Nice little video

Posted in Uncategorized on June 25, 2014 by Video Whisperer

Just wanted to share a recent video with the followers of this blog. For some reason, it’s one of my favourites.

As you know I’ve been writing a book called “Run ‘N Gun Videography–the Sole Shooters Survival Guide”. There are over 25 chapters and this video ticks a lot of the boxes covered in that book, not because it’s fancy, but because it gets the message across.

It’s simple.

It was a one-camera shoot (though I had a second locked-off camera on the podium which I didn’t use for this edit).

The Sony HXR NX30 did all the grunt work.

Audio was off the house board through a neat little transmitter I have which was plugged into the board and received by a radio receiver on my camera.

It wouldn’t have been as good a video if it were not for the strong narrative delivered by 3 celebrities in attendance, and that strong narrative made it easy to edit.

One of the most interesting chapters in the book has to do with how to choose and use stock music in a way that it seems to have been written for the video rather than just schlocked on.

This choice of music was a home run for me.

For you Americans and other non-English (as in England) people out there, the two celebs in the beginning are UK television presenters who have their own show and who are also internationally renown voice coaches.

The third one is a new celebrity. He’s actually a head teacher at a school who became an overnight sensation when he invited Channel 4 into his school to do a reality show, “Educating Yorkshire”.

Apparently he’s a heart throb receiving dozens of marriage proposals every day. He’s a nice guy too.

Anyway, enjoy!

Final preview of the book “Run ‘N Gun Videography”

Posted in B) TUTORIALS, C) Corporate Videos, F) Resources with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2014 by Video Whisperer

For anyone interested who has been following this, I’ve been writing an ebook entitle “Run ‘N Gun Videography–the Sole Shooter’s Survival Guide”.

I’ve now finished the first draft of the book which sits currently at 40,000 words and 25 chapters. I suspect there may be one or two more chapters added, but besides that I’m in editing mode and starting to think about graphics and layout. Should be finally published some time this summer.

Thought I’d share one more sneak preview, this one of Chapter 10. (most of it anyway. Hey! I can’t give away all the punch lines!)

Any feedback would be appreciated.

P.S. For the moment my Video Whisperer website is down for unknown reasons, so you may get an error message if you click that link. I’ve been wanting to re-do the whole thing and move it over to WordPress. Maybe it’s a sign….

Chapter 10, Corporate Shoot-outs

The Video Whisperer Approach to Corporate Videos

I’m using the term “corporate videos” loosely here. I am referring to the full range of business videos likely to be produced by a lone shooter or small production company. In my case, that ranges from home business owners, shop owners, small business owners and on up to multi-national corporations.

Clearly, when you start getting into the big name global corporations, they’re probably not going to be taking you on as a lone shooter.

So we’re not competing here with video production companies that are essentially small film studios with a full complement of specialized personnel.

“Corporate Shootouts” is probably an apt title. The bigger they are, the more people you have to please, the more meetings you have to have, the more planning you have to do and get approved (and modified ‘till everyone’s happy), the more back and forth on your edit, the more unwanted input from executives that want their stamp on your good ideas…and those larger video production companies have people that deal with all of that.

At any rate, I don’t play that game anymore, and if you’re reading this book, you probably don’t play it either. I like to keep it simple.

I travel light.

I don’t go into a corporate shoot like a swat team.

I walk in alone with a 6 shooter.

But I have a strategy.

And the funny thing is, even in that corporate environment I’ve walked into a conference room full of harried scriptwriters and producers and won with this approach, so don’t get the idea that because it’s simple, it can’t be effective.

Are you ready for this?

1)  I don’t script it.

2)  I don’t storyboard it.

3)  I don’t rehearse it.

So far that sounds pretty lame, doesn’t it?

Let me clarify it starting with a little story.

I used to be sent out to various parts of the globe to do a mini documentary on some interesting character by a corporation who had already fully pre-conceived the story and had it scripted by the “very best scriptwriters” based on glowing PR reports from the “very best research personnel”, right on down to the expected content of the interviews and testimonials.

The only trouble was, the real scene on the ground was never what the script said it was. So I used to get beat up about this pretty regularly by the corporate people for “not following the script” because I found real life far more interesting than their imaginary version of it.

