As seen on CUES
December 2016 – Vol: 39 No. 12
by Stephanie Schwenn Sebring
10 tips to help you gain the most from your social strategy.
Whether it’s sharing money ideas, a member moment or showcasing your credit union’s role in the community, the innovators are getting it right when it comes to social media.
Their mindset? Not that social is a “valid” communications tool; most everyone’s on board with that. But rather, that social media is a valuable, versatile and personal way to reach members—not used to outwardly sell, but as a way of intimately connecting with the people you serve and community at large.
Here are 10 ways to use social media most effectively.
1. Experiment and Research
“Test what works best for your members,” recommends Mike Lawson, host of CUbroadcast. “I understand many credit unions don’t have the resources to experiment with various social media networks, but this is what the experts do.”
See what works, then try it again a different day, time or in a different format, adds Marne Franklin, digital project manager for CUES Supplier member Your Marketing Company, Greenville, S.C. She reiterates that this type of exploration is consequential for credit unions: “Social lends itself perfectly to try new things, a different approach or pretest bigger campaigns.”
Learn from the experts, and let them do the groundwork for you. “Let them fail, make the mistakes and find the solutions,” continues Lawson. “Research is a huge time saver for CUs with limited resources. A little prep work can go a long way in combatting limited resources. Also, learn about the strategic risks, and use these to experiment, discover and ultimately better connect with your members.”
Strategic risks can include managing possible negative comments; the time producing and responding to social media efforts (being consistent and timely); and defining the right permissions, approvals, access, data classifications and collaboration processes.
2. Use the Right Tools
Popular platforms can help you to better manage your social channels, including Everypost, Buffer, Socialoomph, Hootsuite and Sprout Social. “If you’re an ardent Twitter user and manage multiple accounts, Hootsuite is tops,” adds Lawson. “And since CUs are often short-handed, Buffer is another tool that can save time and increase your productivity, and is especially helpful if you’re on multiple networks.”
Tools can also be used to measure success and member engagement, including clicks, views and shares, offers Franklin. “Hootsuite is one of the best products on the market; personally, I use Sendible. But whatever tools a CU decides upon, the decision should be case-by-case, based on needs, dependent on your budget and number of channels in the mix. Don’t overspend if you don’t need to.”
3. Strive for Consistency
Randy Smith, CUDE, co-founder and publisher of CUES Supplier member CUInsight.com, is adamant about the role consistency plays in a CU’s social strategy. “It’s imperative to success that there be a consistent flow of information. It enables your members to find and learn about you and the people inside your CU,” he explains. “You must know where your members are, and be where your members are.”
Brand voice should also remain constant. “It should match the tone of your website and all other marketing channels,” adds Franklin. “This preserves your brand identity, and creating a planned strategy will help keep your brand consistent on all of your channels.” She also advises against giving account admin rights randomly to individuals within the CU who may or may not understand your strategy, voice or direction.
However, if time is an issue, Smith suggests finding a talented employee who is active on a particular channel to champion it—as long as they understand your strategy and can inject your brand voice. “Strategy still falls on the marketers, but seek help from those who know how to use the channel in their personal lives,” says Smith. “Find employees who are active on social media; they can contribute to the flow of information.”
While not as prevalent as in the past, Smith urges CUs not to restrict employees from having access to social channels while at work. “Everyone should have the ability to communicate with members via social like any other communications channel, such as phone or email.”
4. Go for Engagement
It’s why any savvy business is on social media. “Use it as another layer of vibrant, personal and approachable communication with members,” offers Franklin. “Leverage your personality and involvement in the community. Let engagement be a catalyst for organic growth with post clicks and shares. Increase engagement levels by tagging members in posts, which boosts shares and accelerates your post ranking in members’ news feeds. Encourage staff to share posts as well.”
Ask employees to share the post on Facebook or retweet on Twitter, not just copy it into their status. Sharing helps to build engagement and increases the placement of the post in a user’s newsfeed, and, it enables others to share the post in its original format. It also ensures attribution to you, the CU. Those who share the post can add their own comments or endorsement.
How often should you post?
