not an artist, or if you are not on speaking terms with a cousin who is, check out Canva for a free, online design your own graphic website.

You can also find high quality, royalty free, stock photography to purchase at Dollar Photo Club. All photos are just a dollar.

You can also find graphic artists that can design for you at Fiverr where prices start at just $5.

The Pinterest user base is growing; with these new Pinterest tools, now is a great time to consider adding Pinterest to your marketing mix. Your current and potential customers are on Pinterest looking for content and products like yours! Let them know you have what they want!

4 Ways to Get Customer Testimonials

testimonial-01Your job as a business is to win over the trust of potential customers who are not quite ready to do
business with you. Customers are like hoodwinked children. They are cynical and defensive about anything they hear or read. However, if a friend, or someone they know and trust, tells them something, they are inclined to believe it without question.

To make a prospective customer care about your business, you need to show them how you can make their life easier or better. Then, you need to follow through and prove it. The conventional way to prove a claim is to present positive testimonials, endorsements, or media articles and mentions about your business.

You probably already praise your business. However, statements you make about yourself just don’t have the same impact as statements that come from others. Especially testimonial-03happy, satisfied customers.

To convince a cynical potential customer – someone that may not be sure about becoming your customer – you need to let them know your current customers think you’re great. There are ways you can generate proof your business is sound and performs exceptional work.   What follows are four ways to help generate positive testimonials from your customers.

  1. Ask

The simplest way to get positive testimonials is to ask. Do this as a part of thanking your customer for their business. Send an email, or follow-up letter to each of your customers that says something like:

Testimonial-request-USE IN BODY

When your customer responds, you have your testimonial. Collect them all and use excerpts of the best lines that exemplify why others should do business with you.

  1. Create unique experiences

A few years ago, fishing hat manufacturer Tilley sent customers a letter congratulating them on purchasing one of their hats. The letter included tips on caring for the hat and made a pitch for some of their other products.

testimonial-04On the back of the letter was an “Insurance Certificate.” Should the hat become lost or stolen, the
certificate allowed a half-priced replacement hat. This unique promotion made the buying experience different. While a half-priced replacement may not work for all businesses, consider if an “insurance” idea is right for your product or service.

So why do something like this? When you have the opportunity to deliver unique experiences to your customers, follow up! After the sale, email your customers for their thoughts about doing business with you and the buying experience. Their responses become your testimonials.

  1. Recruit volunteers

If you are introducing a new product or service and have a Facebook, or other social media group, use your community to find willing testers during your launch period. Offer a pre-determined number of testers a half-price or even a free service in return for their permission to use their comments as testimonials.

It is important to remember to return the favor when you are asked to test a new product or service. Be sure to offer written comments than can be used as a testimonial for the product or service.

  1. Build relationships with credible experts

Ever read a recommendation for a new book? In the publishing world, authors often get influential people to recommend their books. This gives potential readers positive comments about the book from high-profile people.

testimonial-02So how do you approach a credible expert, someone who may get many of these requests? The smart way to approach this is to always be cultivating relationships over time. Always offer your assistance and always offer to be useful in general long before you ever conceive of your product idea.

If you are building meaningful relationships with others on social media, it should be easy to ask for input from experts. You can always find local experts to recommend your product or service. You could even ask the mayor or other well-liked city officials to try your business in exchange for permission to use their written recommendation as a testimonial.

You can also hire an expert to try your product or service. As a part of this agreement, use the expert’s name and testimonial when promoting your product.

Always ask for feedback

When you openly communicate with your social media audience and encourage their feedback, you can end up with some great testimonials. Keep your testimonials in one place so it is easy to draw from them when you create content.

If you make collecting customer comments a priority, eventually you’ll have thousands of potential testimonials and endorsements to choose from when you need to dispel doubt in the minds of cynical and defensive customers.

Meet Your New Website Driver: Video

 
video-productionWe’ve talked about video in social media in this space previously: Why video is important and how to use video. Regular readers already know we think believe video should be a vital part of any social media campaign, but what about your website?

