I've been watching more videos on the Internet during the last year, and so have plenty of other people. YouTube, Google's video-sharing Web site, is now the second most popular place to search on the Web. In August, more searches were conducted on YouTube than on either Yahoo or MSN. This fact is amazing, but understandable.
Watching videos online is a less than satisfactory experience without a fast connection. As broadband becomes more available and affordable, more Internet users are embracing online video.
More than ever, good videos are available online. Right now, most people watch them for entertainment. However, the Internet's video library has grown to include many that explain, teach, communicate, review, demonstrate, and perform other functions to meet various needs. So, how can you use videos for marketing your local business?
Create Videos Any Way You Can
You don't need expensive equipment or special software to make videos. Use whatever you have, can borrow, or can buy at a reasonable price. Just do it!
Before offering you this advice, I tried it myself. I borrowed my boss's new Flip video camcorder and had a quick clip online within minutes. Yes, I'm serious.
A whole new generation of mini cameras are about the size and cost of a digital camera. The Flip costs between $100 and $180, depending on the source and model. Others that I haven't tried myself, but are in the same price range and get good reviews, are the DXG-567V high-definition camcorder and the Vado Pocket Video Cam.
These cameras won't make you a Hollywood filmmaker. But as long as you shoot in good light and try to keep the background noise to a minimum, the results will be just fine for Internet use. These less-than-professional movie clips are often more appealing to prospective customers because they seem genuine compared to the slick ads they're used to seeing (and ignoring).
Free and inexpensive video editing software programs, such as Windows Movie Maker, allow you to create titles, captions and transitions, and add simple effects. They're also intuitively easy to use, so just dive in and give them a try.
Put Your Videos on YouTube
More people will find them here than anywhere else. In addition, the videos will have a good chance of appearing in the Google Video search results and in the universal results for Google for relevant searches. After all, Google owns YouTube.
Even if you don't have much time or inclination to optimize your videos for YouTube, make sure to give your clips a good keyword-rich title and tag them properly.
Once your videos are on YouTube, you can grab the code they give you and embed it onto your own Web pages. Then, people can play them directly from your site, rather than going to YouTube to watch them.
Also, you can now add your videos to your Local Business Listing on Google Maps. Your videos must be on YouTube before they can appear in your listing.
Make Marketing Videos
Much of online video's appeal is in the entertainment value, especially of humorous clips. But that's not the prime focus of marketing videos. Sure, being funny will help your videos get shared across the Internet, but for most local businesses, it doesn't matter much if people who will never be your customers see them or not.
Instead, use videos to introduce yourself to potential buyers and earn their confidence and trust. Tell them how you can help solve their problems. Show them your expertise in your niche. Let them view testimonials from happy customers. Show off your new store or equipment. Demonstrate how something you sell works.
Look around on Web sites, on Google Maps, and within YouTube for new ideas of how to promote yourself, your services, and your products. Here's an example to inspire you.
Don't wait until everyone else is using videos for marketing. Instead, jump on board now to gain any advantage you can in your local marketplace.
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Mary Bowling has been involved in all aspects of online marketing since 2003. She has a special interest in Web site usability and in search engine optimization, including optimizing all types of media for search engines. Mary has also developed specialized expertise in promoting brick-and-mortar businesses on the Internet through local search marketing. She is currently doing independent consulting and working with seOverflow and Maia Internet Consulting in Denver, CO, optimizing and marketing a wide variety of businesses and nonprofits online.
Her accomplishments include speaking at Search Marketing Expo and Search Engine Strategies conferences on a variety of topics, conducting trainings and webinars for Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Workshops, authoring popular white papers on local search and SEO for WordPress Blogs and speaking at SEMpx' s Searchfest.
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