One day it dawned on me why it was that the reports sent in to management from the field always understated the actual scene.

The real heroes on the ground that we were sent in to do stories on were too busy (and too humble) to waste much time on paperwork and bragging themselves up to the higher ups. So in the 25th hour of their day, they probably just didn’t spend much time sending their obligatory reports to management.

It was only when I tossed the interview questions and started really chatting these people up that I began to realize that they were too humble to know how extraordinary they really were. They had far more interesting stories to tell than anyone who sent us there knew about.

How ironic. Those “higher ups” were so damned concerned with their own PR that they chose the certainty of false reports based on faulty research over the actual truth which was far more interesting and better PR than they ever dreamed of.

Ok, this is a personal story and won’t have much to do with what most people will run into, but it did teach me a very important lesson that later formed the simplistic approach I started taking toward corporate videos summarized in #1-3 above.

And that lesson was: Real people are far more interesting, sincere and believable than imaginary ones.

I learned this by watching one director interviewing someone in quite a different and remarkable way…

The Secret of Interviews

Let’s face it. We’ve all seen standard, run-of-the-mill TV news interviews.

And we’ve all seen those high-end journalists who make the big bucks because of the compelling stories they supposedly draw out of people.

I’ve seen these things from the back end too. I’ve seen Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes fame (one of those supposed high end investigative journalists) doing a story. He arrived in a limo with a full entourage and large crew. “Intimidating” comes to mind. But this time he left in a big huff with his tail between his legs because the people he was doing a story on decided to run their own 5 cameras on the 60 Minutes interview so that 60 Minutes wouldn’t have the freedom pull off their usual skewed agenda-driven story through the magic of editing. That’s right. You can make people look like fools or criminals or worse just by the way you edit the footage—and I’m afraid that’s probably done more often than not depending on who is financing the story.

Anyway, that’s one extreme. But generally speaking, reporters are after controversy because that’s what sells. They’re after tears on camera and true confessions. They’re after salacious material and confrontations. They either have an agenda or their editors or producers do. That’s the world of journalism for the most part.

Documentaries can also be agenda driven with a similar approach to conducting interviews.

Tell me if I’ve gotten this right:

An interview consists of someone asking a list of prepared questions and getting responses to those questions.

Seems to be a reasonable definition, but it’s about as idiotic as it gets. I wouldn’t even call it simplistic. Not only that, it gets worse.

Typically the interviewer almost never acknowledges the answer before asking the next question. (wouldn’t that make you feel uncomfortable? You’d be wondering, “Did he hear what I just said?”) Worse still: (and I’ve seen this countless times) “that’s great, but could you give that to me again with a smile?” or “great!, but I need you to mention (_________)”, or “don’t bring up (__________)”, or any of an infinite number of other ways to introvert the interviewee because of some stupid pre-conceived idea that the interviewer has in regards to what he thinks the interviewee should say. After a short while the interviewee, convinced that you’re not interested in what they might want to say, spends the rest of the time trying to figure out what you want to hear, and the more he or she apparently “gets it wrong”, the more introverted he or she gets.

If anyone ever asked you a bunch of questions and never once acknowledged anything you’d said, you’d get the idea he wasn’t really very interested in what you had to say and you’d be right. If you had any integrity at all, you’d end the interview and tell the guy to buzz off. But too many people forge on and try to please the interviewer. They cease communicating about their own interests and passions and try to second guess what it is they’re supposed to say to make the interviewer happy.

I don’t care if it’s a news interview or a corporate interview. You get the same results; a dull, lifeless, stilted interview that forwards a supposed news agenda or marketing agenda.

It is so prevalent as a style that too many novice directors fall into the same “reporter mode” because they think that’s the way it’s supposed to be done.

I know I’m generalizing and I know there are exceptions to the rule. There have been truly great and memorable interviews and biographies, but I’m making a point that it is a pretty common approach to corporate videos by small productions companies and lone shooters who “learned it” by watching some of the “big guys”. It probably came about simply because some of these journalists who were on a deadline just didn’t have time to actually talk to someone, or (more likely) had orders from producers to obtain specific content.