Good for you if you’ve been using video in your social media. Don’t overlook your website. Videos are a great way to drive traffic to your website. Here’s a couple of ideas you may want to incorporate into your website marketing.

People Want Answers

Have you ever found yourself researching a topic on Google and discovered there were not only articles about your topic, but videos? Admit it; you probably went to that YouTube video before you clicked on an article. One great way to bring in new traffic to your website is to address those common questions your business gets with a video. People learn twice as fast when they see and hear what is being explained.

Think about how many times you’ve answered a customer’s question by demonstrating or showing them the answer. Make that demonstration into a video and post it on your website. However, don’t stop there. Include a link to that video on your social media sites with the question. It’s an easy way to increase traffic to your website and get the post shared. Which leads us to our second point.

Videos are More Likely to go Viralviral-marketing-word-mouth-38123871

When was the last time you read a news article that was “viral?” When it comes to viral content, it
seems like nine out of ten viral items are video. Yes, there may be text with the video, but the item went viral because of the video.

You may be thinking that your video may never see a million views. There’s more. The concept of
something going viral has more to do with how rapidly it is shared than how many actually see it.   Viral content is something shared with a wide network of people. Your video may not reach a thousand views, but however many see it you can leverage. If someone shares your video, they are more likely to return to your website and begin a relationship with you. Isn’t that more worth boasting about than having a million views?

Embed Everywhere

One of the great things about video is you can host the video on one platform – like YouTube or Vimeo – and then link to the video on your website and your social media sites without having to upload the video multiple times.

Embed the video in your website. YouTube, Vimeo and other video sites provide you with the URL to the video. On Facebook, including the URL address in your post will automatically create a special image and link to the video (or page). Just paste the full URL (include the “http://” part also).

If you run across a video you like that is relevant to your business, include it in your social media posts. It’s a great way to show your audience you follow others and that you value other content as well as your own.

Don’t Forget Email

Another area you can use videos to increase traffic to your website is through email marketing. We’ve discussed that in this space also. You don’t want to include the actual video in your email. The size of the video file is most likely going to be larger than most email servers will allow you to send. However, here’s a way you can include it in your email.

Take a screen shot of your video paused on frame that shows a key point. Include the image in your email. Make the image link to the video on your website (or YouTube channel). If that’s not an option for you, include the link to the page on your website (or social media site) with the video. Include a note in the email that the viewer can find more information by following the link.

If you haven’t gotten started in using video, be sure to check out our series of beginner tips for creating a video.

How to Use Facebook to Launch a New Product or Service

If you are launching a new product or service, you want to create some excitement with your customer base about what’s new.  Facebook is a great way not only let everyone know what’s new, but to generate excitement.

However, to be successful, you need to plan ahead and make good use of some of Facebook’s tools for business.  It’s not difficult, it just takes some planning.  Here are four steps to help you get started.

1: Pre-launch – PlanningFacebook Image tool

To be successful, you need to plan your strategy a couple of months prior to launch. Two or three months

should be sufficient.  This planning should include all of the materials you want to share on Facebook.  This includes the design of any ads you may want to purchase in addition to the images you will use in your posts.

Be sure to consider the sizes of your images.  You’ll need different sizes for ads as well as your posts.  Remember that Facebook only allows 20% of an ad to contain text.  Facebook has a handy tool to verify you do not violate this rule.  Visit the Facebook Grid Tool and upload your image.  The tool will place a 5-by-5 grid over the image.  Click the squares that contain text to see how much text you are using and if it is acceptable.  Watch this Facebook video for information about text in ads.  Also, check out our blog on optimum image sizes for different social media sites.

If you don’t have an ad agency, or know an artist who can design a print ad for you, consider using Fiverr.com.  This website offers services and products that range from graphics and design to online marketing. The freelancing marketing services include ad creation, infographic design, video animation, and much more. The price of services begins at $5.  The transparency of buyers’ reviews will help you to
choose the right seller.