Resources permitting, Franklin suggests posting five to 10 times a week on Facebook. For Twitter, tweet at least five times a week, but Franklin adds the top guns are tweeting up to four times an hour. “Forty percent of all Twitter accounts are dormant,” she continues. “Don’t start a Twitter account and let it die after just one tweet. That’s worse than not being on (the channel) at all.”
Like all best practices, it’s striking a balance with limited resources. “But don’t worry that your followers will get inundated with your posts or tweets,” says Franklin. “They won’t see them all.”
To stay on track, take 30 minutes each week to schedule posts. “Viewing the entire week will enable you to space and schedule your posts appropriately,” says Franklin. “For promotional messages, sit down and craft your message, so they have the same tone, but not the exact text. Then have matching messages on Facebook, Twitter and possibly Instagram. For posts that perform well with your members, consider putting a few paid advertising dollars behind the post to boost engagement.”
This is a way for your content to reach non-members and members who haven’t yet liked your page, explains Franklin. Because the post doesn’t exist solely on your CU’s wall, it becomes integrated into the newsfeed of the audience you choose to target.
“Even a $50 monthly budget can gain some ground on Facebook,” she continues. “You can target the dollars based on geographic area, interests and life events. And remember, one out of every five page views (20 percent) in the U.S. happen on Facebook. Worldwide, there are over a billion daily users.”
Franklin offers this success story: “When the Wells Fargo scandal broke, one of our CU clients turned to Facebook with the message, ‘Is your money safe? Bank local. Bank with our credit union.’ The original organic post reached 1,200 people. By boosting the post for only $10, the CU was able to reach an additional audience of over 1,550 potential members. That small budget more than doubled the number of people who saw the message.”
5. Identify the Must-Have Channels
Lawson believes Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are still the mainstays right now. But Instagram is closing in fast, and Pinterest may be a contender. Smith says that if you can only pick two, try Facebook and Instagram.
Smith, in particular, loves what CUs are doing with Instagram: When you compare what CUs are doing on Facebook and Twitter to their growth and activity on Instagram, CUs are ahead of the curve there, he says.
“Instagram also fits perfectly with a CU’s community message and member connection. It can present the CU philosophy quickly with photos or graphics in a more candid, expressive or descriptive way.” In 2015, Smith says, only about 10 CUs were active on Instagram. Now, at the close of 2016, almost 600 CUs are actively using the channel as part of their social strategy. As CUs continue to gain momentum, Smith envisions a similar progression with Snapchat.
Why Snapchat? Some CUs are using Snapchat to illustrate their personalities through quick hits of information.
“They’re showcasing community involvement and the CU difference,” explains Smith. He especially likes what CUES Suppler member CUNA Mutual Group and Experian have done with Snapchat, as well as Travis Credit Union, Maps Credit Union and Wings Financial Credit Union.
“With Snapchat, you can’t just ‘search and follow.’ Users connect directly with other users, making it much more about communicating back and forth.”
Snapchat is also attracting the under-35 crowd in droves right now. Bloomberg Technology reports 150 million Snapchat users daily (surpassing Twitter, which has about 140 million). And growth doesn’t seem to be slowing.
Lawson concurs that Snapchat is “very social” and popular with the younger audiences. “However, it’s not a place where educational content resides with great anticipation. For example, my 15-year-old daughter is on Snapchat, and so are all of her friends, and it is the last place she expects financial information to be. But that’s what we used to say about Facebook, and look at credit unions there now—Navy Federal Credit Union made over $200 million in loans from its Facebook page a couple of years ago. That’s what’s fascinating; social media changes, morphs and evolves by the day, it seems. So who knows with Snapchat?”
Snapchat can also be advantageous for certain live marketing scenarios. “Experiment with Snapchat at kids or collegiate-type events or even member appreciation days,” advises Franklin. Use it to broadcast snippets of live happenings, such as a member workshop or behind-the-scenes look at a community or charity event.
Still, if a CU is just starting out on social, Snapchat is probably not the first choice. “As millennials and Snapchat mature, the network could very well become an equally viable place for CUs to go,” says Lawson. The channel right now is in an experimental time for CUs and not an “all-in” place just yet.
