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December 24, 2007

Putting the YOU in YouTube

With the advent of broadband Internet access and the proliferation of free video hosting sites like YouTube, Blip.tv, Revver and Veoh.com, today anyone with a camcorder and an Internet connection can produce a video and share it with the world. Producing video for the Web can be a powerful marketing tool for your business. Some obvious benefits include:

  1. Free or low-cost publicity and exposure for your company
  2. Instant access to a worldwide audience on the Web, 24/7
  3. The ability to use your video hosting site’s HTML code to add the video to your own Web site

Here’s a step-by-step guide for getting started:

1. Produce a short video

“Short” is the key word here, for several reasons: First, online viewers have a much shorter attention span when watching video on the Web. Second, longer videos mean larger file sizes. Most free video hosting sites have a 100MB limit; some even less.

Additional resources: For great, do-it-yourself, online video tools, visit Serious Magic and look at their inexpensive “Vlog It” software. Videomaker magazine also features tips for creating online video.

2. Output your video for online viewing

Once you’ve got your video, it still needs to be encoded and compressed to make it “Internet-friendly.” Video files can be enormous, but compression software shrinks the video file size so it plays more smoothly on the Web. Remember to save or export your file to an online-compatible size, which is 320 X 240 resolution; and compress it so it’s under 20MB, if possible. Be sure to save your video file in a format that most video sites accept, such as a Quicktime movie (.mov), a Windows movie (.wmv) or Flash (.flv) file.

Additional resources: QuickTime Pro (for Windows or Mac) is ideal for compressing your video and transferring it to whatever file format you prefer (Windows, Flash, MPEG). The software is about $30 (US) and is worth its weight in gold when it comes to converting files for online video. Another option is Blaze Media Pro. ($50)

3. Upload to several free video hosting sites

Now comes the fun part – You get to upload your video and share it with the world! Most of the popular video sites have relatively easy upload instructions: First, you’ll have to create an account for each site. The video hosting sites usually have a two or three step process that allows you to browse for your video file on your computer; add a title and description; and then click “upload” to post your video file. Most sites will also give you options for adding a thumbnail photo, selecting your genre or category or, in some cases, signing up for revenue sharing. (Don’t expect the money to start pouring in unless you’ve got a wildly popular “viral” video!)

Additional resources: Go beyond the obvious sites like YouTube and Yahoo, and upload your video to some of the more feature-rich sites such as Veoh, Revver, iFilm and VideoEgg Visit the individual sites for easy upload instructions.

4. Promote and share your new “online TV channel”

After you’ve uploaded your video, these free video hosting sites provide the option of “sharing” your video by giving you a link/URL that you can e-mail to your contacts. Most sites also include a great feature that allows you to copy the HTML code and “embed” the video into your own website or blog. Simply cut and paste the code provided into your own site. Finally, use RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to offer “subscriptions” to your online videos.

Additional resources: I find the most “user-friendly” sites to be Blip.tv and VideoEgg. Sites like these and Brightcove.com tend to be geared toward businesses and a bit more professional. Popular (and free) RSS feed providers include Feedburner and Mefeedia.

Finally, keep in mind these special considerations for web video:

  • Since your screen is typically much smaller on the web, avoid wide shots with a lot of people in them. It just doesn’t translate well on the Internet.
  • Avoid pans and zooms. Rapid movement is harder to watch on a smaller screen.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t go crazy with a lot of titles and graphics. They may be too small to be effective.
  • Keep it short – Less is more on the “short-attention-span” Internet!

Author:  Lou Bortone is an award-winning writer and video producer with over 20 years experience in marketing, branding and promotion. As an online video expert, Lou helps entrepreneurs create video for the web at http://www.TheOnlineVideoGuy.com . In addition, Lou works as a freelance writer and professional ghostwriter, with a ghostwriting site at http://www.GhostwriteForYou.com.

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