Online video is an effective marketing tool, one that helps companies relate to and engage with their customers and potential customers in new ways.
It lends itself to delivering an interactive experience by using interactive tools, such as live polls, Q&A, competitions, and can be integrated with other channels, such as social media.
That said, if you don't get it right, it can do more harm than good, which can put companies off using the medium - particularly when it is live.
There are essentially four main areas that may make those new to online video feel hesitant, namely:
- Talent - you may not feel you have the right spokespeople to put in front of a camera.
- Technology – often there is a lack of understanding about what is required to produce a webcast.
- Bandwidth – companies can be concerned that they simply won't have the bandwidth available to cope with video streaming.
- Cost – online video is seen as an expensive luxury with little clear return on investment
Finding an individual with the right mix of skills which include being able to present in an engaging way, and knowing the subject matter inside out, can be somewhat challenging. However, I believe with the right support almost anyone can make a valuable contribution to a webcast with a little help.
Firstly, making your presenter feel comfortable is key. Start by being explaining clearly what will happen as part of the webcast to build up their confidence, give clear guidance on what is expected of them and ensure there is time for a few dry runs before the webcast starts.
Some people may find an autocue helpful. Others are more natural without it, so once you have decided on the presenter, work that out with them.
With a panel discussion it can be useful to have a chairperson to effectively run proceedings. This person can be part of the organisation or an independent third party.
Either way their job is to ensure the smooth running of the webcast, support the other guests and be the voice of the audience asking the questions they are sending in.
Secondly, by making your presenter feel in control, you can give them an all-important confident boost which helps them perform well on camera. This is about ensuring they feel that everyone is on their side and that everything that is being done is to get the best performance from them.
For example we may ask some tough questions of them but this is because this is what the audience is asking and we are confident they have great answers for those questions.
There is some great technology available, helping almost anyone get online and of course online video specialists, such as Groovy Gecko, can handle the technology aspect for you, allowing you to concentrate on the content.
That said if you haven't done any online video before, it can be a steep learning curve. It is a question of building up confidence before going into a live presentation.
By taking baby steps, you can slowly but surely get accustomed to the technology and the process.
So, instead of going straight to live, I would suggest the following roadmap:
- Create an on-demand video and post it on your website. There are a number of good platforms out there to help you organise your videos and upload them easily to your site. At Groovy Gecko, we use Kaltura's OVP to do that for our clients.
- Create an on-demand video, but stream as live with live Q&A. That way the video part is still on-demand giving you full editorial control, but you give the audience the feeling of it being live and you can interact with them through the Q&A.
- Once you feel comfortable, you can progress to fully live, with polling, live Q&A and all the bells and whistles, giving your audience a fully interactive experience.
The most important thing is to learn from each stage and understand what your audience responds to, then develop the next version of the programme based on feedback and audience behaviours.
As soon as anyone talks about video, one of the instant reactions is whether there will be enough bandwidth to upload or view.
Thoughts arise of it consuming all the network capacity and leaving everyone without email, or that the video will keep stopping part way through and buffering.
However, bandwidth capacity is getting better, but there are also a number of ways we can protect against crashing and stuttering.
Firstly, always use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) for delivery. CDNs have server clusters around the world and essentially move the video files as close to the viewer as possible, thereby ensuring the quality of the experience and the delivery.
Secondly, stream using adaptive bitrate streaming, as this ensures that the video will adapt its size and quality depending on available bandwidth. This means that if someone has very little bandwidth, they can still view the video seamlessly without stuttering, but the resolution will be slightly lower.
Thirdly, if this is an internal webcast, do some testing and engage with IT. There are a number of technologies and techniques that can be deployed to make webcast work better in corporate environments so by working with IT you can guarantee great delivery.
The cost of producing online video depends on how sophisticated you want to get. I recommend starting small and iterating on your initial pilots. However it is also about proving a return on that investment.
The key question to ask is what do we want the audience to do next. This can be everything from understanding the brand better to buying more of product X, but the important thing is to ensure is that no matter what your goals you have solid data to prove if you achieved that goal. This ensures you can have a clear idea of how successful this has been
So, online video doesn't need to be daunting if you follow the steps and ensure you are ready:
- Make sure your presenters are prepped and have a good understanding about what is required of them
- Take small steps with the technology (and cost), don't try and do everything at once
- Use a Content Delivery Network for video quality and adaptive bitrate streaming to ensure a seamless experience for all viewers.
- Make sure you have a clear objective and the tools to measure its success.
If you follow these guidelines you should ensure that not only do you produce good quality content reliably but that you can continue to tweak and build on your successes by using good metrics.
- Jake Ward is Business Development Director at Groovy Gecko, responsible for managing key accounts, as well as further expanding the company's reach into new markets and territories.