2: Pre-Launch – Create Excitement

As a part of your pre-launch, consider if giveaways are appropriate for your new product or service.  Will there be a special sale or discount period when you launch?  If so, how will customers access the discount?  Is a contest appropriate for the new launch?  If appropriate, one lucky customer can win the free product or service free.  Perhaps allowing someone to be the first to use it is appropriate.

It’s also best to plan and write out the posts you will make on Facebook and other social media.  Writing these ahead of the launch will help insure you cover the important points you want your customers to know.  Each should reveal a little more about the new product or service.  Begin with teaser posts about two or three weeks before the launch.  A series of pre-launch teaser posts might be:
“Something big is coming to (Business Name) in July.”

“Watch this space for a big announcement on July 13.”

“Don’t miss out.  See what’s happening in July at (Business name).”

As the launch date approaches, build excitement by revealing a little more about the new product or service.  This would be the time to start mentioning customer benefits in your teasers.

product excitementA week before the launch, your post might be:  “Everything you know about Customer Service is about to change!  (Business Name) is taking it to a new level starting July 13.”

“The only way to experience (service) is to be here July 13 – see for yourself.”

If you are introducing a new product, perhaps a discount may be in order for the first few weeks.  One of your posts or an ad could be a coupon for customers to print.  Alternatively, you can post on Facebook a ‘secret phrase’ that customers can mention to get the discount price.

Don’t forget to use video!  Make a video of you or someone in your shop talking about how excited everyone at work is about the new product or service.  Post a few days before the launch.  If you are remodeling or expanding, post pictures of the construction work.  If you are adding new equipment, share pictures of the installation process.

Your launch plan should have the posts written out along with the date and time when each will appear.  Stagger the times from morning to early evening for maximum exposure.

3 – Launch – Keep Excitement Going

The launch phase will probably vary in length depending on the product or service.  As far as promotion is concerned, it will never truly be over.  However, you should have an end date for the largest promotional push.  At this point, you want to figure out what you can do to keep the excitement going.

This is the time to launch a Facebook Contest. After launching a new service, perhaps now is the time to have a naming contest.  If appropriate, let customers have a chance at naming the new service.  The winner gets a year of the service at no cost or a substantially price reduction. Consider what is most appropriate for the new product or service; then, maintain excitement by teasing the contest.

You may find it appropriate to shoot a video of the first day with the new product or service.  Include customer testimonials and reactions.  Other customers talking about your business and your services is a great way to introduce new customers to what you do.

If you decide to spend money on a Facebook ad campaign, focus most of your ad budget on the pre-launch phase.  If you have something to offer of value or a coupon, split your resources more evenly between the pre-launch and launch phases.  You may want to consider having a different budget for the coupon or special offer phase of the campaign.

4 – Post-Launch Thank You

After the launch period, you will want to thank your audience and customers.  Show your customers how much you appreciate them by thanking them for their support during the campaign.  Even if they did not make a purchase, let them know you appreciate their business over the years.

Also, use the post-launch thank you to tell your audience what is coming next.  More surprises?  Another contest?  Give your audience something to look forward to.

Most important, learn from your experience so you can improve the next one.  What worked?  What didn’t work?  What gave you the biggest bang?

Facebook can be a great place to let the world know about your new product or service.  However, don’t forget to promote your special product launch or new service on your website as well as your other social media, not just Facebook.

Image Size Matters

DrawingsStandardSizesDrawingSheetsWhen it comes to social media, we all know that content is king. However, content with images is like a world-leader, sitting on a throne of viral content. Images are critical to your content being seen. Why? The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than it does when decoding text.

However, when it comes to using images, it’s important to make sure you use the right size for where you’re sharing. Research shows that social media content with images is shared exponentially more than content without pictures. This blog will help you make sure you the best image sizes for your favorite social media site.

