5 Rules for Online Video

Internet habits change over time as new technologies are introduced to the market. Online video isn’t new, but recent developments in the availability and viability of online video have changed habits once again. Today, people spend more time with online video content than they do with social media – a significant change between 2014 and today.

The experience of watching online video has changed as well. Video is cleaner and streams better than ever before, and the availability of inexpensive HD quality production and editing equipment means higher quality presentations.  

These new developments have led to higher viewer expectations and competition, which means your online video needs to be clean, concise, & accessible in order to be effective. Here are 5 tips to help.

1) Get To the Point

Don’t dilly dally. Internet users are used to getting information quickly, in seconds. Online video needs to get straight to the point and provide the content that the viewer is seeking right away. Long introductions, title screens, fancy spinning or fading logos, etc. won’t impress the viewer – they’ll annoy them and can cause some to stop watching within seconds.  

Show your title for a couple of seconds and then get on with the content. Better yet, show your title at the bottom of the screen as the video is playing above it.

2) Keep It Really Short

Think news format. Think about impatient web visitors. Think “don't waste my time.” Shorter videos are always better if you want your viewers to watch the entire video. Videos that are about 30 seconds long will be watched completely through over 80% of the time, while videos over 10 minutes long will be watched through only about 55% of the time. Even a partially watched video can be an effective marketing tool, but brevity certainly plays a role in convincing the viewer to watch and listen to your entire message.

Video edits should keep a quick pace. Don’t include more than is necessary to convey the information that the viewer wants. If your video contains interviews then you should be very selective and keep only the quotes that provide value to the viewer. If your video contains a speaking engagement then you should consider a shorter edit of the presentation, cutting longer speeches down to their essential elements. You may be surprised to find that a 40 minute speaking engagement can be edited down to 20 minutes or so and still effectively convey your message. Summarize.

3) Keep It Clean

Videos need to load fast, but they also need to look sharp, even in full screen views. Compressing a video to a small file size helps it to load faster and avoid stutters or buffering, but too much compression can lead to fuzzy or low quality video. Following the guidance above in points 1 and 2 will help your video to load faster, simply by virtue of keeping it shorter/smaller, but you’ll also need a video editor who understands online video optimization. Don’t sacrifice presentation quality.

4) Make it Accessible

Accessibility is important. Everyone should have access to content. Closed captioning helps to make video content accessible to everyone.

Captions are used by more people than you might think, because many people keep their computer and phone speakers turned off most of the time, especially now that so many of us browse using phones and tablets in public places (airports, coffee shops, restaurants.) Adding captions to your video allows the viewer to watch anywhere and read the content as they watch. Captions are especially effective when video is being used through social media channels.

Online video makes closed captioning simple. Just prepare a transcript of the video, and then add the transcript along with time markers.

5) Care about Production Value

The paper you use for your business card, the design quality of your website, the pens with your firm logo that you hand out to clients – all need to be of a professional quality to represent your firm well. Video is no different. Production value matters.

Low production value (bad lighting, sound, boring single camera edit) means viewers will stop watching. Worse yet, a bad video can embarrass and hurt your brand as much as a good one can lift it. Hire an experienced professional with a good track record. Don’t ever say “well, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s just a web video.” It really does need to be as good as it can be. (In other words, don’t hire your brother in law just because he has a fancy camera and does wedding videos.)  

The quality of any marketing product determines its efficacy. Video is not an exception. As law firm marketers begin to devote more resources to video marketing they will also need to change their perceptions on production and presentation value in order to achieve good results.  


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