You can run a video contest on Facebook as long as you comply with the site’s promotional guidelines.
Lots of customers will give you written testimonials; contact some of those customers and give them an incentive to put their testimonials into a video.
Be a leader in your industry by creating a place where your audience and stakeholders can post and view business videos for free.
Cheaper, easier, and faster
Selling and branding your product or company with video has become a necessity. Thankfully, it has also become much easier. While most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t have the budgeting resources of major brands, they really don’t need a huge budget to use video. Small business owners can build a brand or promote products quickly with web video by creating and uploading their own videos and taking advantage of user-generated content (UGC) in their video promotions.
YouTube is not only the most popular video search site; it has earned a place in national broadcast news. We’ve all seen a viral YouTube video on the evening news, right? ComScore reported in April that 174 million U.S. internet users watched online video content in March for an average of 14.8 hours per viewer, thereby engaging in more than 5.7 billion viewing sessions throughout the month.
Going beyond UGC videos, Americans viewed 4.3 billion video ads in March, with video ads reaching 43 percent of the total U.S. population an average of 33 times during the month. The latest trend is for big advertisers to move ad dollars from TV to web video, and you can get on the web video bandwagon too by creating web video on a budget.
In this article, we’ll discuss seven low-cost strategies for launching a robust video marketing program.
Consider the benefits of UGC on YouTube
A great low-budget tactic for SMBs to promote their companies and products is to use UGC in video promotions. It is easier than ever to create quality videos because UGC admins are offered through many of the video hosting providers, including Blinkx, Flickr, Vimeo, and YouTube, to name a few.
By using an iframe, the choice of player is determined by YouTube, which has an HTML5 player and a traditional Flash player for older browsers. When you host your videos on YouTube, you aren’t restricted to any specific file type, and you don’t have to encode your videos because YouTube does the transcoding for you. By hosting UGC video content on YouTube, you can:
- Increase brand awareness and SEO juice by hosting videos on your own company YouTube channel
- Save disk and bandwidth costs by hosting videos off your local web server
- Save CPU by no longer having to do video encoding
- Shorten development time without having to decide which video player to use on your site to support all browsers and video types
Run a UGC video contest
You can run a video contest on Facebook as long as you comply with the site’s promotional guidelines. You don’t have to be a Facebook advertiser to run a contest. However, any promotions administered on Facebook must be done through an application, and the app must comply with Facebook’s platform policies. To ensure you comply with these policies, you might want to use a third-party application such as Strutta or Wildfire.
If you run a contest on your Facebook brand page, note the list of do’s and don’ts below, which are quoted from Facebook’s promotional guidelines.
– You cannot: Condition entry in the promotion upon a user providing content on Facebook, such as posting on a Wall of a Page, uploading a photo, or posting a status update.
– You can: Use a third party application to condition entry to the promotion upon a user providing content to the application. For example, you may administer a photo contest whereby a user uploads a photo to a third-party application to enter the contest.
– You cannot: Administer a promotion that users automatically enter by liking your Page, checking in to your Place or connecting to your Platform integration.
– You can: Require entrants to like your Page, check in to your Place or connect to your Platform integration before they provide their full entry information, such as name and contact information.
– You cannot: Notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles or Pages.
– You can: Collect an email or address through the third-party application for the promotion in order to contact the winner by email or standard mail.
– You cannot: Instruct people (in the rules or elsewhere) to sign up for a Facebook account before they enter the promotion.
– You can: Instruct users to visit the third-party application to enter the promotion (as described in Section 184.108.40.206). Since users must have a Facebook account in order to access an application on the Facebook Platform, if you give this instruction, they will be prompted to sign up for a Facebook account if they do not already have one.”
Many of the contests you see on Facebook that require users to post on the brand’s wall or “like” the brand to win are in violation of Facebook’s guidelines. While Facebook can’t police every brand page, it might find a way to gain more control over its platform. So it’s best to conform to the site’s promotion guidelines.
You should also be aware there are certain legalities involved in establishing contest rules, and going with a third-party app provider for your promotion would help cover all the bases.
If your contest is on Facebook, you can administer it on Facebook or publicize it on Facebook and host it on another site. When you administer your promotion on Facebook, you use the Facebook platform to collect submissions, determine the winner, and notify the winner. When you publicize your contest on Facebook, you use your Facebook brand page and send status updates through Facebook, but host the contest on another site. If you publicize on Facebook, there are certain rules you must follow, including that the contest can only be open to individuals 18 years or older.
