online videoVideo is one of the hottest things right now on the web. How hot? In March 2009, web information provider comScore released their data regarding the consumption of online video. Their report showed that Internet users in the U.S. watched 14.5 billion online videos during the month–an increase of 11% over February’s numbers. Their report also indicated for March that 78% of the U.S. web audience viewed video online, averaging 97 videos per viewer during the month.

With these staggering numbers many more people are exploring how they can add online video to their marketing mix. Why use video for marketing? Because it’s the next best thing to communicating face to face with potential clients and customers and building up trust. It’s also fantastic for driving traffic and can be done for virtually no cost. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Get a Flip camcorder. A Flip is a pocket-size digital video recorder that’s both easy to use and very affordable. You simply point, record and then upload the video right to your computer via USB. If you are just looking to get going with video, this is a great way to do it. They even have HD versions of their cameras and the ability to personalize them with colors and designs.

2. Check out free screencasting software. Not ready to put yourself in front of the camera yet? You can still create videos starring your voice and your computer screen with these free services online. Two I recommend and use are Screentoaster and Jing. These are perfect for creating short tutorials for e-learning purposes that you can then upload to your blog or video sharing sites. All you need is a microphone–I use the headset I have for Skype.

3. Get an account on YouTube, Viddler or Vimeo. These are video services where you can upload, enhance and share your videos for free. YouTube is nice for creating your own channel on a page you design yourself. Just grab the code they supply to embed video on your own webpage. Vimeo has a really attractive and streamlined player, and Viddler offers in-video tagging and commenting. There are many other choices for video hosting, including Facebook. Check out the different options and decide which one works best for you.

4. Direct viewers to your site. Don’t forget to mention your website in the actual video at the beginning and end or add text displaying the URL. You will also want to add your website in your profile as well as any place you are able to type in a description of the particular video.

Video can be a very extensive topic as well as intimidating for a lot of people. I’m only recently beginning to experiment with it beyond the basics myself. Start with these steps and don’t think you need to create lengthy or fancy clips. In fact, short, content-rich videos are your best bet.

To start out, aim for 90 seconds to two minutes in length where you offer a few tips or teach people how to do something. Minimize any background noise and make sure you have sufficient lighting in the room and you’ll be ready to go!

Have you experimented with online video yet?  What has been your experience with it?

Photo credit: Envisiongood

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