More people are watching video than ever before online. According to Fast Company 62% of adult Internet users have watched a video online in 2009 with numbers doubling from two years before and continuing to increase rapidly in 2010. Even crazier, 89% of young adults are consuming online video.
And online goes WAY beyond just your computer. Mobile phones, tablet computers and now even TV’s themselves are jumping on the online video bandwagon.
The difference between the TV revolution back in the day and the online video revolution is simple: Control and gatekeepers. A few media companies aren’t in control of what content is created and gets eyeballs anymore. Anyone with a camera, idea and somewhere to post CAN make an online video. It doesn’t require a multi-million dollar budget and contracting Steven Spielberg. Now of course, this doesn’t mean everyone will be great at this. Maximizing online video takes a whole lot of creativity, drive and passion (plus practice)…but those are things you already possess. Contrast that with the things that used to matter (money, good looks to impress the gatekeepers, whatever) and the situation looks bright.
It allows people like me, a St. Louis-bred nutty entrepreneur to create a web show interviewing the most interesting, creative entrepreneurs in the world from my home office via Skype Video and growing the audience and community to over 100,000 big thinkers and a concrete business in less than two years. Is it because I’m some amazing superhuman (according to my dad…yes…)? No. Now everyone gets a shot. Maybe you want to create your own web show. Or a tips and tricks series. Or heck, do a video “About” page to spice up your website. The possibilities are only limited by imagination.
Over the past few years, I’ve made a ton of (expensive and inexpensive) mistakes, tried different things like a mad scientist and shot literally thousands of hours of videos.
Whether you want to dabble in online video or want to create an empire, here are a few misconceptions you can kick in the face before you get going:
1. “Your video(s) have to be short.”
I get it. According to all kinds of data, videos under three minutes are watched more than those over three minutes. Fantastic. BUT, don’t count out long form video just because it is long.
Boring videos or out-of-context videos aren’t watched not because of length, but because they suck. There is no reason to shy away from longer engaging videos, online shows, interviews and more.
Gary Vaynerchuk has created over 900 episodes of Wine Library TV averaging about 20 minutes length.
Amber MacArthur has created over 200 episode of CommandN TV averaging about 15 minutes length.
My show, varies between 20-35 minutes in length.
TED Talks are 18 minutes in length and have been viewed literally millions (millions!) of times.
Are people more ADD than ever before with more options than you could shake 4345843868 sticks at? Sure. But, good content is good content and will be watched regardless if it is 30 seconds or 30 minutes.
2. “You have to be really tech savvy to master online video.”
Even five years ago this would have been absolutely true. Because it WAS complicated. Now it is painlessly easy.
Does it take a little practice to get the tools down? Sure. Of course it does. But, if you can point and click, that is about all you need to get this going.
Now there are pocket cameras and phones that allow for one click shooting (and web cams).
Now there are video sharing sites where you can upload your videos with a click of the mouse (examples: Vimeo, Blip.TV, Viddler, Widget Realm)
Now (if you choose to edit) there are simple, simple, simple programs such FORscene and many cameras even have built in mini-editors.
Technology is not a barrier. It is an opportunity.
Sure, you can scale up over time and use fancier stuff if you choose. But, there are enough DIY tools to get you going even if you don’t know the difference between a megabyte and a spider bite.
3. “If it isn’t professional, it will hurt your brand.”
First of all, what the HECK does that mean? Does it mean someone really wanted to like you and then watched your video where your cat accidentally walked across the screen and then decided you were untrustworthy and unprofessional?
In fact, I would argue the complete opposite. When something unexpected happens or the video isn’t perfect, it actually shows you are a human (how about that?!) and will create a BETTER connection with the audience. This is the era of authenticity as opposed to perfection. Too perfect of a video screams scripted, forced and corporate. Probably three words you don’t want to be associated with your videos (unless you do…in that case, you are weird).
We are in the midst of the rise of authentic, transparent video. Stuff that is real (also called casual video by Steve Garfield and David Meerman Scott). Even big brands are hopping on the authentic video train such as Chevy (http://chevrolet.posterous.com/)
My advice? Worry less about what it SHOULD look like and sound like and instead just be you. We all love you. Trust me.
4. “You have to be “really good” to be on camera.”
What the does that really mean? Does it mean that you have to have years of practice? A degree in talking head-ism? Look a certain way? Act a certain way? Is it something you are born with?
Anything that is for everyone, is really for no one. But, I bet if you are passionate about something, then online video is for you. Because the best videos breed off excitement and energy.
If you can’t get excited about creating videos on the subject of your choice, then it probably isn’t for you…and that is OK.
BUT, the key here is trying and practice. Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be intimidated by folks who have been at it for a long time. Think about how inexpensive it is to try things and practice today. You can shoot it, look at it and then decide if you want to put it up. No massive studio costs or other overhead. And you can experiment with a green vile of goo and everything. Meaning, if you put something up and it doesn’t work out so well…oh well..you learned something. And the video police don’t come and arrest you.
The first time I was on camera, I was terrible. I was spray tanned and had all kinds of gel in my air. Plus I was stiff as a board. But, I kept at it. Kept improving. Kept trying new things. And at some point, you reach the tipping point of being comfortable.
You can get there with practice.
5. “You need a green screen!”
Nothing against green screens (as they have never personally harmed me or my family), but the short response to this is “no you don’t.”
When you use a green screen (which is a screen that is blue or green where with editing you can change the background to make it look like you are surfing in Hawaii or whatever) you are setting expectations. The expectations are:
-This video is going to be professional.
-This video is going to be scripted.
-This video is going to be “perfect.”
If those are the three things you are going for, then by all means go for it. But, if you want to maximize this opportunity to be transparent and authentic, skip the screen. Go outside. Use your office. Keep it ridiculously real. Your audience will thank you.
Wrapping It Up:
Whether you are an entrepreneur, freelancer, small business or even a big brand trying to be entrepreneurial, now is the time to seize your video landscape.
Give it a shot. What is the worst thing that could happen?
David Siteman Garland is the Founder of The Rise To The Top, The #1 Non-Boring Resource For Building Your Business Smarter, Faster, Cheaper. He hosts RISE, a web show for entrepreneurs featuring unique interviews and advice, and The Rise To The Top TV show on ABC. He is the upcoming author of Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business (Wiley 2010) now available for pre-order.
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Category: Startup Advice