Use UGC videos to demonstrate product benefits
A great way to generate traffic and interest in your products is to invite your users to submit a UGC video showing how they use your product. Building a UGC area takes a little engineering work, but once it is done, the rewards are priceless. You own the content, you get the SEO attribution, and you increase your traffic. Building a YouTube-like admin is as easy as chiming into the application programming interface of Fliqz or VMIX, which both offer this service (see the section at the end of this article on hosting your videos).
Be creative as you invite your users to submit UGC videos demonstrating and using your products. Make it fun and allow people to vote for the best videos. Invite users to tell why they like your product or how they use it in unique ways. Encourage your customers to submit videos through email marketing or house banner ads on different pages within your site. You might even run a small PPC campaign on appropriate search engines. Lastly, you can publicize your promotion on Facebook if you conform to its promotional guidelines.
You can give away tchotchkes or product samples to the user who submits the video that gets the most votes on a weekly or monthly basis. An example of this type of UGC video promotion can be seen on Twistlets, a site selling teen jewelry that can be bent or twisted into different shapes such as a bracelet, necklace, or head piece. The site has a featured video on the homepage and buttons to submit videos or view photos. Users can upload a short video clip (60 seconds or less) showing how they “bend it, twist it, shape it and wear it.” Girls can rate their favorite designs and sort by the most popular and recent video submissions.
When you use UGC videos on your site, don’t forget the video sitemap. This is something your webmaster can do to ensure the videos rank well on search engines. You’ll also need to submit the videos to video-sharing sites (read more in the upcoming section on optimizing your video).
Post corporate and product videos on your website
Video can be used for branding on your corporate page and for promoting products on your product pages. People would rather watch a video than read about your company online because it’s faster and easier to comprehend quickly. You can capture the essence of your business and interact with your customers, giving your company a personal touch. If you sell complex products, a demo will help boost sales. These videos should be short and are inexpensive to create.
When creating your online corporate or product videos, be sure to keep them short and ensure the quality is good and the sound is clear. In fact, captioning is now available for video, and it helps to sell product to have a few captions in your video. Have a clear goal before you start and limit each video to making one main point. Videos should be between one and two minutes long — three minutes max. That’s why you need prior planning.
You don’t need to hire a pro to make these short videos. Use a plain background behind a talking head or product display. This keeps the viewer’s attention where you want it. Don’t use flashy transitions or effects — but it can be helpful to use graphics. Use large text that is easy to read with sans serif font. Keep your camera steady when you shoot by using a video tripod. Be sure to have lots of light. You can use three lights positioned approximately 6 feet away from the camera and attached to a drawing easel 2 to 3 feet to the side of the camera. A couple of lights should be at eye level, while the third is about 6 feet up, pointing down. By placing the lights off to the side of the camera, you get subtle shadows on the subject, which helps add dimension.
You can make your sound better by using a good quality microphone plugged into your camcorder. Bad sound quality is common in do-it-yourself videos because the built-in microphones on most camcorders are not good enough.
Create product testimonial videos for your product pages
Lots of customers will give you written testimonials. Contact some of those customers and give them an incentive to put their testimonials into a video. You can give them coupons, discounts, or a 30-day free trial for their efforts. Anyone can make a short video these days; they can record the video and send the file to you by email. If you’re both in the same city, you might invite the person to your business to shoot the video; then take them to lunch or dinner to show your appreciation.
All you need to create high-quality web videos is a camera, proper lighting, and video-editing software. You can use the Flip Ultra HD camera ($132.99), RCA Small Wonder EQ101 camera ($99.99), iPhone, Droid, or any good smartphone with a video recorder to record your videos.
Most of these cameras fit in the palm of your hand and run on AA batteries. You can record up to 30 minutes of digital video directly into the camera’s memory, so no video tape is required. When you’re finished recording and are ready to edit or upload to the web, the camera plugs directly into your PC, allowing you to transfer the video files to your computer. Flip has its own video editing tools in its video management software. A few popular video software programs are described below.