A good interviewer puts his or her interviewee at ease and then engages in friendly conversation that makes the person happy and willing to talk. That should be the easy part—like riding a bicycle. The hard part is at the same time steering the interview to the end of obtaining quality, usable material for the purpose intended—like fixing a flat tire. Not very hard really.

The secret to interviews is getting people to talk about what they want to talk about, not what you think they should talk about.

But how to do know what they want to talk about?

You don’t.  You just don’t.

It’s no different than meeting someone for the first time.

So you start off with the minimum of what you have in common, even if very little. Well, you’re at their company, right. That’s a start. You’re both aware of the company and what it does. (It goes without saying that you will have done your homework and have some idea of the content or marketing message you are after). Nothing wrong with starting off with “So how long have you been working here?” Easy enough to answer and gets things off on an informal foot. The guy relaxes. He thought you were going to ask a tough question.

And you go on from there finding out about his specialty, his knowledge, his contribution to the company.

Just don’t make the mistake of getting caught up in the brilliance of your own questions. And don’t assume that you know what the ideal response should be, regardless of what the marketing people think.

Your questions are meant to be a good guess at what might get them going and what they want to talk about. And presumably you’re talking to them because they have some intimate knowledge of the subject at hand.

So start chatting. Keep it real. Keep it light and conversational.

And watch their eyes.

When those eyes light up, you’ve just found the entrance to the subject of what they like to talk about, what their passion is, etc. I don’t mean start talking about fishing or motorcycle racing. Obviously he knows what you’re there to talk about that’s relevant. What I’m saying is that when you’re in that area you’re probably going to find a hot spot that lights up his eyes. That’s the subject that’s going to get you some good material. Chat it up from all directions. He may start brief, but due to your interest, he may open up and dump a whole load of great stuff on your lap. It’s your sincere interest that will get him talking.

Listen to what they say. Really listen. Really be interested. Acknowledge what they’re saying by smiling or nodding or whatever is appropriate. Don’t cut them off.

When they seem to be finished, ask them more about what they just said. Better still, ask them something specific about something that they seem particularly interested in or emotive about. You don’t even have to ask a new question. Simply commenting on, agreeing with or otherwise acknowledging some aspect just mentioned will be enough to get them to continue talking about it.

And let them talk.

Of course you also ask all the perfunctory questions. But ideally you first establish a great rapport by talking about their interests. Then all the rest of the stuff will come off great too.

You can talk to anyone about anything that THEY are interested in.

When you find those topics, all their inhibitions disappear–so long as you do your part by listening, acknowledging and not cutting them off.

If it all goes wrong and you can’t seem to get off on the right foot, be humble enough to realize that you’re the one that introverted them and got them to stop talking. There is still an out.  I’ve done it many times to miraculous results.  It goes something like this:

“Forget about everything I just said or asked. Forget about what you think you should say or what the company thinks you should say or what you think I want to hear.  What is it about this subject that interests YOU the most? What about it are you most passionate about? Go ahead, let your hair down.”

Sometimes after 30 minutes of interview, I’ve gotten the greatest percentage of my editable narrative after making that statement alone.

Look at it this way. It’s really simple.

An interview is simply a directed conversation.

But it’s still a conversation.

It’s not formal. It’s relaxed. It’s fun. It’s interesting. It’s something you’ve done naturally all your life.

If you’re shooting a corporate interview or a testimonial, the only difference is that you are a director and you know the sort of content that is required to fulfill the marketing angle (or instructional angle—or whatever kind of video you’re doing). It doesn’t matter how long it takes to accumulate that information. It doesn’t matter a hoot what you say or how much you banter with the interviewee. All that gets cut out. But as you go along you will be making mental notes, “that was a good bit”, or “that’s a great opener”, or “that will work great in the wrap up”, etc.

With experience you’ll know when you have enough material to be able to edit the interview and achieve your objective.

The main point is, that the best of your material in that interview will be honest, sincere, passionate, and believable. But better still, you might well turn up with some great material that no scriptwriter or marketing person could ever have dreamed up for the very best actor or presenter to deliver with all the right hand gestures.

The intended audience for your video can see marketing hype a mile away.

