If you haven’t heard of vlogs, chances are your competitors have – but don’t worry, this is your chance to jump on the bandwagon of this increasingly popular trend. A vlog is user-generated content that populates video sites such as YouTube or Vimeo; it is a form of blog for which the medium is video (hence the name). Vlogs are created by taking a video of yourself or an event, editing it, and posting it online in a blog post or directly on video-hosting pages. Entries often combine different elements, such as embedded video or a video link, supporting images, text and other metadata.
That’s all well and good, but how does this apply to you and your business? Companies that resist embracing and expanding into the digital are being left behind in the race for online exposure. Having active social media accounts is not enough if you want to be the leader of the pack; it is blogging and vlogging that will provide you with a definite competitive edge and a chance to tell your story, create a human-friendly brand, offer a personal level of interaction and help establish you as a thought leader and influencer.
In this post you will find useful information on some of the benefits of vlogging for your business, possible strategies and what to avoid when making videos, a simple how-to guide to get you started, and a few power examples to kick-start your vlogging with a dash of invigorating inspiration.
Benefits for your business
Create a personal connection with your customers and clients
No matter what you sell or do – be it office stationery, handmade jewellery or website design services – you probably want to create an aura of trustworthiness and approachability around your brand, especially if you run a small or medium enterprise where the majority of business comes through referral. You can easily do that by producing short vlogs discussing your ideas, providing comment on recent events, or answering questions of your customers and followers. Vlogs complement blogs by creating a strong connection between you and the visitor, putting a face to the name on the person they’ve been reading; your readers begin to feel like they know you, which in turn increases their loyalty and commitment.
Improve your brand
We’re surrounded by digital noise; exposed daily to scores of pixels and texts, we become desensitised and exhausted, passively scrolling through the pages to find something of value. How do you ensure you cut through all this dizzying noise and your company stands out above the rest?
See also our blog about calm technology
When opting out is not an option, one way forward is to grab the bull by the horns and invest time in creating interesting vlogs that will create an identity, evolve your brand and encourage a sense of attachment. Vlogging, when done right, can vastly contribute to increasing and strengthening of your online presence.
SEO ranking (build traffic)
Good news: vlogging is just the medicine your SEO doctor prescribes to get your website ranked higher in search engines. Unsurprisingly, video is the type of content most shared online – it’s easy to digest and takes much less time than reading an article. Videos go viral through sharing. Just one ‘share’ on Facebook can grow exponentially to thousands of views.
See also our blog about visualising content sharing on Facebook
This enhances traffic to your website, which in turn leads to more shares of your content, and so on. This self-perpetuating cycle is bound to translate neatly into a greater exposure, and, consequently, better sales. Another strategy that many brands employ successfully is to create hybrid posts, consisting of text and video, to simultaneously appeal to two types of recipients: the ‘auditory’ and ‘visual’
As much as we would love to tell you exactly what to do to create a successful vlog, we can’t, as every company is different, every audience has different needs and every vlog artist has a different set of strengths. But there are a few pointers we can offer to help you avoid the most common mistakes.
Short is the word
With the average time spent looking at a page being 15 seconds, you have to learn to make an impact fast. Be concise and to the point, don’t forget you’re competing for attention with thousands of entertainment pages so to make your video short and sweet, take the length you intuitively think your video should be, and cut by two thirds.
Who is your audience?
The best way to approach a vlog is by thinking of what your ideal or actual audience might enjoy. If you’re not sure who your audience is or you want to experiment with different types of content, the safest option is to create a short emotional journey, something unforgettable that will leave the viewers wanting more.
A good video can be summed up in a single sentence
That sentence should consist of a noun, a verb and a result. If you struggle to summarise yours, chances are it’s too unfocused and the audiences might find it confusing.
Instant killers: bad photography, bad audio, bad lighting
A video is only as good as its audio, the saying goes – so don’t forget to make sure your audio is impeccable. Record in complete science (when possible), speak clearly, add good quality music soundtrack. And remember to face the source of light when facing the camera.
Humour always works
Humour is what makes the internet go round. It’s enjoyable, contagious, and most importantly, sharable. And there are many kinds to choose from: slapstick, satire, farce, situationist, even self-deprecating if that’s what you want… The vlog is your oyster.
How to make a vlog
Now you have considered all the points carefully, contemplated your audience’s needs and come up with an exceptional topic to develop in your vlog, you must be thinking: how do I do it? There are a few different ways to achieve this goal; here we will focus on two most commonly used vlogging modes: video and video-less animated screen captures.
Conventional vlog videos are the most common content on sites like Youtube and Vimeo. They consist of a person or a group speaking to a camera. The idea is simple, but it requires someone who feels comfortable being filmed. If you’re happy to try it out, this is what you’ll need:
- A microphone (compatible with your computer)
- A webcam
- A well-lit room with a low density of background noise
Once this list is checked, you will need to:
- Research your topic
- Record your vlog
- Upload it to Youtube/Vimeo/straight to your blog hosting site
- Get the embedding code of your uploaded video to insert into the HTML part of your website/blog post
- Create a new blog post and paste the HTML code into it alongside any accompanying text
- Publish your new post, test it, and…
- Share it via social media!
Video-less recording tools
If videos are not for you, you can still benefit from vlogs with the help of software such as Screencast-O-Matic and YouTube MP3 Podcaster that offer an interesting departure from convention.
Screencast-O-Matic is a program that will let you make your first video without owning a camera. It works by capturing activity on your screen. It constitutes a great alternative to ‘how-to’ posts, because instead of reading instructions your readers can just watch and learn. This tool can be also utilised for expert interviews when used with Skype.
YouTube MP3 Podcaster is a fantastic Firefox add-on for the creative-minded – when installed, it will let you download content straight from YouTube (giving you the choice of quality: HD or not, or an option to only download the audio in mp3 format) that you will be then able to edit into your vlog as an illustration of your points, as a commentary or purely for fun, among other things.
Examples & Summary
Many companies still shy away from vlogging and don’t take it seriously (yet), but there are the pioneering few who boldly lead the way and show us how it’s done.
One of the most famous and successful video blogs is ‘Will it blend?’ starring Blendtec founder Tom Dickson. The series of humorous vlogs, where Dickson is shown sticking various unusual items (including high-end gadgets such as iPhones and camcorders) in the company’s flagship blender and proceeding to demonstrate that indeed, the blender is capable of blending almost anything, has helped to turn a domestic appliance into an internet sensation.
Shama.TV offers a no-frills vlog collection presented by Shama Kabani, founder and president of the Marketing Zen Group, in which she shares the company’s news, hands out concise and practical marketing tips and discusses issues relating to the digital.
Finally, Wine Library TV completes our selection of notable examples of business vlogging. No-nonsense business guru Gary Vaynerchuk in his videos talks at length about wine, marketing and his life passions. Vlogging since 2006, he has managed to create a vibrant community around himself who he endearingly calls ‘the Vayniacs’.