6. Don’t Spread Efforts Too Thin
With limited resources, find a network or two and stick with them, says Lawson. Take baby steps. And keep it simple. Schedule posts ahead of time so you’re not on social media all day. Check and post in the morning, at lunch, in the afternoon and maybe once in the evening.
Using the right management tools, like the ones mentioned earlier, can also make multiple networks easier to manage. And whatever channels you choose, Franklin stresses the importance of fully engaging on those channels so that engagement will become a means of organic growth. “For instance, let your social channels be a resource for potential members considering a switch.” She adds that social can’t be considered a “trend” anymore, and if your CU is still viewing it in that manner, it’s a mistake. Consumers are now looking at business Facebook pages as part of their normal buying process.
7. Keep it Real
Authenticity is at the heart of social media. “It’s not overly produced; it’s candid and sincere,” submits Smith. “You don’t overthink or stage things. Social media lets people know who you are and what you’re all about.”
Lawson adds that while content on social channels should be informative and relevant, keeping the personal connection is vital. “Don’t be salesy; be human. Humans connect with other humans, not logos or buildings or ‘buy now’ messages. Social media and sales are like oil and water, not peanut butter and jelly. Have a personality; be genuine. That’s what connects, and that’s your goal.” He also reminds that while CUs “rock with rates,” don’t talk about it. “Social media is the place to tell your story that will connect with members. Not sell.”
8. Use #Hashtags
Relevant hashtags will boost engagement levels. “They’re a way for you to let members find topics important to them or for you to tie in with national initiatives or local events,” says Franklin. “For example, at Your Marketing Company, we use the hashtag “#yeahthatgreenville” (created by VisitGreenvilleSC) to tie in with local events we’re participating in.”
Hashtags have been a mainstay for Twitter but are gaining momentum on Facebook. “Used correctly, they’re a helpful sorting tool,” offers Franklin. “But don’t use hashtags randomly; they should make sense and correlate with your post.” (To see what hashtags are trending in the U.S., try tools like hashtagify.me.)
9. Measure Impact, Not Just Numbers
Social media already has the numbers, says Lawson. Instead, try tracking success on a more personal level: “Look for what people are actually saying in their posts on various networks. Lots of retweets, likes and shares are great, and that increased activity certainly helps in validating your social proof. But going to a deeper level with what people are saying about you gets to the core—positive or negative. It’s a conversation opportunity that everybody sees and many will react to either online or off. That’s where loyalty blooms, trust blossoms and business happens.”
Your content should also position your CU as a trusted teacher, there to help members improve their lives financially. “If you can do that, the business will follow,” continues Lawson. “It’s called ‘reciprocation.’ You do something nice for somebody; that person will do something nice back, especially if what you offer benefits their lives.” It’s about connecting with, helping and influencing followers.
10. Give it Time
Impatience can be any business’s downfall when it comes to developing a robust, committed social strategy. “Many CUs start but don’t continue because of a lackluster response from members,” concludes Lawson. “It can take a bit of time to get going. But be patient. When it does take hold, social media is incredibly beneficial and powerful and enriching for your members.”
Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three CUs and served in mentorship roles before launching her business. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, she assists CUs, industry suppliers, and any company wanting great content and a clear brand voice. Follow her on Twitter @fabprose.
Originally posted on CUES Inside Marketing, January 2017.
Watching, trying and wiping out are all keys to innovation.
The first of the year is always a time of reassessment. What did we do right last year and what did we do wrong—and how can we fix those wrongs this year? It’s also a time for opportunity. That means looking to the horizon at what will make us better, more efficient, productive and, hopefully, profitable so we can keep doing this again next year and the year after.
Conducting this annual assessment, one word keeps permeating the whole process: learning. No matter who you are—a rookie, mid-level manager, or a seasoned C-suite exec—learning should never cease.
Living in San Diego, I’ve been surfing for more than 25 years and I consider myself fairly decent in most conditions the ocean offers up. Although, you probably won’t see me surfing 30-foot waves at Pe’ahi off the coast of Maui—ever. (Pe’ahi has been nicknamed “Jaws” for good reason.)
Each time I surf, I try to paddle out with somebody who is better than me. This tactic allows me to do two things: push myself to match their level and pick their brains to learn more from them. Or, if I venture out by myself, I look for the best surfer in the water and study what they do and try to pick up a new move or two.