But the real guy, warts and all, speaking from the heart is also something they can see from a mile away. And that’s they guy they’ll listen to.

Ok, that’s a basic overview. I’ll cover some more on this subject later, but for now, let’s get back to what this has to do with shooting corporate videos, or more specifically, how I do it in terms of “the Video Whisperer approach”….

 

Run ‘N Gun Videography, sneak preview

Posted in B) TUTORIALS with tags , , , , , , on May 15, 2014 by Video Whisperer

Almost done with the ebook “Run ‘N Gun Videography–the Sole Shooter’s Survival Guide”.  Looks like it will be about 42,000 words in about 25 chapters. A few weeks ago I published the introduction here.

I won’t publish all the chapters on the blog, but here’s Chapter 1 (first draft) for your perusal:

 

Chapter 1   Run ’N Gun

What does that mean anyway?

Funny enough, if you look this up you’ll find it’s a term used in the video gaming industry. As the name implies, it’s a rather brash and unconsidered approach to winning—sort of an AK47 approach to getting somewhere.

Speaking of guns, I’ve shot the AK47 and I must say it’s a gun that’s meant to be shot on full automatic in a spraying motion because it’s not very useful in single shot mode for hitting a target. The bloody thing is so nasty in its kickback that once you’ve fired it, you have no idea where the bullet just went–and you don’t care either because your ears are ringing so bad. (The US AR15 is much better on that score).

But I digress.

I doubt any of this is what anyone in the field of videography means when using the term.

For the purposes of this book, however, I thought I’d better define what I mean by the term, lest anyone start off with the wrong idea.

Since I have a gun theme going (for a bit of fun), it’s not an AK47 or AR15 approach either. More like a 38 police special (short barreled pistol) and you have to be pretty good to hit anything with that.

Let me couch it this way:

After years of working in the regimented, scripted approach to film and video production with production crews (nothing wrong with that), I became a video documentary director/cameraman. That meant I traveled around with a small team—usually one other person and sometimes two—to shoot short documentaries of people or events around the world. Because there was little time allotted for each production, and each production had a looming, unalterable deadline, it was necessary to develop a shooting style that was very direct and economical without compromising on quality. This also extended to kit, which I’ll detail in a later chapter. In short, I had to be quick on my feet and quick of wit while being as thorough as possible.

Despite the fact that these productions had scripted narration to be added later, my job was to produce material that would stand on its own without the need for narration. What dictated the content for me was the material obtained in the interviews I did with key people on the ground.

I learned some very important things early on about interviews. While this will also be the subject of a detailed chapter, it bears mentioning now that the most important thing I learned was that everyone has a story. Getting them to tell it is the trick. Part of the trick is to be willing to find out what the story is. And to do that you pretty much have to knock out of your head whatever you think the story might be (forget about the stupid interview questions) and just start engaging in normal human conversation.

Once you’ve go the story you have some idea of the B roll (relevant and related shots) you need to shoot so that the interview and/or greater story can be edited.

And that’s all there is to it basically.

It applies to documentaries, biographies and corporate videos alike.

Knowing what to shoot, how to see it and doing it quickly, professionally and thoroughly is “run ’n gun”.

By definition, “run ’n gun” will never be perfect. You’re bound to make mistakes. You’re bound to get home and find a shot out-of-focus or with any of an almost infinite number of potential technical flaws. But if you “shoot the hell out of it” in the process, and to the best of your ability, you will walk away with editable video footage that will achieve whatever its intended purpose was.

I always make the time to light important interviews and obtain the best sound possible. That doesn’t mean one could necessarily tell that the shots were lit because, in my case, I tend to employ “atmospheric lighting” which appears to be natural. But it looks a hell of a lot better than the “real world” looked.

On the other hand, it’s not always possible to light an interview, particularly “vox pox” (latin for “voice of the people” and meaning the “man-on the-street type interview). But in these cases one still tries to get the best possible lighting and camera angle possible.

Sound recording is another vital element. Using an on-camera mic (and the resultant high ambient sound levels) is the mark of an amateur. Close, present-sounding audio recording for any type of interview is vital – a fact which apparently many videographers do not give adequate importance to.

