5 Things Your Video Must Have

(This post was originally published on LinkedIn on September 18, 2015.)

Here’s a common scenario: A business-minded individual recognizes the enormous value of online video as a marketing tool and decides to develop some content for a personal or company website. Suddenly, this person finds him- or herself treading the unfamiliar terrain of video production. He or she doesn’t know that there are specific qualities that make video content effective and more likely to drive business.

Hiring someone to produce a video can be a great option, but you want to make sure that you get the most out of the transaction. Below, I discuss a few of the most important things to be aware of once you’ve made the decision to incorporate video into your online marketing strategy.

  • High resolution: The visual quality of your video represents the quality of your brand to prospective clients, so it’s critical that it looks as crisp and clean as possible. The mindset that something is better than nothing is not only obsolete but harmful, as a grainy, pixelated image can quickly turn people off. Insist on high-definition (HD) 1080p or 720p resolution (the “p” stands for “progressive scan” and has to do with how data is displayed). Some platforms, like YouTube, are now even supporting streaming video in up to 4K resolution.
  • The “film look”: The best videos provide an almost cinematic experience for viewers. It is achieved by a combination of factors involving the use of light, color, camera movement, frame rate, shutter speed, aspect ratio, and editing. Shop around and review examples of past work before hiring someone to shoot your video.
  • Quality audio: We’re all familiar with the echoing, humming, tinny-sounding audio that is a hallmark of homemade video. Low-quality sound is usually what you get when you rely on a camera’s built-in microphone to pick up what you’re saying. It’s distracting and keeps viewers from focusing on the message you’re trying to convey. There are two primary ways to get quality audio. The first is with a boom pole and a shotgun mic. This cylindrical microphone picks up sound directionally, so a properly positioned one helps separate the sound of a spoken voice from ambient noise. Boom audio is generally the best-sounding. The second way is with a lavalier mic. A “lav” clips onto clothing and is omnidirectional–that is, it picks up sound in all directions. It’s also a good idea to scout locations prior to shooting to make sure there aren’t any persistent sound problems, like train tracks or a heavily-traveled road nearby. Make sure audio recording equipment is part of your production package.
  • Rich graphics: You’ll likely be displaying your name, title, and company logo in your video, and you want these graphics to be displayed attractively. Well-designed, high-resolution images and text enhance the viewer’s experience and make it more likely that the viewer will respond to your call to action (CTA).
  • The right length: The importance of appropriate duration for your video is something that cannot be overstated. You almost never need to exceed 2 minutes with commercial content, and the job more often than not can be accomplished in half that time. Simply put, time and attention spans are hard to come by these days, so you need to get the point across efficiently or people will simply tune out.

There you have it. When you follow these five basic video production principles, you ensure that the brand, whether it’s your organization’s or your own personal identity, looks (and sounds) its very best on camera.

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