Earlier this year, I wrote about the top marketing predictions for 2015, and one of them was that marketing would leverage more videos than ever. Looking back over the last several months, it looks like this one is coming true: Just look at some of the fun, creative ways GE, Warby Parker, and Marie Forleo are incorporating videos into their marketing.
As a marketer, an entrepreneur, or even a job seeker, you may love the idea of using videos to connect with your audience—but without the resources and expertise of those more established brands, you may be overwhelmed trying to wrap your head around how to get it all done or even where to begin.
I caught up with my friend and video expert Casey Erin Wood to talk through how newbies should approach creating easy, authentic, shareable videos. Wood graduated from film school and worked in the film industry for 10 years before launching her own business, where she now helps women entrepreneurs create businesses and lives full of passion and purpose. Here’s what she told me.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people make with videos?
I see people make two mistakes pretty often. The first is that when people decide to make a video, they hit the record button and just start talking. I think video is one of the best ways to connect to your audience and potential customers, but you have to know what your big idea is first.
Your big idea is the message you want to communicate. What do you want your audience to know? I suggest you spend some time brainstorming all the ideas and messages you could focus on, and then narrow it down to the ripest, juiciest one. Once you do that, it’s much easier to structure your video in a way that hooks people, keeps them engaged, and inspires them to take action.
The second mistake I see is people reading scripts. Scripts are great for planning, but on the day you record the video, you need to ditch them. You want to be familiar enough with your message that you can speak from your heart. That’s the best way to connect with your tribe, because they want to see you—your quirks, personality, and all—not a talking head reading a script. One of the modules of my video program is something I call “show up and shine,” which is all about getting comfortable with being your most authentic, real self on camera.
In your experience, what piece of the video-making process should a newbie spend the most time on?
Definitely planning! It will save you so much time both when you’re shooting and during the editing process.
In the film industry, we call the planning process “pre-production;” it’s when you sort out all the details: Where are you going to shoot? What equipment are you going to use? How are you going to translate your script into a compelling visual message?
That’s also the time when you test all of your equipment and systems to make sure they are good to go on the day of the shoot.
I know there are a lot of people out there who are intimidated by the editing process. How can they make that part of the video process easier?
The biggest gift you can give yourself when it comes to editing is to learn to “shoot for the edit”—which simply means planning your shots in a way that takes the editing process into account. For example, shooting each scene a couple times from a few different angles will give you more options when you’re editing.
Another trick is to give yourself “space” around each take—after you hit record, wait a few seconds before you begin speaking and at the end of each take so you have some extra editing wiggle room.
What are your favorite video-making tools and software?
I’m a Mac girl, so some of my favorites are Mac-based. I love iMovie for editing—it’s really easy and integrates with all of the media on my computer.
Screenflow is great for capturing your computer screen and does double duty as editing software (alternatively, in the Windows world, you can use Camtasia).
I love making fun graphics for my videos with Canva, cloud-based design software that’s really easy to use and has tons of free options.
For hosting videos, you just can’t beat YouTube. It’s the second largest search engine in the world, so if you’re looking for big reach, that’s the place to be. But for videos that you are going to showcase or embed elsewhere—like on your own website or as part of an online course—then I love Vimeo. I think the aesthetic is so much cleaner and more appealing.
Any video best practices to keep in mind?
I have three. The first is to keep it short and sweet. Less than three minutes is a good rule of thumb for most videos (which is why you need to be really clear on your big idea).
Second: Hook ’em early and get to the point—fast. People want to know what your video is about right away. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, you can spend the rest of the video reinforcing your message and sharing more information.
And the last one is to always include a call to action, even if it’s a simple as an invitation to visit your website to learn more. Don’t waste the opportunity to encourage your audience make a connection with you.
What is your number one piece of advice for anyone looking to create videos for their brand, company, or business?
Decide your intention for your video by asking yourself, “Why am I making this?” Is it to connect with your community in a new way? Is it to tease an upcoming program? This will help you focus on who you are speaking toand why. I even suggest writing your intention out and posting it where you will see it throughout the project.
When you stay connected to your intention, you’ll be able to create from your heart and come across as your most authentic self—which is what will connect you to your community. My motto for making videos is “It’s about connecting, not perfecting.”