Is it OK to copy a successful video concept?

Is it OK to copy a successful video concept?A good video concept is not always easy to define. What makes it harder is when you see so many clever ideas that have already been successful. After a viral video comes the copy-cat videos, each attempting to share a little bit of the limelight. So is this a good tactic? Can you take someone else’s idea and adapt it for your own purposes?

Copyright law is very complex and way beyond the reach of this article. It is probably safe to say that the legal and financial implications of directly copying a video marketing concept, will inevitably come down to who has the biggest pockets, the best lawyers and of course a stomach for such a fight. But as there are many ‘versions’ of already popular videos still online, it also clear that for some this can work and is worth the risk.

Another question to consider is, would such an accusation damage your brand and what would your customers think of you for choosing this route? If your business is all about innovation, ideas and developing concepts, then clearly this is not going to look good. However, if you offer a mainstream product or service could this help you achieve valuable new exposure?

Most businesses who do take the copy-cat route often forget that what works for one audience will not necessarily work for another. For example selling low cost personal health products to the US public is a very different scenario than selling business services to other UK businesses. Taking one idea and transposing it to another means a number of dangerous assumptions.

As with all marketing activities, the same old rules apply to shaping your final solution. Everything from the audience identification, the desired benefits and the end action need to be considered a long time before choosing your videos concept. Simply picking a popular video theme and re-purposing it for your business is not marketing – at best its gambling.

Inspiration is the safer route. Most ideas have already been used in one form or another, true originality in marketing is extremely rare and could even be risky in areas that don’t welcome the radical approach. Inspiration is something that happens continuously, every experience adds to the bank of future ideas and are often ‘re-mixed’ in the next new marketing concept. Often this produces something part unique and part familiar, something that most viewers are comfortable with.

There is still plenty of opportunity in the video marketing world, which correctly implemented will work extremely well for your business.

Using video in blog posts – Is there an SEO advantage?

Using video in blog posts – Is there an SEO advantage?Using video in blog posts creates an interesting dilemma; do you only feature a video, do you repeat the same content in the video as on the page or do you write separate content for the video and the page content? Is there an SEO benefit or penalty from choosing one of these options? Lets take a look at each in turn.

Video only blog post

Creating a video and embedding it in a web page will encourage Google to provide a ‘rich snippet’ in its listings (assuming you have set-up Authorship in webmaster tools). This allows visitors to see a thumbnail image of your video and your listing is likely to benefit from Google’s current preference for video content. If you are using YouTube as your video hosting service, then there is a good chance that the YouTube listing will come before the embedded version. This is not always true but given the way YouTube makes money (advertising) you can understand why this happens.

Ignoring this for one moment, let’s consider what Google can analyse on your web page. If your embed is fairly basic then you may simply have an HTML title, a page <H1> title and possibly a META description. This does not give Google very much on the page to consider. Even though it knows you have a video embedded, the page itself is fairly empty. One option to fix this is to add a video sitemap. This can contain a lot of information such as the transcript, subject and length, but it is not always easy to implement or to add data to.

Duplicate video and page content blog post

This has to be a fairly safe bet, not just for SEO purposes but for website visitors too. If the visitor does not have speakers or maybe fast enough broadband for video, they can obtain the content simply by reading.

From an SEO point of view it is quite common to provide a transcript version on the page. These words are indexable and help the search engines understand what the page is about. Every web page online is analysed for what it contains (as well as many other off site factors such as reputation and social popularity), so adding content and optimizing the page normally is highly recommended – video is not a magic solution to any SEO requirement, it is simply a content format. One other added benefit is that you can format page text using links, lists and other appropriate styling controls.

Separate video and page content blog post

The chances are that the video and page content will vary slightly anyway. This will be due to the extra titles and sub headings you may add and any amendments necessary to make the content work in the written form (for example if you ad-libbed your video you may decide to remove any ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ from the transcript).

You might decide to write the page copy as accompanying notes, you could write an introduction to the video or you may choose to write a compelling ‘call to action’ for viewers to read after they have watched the video (with a mention in the video to keep viewers reading the page). From an SEO point of view, this will all work in your favour as long as the page content and the video content are in tune. After all your page is likely to be found by users searching for the topic that the page focuses on.

An interesting SEO, viewer and marketing solution (after all these are all important) would be a blend of the last two approaches. Adding the transcript makes sense as this is a helpful alternative, adding an introduction seems sensible too as it can be optimised for search engines and visitors alike. Adding a call to action, links and notes as ‘bonus’ content will enhance the viewers experience and hopefully lead them on to the next stage of your engagement plan.

Video only blog post

Creating a video and embedding it in a web page will encourage Google to provide a ‘rich snippet’ in its listings (assuming you have set-up Authorship in webmaster tools). This allows visitors to see a thumbnail image of your video and your listing is likely to benefit from Google’s current preference for video content. If you are using YouTube as your video hosting service, then there is a good chance that the YouTube listing will come before the embedded version. This is not always true but given the way YouTube makes money (advertising) you can understand why this happens.