And, of course, the internet offers thousands and thousands of hours of footage of professional surfers doing their thing. Many of them even provide tutorials of how they have developed and perfected their moves, breaking them down in a step-by-step process. Thank you, YouTube.
In essence, I’m taking lessons to get better.
The same goes for my professional life. I enjoy writing, working with video and interviewing people. I am always researching new ways to better accomplish these tasks, reading related books to increase my knowledge and talking to experts who are way better than me on how they have perfected their craft. I do this to provide a better product to my audience, clients, sponsors, etc. They deserve it, which means they will keep returning.
For example, learning the technology and process of producing online video interviews for CUbroadcast took literally hundreds of hours of trial and error, testing different apps, cameras, lighting (still trying to get this one right), framing, graphics, intros/outros, music, etc. It’s still a process I practice today. When I started experimenting seven or eight years ago, much of what I’m using today wasn’t around—not to mention online bandwidth was, for the most part, dismal.
But I kept learning, kept researching, kept trying new things, kept “taking lessons.” There’s a saying in surfing that if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough. I keep thinking about this little mantra when I’m surfing, but also when I’m doing new things in my professional life, pushing the product to be better.
From my perspective, companies like Blockbuster, Tower Records and even Sears stopped trying hard enough. It seemed like they stopped pushing their product to be better, instead being complacent with their “too-big-to-fail” business models, while others (Netflix, iTunes, Kindle, Uber, Tesla, etc.) tried, tested, perfected and leapfrogged the staid establishment.
So is your credit union trying hard enough? Are you consistently looking for ways to build a better mousetrap? Are you consistently looking to enhance your branch, online and mobile experience? Are consistently looking to tap experts’ knowledge on anything from technology to marketing to business operations? Are you consistently looking for classes and courses, webinars and seminars to simply learn more and contribute new ideas?
I just had lunch with a friend of mine who works at a local credit union. He was picking my brain on video, marketing, media, etc. for some lofty plans he has in 2017. He’s a credit union lifer, but he wants to break out of this-is-only-what-credit-unions-do silo and start doing some different revenue-generating and message-delivery projects that, to the best of my knowledge, haven’t been done before in our industry.
My friend is definitely stepping up and trying more than hard enough—and he may fall a couple of times. But he’s trying; he’s not satisfied. This is the type of thinking that creates change.
So where is your credit union? Are you satisfied with where it is today? We had a pretty good year in 2016, no doubt. Does that mean you can take it easy in 2017? No way. Keep that foot on the accelerator.
Keep taking lessons. Every little bit you absorb counts.
Sidebar alert: Much of the information I have gained over the years of research to hone my business and help others have materialized in little nuggets that amounted to big change. It seemed so minor at the time. But when you look back at all the little morsels gained over the years collectively, it’s significant. And when you see that significance, it fosters more motivation to amp up the learning.
No matter how big or small the gains, no matter your skill level, no matter your job; learning, testing, perfecting and executing can only help you and, ultimately, your organization exceed this year.
Internet Marketing Assistant
A lot of confusion surrounds the idea of what a credit union is, and what it can do for its members. With the copious amounts of high-fee, high-tech financial institutions competing for attention from customers, it’s not hard to mistake credit unions as “old-fashioned banks”.
ASI Federal Credit Union and other institutions alike have been around for quite some time, but they are far from obsolete. As a matter of fact, some people refer to credit unions as a better bank.
The goal of banks as for-profit institutions is to make money for the company’s stockholders. Making a profit is a harmless act. However, to them, you are only another customer whose worth is determined by how much money is stacked up in your safe.
At ASI and other credit unions, customers are looked at as members. We at ASI are non-profit and pass our profits on to our members in the form of low fees, low-rate auto loans and home loans, as well as benefits like dividends. Unlike a bank, credit unions use their profits to produce services and products that are more affordable to their community members.
Due to their small size, services and products like loans typically have lower interest rates and members relish over lower monthly loan payments than those that banks provide.
While certain credit unions exist as part of entities that service certain groups of people within a particular region, companies, church congregations, or civic organizations, ASI membership is open to all! ASI Federal Credit Union serves its highly valued members within these areas:
• Bridge City
• South Kenner
• St. Tammany Parish
• Lafourche Parish
• Orleans Parish
If you work, worship, attend school, or live in the above areas, you are eligible to join!
