You probably watched at least one video online in the past week, and there is a good chance it was related to your work. Yes, YouTube mania has reached far beyond the comic antics of humans or the easiest way to enjoy your favorite musicians.

Actually, more video is now uploaded to YouTube, the most commonly used vehicle for getting video distributed online, in 60 days than the three major U.S. networks produced in 60 years.

Nearly every consumer and business decision-maker is taking video seriously so it makes sense for B-to-C and B-to-B oriented businesses to consider how they should be using video online to support their brand and engage their target markets.

According to Forbes in October 2010, 65 percent of U.S. executives surveyed visit a vendor website after viewing a work-related online video.

Distribution of video crosses many channels but it always ends up online where the largest population of your potential customers visit daily.

Why has video become such a trend for online use? Let’s consider websites since that is where businesses are starting to use video for not just training, but for marketing. Video is more interactive and engaging when included on a website over text and still images. Technology and bandwidth costs are coming down dramatically allowing small businesses to create videos that look very polished and professional without the massive TV commercial budget.

According to an Ad-Ology study, “2011 Small Business Marketing Forecast,” in 2011, 45 percent of small businesses were growing their budget for online video, up from 2012 by 17 percent.

One important mistake businesses make though is cutting corners on equipment and expecting someone in the company who has a flip camera to make a high-quality video for the website. It is important to match the equipment with the crew that fits your needs. We often get pulled into production after someone in-house has created a video. Nothing can be more frustrating than having the boss ask why the video is so dark or there is background sound overriding his voice and not knowing how to improve the quality. Choice of equipment involves more than the camera itself.

Poor audio, unstabilized footage and not formatting the output correctly are just a few of the factors people often face when making a video.

The business team often struggles with having a clear understanding of the purpose for the video they want to see on their website. An unclear purpose leads to unclear or mismatched messages, an improper story board or script and the wrong composition and ultimately a poor message.

Creating quality video for your website should be managed by someone in the company who has some media or marketing experience, as well as the time and authority to handle all of the facets of production. Here are a few of the “to dos” in producing business videos:

* Be sure to plan adequately for the production site. The contextual background is extremely important. Anything that is distracting in the background will detract from the message being delivered. When filming in a busy environment the presenter may not be able to focus either. Background and ambient noises also need to be eliminated.

* Who should businesses use for “talent”? Businesses and brands have always had spokespeople. Even before broadcast media, a business needs to have a “face” or “champion” or “brand evangelist.” These folks are comfortable speaking about the business and can portray the personality and character of the brand. You can use the business owner sometimes because they are the most passionate. I would also suggest that a small business use the same spokesperson over and over because it brings continuity to the message. One of the best modern spokespeople in branding isn’t even a person. Think about the Geico Gecko.

* Don’t expect one video to communicate too many messages. In a competitive marketplace, attention is vital. If you want people to pay attention to your videos, you have to get your key messages in immediately in a combination of visuals and words. According to a Visible Measures study, 20 percent of online video viewers click away from a video in the first 10 seconds or less. By 30 seconds into an online video up to 33 percent of viewers have moved on; at 1 minute 44 percent have left (regardless of the clip’s length) and almost 60 percent have abandoned by the 2-minute mark.

Yet, most videos average five minutes. Keeping them short and frequently changing your videos on the website while communicating that a new one is coming, will help build your relationship for your viewers to return to the site.

Video causes people to click play and take action. Anytime people are taking action on a site, it increases the relevancy and increases overall SEO efforts.

For certain activities, people are turning to YouTube to search for products in use or how to solve a particular problem or educate themselves. These videos are high ranking in search terms, and if you can attach your brand to that information, then you can increase the relevancy of your brand.

Trends in video use are also looking favorable for other online initiatives such as ads. The amount of advertisers using display ads on YouTube increased 10-fold in the last year. In February 2011, there were 3.8 million video ads, which averages about 30.2 ads per viewer and reached 42 percent of the total U.S. population.

Technology will continue to expand how video is used online. According to Advanced Internet Video, (3D and HD) will increase 23-fold between 2009 and 2014. Video will continue to grow in popularity as Internet-enabled devices become even more widespread. The use of video as a research tool for buying decisions is becoming more common. Showing people exactly how someone can use your product or service is going to be more important than a more traditional “promo” piece touting benefits and features.

At RGB Imaging, we have found that one of the most valuable ways we can support our clients is by keeping up with the technology we will need to meet their marketing needs. We know, for example, that live video space is still untapped by even the largest brands. Distributing video and photo content in real time is going to separate those businesses that are relevant from those that are not.

Eric Wickham is owner of RGB Imaging, which recently moved to a new studio and corporate offices in Virginia Beach. He can be reached at 491-7676.

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