Q&A with Video Marketing Expert Lou Bortone

Susan Johnston Taylor

Susan Johnston Taylor has covered business and entrepreneurship for publications including The Boston Globe, Entrepreneur and FastCompany.com. She’s also a regular contributor to the money section of USNews.com.

With Facebook Live, Meerkat and other platforms making it easier than ever to share videos, large and small businesses are using video marketing to connect with customers, demonstrate products and provide educational content.

To help you harness the power of video, we talked to video marketing expert Lou Bortone about how to get over stage fright, where to share your videos and more. The transcript below has been edited for clarity and brevity.

StartupNation: If business owners are camera shy, should they be doing video marketing themselves or put someone else on camera?

video marketing

(Lou Bortone)

Lou Bortone: A lot of folks, myself included, are more introverted and not comfortable on camera. Public speaking can be tricky, but with video, you’re really just looking at that funny little red button. If you are camera shy, the best thing to do is just practice and wade into it little by little. If you do a Facebook Live video from your account, you can share it to only yourself and do a practice run before you go public.

The other thing that I often suggest is that if you have a colleague or a partner or a friend who can work with you almost like you’re having a conversation. It does become more conversational when you talk to the other person. And finally, if you’re absolutely dead set against being on camera, you can use animation, PowerPoint or some other form of off camera video as well.

There are a lot of different options for sharing videos: YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Do you need to be on all of them? Are there some platforms you recommend over others?

Bortone: It’s a little overwhelming because it seems like there’s a new app or resource every day. I usually recommend that folks find the video sweet spot which is their best platform and more importantly where their community or tribe has the best chance of being. Even though I do a lot with Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, I get to get the most feedback from Facebook. You can try several different platforms—maybe you love Instagram or Snapchat—and find the two or three platforms that you’re most comfortable with. As long as your target market is there, you should be as well.


Also on StartupNation.com: Q&A with Fuse Marketing’s Issa Sawabini


Is there an optimal length for videos?

Bortone: People’s attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter, so that’s one of the attractions of Snapchat or Instagram. Typically you want to keep it as short as it can possibly be while still delivering the message you need to deliver. Most videos on YouTube are under three minutes. I tell people to shoot for one to three minutes.

The other thing is, a lot of it has to do with user expectations and viewer expectations. Somebody on a video webinar—those tend to be more like a teaching video—might be 45 minutes to an hour. With promotional videos or quick tips, get in and out as quickly as possible. Facebook itself suggests between 10 to 20 minutes for Facebook Live videos because the longer you’re on, the more time people have to discover that you’re live. It’s what you’re comfortable with and what your audience is comfortable with. I find that most folks are doing around five minutes on Facebook Live. If you have a more traditional show, like a program you’re doing each week, it may be a half hour. But if you’re going to be longer than five minutes, you want to have some kind of format so you’re not rambling.

What are some mistakes you’ve seen in video marketing?

Bortone: A lot of times, people will do what I call instead of “ready, aim, fire,” they do ready, fire, aim, they fire up the webcam and start to do their video before they’ve thought it through. What’s the purpose of the video or what’s the call to action that I want the viewer to take after it? They have rambling videos or maybe ideas that don’t go anywhere. It’s really important to have a goal for each video, even if it’s just a one-minute video. You want to know exactly what you want going into it, what’s the next step or call to action. “For more tips, visit my website or follow me on YouTube,” or whatever it may be.

Another mistake is waiting for perfection or thinking you need a lot of equipment or you need a lot of tech. A lot of people don’t get started because they assume it’s a really big deal.

The truth is, with the iPhone and smartphones, it’s really as simple as a couple clicks. You don’t need a lot of preparation or a lot of lighting. You shouldn’t wait until conditions are perfect or you’ll never get it done.

Let’s talk about video descriptions. How long should those be and what should they include?

Bortone: The nice thing about video descriptions is they give you a ton of space. You can really make that as long as you want and (that’s) what a lot of folks do. Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” does YouTube really well. The rest of the description is a generic cut and paste with links to their other properties. I do the same thing. I’ve got the first couple lines describing the video, and the rest of the description is really just a bio or promo for the rest of my stuff. There are even some people that suggest putting the video transcript in the video description, because you get in a lot of keywords.

What else would you like readers to know?

Bortone: There’s a ton of opportunity right now and a lot of it is low-hanging fruit. Video marketing is so much easier than it used to be. Content is king and if you have a good message, there are a lot of different platforms to say it.

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