Twitter

Tweets with images are retweeted 150% more than those without an image. In fact, 89% more tweets become favorites than those tweets with just plain text. Image also see 18% more clicks.

  • The optimal image Dimensions: 1024 x 512 pixels; also acceptable: 440×220 pixels
  • File size 5 MB (3MB for animated GIFs)
  • File Type: JPEG, PNG and GIF

Facebook

Posts with images account for 87% of all interactions on Facebook, worldwide. Posts with images are shared 87% while posts with links are shared on 4% of the time. On 3% of posts with video get shared.

  • Optimal Dimensions: 2048×2048 and 1200×630 pixels (for shared links); also acceptable 720×720 pixels
  • File Size: must not exceed 15MB
  • File Type: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF and TIFF

NOTE: PNG files larger than 1M may appear pixelated on shared links.

Open graph images may not include more than 20% text – this includes logos and slogans as a part of the image.

Google+ images

  • Optimal Dimensions: 2048×2048 and 1200×630 pixels (for shared links); also acceptable 720×720 pixels
  • File Size: must not exceed 36MB
  • File Type: JPEG, PNG, and GIF

Tumblr

  • Optimal Dimensions: 1280×1920 pixels for high-resolution images (except for super-wide panoramas); also acceptable 540×540 pixels
  • File Size: must not exceed 100MB
  • File Type: JPEG, and PNG

NOTE: The maximum width for animated GIFs is 500 pixels and may not exceed 1MB.

Images wider than 300 pixels automatically scale to fit the dashboard.

Instagram

  • Optimal Dimensions: 640×640 pixels; also acceptable 612×612 pixels
  • File Type: JPEG, PNG, and GIF

NOTE: Instagram allows higher resolutions photos if they are taken with the Instagram App. Photos uploaded from another device will have a lower resolution.

Pinerest

  • Optimal dimensions: 736 pixels wide; also acceptable: 236 pixels wide.
  • Pinterest automatically scales the height for you based on the image width.
  • File Size: must not exceed 10MB
  • File Type: JPEG, PNG, and GIF

NOTE: To pin a video, you must first upload it to a video site such as YouTube or Vimeo.

LinkedIn

  • Optimal Dimension for shared images: 531×399; also acceptable: 400×400 pixels
  • For shared links: 180×110; also acceptable 165×101 pixels
  • File Size: must not exceed 100MB
  • File Type: JPEG, PNG, and GIF

NOTE: To prevent spam in the LinkedIn feed, you cannot repeatedly post the same shared content.

So, there you have it, image dimensions for most of the popular social media sites. If you want to increase your exposure, share a picture! But not just any picture, one that works best for the site. Use this ‘cheat sheet’ to make sure your image gets you noticed.

3 Steps to Better Video

Planning your video before you pull out the gear helps produce the best video possible. This is true whether it is your first video or you consider yourself an expert. It’s important to put the information you gather on paper, because this makes the actual shooting go more smoothly and quickly. Here are three steps to planning your video to help make a better video

Focus On Your Audience

First thing to do when planning the content of your shoot is to consider the audience you are addressing. When doing this, you will find a script is the most important part of the video. No matter what type of video you are planning, you must have a script. In some cases, an outline may be sufficient. In others, you will want to write out pen and paper form clipart modevery word. The script is your guide during the shoot. Stick to it.

A script helps focus on your audience. In most cases, your audience will be your existing customer-base.   However, if you are reaching out to new customers, don’t assume they understand your terminology. Make sure your script explains anything someone not familiar with your business might not know about your business.

Read over your script several times. Then have someone else read it. If you are shooting a ‘how to’ video, double check your script to make sure you haven’t skipped a step that may seem obvious to you, but may not be as obvious to someone only casually acquainted with your business.

If you plan to use an on-camera talent, make sure your spokesperson is comfortable when reading the script aloud before you set up the camera. It is important they speak the script aloud before you are ready to shoot. This way, your talent is completely familiar with the script and it helps find areas in the script with wording that may be awkward to say aloud.

