Since I began teaching technology courses at Institute, I have reviewed and assessed hundreds of associations’ web sites, including chambers, CVB’s and trade associations. During my review, I evaluate web site features, functionality and design. To date, 23 percent of all companies who have had a staff member take IOM courses incorporate some type of video into their sites. This percentage should and can be higher. Web video is unquestionably effective and affordable but is often overlooked due to time, perceived cost and/or having a clear strategic purpose. Here I address some quick facts on video usage, common reasons I have heard for not integrating videos, some potential strategic directions and quick tips to get you started.
Job one for mission driven organizations is to create an effective and engaged membership. Web video is unique as a medium to communicate and connect, in that it combines the best aspects of television (sight, motion and sound) with the fourth dimension of the internet, interactivity. Interactivity has been shown to increase engagement with a given audience and thereby build a higher degree of connectivity to a particular brand or organization.
Web video has grown exponentially over the last few years. Here are a few statistics:
- 172 million U.S. viewers watched an average of 14.6 hours of video each week.
- *Over 40 percent of consumers watch online videos on a weekly basis – Over 70 percent watch monthly.
- YouTube serves over 1 billion videos per day.
- YouTube (owned by Google) is expected to hit $2 billion in ad revenue during 2011.
- Viral video marketing campaigns increase click through rates by 750 percent.
*Source: SiteProNews October 7, 2011, Marketingexperiments.com Nov 2006
The bottom line, according to Web Marketer Diana Huff, is this, “video, when done right, shows your prospects and customers that your company has some personality. After all, it’s run by people . . . and people do business with people they know and trust – not buildings” Editor’s note: This comment in particular is amusing to me, as I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen pictures of “buildings” –an association’s headquarters – presented as a main visual on a web home page.
Some common excuses…
- Cost: Video production is too expensive. With the rise of YouTube and other video sharing sites, the bar for production has come way down. It is not necessary to hire a company to shoot simple videos. For an investment of less than $1200 (camera, microphone and basic editing software), an “in-house” video production solution can be deployed inside your organization. Movie Plus and Correl Video Studio are examples of editing software for under $100. For a complete list and system requirements, check out the comparison in Wikipedia http://tinyurl.com/6sloaxn. Videos of three minute or less are fairly simple to shoot and edit, especially if you have a staff resource with an interest or background in creating video.
- Time: All of my staff is tasked to the max. If you have time to update your web site, send out invoices and/or organize a mixer, you have the time to communicate with video. Testimonials can be shot at mixers simply by creating a quiet space and pulling members out one by one and shooting a couple of minutes with simple scripted questions. If you have a staff member with an interest, assign them to develop the video program.
- Complexity of integration: I run an association not an IT department. Once upon a time adding flash video to a web site was a cumbersome process. But the rise of video sharing sites like YouTube allows any company to create a YouTube channel and link it to their home page using an embedded link. For a more personal integration, very inexpensive software is available that can embed code into your website for a “do it yourself” approach. Finally, many association software systems specialize in and have a video feature built in to their platforms.
Four strategic approaches to web video
1. Testimonials: Can anyone doubt the power of a good testimonial? The new distribution that the web provides for content in our society makes the concept of “word of mouth” (once immeasurable) now measurable and in some cases monetized. The Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce is an excellent example of the use of testimonials on their own OKC.TV channel. http://tinyurl.com/85ow6bq
2. Promotion: Plug an event, hype a mixer, show clips from the annual lunch/dinner (check out this link from the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce and a famous “alum” http://vimeo.com/30383951 ). Remember, people like to look and listen to people. Better to have a video with a personal invitation than a static “web link”.
3. Education: This is a very common use of video with associations. Many organizations have provided some form of training and/or continuing education for years as a core function of their mission. If you have a large library of content in older formats (VHS or beta), it can be quickly and inexpensively converted to digital format and uploaded onto your site. Best practice in this area is to create a special library section for training and education linked by a tab off of your main navigation.
4. Advocacy: Instead of providing a scorecard of advocacy wins and losses, why not film your CEO detailing those same wins and losses? If you have had success with a particular community project (e.g. graffiti abatement), make a before and after video to show that success. Create a video with your point of view on a particular issue, and feature it prominently on your site home page
Six quick tips to add video to your site
1. Use a video sharing service. The days of building an embedded flash player into your site are long over. An additional benefit of using a video sharing service is it will increase your search rankings. According to Google, their search algorithm takes into consideration the total number of views; that includes all views on You Tube as well as all views from your site. For of the most popular video sharing sites are:
- You Tube: Free and the best known. Customize your brand with your own YouTube channel . Add your logos, colors and other customized brand communication elements.
- Viddler: Free. Load up to 500 MB at a time (store up to 2 GB a month). If you sign up for partnership account, you get ads on your site but the storage and bandwidth restrictions are lifted.
- Daily Motion: Free. Load videos up to 1 GB in size.
- Vimeo: Free for 500 MB per video per week. Plus members receive 5 GB per week for uploads for a $60 per year membership. Vimeo offers the ability to place your video into “groups,” which allows for additional exposure for your content.
2. Location, location, location: If you incorporate video in your web site, remember to give it prominent placement on your home page. This can be done using a video box or picture link. A video box appears as a screen with the first frame of your video set to play. If you cannot devote the space for a box, use a link in your upper navigation or a still picture from your video that can link to your video sharing site. Try to place your box or link squarely in the center of the home page, “above the fold” (think newspaper fold…when you open a web site, everything you can see on your screen, without scrolling, is considered “above the fold”).
3. Create a video library on your site. Doing so will allow Google to know where to find your video content. You can further increase your search rankings in your video library if you add keyword-rich annotations for each video. For additional information, check out Google Video Sitemaps.
4. Make your video “international”: If your association is composed of members who speak multiple languages, you can customize your video using subtitles. Auto Gordian Knot is free and can be found here http://tinyurl.com/au4lg.
5. Insert keywords into your video filenames. A simple way to do this is to write keywords into your videos’ titles, descriptions and tags. Instead of titling a video “March Mixer,” use “Green Bay Chamber of Commerce March 2011 mixer at (location name)”. The more information you provide, the better your search rankings will be in Google.
6. Keep it short: Users prefer short formats of 1-3 minutes. Exceptions are for training and professional education.
Bottom line: Incorporating a web video can make your site work harder to meet your mission goals by allowing you to connect better with your members and share your message to a broader audience.