Saturday, January 25, 2014

Video blogging tips for marketing your small business

video blogging for small businessIf you run a small business, then you're probably always on the look-out for new ideas and marketing tips that will help give more exposure to your business - but at the same time won't break the budget!

Well, maybe you should think about video blogging, or "Vlogging" (as it's sometimes referred to), if you're not already doing it. This can be a great way for you to personalise your message and begin to build a connection with your potential customers. You'll see some examples of video posting further down in this article.

  • Add video to your blog
People like to know who they're doing business with - so video blogging can allow you to present yourself and your story to your target group. Your viewers get to see the passion and conviction you have when you speak about your topic.

Many small business owners have already learned about the importance of a blog to support their business website. A blog that is reasonably regularly updated with fresh, original and relevant content is said to transmit important "SEO juice" to the website it's linked with.

Blog posts that comprise just text can be a little bland, so you add some imagery. But when you also supplement  your content further with some relevant video, then you are offering your reader an even more interesting and rewarding experience. Particularly when the video has an informative focus to it - as opposed to just being a commercial for your business. When you provide useful content in your videos, you come to be seen as an authoritative source and a visitor will more likely become a follower and return to your site when your next post is done.

Studies have revealed that visitors remain more than three times longer on a blog when it has video, compared to when it does not. You can make videos that are informative - or you can make a simple promotional video of an animated nature, which can be entertaining in its appeal. See what you think of this one for example .....

  • Keep it simple when you start out
Adding video to a post on your blog can be as simple and easy as recording yourself on the web-cam of your computer - and then uploading it for hosting at YouTube ........ No cost, and maybe just a couple of hours of your time.

Sure, it can take longer if you want to include some fancy graphics - but when you're getting started, it's often best to keep things simple and build your confidence by acquiring some experience. Then as your capability grows through increased familiarity with the medium, you can start getting into some of the more complex and admittedly more visually appealing functionalities of the medium.

There is no doubt that an increasing number of businesses are incorporating video clips on their websites as well as their blogs. They know that video helps engage and maintain the attention of site visitors. And the longer a visitor is on your site, the more likely they will take action. Either a sale or an enquiry or a subscription to your newsletter or signing up to your email list.

  • It doesn't have to be "perfect"
OK, there are probably some small business owners reading this who may be thinking that they don't have any "camera appeal" and so are very reluctant to consider recording themselves on a video and adding it to the blog  of the business........ But I think that would be a bit like how many teenage girls look in the mirror and don't like their appearance. They can be way, way too self-critical and harsh in their self-appraisal! (hey, for those of you with teenage daughters, you know what I mean here).

If you're worried that your first few goes at this may "damage your brand" - there's no reason why you can't just leave the video hosted at YouTube without necessarily embedding it into your blog or website. You can ask some friends and customers to look at the video and give you some feedback on it. Then learn from the experience and try recording some more video, whether it's on the same topic but from a different angle, or on a different topic.

  • Like so many things, gaining more experience will help
You WILL get better, so don't worry if it's not perfect and you feel like you suck at it. You might even feel like you've got some stage-fright and you lose your fluency when you sit in front of the camera and start recording yourself speaking the first few times - but this discomfort will eventually pass.

Hey, even if you upload the video and publish it on YouTube, you can always  delete it from your channel if you later decide that you don't like it.

With more experience, your video presence will improve and your delivery become more natural in front of the camera. I believe you will find that video blogging can become a powerful marketing tool for your small business.

I have about 20 different blogs and websites, most of which have video clips embedded. Also, your video clip may actually generate traffic to your website from people who are using YouTube as a search engine ..... Did you know that YouTube is the second most frequently used search engine, behind Google and ahead of Bing and Yahoo.

  • Optimise and customise your video, in the same way you do your blog
When you have uploaded your video to YouTube, you will be prompted to give it a title and to provide a brief description ........ Think carefully here about the "keywords" you want your video to be found for, and make sure the description is properly optimised by including these keywords - but also making it sound interesting too! Ensure that you include a link back to your website within the video description. You can either simply leave your video on YouTube, or if you want to also embed it in your blog, then there will be a "sharing" code that you need to copy and then paste to your blog.

For those of you who intend to embed your video in a post of your blog, look for the customising options that YouTube give you. Select a size for the video that will fit nicely into your blog frame. Another customising option you are offered is to de-select other videos from appearing at the end of your video. Select your preferred customisation options before you cut and paste the code.

  • Use your own natural communication style
Different people when they are video blogging, of course deliver their message in different ways.  Some are quite energetic, others are humorous and others are quite intense. There is no single communication style that video bloggers must adopt - what is most important is that the style that you use is natural. Just be yourself - speaking in a natural way when you record your message. After all, if your customers actually meet you in person at some point, they will probably want to be dealing with the type of personality that appeared in the video and with whom they connect with.

Here's a short video clip that offers some really useful video blogging tips for the beginner. Although I don't know the speaker, he projects a low-key, authentic  style - and gets some helpful points across quite clearly. Personally, I think he has represented his business in a professional way. One of the tips is to be yourself when you record your message.

  • Promotional videos
Video blogs tends to be more of an informative nature, in which the blog author is usually the speaker in the video. But you might also choose to produce more of a promotional type of video to help introduce your business, blog or your website. Again, this doesn't necessarily have to be too expensive to do.

Here's an example of a video clip that I had produced a while ago through Fiverr that cost me around $20 to make - which also included a professional presenter. This particular video was a promotional one, with the title and description optimised for YouTube. It has been moderately successful in directing some traffic directly from YouTube to this blog ...... And yes, I know - this is an Australian blog and yet the speaker has an American accent - I didn't say it was an ideal example

  • One of my own video blogs
The following example is provided as a contrast to the promotional video. This is a video clip that does feature me as the speaker - produced on my laptop at no cost. The topic was "Time Management Tips for Small Business" and was aimed more at being informative rather than promoting my business. And by the way, the post which featured this particular video - on this Australia Small Business blog  - is one of the most highly visited posts on the site.

  • Do-it-yourself video - or get a professional to do it?
One last thought. In this post, I've tended to focus on the simple DIY video - but you might want to consider having the video professionally made. Yes, it will cost you at least a few hundred dollars - but if you're going to have it on your website for a long time, as opposed to a post appearing on your blog for a shorter time - then it may be worth the extra investment.

So I will include a video clip below - it's only around one minute duration, that does explore this issue. But the video also nicely illustrates how the speaker has developed something that is informational and educational for the viewer - and yet uses a soft-sell to promote her own video production business

About the author Brian Carroll is the founder of a management training company Performance Development, based in Melbourne, Australia.  He is a qualified psychologist, experienced leadership coach and an engaging presenter, with a passion for helping people develop their full capabilities. He regularly delivers leadership courses in Melbourne