It may not be necessary for your spokesperson to memorize the entire script. Since you will most likely edit the final video, your talent will probably only need to have small sections of the script committed to memory during the shoot.

Show Your Stuff

cooking-dslr-shoot-41The second step is to consider what you need to show your audience. A person speaking on camera for 3-minutes can be an incredibly long time if the speaker is the only thing shown in the video. If your video is about a specific product or service, you will want to make sure to display prominently the product or service.

After recording the person speaking on camera, record scenes of the product or service close up.   If, for example, your video is about a special technique you use to repair a bumper, be sure to show a technician using that technique. A close up of hands doing the process is always good to show while the talent talks about the process or product. Use this video to illustrate what your spokesperson is describing.

We call these “B-roll” shots. You will find it greatly enhances a video to show a close up of the product or the service that is the subject of the video. As you write your script, consider what b-roll shots you might need. Write them down in a shot list that you can refer to when you shoot. This way you do not forget to record the scenes during production.

Time and Place

The third step is to consider when and where you will shoot the video. Planning these basic logistics helps not only with the efficiency of your production, but they also affect the overall look of the final DSC_0661-2video.

Wherever you decide to shoot, keep in mind what you want to have as the focus, or main object of each shot. Be aware of everything else around the main object. In addition, is there something in the background that might distract from what you want the viewer to see? Always look carefully at the scene through the camera to see if anything distracts from the primary focus of the shot.

There may be times you want something extra in the shot, like a logo or something you specifically talk about in the video. You can make room for it in the shot or have it in the background.

When you are recording audio with your video, listen carefully for any background noise that might interfere with your main audio source. Is your scene in an area where people are working? If so, you might plan your shoot for a time when they are not working – like during a lunch break – or ask if they can take a break while you shoot. If nothing else, request they keep noise to a minimum.

If you take a systematic approach to planning your video, you will find the video shoot goes much smoother and editing will be much easier as a result.

No More Silent Films

If you want to make great looking videos and use a quality camera, like a DSLR, you are half way to audio-volume-high-hiyour successful venture. However, don’t overlook one very important piece of the puzzle – the sound.

Unless you are in the business of shooting silent movies or music videos, audio is rest of the story. In most cases, your audio will probably be someone talking. Hearing the speaker clearly is every bit as important as camera framing, scene selection or lighting in a quality video.

This post covers tips to help make the sound in your video be as compelling as the rest of the production values.

Why Does My Audio Sound Bad?

You should never rely on the built-in microphone of your video camera for recording a person speaking – no matter how expensive your camera. The audio recorded from speakers in the camera’s built-in microphone will sound very hollow. It’s not the best choice for recording the human voice.

The reason is that the camera’s built-in mic picks up every sound around it. It picks up not only sounds from the front of the camera, but also sounds behind the camera. Any sound your camera operator makes, the servo-motors in the camera – for the zoom lens and such, and the fan from your heating and cooling equipment, will all be heard.

If you have a DSLR camera, it most likely has a separate mic input that accepts an 1/8 inch plug. Use this for recording your audio. The only time you should use the built-in microphone from your camera is for recording ambient background sounds of your environment.

Lavalier Microphones

atr7000_lavalier_1_sqThe ideal microphone for recording a single person speaking is a lavalier mic – one that attaches to clothing. The design of a lavalier mic is specifically for recording the human voice.   This is the type of mic television newscasters use.

Clip the mic on the clothing about 6 inches from the speaker’s mouth – usually about the second button on a shirt or blouse. This positioning avoids picking up room noises or anything in the background that is not a part of the video.

There are two types of lavalier microphones – wired and wireless. A wired lavalier mic is good to use when the speaker is close to the camera. A wired lavaliere has a long cable that plugs into your camera. The price range for a good wired of lavalier mic ranges from about 30 dollars to 100 dollars.