Ignoring this for one moment, lets consider what Google can analyse on your web page. If your embed is fairly basic then you may simply have an HTML title, a page <H1> title and possibly a META description. This does not give Google very much on the page to consider. Even though it knows you have a video embedded, the page itself is fairly empty. One option to fix this is to add a video sitemap. This can contain a lot of information such as the transcript, subject and length, but it is not always easy to implement or to add data to.

Duplicate video and page content blog post

This has to be a fairly safe bet, not just for SEO purposes but for website visitors too. If the visitor does not have speakers or maybe fast enough broadband for video, they can obtain the content simply by reading.

From an SEO point of view it is quite common to provide a transcript version on the page. These words are indexable and help the search engines understand what the page is about. Every web page online is analysed for what it contains (as well as many other off site factors such as reputation and social popularity), so adding content and optimizing the page normally is highly recommended – video is not a magic solution to any SEO requirement, it is simply a content format. One other added benefit is that you can format page text using links, lists and other appropriate styling controls.

Separate video and page content blog post

The chances are that the video and page content will vary slightly anyway. This will be due to the extra titles and sub headings you may add and any amendments necessary to make the content work in the written form (for example if you ad-libbed your video you may decide to remove any ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ from the transcript).

You might decide to write the page copy as accompanying notes, you could write an introduction to the video or you may choose to write a compelling ‘call to action’ for viewers to read after they have watched the video (with a mention in the video to keep viewers reading the page). From an SEO point of view, this will all work in your favour as long as the page content and the video content are in tune. After all your page is likely to be found by users searching for the topic that the page focuses on.

An interesting SEO, viewer and marketing solution (after all these are all important) would be a blend of the last two approaches. Adding the transcript makes sense as this is a helpful alternative, adding an introduction seems sensible too as it can be optimised for search engines and visitors alike. Adding a call to action, links and notes as ‘bonus’ content will enhance the viewers experience and hopefully lead them on to the next stage of your engagement plan.

How to choose a location to shoot your business video

How to choose a location to shoot your business videoIt’s tempting to shoot business videos somewhere that’s quick and convenient. However as we all know, this usually results in an uninteresting and poor quality video that won’t help your business to connect with future customers. We have all seen the ‘MD behind his/her desk’ video and it looks really, really bad. When choosing a suitable location here are a few things to check.

Lighting

If you are shooting outdoors beware of the sun! This might sound a little odd, but most of the time direct sun is not useful when you are filming as it causes deep shadows and contrasty looking shots. Consider using diffusers to soften the sun on cloudless days. If the sun keeps going behind clouds this is going to cause problems. Your ideal filming day will be a overcast but bright day preferably without rain!

Indoor filming offers you more control on your lighting. Do watch out for windows and skylights as this can bring some of the above issues back into play. Also watch for mixed lighting sources (daylight vs. tungsten vs. fluorescent) as this can bring in blue/amber/green tinges that will make skin colours look very unnatural. If you can turn off overhead lights and use your own lights instead. If you have to use room lighting watch for shadows in the eye sockets – use reflectors and diffusion where needed.

Sound

Avoid big spaces with reflective surfaces as this will cause echoes and reverb. Where possible use smaller rooms that contain softer furnishings as this will improve the acoustic performance and overall sound quality.

An important consideration when choosing a location is the ability to control the environment with respect to background noise and potential interruptions. Aeroplanes, air conditioning, traffic, deliveries, office phones and of course people can and will ruin your shots by introducing unwanted noise.

Background

Often the main reason for choosing a location is for the background it provides to your shots. This might be because it is contextually relevant (e.g. a factory showing the production process that is being described) or because it is visually pleasing and adds a certain look to your video. When choosing and setting up your location, consider how the background works with the foreground. Is it so interesting so that it is distracting? Or is it so uninteresting that the viewer wonders what the relevance is to the subject.

Good backgrounds might include varied lighting, angles, diagonal shapes, some basic movement in small areas and work well with the foreground with consistent lighting. Avoid predictable office set-ups, strategically placed plants and roll-up banners – they are all very obvious and add nothing to a shot. Instead think of the unusual, maybe a different viewpoint or something no one has seen before. If possible use creative lighting and placement of props to create a natural looking balanced environment.

Logistics and scheduling

As with all locations it is worth considering how your setting will change over the course of the day. Will the lighting change, are new interruptions likely to happen (like deliveries or staff leaving), will everyone and everything you need be there all day? It is important to understand what will change over the day and plan your filming schedule around it if possible.

Choosing a filming location is not easy and there will often be unexpected events or changes that are impossible to plan for. Some of the these can be new opportunities and  can be included in your plans. Others can be show stoppers or can force you to change your original plans. A short location visit prior to filming can help resolve some of these issues before they occur, or warn you so that you are better prepared. Where possible ask lots of questions when on-site preferably to more than one person as not everyone knows everything.