How to Produce a Web Video That People Will Actually Watch

by Tim Parker

3 min read

Posting video content online to promote your small business is fast becoming a marketing necessity. But if you don’t understand your customers’ needs and behaviors, your efforts may reap very few benefits — and leave you wondering what went wrong.

Companies of all sizes are increasingly using Viddy to create 15-second videos that resemble tweets. Others rely on YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-sharing sites. However, just because you shoot videos — and post them on popular sites — doesn’t guarantee that anyone will watch them.

Whenever possible, hire a professional to produce quality video for your business. If you can’t afford that, or your strategy is Viddy-only, there are various inexpensive tools available.

Or, if you plan to produce many videos, have an eye and ear for production, and want to make video marketing a large part of your strategy, invest in a higher grade of equipment. You’ll quickly make that money back.

Either way, here are eight simple rules to follow to keep audiences from clicking away from your videos:

1. Use high-quality equipment. Regardless of your editing skills, low-quality footage will always look low quality. Start with high-quality originals for the best results. To this end, invest in a camcorder; don’t try to shoot professional videos with a smartphone.

2. Lose the “cool” effects. Your goal is to keep video file sizes small without losing quality. Zooms, pans, and other effects add to the file size and don’t compress well. Avoid the single-camera shot by setting up multiple cameras and switching (not fading) between closer and wider shots. Remember, the longer your audience waits for the video to load, the less likely they are to watch it.

3. Keep the background simple. Simple, solid colors look great. Patterns or graphics might look good depending on the quality of your equipment and the resolution of your video, but it’s best not to take the chance. Eliminate the risk of a blurry or distorted background by keeping your background simple.

4. Let there be light! And lots of it. Light creates contrast, and contrast is vitally important in a video viewed on a small screen (think cell phone). Use the three point lighting system as your guide.

5. Make simple edits. You took the advice above and didn’t shoot the video with pans or zooms. Don’t go crazy on the special effects — including fade-outs and other transitions — during the editing process. It’s easy to add all kinds of bells and whistles with today’s video editing software, but adding too much becomes distracting. In the creative process, less is more.

6. Shun low-quality editing software. There are plenty of inexpensive options for editing video, but a cheap or free app isn’t going to produce a professional product. Software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X is a great investment if you plan to produce web videos on an ongoing basis.

7. Compress your videos. The professional software packages noted in #6 offer many compression formats, but which do you choose? Compress your video to a web-friendly format. The most widely used is H.264, but others are coming to market. Check the guidelines of the site where you plan to post your video before you delve to far into the topic. (Want to learn more about compression? Vimeo offers a great tutorial.)

8. Split up long videos. If your video is long, split it into two or more files. Even better, keep it as short as possible. One study concluded that keeping web videos below four minutes is best. If a scene is unnecessary or off point, take it out.

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