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9 Guidelines for Creating Video Content

Video content can be a powerful tool. The combination of visuals and audio allows a tremendous amount of information to be efficiently communicated in a short period of time.

But most importantly, it makes us feel things. With a relatively small investment of thought and consideration, you can create simple video content, loaded with emotion, that will be compelling and motivating to your audience.

We have finally reached the point where people prefer watching video content rather than reading text online. According to HubSpot,

“Where both video and text are available on the same page, 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service.”

Video content dominates the online environment and “… is projected to claim more than 80% of all web traffic by 2019“, as stated by Forbes.

Although professionally made videos are ideal, they are not always within budgetary reach. There are, however, some guidelines you can follow to create simple, compelling, and effective video content!

9 Guidelines for Creating Video Content

1. The Basics

Audio Conditions – Film in a quiet place, where you are not likely to be interrupted.

Lighting – Film in a bright room, in the shade outdoors, or under cloud cover. Avoid bright sunlight as it creates harsh shadows. Avoid lighting that comes only from directly above.

Camera Orientation – Film with landscape orientation (horizontally.) This will be most practical for viewing on all types of devices.

Video Content

Landscape Orientation

Composition – Having your subject in the center of the frame, looking directly into the camera, creates a very personal feel and can load your video with emotion.

Camera Angle – Keep the camera just above your subject’s eye level, slightly angled down, which is flattering for most people.

Stabilize – Use a tripod, or mount the camera to something stationary whenever possible, but don’t worry improvised methods are often just as effective.

Have Fun – Chances are, you do not have professional actors on staff. Do not take yourself too seriously or put unrealistic expectations on what you can produce.

2. Open With A Bang!

You typically only have seconds to capture a viewer’s attention. This can be accomplished with a startling statistic, quote, or simply a powerful combination of video clips and music that draws in the audience’s attention. People also appreciate getting critical information fast, so a quick summary of what the video will cover can be just as effective.

Data from Facebook and Nielsen shows that 47 percent of the value of a video campaign comes from the first three seconds of video, and 75 percent from the first 10 seconds.” -from Hootsuite

3.   Connect With Your Audience

Show them what they want to see. Consider what information is most important to your viewer. For many non-profits, potential donors are really just looking to understand the impact of their donation. Show or tell them exactly where their money will be spent.

4.   Prioritize Audio

People are often willing to forgive shaky, blurry or low-quality visuals as long as they can hear what is being said clearly, but there is nothing that will cause viewers to drop off quicker than audio that is too quiet or is overpowered by background noise.

Most smartphones can record decent audio if you are careful about your surroundings and keep the subject relatively close to the mic. But this is where a small investment may make sense for your video project.

For general events and showcases, consider cardioid condensers microphone (directional) such as the Rode VideoMicro or Rode VideoMic.

For interviews, consider a lavalier microphone such as the JK MIC-J 044 Lavalier   or Audio-Technica ATR3350.

What type of mic you should use highly depends on the camera that you’re using, but any common DSLR will work with the mic systems above.

5.  Keep It Concise

We all have a busy schedule. Sadly, this has put us in a “time is of the essence” mentality and our attention span is continuously shrinking. The shorter the video, the more likely people will watch your entire video. But this also depends on where you intended to post your video and its purpose.

Example: Short Video Optimized For Social Media

6.  Be Authentic

Without professional training in video production or acting, it is usually best to stick with what you know. Be sincere and direct and seek to inform rather than to persuade.

7.  Call To Action!

Be sure to tell your viewers EXACTLY what you want them to do after they finish watching your video. Include links, instruction, and contact information wherever possible. Make sure that your call to action is simple, easy, and quick to execute.

8.  Editing and Titles

Some very simple editing can add tremendous production value and credibility to your video. Plan for this to take some time, but there are several free and simple programs that will allow beginners to add titles, logos, background music, credits, and also do some basic cuts and transitions.

Some of these programs include iMovie (for Apple users) and Windows Movie Maker (for Windows users). You can find free tutorials for both of these programs by searching on YouTube.

Example: Editing and Titles

9.  Publish! 

Now that your video is ready for the world, you will need to put it somewhere where your intended audience can find it. Post the video everywhere you can and promote it wherever you may attract views.

Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and any other social media channels your organization may have accounts with. Some have limitations for file size and video length you will need to be aware of.

Here is an excellent resource for understanding social media video specifications.

“…it’s critical to use the correct social media video specs and advertising video sizes.” -From SproutSocial

It’s also a great idea to have a YouTube channel where all of your videos can be kept in one place. YouTube video links are versatile as many social media channels, websites, and email providers will auto-generate video thumbnails and descriptions from a link.

Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300%.” -From Forbes

Although professional quality is best, you can create compelling and appropriate content that your target demographic will enjoy for most businesses and organizations. Authenticity can overrank quality in most cases as long as you have clean audio.

An effective video will allow your audience to emotionally connect with your organization or mission which can drive engagement and ultimately encourage giving.

And now that you know how simple it is to create a video of your own, it’s time to get started!  

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