By Shelly Bowen published September 7, 2010

How to Plan for Exceptional, Engaging Video Content

Video content can bring your brand to life. Reach and attract a new audience. Explain and visually communicate a new or complex process or product.

Even better, these days you probably have several video cameras in the office — just check your co-workers’ phones.

But before you hit “record,” it’s helpful to think about video much like you would any other type of online content: you need a strategy.

Video Content Strategy

Your video content strategy should include:

An objective
It could be immediate and measurable, such as connecting with a younger audience or equipping your sales team or brand ambassadors with a visual engaging tool. Or it could be long-term, such as brand perception improvement, or simply telling your company story or the story of a recent event.

A story
Who are you? Why do you do what you do? What information, feeling, or action are you trying to convey, communicate, or inspire?

A voice
Be genuine and authentic, and speak to your target audience in a way they will respect.

A content editor
If you have narrative, text, or a sequence of events that needs clarity of message, consider hiring an editor familiar with interactive content.

Time commitment
Where is your audience viewing your video and how long will they focus on it? Be sure the length matches the purpose of the video and respects your audience’s time constraints. Less is more.

Archive
How long should this video be around? Does it need to be dated or removed at a certain point?

As is the case with most Web content, “video is not just to sell something, it’s to connect with someone,” says Bekah Christie of Emota, a brand film agency in San Diego. “The best way to build great content is to find the most interesting story, to push deeper than the obvious.”

Video Production Logistics

Planning for video content doesn’t involve only the content and content strategy but also the logistics:

  • Video type
  • Location
  • Resources
  • Delivery

I asked Bekah Christie how content marketers should plan to produce engaging, powerful video. Here’s her advice, paraphrased:

Match the production value with the content
For example, an interview with your CEO might require a higher production value than, say, “word on the street” interviews with everyday individuals. Even so, know that “everyone appreciates beautiful motion and video,” Christie says. “Even if it’s shot with a FlipCam, the story and how you tell it (shoot and edit it) are important.”

Integrate the video with your brand and the campaign as a whole
Think of video as part of the whole cohesive message.

Consider the format
Where is this video going to be placed? How will it be viewed? On YouTube, Hulu, TV, or your site? Will it be downloaded or streamed? Make sure you have an adequate media player and back-end support in place to enable your video to stream and play efficiently, otherwise all your hard work could be lost in a negative user experience.

Think about the quality of your camera
What type of quality does your camera produce? Can it be viewed in HD? Full-screen? What does it look like projected? Does the quality stay intact as you increase the size? Does it need to?

Be authentic
Though the shaky homemade video may seem authentic, it might not achieve your objective. On the flip side, an overly produced video may seem forced. The substance should be authentic too. “At Emota, we think in terms of  documentary film-making. We want to capture the true story, not just the marketer’s perspective of the story,” says Christie.

Know your camera’s limits
Before you set up a shoot and get everyone involved, push your camera to its limits in a testing environment, so you’ll know critical factors such as how long your camera can continuously shoot. Christie tells me that some still camera companies restrict the amount of time that a user can record a continuous shot. This is a built-in safety feature to prevent overheating of the camera’s sensor. Make sure you have enough memory cards, and be sure to test how long your battery will last.

Know your limits, too
A poorly made video can do your brand more harm than good. If you choose to create your videos in house, consider educating the people involved first on cohesive story building, video best practices, music integration, copyright laws, video editing, and so on.

Bottom line: When creating video for your brand, the finished product should feel authentic and provide something of value. Have fun with it. Create art. After all, you’re taking up your own time by producing and the viewers time by watching. If the outcome is unexpected, remarkable, or enchanting, everyone wins.

What other tips do you have to create engaging video content that connects?

Author: Shelly Bowen

Shelly Bowen is Principal of Pybop, LLC a boutique content strategy consultancy dedicated to helping companies share their brand stories more effectively. Over the past decade, Shelly has directed and produced web, mobile, and video content and strategy for more than 75 amazing brands, such as Intuit, University of San Diego, Citrix, and AIG Direct. In addition to content strategy and brand story writing, Shelly loves cycling, kayaking, mid-century design, and sinking into a great novel. Shelly is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Follow Shelly on Twitter @shelbow and Pybop @pybop.

Other posts by Shelly Bowen

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  • Anonymous

    Great post, Shelly. Thanks for the tips.

    I mostly have a text background, but just completed a pilot video project for health care, using a videographer. I’d add two things:

    If you work for an org and occasionally hire videographers, have a small package of guidelines prepared for them, including any graphic components (logos, title cards, etc.) that you’d like to include. That way, your videos feel relatively consistent, no matter who shoots and edits them.

    Second, and this may seem like a no-brainer: if you’re preparing any interview prompts or coaching the subjects, think about ways to inflect the video content with key brand messaging, in an authentic way.

    Thanks again!

  • Shelly Bowen

    Good points, Dan. Thanks!

  • Dane

    Excellent post Shelly! Now that video on the web is exploding, these are the key points that so many marketers are going to be wrestling with. My company Digital Accomplice specializes in helping marketers shape and deliver their message to their audience with video, interactive and games. Because of the technical and creative challenges, video is one of those things that can really be disappointing if not done right, and it’s our experience that allows us to work with any budget to shape a message and deliver.

    We’re always happy to help answer any questions or participate in webinars, interviews and project proposals.

    Dane
    dane@digitalaccomplice.com
    http://www.digitalaccomplice.com

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  • Amy Doherty/Pawpro Media

    I find that most clients are unaware of how much planning goes into good video content. The whos the whats the wheres and most importantly the hows. In many cases, they’ve not left enough time to create the video they really want, and are up against a fast approaching deadline. So, they end up with mediocre content and impact. My best advice is start early and don’t rush the process because you won’t be happy with the end results.

    Great video content doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to go with big production houses to get it. In real estate it’s location, location, location and in video it’s planning, planning, planning.