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Video marketing Part 1: Can I do it and is it worth it?

By Jim McAnally

Often, when an organization such as a church thinks about making a video, they automatically assume it will cost a lot of money and require an extraordinary amount of time and the proverbial "cast of thousands." They assume they only have one shot at making a video, and therefore, that video must “knock it out of the park” or it will be a failure.

The evolution will be televised, um, VIDEOED.

The world of video production has changed. The assumptions outlined above and the decisions based on them are no longer true. The technology to create video is literally in the palm of many people’s hands: their cell phone. Additionally, most digital cameras can shoot video as well as still photographs.

Technology and lower costs make video production accessible to most churches. Surely, someone in the congregation has a phone or digital camera capable of shooting high-definition video.

Once you get past that mental barrier of video being too expensive, you must get over the idea that creating a “good” video takes extensive production time, specialized expertise and experience.

Don’t make such a big production out of it!

If you browse some of the most popular videos produced by small, nonprofit organizations, you will quickly recognize that content trumps style. If you have a clever idea, a humorous perspective or an idea that connects emotionally or spiritually with viewers, they won’t care or even notice if the video isn’t perfect or so-called “professional.”

Besides, you can use free or cheap video-editing tools that rival those used by the pros. Adding graphics, attractive scene transitions and special effects is simply a matter of someone being willing to learn the uncomplicated software. With these user-friendly tools, you can edit and polish your video in a few hours.

Why use video?

Video is the No. 1 searched-for content on the Internet. Immediately, by creating a video, you are putting your message into the most popular content destinations such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and even email (covered in detail further down). The chances of people seeing your messages on video are already better than simply putting out a blog post or webpage.

Video provides a medium that, at its core, offers one of the best means to connect quickly with your audience. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture is worth millions. You can convey excitement, need, urgency, reflectiveness, humor and an unlimited range of moods to communicate your message effectively and efficiently.

Video that works

You may have one more nagging doubt in your mind regarding creating video, especially if you are a longtime user of the Internet. Videos do not work everywhere.

When video first came to the Internet, getting it to play for the viewer was a haphazard proposition. Then, in the best-case scenario, the viewer had to go to a webpage to download a web browser plugin. There was more than one browser plugin because of competing, proprietary video-playback technologies. For example, to view the majority of videos, you would have to download Apple’s QuickTime plugin, Adobe’s Flash and Shockwave plugin and Microsoft’s Windows Media plugin.

HTML5 brings video to the masses.

A new “sheriff” in town has wrangled those video “outlaws” and locked them up. That sheriff is HTML5, the computer language upon which all new browsers are built. Unlike the proprietary plugins of the past, HTML5 has a single, open-source, built-in standard capability to play video in your web browser, regardless of which browser you use. No more plugins! (And there was much cheering and rejoicing!)

Most often now, when you visit a webpage that has a video, it simply plays. You may not have even noticed because the process is so smooth. This is a relatively new development, so some older browsers are not compatible, but rest assured, the vast majority of your audience could view this new HTML5 video without issues.

The next frontier for video: email

For email marketers and communicators, the prospects are getting better for sending video in emails. As more email clients adopt HTML5 standards, you will be able to send a video that will play inside the email. You will not send a link, you will send the video inside your email. No longer must you cross your fingers, hoping recipients might click on the link to open the webpage and then click again to “play” the video.

The wide adoption of HTML5 by email clients has not occurred yet, but when it does, with a single click, the viewer can watch the video without even leaving the email message window. Whenever you can remove procedural steps or technological obstacles, you improve your success in attracting and reaching viewers. We will keep you informed of developments related to email and video.

Boldly, go!

We hope this article has dispelled some misconceptions and shown how video can enhance the marketing efforts of your church. It will not be a cakewalk to achieve a successful video campaign, but you can do it. To borrow a phrase from a 1980s song, when it comes to the use of video as a valuable tool in your communications and marketing kit, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

If you're ready to take video marketing to the next level, check out Video marketing Part 2: Production tips for video marketing.