Although credit unions are definitely smaller than major national banks, most of the misunderstanding lies within the idea that credit unions offer less services than their larger counterparts and aren’t centrally located. Contrarily, members of credit unions do not have to worry about locating an ATM to serve them. ASI is able to give services and products that best meet individual needs over a Co-Op branching network through focusing on fewer brick-and-mortar locations and more on our valued members.
ASI provides you with flexibility and options when it comes to using ATMs as a part of this network. Relying on a member’s location, shared co-op branches and thousands of ATMs are at their disposal, so funds are always readily available. With a free ATM card, members of ASIFCU can relish in greater financial independence without ridiculous fees.
Credit unions are financial institutions that are federally regulated. However, this does not mean that their financial services are fewer, but rather provide service to a smaller customer population. Due to the fact that they are regulated by both state and federal levels, member investments are just as protected as they would be at a larger financial institution with a bank account.
When viewing the technological advancements made by credit unions, nothing outweighs the benefit of having member service and account access in the palm of your hands. ASI provides numerous 24/7 accessible e-services that include mobile banking, simple online loan applications with instant approvals, online banking, account transfers, email access to our member service representatives, and bill pay.
Theoretically, is a credit union really old-fashioned? With the expanding need for institutions to provide amazing member/customer service while simultaneously keeping up with technology, ASI is absolutely not your parents’ bank. We are a financial institution that works for our members’ well-being while safeguarding their investments, making financial services and products more affordable, and treating them respectfully.
Contact ASI Federal Credit Union today to learn how you can join our ASI family.
As seen on CUES Inside Marketing September 2016.
Do your credit union videos follow these three rules?
With video encroaching more and more in our professional lives and helping to market our businesses, one of the most powerful formats of this medium is the video interview. Whether you're interviewing success stories from members (credit unions) or clients (industry vendors), these objective testimonies are powerful pieces of communication.
To see the emotion and transformation from the interviewee causes an immediate connection with the audience. That's the beauty of video. It captures facial expressions, voice inflection, body movement and so much more that enhances the message’s delivery and connection. It’s challenging to create that with text or audio.
So if you are going to venture down the video interview road, here is the successful video interview trifecta that will sure to connect and possibly convert your audience.
1. Be Succinct
As with most successful online videos, brevity is key for high viewership. There's a reason why so many people watch video, they’re short and to the point -- at least the good ones are.
So a timing rule of thumb is keeping your productions around two or three minutes. People are in a hurry these days. If you can get your point across in that amount of time — or less, the more views you will receive.
And for the interview format, unless it’s incredibly compelling, you want these to be short, as well. The last thing you want is to have your subject going on and on about something or veering off on an unrelated tangent. Boring your audience is not the end goal. It’s all about audience engagement. If this scenario occurs, editing for brevity is a must.
Keeping your video interviews brief also keeps your audience engaged. Even if the video goes long for some reason and you can’t edit it down, break it up into multiple parts or a series. Then tease the next part coming up like a cliffhanger for your viewers to keep them coming back for the next episode.
Another bit of advice for brevity, coach your interview subject beforehand, telling them to keep their responses short by getting to the point quickly. You might have to shoot a few takes, but it will be worth it in the performance of your video interview. Study after study has shown short videos receive high viewership
2. Be Informative
Like being succinct, you have to be quick presenting your information. Studies have also shown that viewers check out of a video within seven seconds if it’s not interesting. So whatever golden nugget of information you or your interviewee has, present it within seven to 10 seconds to keep your audience engaged.
Here’s an idea: Place a compelling teaser quote or soundbite from the interview at the beginning of the video to hook your audience immediately. That soundbite from your subject may naturally occur later in the video, but it’s so compelling you have to tease or lead with it at the top of the video to hook your viewers. The viewer will see it later in the video and connect the dots. It’s a very effective technique that most TV newscasts have perfected over the years. So why not your online video interview?
Another tactic is to use a list: “5 Ways to Save for a Rich Retirement,” “4 Steps to a Robust Savings,” “3 Effective Strategies to Improve Your Mortgage Lending Performance” are a few examples.
