Yes. And no. It depends. In this article I’m going to do my best to outline in what situations video(s) would be beneficial for a small business, and when you can take a pass.
When many people think about online videos for business they think about viral ad campaigns or those skippable things that precede your enjoyment of YouTube. But if that’s where your ideas for videos end, you’re missing out. While a lot of online content is silly and irreverent, you can use short videos on your website to show off your products, introduce your team, and help educate your customers (not necessarily to the exclusion of being silly, though). The idea is that you give what you can – that’s what the internet is about, engaging and sharing. Creating a group of loyal, repeat customers by becoming more than just a business in the eyes of your community will boost your stature and can help you stabilize your cash flow.
There are a few different styles of online videos that are most useful for business. While the application of video is as limitless as the numbers of them that appear on the web, most fit into one of these categories:
-Long form fixed-length: These videos are more like movies than advertisements, usually. Any time you publish a video that is over 2-3 minutes long, it needs to have some element of story or narrative that keeps the viewer engaged enough to watch to the end. Such long form videos might be a detailed look into the manufacturing process of one of your products or it might be a documentary-style story of how your company’s services or charity work has impacted someone else’s life. In order to be most effective, these videos should either provide something of value or utility to a customer (i.e. a tutorial on using your products), or they convey an emotional scenario or story. They will usually not be the first videos a potential customer or client will see, but on rare occasions a well-made long form video will go viral.
-Short form fixed length: Short form videos are more like ads. We usually produce them in the 30 second to 2 minute range, and they can show off all manner of different content. You can treat them more like a TV commercial spot, where your products and/or services get a quick overview. They can also show off a performance, functioning as a sort of “trailer” for a concert, dance show, or theatrical piece. Or you can use them in place of a blog post, where you provide a quick update on camera and cut in some other interesting shots. Short form videos are a good starting place for many businesses looking to reach new customers, since the time investment to both make them and watch them is not too high.
-Short form looping, ultra-short, and social media: As more social media platforms become video-capable, businesses and advertisers are realizing the benefits of creating custom content to fit the way users share media on those platforms. In some cases, producing videos for Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and Facebook is as simple as it is for an individual user: point your phone at something relevant to your business or group (a rehearsal, demonstrating a product at a craft fair, one of your employees dancing around the office like a loveable lunatic) and share it. In other cases, these videos can be crafted a little more finely by using a computer to edit a video from different sources – one of our local breweries in BC, Steel & Oak Brewing, uses old concert footage cut in with shots of their beer to create wonderful Instagram videos. This technique also gives you more control over the audio in the final product. But since these videos will almost never be viewed on a screen larger than a few inches wide, it is important to be bold – don’t get bogged down in the details. Ultra-short videos follow the same sort of rules. They are usually under 15 seconds and are comprised of only one or two shots. These videos are usually used as a part of some larger campaign as they typically only provide enough information for a viewer to get a brief taste of what you’re all about.
Your business or organization might be able to use one, two, or all of these types of videos, and the extent to which you use them can vary according to your current goals and campaigns. For example, a new business may do well for a time with a brief introductory video, but may find a long-form video useful as client feedback comes in. One thing is sure, though, and that is that the world is becoming more of a “viewing culture”, and people expect to be able to see, not just read, what you’re all about. In some cases photographs can suffice, but a video, since it has duration, is more likely to hold the viewer’s attention until the message is received. The average North American adult spends five and a half hours watching video content every day…you might as well make it yours!