Guest blogger Jack is writing about video sharing/hosting websites and social networks in the second part of his guide to guerrilla self-marketing. Videos can help you build your online portfolio & impress employers: what are you waiting for? 

So, I’ve been hammering away at video sharing sites for a while, and though not everything I’ve created has been as successful as I’d like, my career has benefited immeasurably from video making. So, everything here comes straight from practical experience.

And a couple of points… 

None of this should cost you any money, though you will likely need to invest significant time in filming and video editing. 

I only scrape the surface with what you can do here. This is a how to guide meant to inspire you to come up with your own inventive, video self-promotion. 

Like before, steal everything, take what’s usable and discard the rest.

Here goes…

Video sharing sites, in a nutshell

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Top Sites

Youtube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Veoh, Metacafe, Flickr (limited video lengths), Viddler, Photobucket, Blip.tv (requires an existing idea or video series).

Primarily appeals to… anyone who can work with video. That means you, whatever you do.

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Benefits of creating and sharing video

  • (Almost) Everybody loves video: Share your content in the medium most people find easiest to consume. 
  • Be different: You could be one of the few people in your business/industry who actually makes the effort to produce video. Differentiate yourself from your competition.
  • Huge existing userbase: There’s a huge audience to connect with and the perfect opportunity to expose your work (for free!) Since the userbase already exists, there’s plenty of traffic ready and waiting to see your videos (theoretically…)
  • SEOable: Set keywords and SEO your videos.
  • Feedback: Limited analytics allow you to monitor where your traffic is coming from. Likes and Dislikes show you how well content’s being received, which you can use to improve your videos.
  • Fast: Upload the same video across multiple sites to save time and increase your ‘reach’
  • Sharable: Integrates well with your social media presence – sharing on Twitter, Facebook etc. Host then embed your content anywhere and everywhere!

And the drawbacks

  • Time consuming: Filming can take quite some time. Editing can take even longer.
  • Competitive: Competition for viewer attention is huge. You usually only have a few seconds to sell your user on watching your video all the way through. You might be competing with companies with much bigger budgets than you (and who get paid placement)
  • Quality isn’t always rewarded: You’re fighting against the lowest common denominators of the Internet (sex, Justin Bieber and cats). Can you handle that?
  • Vulnerable: Your videos can be taken down at any time and for any reason. 
  • (Usually) No customer service: Can’t get something to work? Don’t expect much help.

Video Ideas

OK, you want to make a name for yourself in video? Here are some ideas…

Tutorials/Video talks: Just putting up an ad for what you do won’t work. What do you do when you see an ad on TV? Usually you ignore it, right? Unless the ad’s offering something valuable, such as information or hilarity.

So apply this to your videos.

For example, think of people like of beauty vlogger Michelle Phan who has over 3.5 million subscribers, attracted by her quality beauty tutorials.

This fits under ‘pull marketing’ as it establishes your expertise in an area, demonstrates your ‘value’ and allows people to find you.

I spoke to Jon Leland, the pioneering video producer whose broadcast experience has spanned radio, cable TV, online video, and interactive productions. 

Jon makes a point about how video lets you use personability to create a connection with the people who are watching you:

“Video is a must for marketing; the bottom line is that people want to know who they are dealing with. Photos of you are a step in the right direction, but video communicates in a way that there’s ‘virtual eye-to-eye contact.’ You can create a real connection that can lead to a sustainable relationship. That’s the basis of doing business, both online and off.”

Video CVs: An extremely cool idea in job interviews, and one that almost none of your competitors will be using. But like any job interview it’s important that you get the presentation right. Check out Mashable’s Top 5 Tips if you need more information on producing a powerful video CV.

Viral video: Make no mistake, making a video go viral on purpose is hard. If it wasn’t, everybody would be doing it.

The process is usually not predictable. There’s a pattern to a lot of videos which have gone viral (i.e people share them because they’re funny, extreme, etc). But, not having any figures, I’d expect more than half of these guys had no idea their video would become so popular. If you’re determined to try to create a viral video anyway, take “Why would people share this?” as your starting point. 

A word to the wise: Doing stupid stuff won’t hurt your chances of going viral, but it might hurt you…

Documentaries: There are endless possibilities here – for example, musicians could document progress on their album recording or tour, or artists could give a candid insight into the creation of a work.

Image portfolio/Slideshows: Photographers and other visual creatives can turn their image portfolios into video slideshows. Software such as FotoMagico (Mac) or Magix Slideshow (Win) can help.

Static image/Audiovideos: Using a static image in video means you can control the emphasis. An obvious example is uploading studio recordings of music on Youtube with the album cover as the video image. But it’s more than just music – bloggers can upload video files of podcasts or talks, and you could use voiceover to amplify your showreel. 

Showreels/Demos: This is a technique that long predates the YouTube era. Actors, composers, presenters etc. could create a demo of some of their best work that shows off their versatility and unique style…

Video SEO

How to get your video seen…

Get the headline right: Include the main keywords in your headline and make it compelling. See Copyblogger’s advice here

Write a detailed description: Don’t stuff it with keywords, this just makes Google angry and penalises your visibility. Write for humans. If relevant, add 500 words of text to compliment the video.

Choose a good thumbnail: Ever clicked on a video just because the thumbnail looked really interesting? I know I have…

My examples

Like the last article, I’ve got some examples from my own endeavours to hopefully get your creative juices going.

Static images: I use YouTube to share music I’ve composed– such as VGM remixes. There’s an example here

Driving Traffic/Building Awareness: I use YouTube to distribute sound design giveaways, and demonstrate my audio skills here.

Tutorials: I’ve even done a few design / Photoshop tutorials (and yes, I need to do more) here.

Closing Tips

  • What’s in it for your viewers? Ask yourself: “What can viewers gain from my video – is it funny or useful?”
  • Expect to fail: Expect and embrace failure over and over before you find success. It won’t work exactly how you want it to. It can be demoralising to see very little feedback for your videos, but you only need one success. So press on! 
  • Save time: Use OneLoad’s free service to distribute your videos to a variety of video sites all at once.
  • YouTube first: It’s by far the biggest of all of these in terms of userbase, and is the one you definitely shouldn’t miss out on.
  • Test and refine your ideas: Success with video can be a very ‘hit or miss‘ experience. Try lots of different kinds of videos and keyword strategies.
  • Polarising can be good: Tons of dislikes aren’t necessarily a bad thing for your videos. Better to have a polarised opinion than a neutral consensus towards your videos. Strong opinions equal more hits.
  • Brand stuff: You can brand your videos with a your logo and URL, if you have them.
  • Customise: Following the above point, some sites like Youtube allow you to customise your channel. Make use of this feature for consistent branding.
  • Respond: Video responses to popular videos are good. It’s best if the response is relevant to the original. 
  • Need more video sites? Wikipedia’s got a detailed comparison here.
  • Focus on strategy, not numbers: You don’t necessarily need hundreds of thousands of views. Suppose your video CV only gets 15 views over a one month period, but one of them ends in that internship you’ve wanted…?
  • Steal ideas: The net is full of people using video well. Let them ‘inspire’ you…
  • Pay attention: Beware the time trap of too much ‘market research’ on Youtube. You will eventually spend hours watching unrelated videos, which doesn’t help you land that job.

Jack Oughton AKA Koukouvaya is (amongst other things) a Croydon based digital artist, composer and writer, who’s been shamelessly self promoting via video for quite some time now. Got any questions? He’s happy to help you – tweet him on @koukouvaya