That said, there are unexpected circumstances when something is happening that simply can’t be stopped to allow proper microphone placement, so you’d be daft to not record it anyway with your on-camera mic. If the content turns out to be precious, the value of the content will over-ride the technical flaws.

And so it goes. It’s a constant exercise of judgment while seeking to obtain the best technical quality in the process under varying circumstances.

It takes practice.

It takes experience.

You have to be willing to learn from your mistakes.

You have to be pretty good to pull it off.

And that’s what I mean by “run ’n gun”

 

 

Jennie’s Journey | Ovarian Cancer

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2014 by Video Whisperer

Honoured to be a friend of Jennie Allen. Less than a year ago she faced the hooded man with a scythe. Friends and family feared the worst, including me. But Jennie smiled at the man…

YouTube & SEO

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2014 by Video Whisperer

Video Whisperer:

Reverse engineering the success of a single video. What made it so and how you can use this to maximise the engagement value of your own video content.

Originally posted on The Video Whisperer:

How to Make a Search Engine Happy

The true story of how one of my videos changed everything.

Warning: This video is 35 minutes long.  That said, if you are a video producer or business owner with a website, you’ll find the information here informative and useful. And you’ll probably find stuff you never even heard about.

It’s free to watch. There will be no, “but wait, there’s more”, or any other of the usual clues that you’re being lead down a garden path to buy something.

You can google anything I’ve said here (like “Google has been ignoring meta tag key words for years”) or any of the statistics and trends.

This is the story of how one video dramatically increased my Google profile, subscribers to my blog, YouTube channel and Facebook page in the space of one year. And how all that resulted in a dramatic increase in…

View original 1,172 more words

Run ’N Gun Videography

Posted in B) TUTORIALS, F) Resources with tags , , , , , , , on April 24, 2014 by Video Whisperer

The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide

I’ve decided to write an ebook expanding a lot on the sorts of things I post on this blog periodically.

Incidentally, the Video Whisperer blog was originally borne out of a desire to help new-comers to video production to understand some of the fundamental basics of the subject they might otherwise never have learned in film school or otherwise. Apparently quite a few folks out there have found the information useful and some have urged me to write a book.

Since I like to write, that invitation was all I needed (in addition to a little extra time to do it).

I wrote the first 5 thousand words at Heathrow a couple weeks ago, and a few thousand more in the odd late hour since then.

I thought I’d share the introduction to the book to test the waters.

If you’ve ever wondered where the name “Video Whisperer” came from, here is that story.

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Run ’N Gun Videography

The Lone Shooter’s Survival Guide

Introduction

After spending most of my life working as a cameraman and director (both film and video) for a studio within a team setting, I decided to go solo as a video producer in 2008.

My wife Laury and I were living in Montana and my talented step-daughter Chloe was visiting us from England over the Christmas holiday. As Chloe was an aspiring singer/songwriter, we decided to check the local classifieds for a free piano that we could lug home before Chloe arrived. We found one in nearby Idaho, and set off across the mountains and fetched it home (a little Montana lingo there).

Within a few days of her arrival, Chloe had already written a new song…and I had an idea.

We dragged the old upright piano back out of the house, onto the trailer bed and parked the whole thing in the front yard (in the middle of ten acres of wilderness). We were due for a big snow storm that night so I instructed everyone to gather up some pine boughs from the surrounding forest of trees and place them around the wheel wells and hitch of the trailer.  Then we draped some heavy-duty plastic over the trailer bed and anchored the ends in the existing snow to create a sloped surface from the edge of the flat trailer bed. Finally, we tarped the piano and called it a night.

The next day we awoke to 8 inches of fallen snow. The trailer was completely hidden under a thick blanket of snow. The piano appeared to be sitting on a small treed mound outside in the Montana wilderness.

That day Chloe bundled up and rehearsed the song at the piano under sunny blue skies in the crisp, dry sub-zero temperatures of our Montana Winter wonderland.

As usual and expected, some of the local deer came around during the day, this time to find a strange contraption in the front yard and a strange blonde girl making noises with it. They were intrigued and proceeded to nonchalantly forage for greenery in close proximity to the rehearsal, occasionally stopping to look and listen to the music—or to stare at Chloe, who knows?