A wireless lavalier microphone is a good choice if you have a situation where the on-camera speaker is required to walk around for a demonstration or is a great distance from the camera. The wireless mic eliminates a situation where the mic cable might pull the camera or cause a trip hazard.

A wireless mic has two parts – a transmitter and a receiver – in addition to the microphone itself. The subject wears the small transmitter. The receiver is at the camera. Wireless microphones start around 150 dollars and can cost up to a thousand dollars.

Whether you use wired or wireless microphones, depending on the manufacturer, you may need an audio adaptor. This box-like piece of equipment converts the large plug (called an “XLR” plug) to a plug that fits into your camera.

Handheld Microphones

There may be videos that require several people to speak on camera.   This is a good situation for your SM58-2moderator, or lead person, to hold a handheld microphone in front of each person who speaks. This would include the moderator himself.

There are wired and wireless handheld microphones. The prices start at just under $100 to several hundred dollars.

For all microphones – lavalier and handheld – the price is based on the frequency response of the mic. Usually, the more you pay, the better sound quality you will receive.

Don’t Forget The Headphones

shure-srh440-studio-headphonesWhen you record a speaker, it is always a good idea to have your camera operator, or another person, monitor the sound as you record your video. You must use headphones to monitor the sound. With headphones, you hear only what is recorded. It also allows you to listen carefully for any extraneous background noises. Most cameras have a headphone jack for listening as you record.

Remember, sound is an important part of every video, don’t leave it to chance!

Getting Started with Video

Last time, we talked about the prevalence of video in social media. In this blog, we want to give you some simple tips for getting started making your own social media videos.

Start With the Obvioussmartphone-camera-prevent-living-in-the-moment-8-13-2012

Obviously, your first and most basic need is a camera. You don’t need to break the bank with the most expensive camera on the market. Just keep in mind that cameras with more options will cost more. You can spend anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousands.

However, don’t forget you may already have an acceptable camera already – your smartphone! Anything from an iPhone 4 or later will work, as will almost any smartphone with a camera. Just look at what can be done with a smartphone and some great accessories!

The number of megapixels and the camera’s sensor determines picture quality. Generally speaking, more megapixels, the better the picture quality. Back in 1999, the average digital camera had less than 2 megapixels. Today, you can find cameras with 16 megapixels and more. However, the number of megapixels means nothing if the manufacturer has achieved it by cramming those 16 megapixels onto a small sensor.

Instead of going into a detailed technical discussion about pixels, you can easily determine if your smartphone camera is adequate by shooting a quick video with a couple of smartphone cameras you have available to you. Shoot the same scene and watch them back on a computer to see which looks best.

A smartphone is an easy way to get started; however, if you decide to get serious about videos, you will want to purchase a video camera.

Other Camera Options

For the budget-conscious, the GoPro is perhaps one of the most versatile cameras on the market. GoPro cameras starts at about $200. One drawback is you need to have plenty of light. Outside images will be great, but inside scenes will almost certainly require artificial lighting. Another drawback is you cannot connect a microphone to the camera.

Canon 5DAnother camera option is a “pro-sumer” camera. Most are HD capable. These also have zoom functionality – something you will not get with a smartphone or a GoPro camera. Prices start at around $150 and go to as high as a thousand dollars depending on the options.

If you are serious, about video, you should consider a DSLR camera. Most DSLR cameras are still-photography cameras that also shoot great HD video. There are two especially nice features about DSLR cameras. One is the ability to change lenses, which gives you more flexibility when shooting your video. The second is that the cameras have better sensors, which are helpful when shooting in low light situations.

DSLR cameras are a bit more complex to operate because of multiple settings, and they are a bit more expensive. You’ll find them priced starting around one thousand dollars and range up to three thousand dollars or more.

Steady As You GoGitzo-GT3530LSV-6x-Carbon-Fiber-Tripod-Legs

The next thing you will need is a tripod for your camera. A tripod is vital for a steady picture. No matter how steady you think you are, any scene from a hand-held camera for more than a few seconds is going to shake or move and cause the center of focus to move about on the screen. This is very annoying to watch and a major reason why many quit watching a video before its conclusion. Sure, some stabilization can be achieved in post production, but it’s not always a sure fix.

