Six easy points to making ‘selfie’ videos work for you and your business

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From rotten grapes to the sweetest Monbazillac wine

You may have seen a one-minute video I made recently and shared on Facebook (if not, you can watch it by clicking here or by clicking on the image next to this text). I have had some great feedback on it (and some questions) so wanted to answer some of those questions and share with you why I think it works – in order to help you make your own effective videos for your business:

1. Firstly, I dared to go in front of the camera – not something I like doing, actually, (having been on the other side of the camera for the past 25 years, but hey, time for a change…) but I understand how important it is to engage with my audience and that people like to see people (I certainly do) – and with practice, I’m getting used to it; it can be fun  🙂  To make it easier, if you want to have a go yourself, spend some time practising what you’re going to say before you roll your camera (or smartphone) to make sure your message is clear and concise.  And when you’re looking into the camera’s lens (not at the image of you on the screen) just imagine you are talking to a friend over a coffee. Make sure too that you are holding your camera horizontally – that’s the format that most screens are designed to watch videos on – otherwise you get those horrid black bars either side of your video.

2. It’s short – we are all bombarded with information and just don’t have time to watch everything.  However, this short video also links to another (longer) video where I followed a vineyard over a whole year to find out how they produced their award-winning wine.  You can watch it here, when you have nine minutes.  Nine minutes ??

Shouldn’t videos be only 30-60 seconds long, you ask?  Isn’t that what everyone tells you – as people’s attention span is so short these days???  Well, sometimes – but there are times when people want more detailed information presented in a visually pleasing and efficient way – when they want to be informed about something.  A good video is as long as it needs to be for what it’s trying to do. A good example of this is with property videos which are often between 5-6 minutes, such as this one I recently produced:

A home is often the biggest investment someone is going to make in their lives, and knowing as much about the property and its location – in as short a time as possible – is important when a buyer is searching for their new home.  And it’s not just a new home they’re looking for – it’s often a new lifestyle, which a narrated video can convey better than photos on their own can.  The viewer can decide from watching the video whether they want to spend time visiting the property.  If they can see from the video that it’s not what they want, then they won’t waste their time – or yours – in visiting it.  BUT if it hits a chord with them, then they’re nearly pre-sold before they even come and visit the property!  If you want to find out more about how video helps to sell property, watch this video below – one of my earlier attempts at presenting ‘to camera’ 😉 or read my blog post.

Anyway, I digress . . . let’s get back to the making of that ‘one minute’ video and why it works . . .

3. It wasn’t just me speaking to camera.  You’ll notice that I ‘cut-away’ four times – ie I continued talking but overlaid the image of me with four other different images – one of a time-lapse video of the vines and one of a photo of when we actually had snow once – this made the video more visually interesting.  And then the third overlaid shot – or cutaway – was a close-up of my hand showing the grapes as they are now in August and the fourth image was a shot of how the grapes will look in a month or so – with their ‘noble rot’.  The reason I am pointing this out is to show you how useful it is to keep a library of images that might just be perfect for your future videos – three of those ‘cutaways’ were shot years ago.  And those ‘cutaway’ images don’t have to be video – they could be photos (as the one in the snow is).  But if you haven’t already started collecting your own ‘stock’ images, you might just find what you are looking for on this site of Royalty-free photos and videos: Pixabay.  If you are going to ‘cutaway’ to other images, there are some great free editing softwares available that are simple to use such as: iMovie for Mac users and Windows MovieMaker for PC users.

4.  The sound was good.  This was because I didn’t rely on the built-in microphone of my camera. I had a wired microphone clipped to my waist – so it would be out of shot.  It’s a microphone that you can buy on Amazon for around €20 and (normally) will connect to your smartphone.  Although I made sure it was out of shot, I don’t actually mind seeing microphones in shot if it means the sound is going to be better.  Remember, sound can work without pictures (think how well radio works) but a video with poor sound damages the whole experience for the viewer – and can even turn them completely off!

5.  I used a tripod!  So important!! There are just too many videos out there that don’t use a tripod – so be different and use one!  You will make your video easier to watch – without people feeling sea-sick!  If you’re filming on a smartphone, here’s a great little portable tripod I recommend  – again about €20.

6. The light was on me!  What I mean by this is that I was (more or less) facing the light – in this case the sun. So often I see people’s videos where the camera is facing a bright window that the person has his/her back to – putting the person’s face sometimes into almost darkness.  Great if you want a ‘silhouette’ effect – but not great at all if you want to attract new customers and let them get to know you!

When making your own videos you often have to be the camera operator, sound recordist and gaffer! (lighting technician) – as well as the presenter!  So there’s a lot to think about, which is why you shouldn’t be put off by your first attempts – you just need to practise and follow the points above 🙂

So you’ve made your video – now what?

How do you get your video seen by your target audience?  I’ve written about this in a previous blog to explain the plusses and minuses of using Facebook and Youtube here. You can also upload your video to Youtube and send the video link to your database of email contacts (if you don’t have one yet, then start building one now!) – or why not write a blog incorporating your video?  Next month I will be sharing a video I made for a blog writer who writes about wine from her travels around the world and this time chose to make a video to go with her blog about the Confrerie at the Wine Fair in Sigoules, which has really brought her blog to life.

I hope this has inspired you to take the step of making your own videos and presenting your business to camera.  People work with people and being able to see and hear the face behind a business makes all the difference – and people like watching videos!  If you want to have a go at following all six points above – and would like some constructive feedback on your videos, then I would love to see the results.  Just send a link to your video via the contact form here or send a private message to me via my Facebook page. Also,  if you have any questions about making your own videos please feel free to contact me.  Of course, if you really don’t want to make your own ‘selfie’ videos get in touch to find out how I can help. Thanks for reading – and watching 🙂

Joanna Urwin VideoProFrance

Joanna has been an independent video producer since 1991 and specialises in helping businesses and property owners to take advantage of the power of video.

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