If a picture is worth a thousand words, then video must be worth a gazillion! Yes, of course I just made that statistic up, but the point should be well taken. Travelers are a visual audience, and anytime you can provide that much more clarity from a visual standpoint, your potential visitors are that much more likely to develop a connection of sorts with your destination.
So when deciding whether or not to dive into a video content strategy for your destination, there are plenty of questions to be answered, as often times its not as simple as just picking up a flip camera and walking outside... or is it?
To help provide some clarity on producing digital content for your destination I sat down with my namesake Jeremy Williams, formerly of Indiana Tourism to get his thoughts on how DMO's can go about the process of efficiently creating great video content for distribution.
1. How do DMO's with smaller budgets overcome the misconception, that producing great video content has to be an expensive Hollywood production?
Many times, when smaller DMOs think of video production, they think of multi-thousand-dollar filming crews, expensive talent and long, involved post-production. After all of that time, money and effort, they usually only end up with a couple 30-second TV commercials - which isn’t always the best content to motivate online travelers.
Luckily, video for the web doesn’t have to be super slick and expensive to make a real impact with your target audience. Chances are, you can shoot the video with something you carry with you every day - your smartphone. As for editing the content, you can use free or low-cost applications like iMovie or WeVideo. If you don’t have the time or expertise in editing videos, there are reasonably-priced services like Candidio that will take your videos and edit them for you.
2. Creating great video content is only half the battle. What are some of the best ways to distribute and share your video to your audience?
Once you’ve created your videos, your first step is uploading them to YouTube. Even if you use a proprietary video player on your website, getting it up on YouTube automatically puts it in front of tons of potential viewers.
I strongly believe that DMOs have to make blogging a priority in order to remain relevant to an online audience. Blogging is great for organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because it allows you to own all the content you’re producing rather than just sending people to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Plus it gives your DMO the opportunity to establish expertise for your destination.
When I worked for Visit Indiana, we wrote a blog post for each video we created. We embedded our video (along with an image and some short content about the video) and then started pushing it out to the typical social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. By having our blog act as a home-base for the video, we made sure that all the traffic we were pushing via our social channels ended up on our website, not on YouTube or Vimeo.
We also appended the #video hashtag to each post that contained a video in the hopes that we could get some additional traffic by showing we had a video in those posts.
3. How do you go about scheduling content? By that, I mean are the shoots scheduled out far in advance? Is there an approval process internally as well as externally for what video segments will be shot? Talk us through the process
The farther in advance you can schedule your shoots, the better. In the end, it’ll depend on where you’re shooting and how much lead time you need to get everything ready for you to shoot. At Visit Indiana, we decided what videos to shoot by looking at upcoming events and promotions and made decisions from there. Our first videos were filmed, edited and released during the 18-day Indiana State Fair, and we planned a month or two in advance for most future videos.
A couple years ago, Visit Indiana ran the Super 46 Sandwiches promotion touting 46 of the best sandwiches in the state to coincide with Super Bowl XLVI, held in Indianapolis. We selected 8 sandwiches to highlight with videos and shot them over the course of five or six weeks.
Our first step was getting in touch with the restaurants to explain what we were doing. From there, we scheduled a time to visit and film. Just like you’d put together a content calendar for blogs and website content, we created one for shooting, editing and publishing the videos. Since we used a company to do the editing for us, we simply had to build in a few days for them to put the final pieces together once we got them our raw footage.
4. I don't have the time to do this and would rather contract out these types of services. What should I look for in a potential vendor?
Video can be a very effective method for marketing your destination, but if you don’t have expertise or time to edit what you shoot, all that great content could be wasted. With free or inexpensive apps like iMovie, WeVideo or Windows Live Movie Maker, it is relatively easy to edit videos, but it can still be very time consuming. Perhaps the most stressful part of editing videos yourself is dealing with the licensing rights to background music in your videos. Grab the wrong song without buying the rights and your DMO could be liable for a hefty fine or a take-down notice.
If you’ve decided you can’t or don’t want to do your video editing in-house, the first thing to consider is what your goals and budget are. If your goals include slick videos for TV commercials with the web as an afterthought, you’ll likely want to hire an all-inclusive video production firm to manage the process for you. Don’t be surprised to spend $15,000+ on a crew to film, produce and edit your videos. This may or may not include the cost of talent, so be sure to budget that in as well.
If your budget is more modest or your goal is to create videos that resonate online, consider shooting your own video and letting someone else do the editing work for you. You can use tools like Magisto and Animoto, (both take uploaded videos and images and “automagically” edit them down to short videos), and, in a pinch, they may give you want you want with a turnaround time of just a few minutes, but you will end up relying on their proprietary formula as to what your final video looks like. You won’t get an input into particular frames or images to highlight.
At Visit Indiana. we used Candidio, a service that allowed us to upload videos and photos that we took, as well as a production brief that explains what we wanted to see out of the video. Then their team edited the videos, added music and did it all in less than a week for each video. We were pleased with them because they understood our goals for each video and the costs were were very reasonable.
5. Our CEO always wants to know what we are spending in terms of budgets, what could I expect to pay for a project like this, and also what reporting software/metrics should I have in place to measure ROI?
Like I mentioned in an earlier question, cost can vary widely depending on what your goals are and how you plan to shoot and edit the videos. You can spend nearly nothing if you do all the work yourself, but you really have to know what you’re doing.
For around $200 per video, you can shoot your own and have a service like Candidio edit the videos for you. This can work well if you don’t have a huge budget, but are comfortable filming and taking pictures on your own.
If your DMO has a large budget and your goals include professionally-shot and edited video for use on the web as well as TV, you can spend thousands of dollars for a full-service video production firm to do the work for you.
As far as metrics are concerned, just like when you place online advertising, make sure there’s some kind of call to action on the page or blog post where the video lives or embed it directly in the video itself. Again, everything goes back to the goals you have for your videos. If your goal is to increase reservations at a restaurant or hotel, the CTA should link to a reservation page. If you want visitors to order your visitors guide, the CTA should lead them to the order page. If your goal is increased followers on social channels or your blog, make sure your CTA gives them the chance to do that.
YouTube has some pretty in-depth analytics available for each video such as demographic info and even how far into each video the typical viewer gets - great information that can let you know if you need to shorten your videos.