You can find all types of tripods for just about every camera on the market. From a smartphone to the most expensive DSLR cameras, there are several types of tripods available at a range of prices.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Finally, if you plan to record someone speaking while on camera, you must have a good microphone.   The built-in camera microphone does not work well for this. The built-in microphone will pick up every sound in the room. From the heating/cooling fan to someone walking in the room to sounds outside, a camera microphone picks up everything. Generally, these extraneous sounds are as loud as or louder than the person speaking on camera!

shotgun micIn these situations, you must use a good microphone that plugs directly into your camera. There are hand-held microphones and also lavaliere microphones that attach to clothing. With adaptors, most will fit a smartphone or a DSLR camera. Quality wired microphones can cost around $100 or less.

If you plan to have someone speaking in most every video, you may want to us a wireless microphone. You can find wireless microphones priced from a hundred dollars to a couple of hundred dollars, depending on the company.

Now you are ready to shoot video and get the most out of the picture and sound quality.

Video = Memorable Social Media

Everywhere you look today, video is popping up.

Consider this: Television is no longer the first, or even the primary, screen in our lives today. Surveys show that YouTube now reaches more 18-34 year-old US adults than any cable channel. However, it’s not just 18-34 year-olds that are watching videos on YouTube. Adults, parents and grandparents, are watching and posting their own YouTube videos.

Video is becoming so common, that nearly every publishing and social media platform now has, or is integrating, video capabilities.

Facebook Videofacebook-video

Even Facebook has embraced videos. Remember last summer’s ALS Ice Bucket challenge? For many people, it was the first time they uploaded a video to their Facebook account. Since July 2014, the ALS Association has received over $115 million in donations!

Even more remarkable, Facebook had a 50 percent increase in the use of video from just May to July of 2014. Facebook announced in September 2014 that it now delivers one billion video views per day! It is no wonder Facebook is introducing new video features to its site.

People Remember Videos

We are visually oriented; that is why we remember videos. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million words. Actually, 1.8 million words! According Brainshark, a communications training company, the information retained after watching a one-minute online video is equal to about 1.8 million written words!

Videos speak in a way words and static images cannot. If you haven’t already, you may soon find yourself using Google to find a video to answer a question. Admit it, watching someone demonstrate something is much more effective than reading about it.

As a content creator, you should be creating videos that are relevant and engaging for your audience. Don’t worry about trying to create the next viral video. If you create content that your audience just can’t help but share with others, the viral part will take care of itself.

Using-Video-Marketing-For-businessUsing Video for Your Business

So, how do you use video for your business? Show off your work! Before and after images, video progress of your work or a time-lapse for automotive repairs are perfect ways to show off your work. Adding a date stamp is a subtle way to reinforce how quickly you accomplish your great work.

There are other ways to use video besides highlighting your work. You can use video to show off your facilities and employees. Perhaps you have new equipment; show it off with a description of the customer benefits it offers. Highlight your employee of the month and their work. You might consider giving a mini-tour of your facilities. You might want to offer a special discount for customers who specifically mention the video when in your shop.

Another good use of video is customer testimonials. Ask if a customer is willing to talk on camera about your business. You can have them talk about your awesome customer service, or how quickly the work was performed and if they would recommend your shop to their friends.

Perhaps you have an awesome holiday light display. Show it off! If you sponsor a local sports team, show highlights from the latest game.

Spread the Videos Around

Do not just post your video on YouTube or Vimeo. Link to it in your blog posts and on your website. The great thing about posting a video on YouTube is you can link to it on your website and get twice as much exposure. Also, encourage those who find your videos to share with their friends and followers.

Your videos can lead potential customers to your website or blog, and your website or blog can direct current customers to your video channel.