Yes, you can create video content: Busting video myths

Video content is a marketing conundrum.

People love watching video. It’s content gold, but it’s a marketing challenge. Some marketers are hesitant to use it because video content creation is often misunderstood.

Today I want to set the record straight on video. Anyone can create an effective video, and it’s easier than you may think. Let’s bust some video myths:

Myth #1: I don’t know if my audience is interested in video

They are and I have the stats to prove it:

Instagram's tools allow you to edit your video's length. And yes, this is a video of my cat :)

Instagram’s tools allow you to edit your video’s length. And yes, this is a video of my cat :)

Myth #2: You need fancy, expensive equipment to create a video

Nope. If you have a smartphone, that’s all you need – no high-end video equipment, no expensive video editing software. What counts here is the content. Your video has to be interesting, engaging and useful for your audience.

And there are plenty of free video apps like Vine and Instagram. When Instagram recently added video, it included features that allow you to edit for length, change colors with filters, and pick your own cover image.

Myth #3: I need to spend a lot of time creating a long video that includes a lot of information

No you don’t. In fact, please don’t. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve worked on over the years for organizations that insist on long videos built to satisfy the needs of their internal organizations (bosses, board of directors, etc.). Your audience will not watch them because they were not built for them. They were built for the hierarchy of your internal organization. The only views they get are from the meeting or event the video was built for, and that’s it. A few years ago, I worked on projects that involved spending hours of dividing videos of long speeches into multiple parts of YouTube sized chunks. No one clicked on them.

Just because YouTube allows you to upload 15-minute-long videos doesn’t mean that you should. People have short attention spans. You’ll lose 10% of your viewers within the first 10 seconds.

So how long should your YouTube video be? The average I’ve seen on marketing blogs is between 2 and 3 minutes. Try testing different lengths. YouTube’s analytics will give you stats on the average time people spend on your videos, and at which point your viewers drop off.

Myth #4: Written content is better for my SEO

You absolutely need written content but video will drive visitors to your website, blog and other digital assets. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google – which owns YouTube. And 70% of search results are videos. So the more video content you have, the more likely it will be found in a search.

What’s holding you back now?

Hopefully nothing. Grab your smartphone and start shooting video! Got video questions or myths you want to be busted? Let me know in the comments.

Why mobile marketing is no longer optional

This is a guest post from my fellow marketer, friend and all-around fabulous person Heidi Tobias. If you don’t follow her on Twitter, do it now: @htoby.

By Heidi Tobias

Hand Tapping iPhoneIf I could see you right now, about half of you would be reading this on a mobile device (be it smartphone or tablet). One year from now, if I ask this same question, the results would be the majority of you would be viewing this via mobile. In your own life, how many times did you access the Internet this week? How many of those times was it via a mobile device?

As marketer, I need to communicate what my audience wants the way they want it.  Have you checked that your marketing messages are showing up and are showing you in the best light in our mobile world?

What is your mobile grade in this situation?

Whether it’s an email, website, blog or social media post with a link for more information or a way to buy a product, clicking the link should load the information I want. Right? Nope. What launches is it a game of chance (not in my favor).

  • A web page loads that is not optimized for mobile so I can not see a bloody thing. I can spend some extra time zooming in to try and take an action but if my  spare 10 seconds of time is finished I have to move on. Mobile Marketing grade: B
  • The whole site/page is done is in Flash and will not run on my phone or tablet. When I see a blank white page, I am unsure if this is the issue or the whole site is down. Not sticking around to find out. See ya! Mobile Marketing grade: F
  • A site designed for mobile appears (yay!), but the information contained is so limited that it has nothing to do with the reason I clicked in the first place. Mobile Marketing grade: D
  • This company has invested in a mobile app and is asking me to download it, regardless what the link promised me. Installing takes time and space on my device that I may not care to give you. Mobile Marketing grade: C
  • This company has an app, and I have taken the time to previously install it on my mobile device. So when I click the link, the app should launch to the information that was related to the link? Nope. I get stuck in an endless cycle of being prompted to download the app that I already have. (This is you, LinkedIn!) Mobile Marketing: F

Reality: The majority of people interacting with you and your brand are doing it via mobile. There is no simple solution for mobile that works for everyone equally. Think about why people come to your online content and what they expect. Then pick the answer that fills the need. Remember: 89% of smartphone owners will take some kind of action after looking up local content. I do not know of any business that can afford to ignore 89% of their visitors, do you?

Is anybody checking in?

foursquare buttonsI recently celebrated my third anniversary with foursquare. Since 2009, I have checked in more than 3,700 times on 988 days. I have 64 badges, 21 mayorships, and 48 friends, and follow 54 businesses.

After seeing last week’s Pew Center for Internet and American Life report, Cell Phone Activities 2012,  I started to think “Why am I doing this?” Location-based apps/check ins were not among the report’s top 8 cell phone activities. Pew did a study back in May about mobile location-based services, and only 18% of smartphone owners use them. Crazy coincidence? 18 percent of my Facebook friends are on foursquare.

At first, it was about trying a new social media site. I loved the bragging rights for mayorships, and I was one of very few people using it in my area, so I had lots of mayorships. I loved getting the badges too, but I’m not earning too many these days.

So why am I still doing this?

A large part of it is the routine. I check in every – single – day. It starts with the elevator ride to my office – check in to work (I don’t have a foursquare location for my house because my husband would rather keep that private). As soon as I pull up to the parking lot of any of my destinations, I get out of the car, click my remote key thingy to lock it, and open up the foursquare app. When I was in London earlier this year, I bought an international data plan so I could check in (and use the Internet and other apps) – I scored lots of points and got a sweet London Calling badge. My friends who attended Boston’s Social Media Day with me over the summer hovered over a table of social media giveaways – we each walked away with a complete set of foursquare badge buttons.

I think the other part that keeps me going is the possibility of getting a discount. But those are few and far between too. The Gap’s occasionally had some foursquare coupons, and so has Newbury Comics (a funky CD store chain in New England). Lots of places have partnered with American Express to offer coupons or deals, but I don’t have an American Express card. I get more benefits from loyalty cards (especially Panera Bread, Sephora and DSW) than I have in 3 years of foursquare check-ins.

It seems like there hasn’t been enough interest to sustain an app like foursquare. Most businesses aren’t aware of it, and the ones who are haven’t been leveraging it to appeal to loyal customers. They’re relying on those loyalty programs that give them better access to customers, who have to provide the company itself with their valuable personal information in exchange for an account or card. Some of its functions can be completed with other apps that have the advantage of ubiquity and popularity – check ins with Facebook mobile, and reviews/tips with Yelp.

Is checking in worth it? Not for me, not lately. One day, I’m going to get to the office and decide to check my email on that elevator ride to work instead of checking in on foursquare. That day is coming soon.