And, of course, from a discreet distance (but closer than you might think) I quietly shot footage of the deer with Chloe in the background who was sometimes playing and sometimes turned on her bench trying to commune with her unusual audience.

That night another snow storm was due and we set my plan into play.

I set up a couple of discreet spotlights so that once night fell, the surrounding forest would be slightly discernible in what would otherwise have been a pitch black background. We covered the piano with candles which were to be the primary source of light at the piano. Then we ran an electrical cord out to the piano and plugged in a small electric heater under the bench.

Later that night as it started to snow, Chloe bundled up again and with one camera on a tripod operated by our neighbor and another handheld by myself, I shot Chloe’s first  “public performance” of “Close to You” in the middle of a snowstorm.

The next day I edited it intercutting some of the day rehearsal shots of the deer “audience” and wound up with a very unique and magical music video indeed.

A few weeks later we had some guests over to dinner. Naturally Laury had me show them the video, so I started it for them and left the room. I came back toward the end of the song just in time to overhear one of them say “…Video Whisperer” I have no idea what the rest of the context was. That’s all I heard. And I thought to myself, “That’s it! Perfect!”.  I immediately logged onto my computer to see if anyone had that domain name. No one did. So I bought it and everything related.

And that’s where the name “Video Whisperer” comes from.

Now, why tell this story here?

I came from the school of thought that camerawork should be “invisible”. In other words, the camera has a job do to and that job, that purpose, that mission, that contract, is to direct people’s attention into the story being told; to engage the audience’s attention and emotions with the greatest possible impact or clarity.  You can get away with “fancy camerawork” (cranes, dollies, hand-held, etc.), but the moment you do it to call attention to your own camera skills, the moment you’ve distracted the audience into the technique that’s being employed in the story-telling, is the moment you’ve violated that contract.

There is a reason for any type of camera composition, still or moving, and indeed there is a purpose to composition—still or moving—in the first place; it all has to do with forwarding a message and directing the audience’s attention to that message with emotional impact. Veteran professional cameramen do this intuitively. To the film making professionals, the camera (or lighting, sound, sets, props, actors, costumes, makeup, directing, editing, script writing, special effects, sound recording and music) are all tools that are used together for that purpose alone. And to the degree that all these departments align to that purpose, there is a potential for a great film.

On the other hand you have those who do “fancy” camerawork for the sake of fancy camerawork. They shout “look at me!”. And when someone does that at a party, if you’re a charitable person you satisfy their narcissistic vanity out of politeness, or you quietly leave the room.

In my humble opinion, you’ll find that a whisper can be far more powerful than a shout.

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YouTube & SEO

Posted in B) TUTORIALS, F) Resources with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2014 by Video Whisperer

How to Make a Search Engine Happy

The true story of how one of my videos changed everything.

 

Warning: This video is 35 minutes long.  That said, if you are a video producer or business owner with a website, you’ll find the information here informative and useful. And you’ll probably find stuff you never even heard about.

It’s free to watch. There will be no, “but wait, there’s more”, or any other of the usual clues that you’re being lead down a garden path to buy something.

You can google anything I’ve said here (like “Google has been ignoring meta tag key words for years”) or any of the statistics and trends.

This is the story of how one video dramatically increased my Google profile, subscribers to my blog, YouTube channel and Facebook page in the space of one year. And how all that resulted in a dramatic increase in business video commissions on my regular business website.

I didn’t set out to do this deliberately.  Actually it was all sort of a fluke.

But since it did happen, I went back to evaluate the component parts of this success and I’m sharing it with you here.

Nothing mysterious. No assistance from Adwords, or any of the dozens of schemes out there that promise you the moon with their exclusive software.

In fact all I did was please the search engines. And the search engines were pleased because they saw that those searching for the topic of my video were pleased. And the more people that were pleased, the happier the search engines got.

How the search engines achieved this happiness in the midst of the dull drudgery of their daily, often thankless, often disparaged work, is the subject of this talk–which could have been alternatively titled, “How to Make a Search Engine Happy”.

For those businessmen and women who are going to ask, “But how is this going to help me sell widgets?”, the section after the video answers that question and covers a few points not covered in the video. But it won’t make sense if you haven’t seen the video first.

