All sorts of businesses today use videos to promote themselves and try to win over more customers—and for good reason. Popular social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter often give preference to videos in their algorithms, and video-only sites such as YouTube draw millions of visitors every year.


Moreover, video is a naturally engaging medium. Data from one housewares ecommerce site showed that visitors were 144% more likely to make a purchase after seeing a product video than those who did not watch one. An auto parts retailer found that visitors who watched its instructional videos stayed on its website twice as long as those who didn’t.


But given the influx of online videos, how do you make your company’s videos stand out from the crowd and engage your customers? “The content needs to solve someone’s problems or be outrageous or entertaining,” says Nina Froriep, founder and “chief video democratizer” of Clock Wise Productions, who teaches business owners and organizations how to make better videos on a budget.


Here is some expert advice to make more compelling videos that can help your business capture more customers:


Focus on content, not equipment. Don’t worry about buying that fancy video camera. Consumers are increasingly comfortable with promotional videos shot via iPhone and other inexpensive video camera technologies. (You should, however, have a clip-on microphone to improve sound quality and limit background noise, Froriep says.) Focus your efforts on coming up with the most compelling video topics and delivering your message clearly, succinctly and in a way that entertains or informs your audience.

Don’t overly script your videos. Instead, work on letting your—or your employees’—personality shine through while maintaining a conversational tone.


Be yourself. Don’t overly script your videos. Instead, work on letting your—or your employees’—personality shine through while maintaining a conversational tone. “Authenticity is absolutely key,” Froriep says. “People respond to people being themselves on camera.” Do plan out what you will say and demonstrate in the video, but try not to make it sound overly formal. Look right into the camera. Refrain from continually looking down at a cheat sheet, which will make you look disorganized and will disengage your viewers. If you need to read a script, focus on sounding personable and have it held next to the camera so you don’t have to look down. Remember: You can always re-record or edit out any mistakes.


Keep them short. Most people have a very short attention span and won’t spend five minutes watching an online video. So keep videos you post on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to 30 seconds or less, recommends Lasse Rouhiainen, a social media consultant and author of the book “101 Video Marketing Tips & Strategies for Small Businesses.” On mobile, especially, short videos perform better. Videos you post to YouTube can be longer—10 to 60 minutes, even—because YouTube’s algorithm favors longer videos, meaning longer videos may show up higher in search results.


Engage your audience in eight seconds or less. Research suggests that online content has eight seconds to capture someone’s attention. That means no intro music or company logos, Froriep says. Rather, she recommends telling watchers immediately what they’ll be getting from the video. For example, the intro for a video about pet grooming might say: “Find out the top three tricks for getting ticks out of your dog’s fur.”


Practice—and get feedback. Don’t expect your first video to win any awards. Like anybody, you probably need to make at least a few videos and get the hang of it. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting and working on your on-camera style. As they say, practice makes perfect. Also, try to get someone with video or on-air experience to give you feedback on how to improve your videos.


Keep making them. If you want your video marketing to gain traction, don’t stop with one or two. To generate “followers,” you need to make videos continually—even if that’s just once a month.


Best advice: Don’t feel you have to do it all yourself. If budget allows, hire a freelance videographer or video editor to help you get started. And don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works for your company. Not every video may get a lot of traffic—but one winning video can make a huge difference to your business.

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