Microsoft Movie Maker video software is easy to use. You can create and share your own movies with Windows 7 and Windows Movie Maker. This is a free download that also includes tools for photos, instant messaging, email, and social networking. You can import photos and videos from your PC or camera into Movie Maker to start making movies. Editing tools allow you to trim, split, and speed up or slow down your movie. You can also edit the audio, adjust volume, fade music in/ and out, etc.
Jumpcut video editing software also offers a free download. This movie maker and sharing service has many advanced features and requires a slight learning curve. Movies can be made from video, audio, and photo files or clips from other videos published on a site. You can set soundtrack lengths and add visual and audio effects by clip. Once saved, you can re-edit by clicking “remix.”
iMovie is a user-friendly video software that makes viewing and working with video quick and easy. A built-in library automatically organizes your videos so all the clips you’ve captured and the movies you’ve made are just a click away. It is easy to add movies to your website, publish them on YouTube, and create versions for iPods, iPhones, and Apple TVs. The cost is $79 (part of iLife).
Niche sites and email
Create a niche video-sharing site
Be a leader in your industry by creating a place where your audience and stakeholders can post and view business videos for free. When your brand becomes the host for video sharing in your niche, you get more traffic and brand exposure. Your customers can post videos about their products and services, or marketing tips, how-tos, and more. You will quickly develop a growing video community that shares industry information and ideas.
Once your video community reaches critical mass, you can generate ad revenue and get more SEO juice that can put your site in top organic rankings. We wrote in detail about creating your own white-label video hub in August of last year, and the information is still relevant.
Create a video email marketing campaign
Embedding a video in your email marketing campaign can increase your click-through rates by as much as two to three times, according to Forrester research. It tells your audience that you care enough to communicate in a personal, interactive, and easy-to-understand manner than a longer text email that takes more time to read.
While there are a number of video email providers available, we encourage you to seek a provider to fit your budget. We searched for an affordable video provider and found VideoCustomizer, which is a cloud-based solution that provides the infrastructure and technology for creating, designing and delivering personalized video email, video ad campaigns, and video streaming and hosting solutions. With this technology, you can reach customers on computers, iPads, iPhones, and smartphones.
VideoCustomizer’s Plan Lite gives you 1,000 video emails on the platform with 4,000 video landing page views, which includes a free video ad. It also includes video hosting on your website and blog. The plan offers multi-user, multi-email accounts, and you can use your own domain with full system access. The cost for Plan Lite is $15 per month.
A note on optimization and hosting
Optimizing your videos
It’s important to optimize your videos by creating a video sitemap. You can use the Google Video extension to the Sitemap protocol to give Google and other search engines information about the video content on your site.
Video content includes the web pages on which you embed your video, the URLs to players for your video, or the URLs of raw video content hosted on your site. Each URL entry must contain the following information:
Play page URL
Raw video file location and/or the player URL (SWF)
For more information see Google’s guidelines for creating sitemaps.
While you can submit your videos directly to video-sharing sites like YouTube, Metacafe, Vimeo, etc., you can also use TubeMogul, a free service that allows you to upload your videos to multiple leading video-sharing websites quickly and also track results. Currently supported websites include: Google Video, Metacafe, MySpace Video, Revver, AOL Video, and YouTube.
TubeMogul is a video analytics and distribution system that gives publishers independent information about web video performance in addition to automated upload to the top video-sharing sites. It provides the following features:
- Mass upload: Upload videos to six leading video networks automatically
- Video analytics: Track video performance, viewership demographic reports, and create comparison charts
- Comments and ratings: View all user comments and ratings from one place
- Charts: Email charts to others and export to Excel
Hosting your videos
You will need a video hosting company, and we would like to suggest a few hosting companies that offer affordable solutions that are easy to deploy.
Fliqz allows you to upload, stream, track, and monetize your video content. It offers five different plans, from basic to platinum, and you can try it for free.
Vmix is a cloud-based platform-as-a-service solution that can deliver engaging, interactive video on your website and mobile applications. It also offers a free trial.
Ooyala offers high-quality video solutions, providing video delivery for every kind of video screen. It also offers a free trial.
Since there are few barriers to entry and technology allows do-it-yourselfers to create good marketing videos, there is no reason for hesitating to use video advertising solutions. By taking advantage of user-generated content and creating your own marketing videos, you can reach your target market and brand your business quickly. Whether you use a contest, product videos, video testimonials, a video sharing site, or video email marketing, you will positively boost your brand and increase conversions, guaranteed.