 

“So how is this going to help me sell my widgets?”

Fair question.

The Sony video talked about above made it’s way quickly to the top in a very competitive market. That is, there are a lot of sites that review photographic, video, computer equipment and so forth. And generally speaking, it’s a pretty gung-ho and internet switched-on market that they are reaching.

I’ve done many videos for large industrial companies, also in a niche market. They are hoping to close multi-million pound contracts with their products or services.

So who looks at their videos?

Two kinds of people do: 1) Businessmen looking for that specific product or service, and 2) the competition.

In either case, these are not likely going to be the type of people who “share”, “like”, “comment”, etc.  They might share it via email to a colleague or boss, but that’s about it in terms of engagement.

Then how does engagement apply here?

Creating a viral video is one way and many multi-national well-known corporations can actually create a viral video with confidence. Old Spice, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Redbull and many others have done this. But these cost a fortune. A group of some very clever people come up with some very clever ideas and no expense is spared on pulling off each unique concept.

If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that kind of approach and budget is out of the question.

So what counts?

The Audience Retention Analytic

There are more metrics at play then mentioned in the video, but one of the more important ones is called “Audience Retention”. You can actually go into the backend of your video on your YouTube analytics page and see exactly minute by minute what percentage of people watched the video. In other words, it starts off at 100%. Maybe 20 seconds in it drops to 60%. You can see the percentages for every minute of the video and the overall average.

It might be disappointing to see that some people don’t watch the whole video.

For example, in that Sony video, the audience retention was 30% for the whole 14 minute video. That means, as of now, about 10,000 people watched the entire video–and that’s pretty good considering its length. Interestingly, the graph pretty much drops to the 30% mark in the first minute or two and then stays consistent right to the end. That’s very unusual. But it does tell me the audience I was actually looking for locked onto it and found it interesting and informative enough to watch all the way through.

There can be a number of reasons people don’t watch it all the way through. The primary one is it wasn’t what they were looking for. They realised early on it wasn’t relevant.  Or perhaps they realised this was about a BMW and they were looking for a Aston Marton.  And finally, here’s the real killer. If it’s a bad video (low quality production, hard to hear, amateur-looking, etc.) most people will turn it off right there–unless they perceive the content to be extremely relevant and important in which case they will grab a scotch, squint up their eyes and persevere the torture of watching the video. But that would be a rare exception.

But here’s the good news.  It isn’t the number of VIEWS that the search engines consider important any more. (they used to, but like in Blackhat SEO, people found ways to “game the system” and inflate their view counts.) Instead what the search engines consider important is the audience retention analytic. And that tells them what percentage of people found the content relevant.

So, if you think about it, your competition is in the same boat in trying to sell their widgets. Their market is not the type of market that is going to do anything more than watch the video to see if it suits their company, their needs, etc. in order to put forward a purchase order or arrange further meetings to obtain the service or product.

So if you both have videos on your respective widgets, who has the advantage?  The advantage goes to the company whose video (or other web page content) appears to be most relevant to the search and that is determined by how long people watch the video or otherwise engage on your site. If, in the case of video, it sees the percentage is 5% or lower (bad video), that’s struck off the list by the search engine. Bad or amateur video not only doesn’t pay, it’s destructive because it gives a poor impression of your company no matter how good your products and services really are.

Occasionally I used to check the views of my clients videos on their sites (not my Youtube channel where they are tagged and titled for my purposes more than theirs). One client had over 6000 views of three different videos featuring multi-million pound industrial installations in the first year of their upload, and one of the three videos at the time had been uploaded only a few months earlier. I’m not able to look further into their analytics for audience retention, etc., but that was an impressive view count for that particular product. Even a small percentage of those 6000 views leading to further contact would have meant a LOT of money for that business.

So the moral is, in terms of video, do everything I said above anyway. And make sure it’s a good, professional video that’s pure relevant content for what it is you’re trying to sell.  And that is what will rank you higher than the competition.

It still stands true that video is the best engagement object out there.

Used correctly, the return on investment will make it one of the most cost effective advertising methods you have ever employed.

 

 

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