If viewers see a list like these in the title, they are more likely to watch because they know they can get through the points quite quickly. But the caveat here is not to make the explanation of each step, strategy, method, etc. long. Keep them brief, as well, so you can move on to the next one.
3. Be Entertaining
You don’t have to be a clown, magician or stand up comedian for these productions, but having a bit of energy and personality sure helps. Remember the high school teacher in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (dating myself, I know)? He would take roll in class in a very monotone, boring voice: “Bueller … Bueller … Bueller …”
It was funny in the movie because most of us can relate to going back to our high school days. But it won’t transfer very well in an online video interview. Your audience will click over to a cute kitten dancing to the Grease soundtrack video in a millisecond if you or your guest sound like that. It won’t matter how good your content is, having a vanilla mannequin as a guest and/or host spells disaster for any production.
So, again, make sure you and your guest have energy. It shows passion, interest and enthusiasm — and viewers are attracted to this positive vibe. Having this vitality and optimism may take some guest recruiting. But once you find a few, it’s gold.
Surprisingly, finding folks like this is getting easier and easier today, as many of us — along with the younger generations — are getting used to video because of smartphone technology. It’s not such a big deal anymore stepping in front of the camera because it’s happening everyday for a lot of people. We are becoming more and more acclimated to being on camera than ever before.
So the camera is not just for actors and newscasters anymore. With the advent of the smartphone camera, it’s for all of us. And this mobile tech means finding upbeat guests for your video interviews won’t be as challenging as in the past. They just might need a bit of coaching on how to be brief and get to the point quickly.
Again, video interviews are very powerful pieces of communication. They catch every nuance of a person’s personality and how deeply they were affected by your credit union’s help. Viewers can see it immediately. And that’s good TV.
How are interviews working for your credit union or company?
As seen on CUES Inside Marketing July 2016.
As you know by now, I am quite biased when it comes to video marketing. Over the past couple years, I have written extensively about this continually growing trend. Video is here to stay. If you’re not using it now, it better be in your plans for 2017 because most marketing efforts are including productions to better connect with targeted audiences.
Let’s look at 17 ways to use video to promote your credit union by enhancing ties with members and prompting them to act—by signing up for a new service, applying for a loan, enrolling in a seminar/webinar, or simply sharing the video with a friend (a.k.a., a prospective member).
Many of these ideas may seem obvious, while others will make you think of new ways to deliver content. My primary aim is to get you to use this medium. It’s been proven time and time again that video sticks and gets results.
1. Sales Video. Introduce a new product or service that addresses members’ pain points—problems, struggles, frustrations—and converts the relationship from a single savings accountholder to an active borrower, investor or student of financial literacy, for example.
2. Cross-Sell/Upsell Video. Just as many core processing and other technology systems have built-in cross-sell applications for credit union staff to alert members, videos can serve the same function by accompanying credit card, loan and CD promotions.
3. Thank You Video. Send members a message of appreciation for signing up for a new product or service, applying for a loan, or attending a seminar/webinar. Offer next best steps—perhaps with a segue to a cross-sell/upsell video.
4. YouTube Video. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet. To gain exposure across an expanding FOM, post your videos on YouTube—or better yet, create your own channel. This mega-platform offers all sorts of benefits to attract new eyes and keep established ones coming back for your sharable, free content, offers and promotions.
5. Call to Action Video. Create a simple production that prompts members to take action and inspires them to take the next step, such as registering for a webinar, opening a CD, taking advantage of a super-low loan rate or downloading a free education guide.
6. About Me Video. Leverage the power of storytelling by creating a fun, creative and motivating showcase of your credit union and its message and mission. This is one of my favorite video strategies for credit unions.
7. Webinar Thank You Video. Webinars, if done right, are powerful and effective vehicles to deliver your message, educate, and promote products and service. But they do require members to take time from their day to attend. Once they have registered, thank them and give them instructions or pre-webinar details before you get started. They will greatly appreciate it.
8. Inspirational Video. Look for ways to inspire, entertain and share your message with members. This video can consist of member success stories, motivational talks from your president/CEO, educational content from subject matter experts, community outreach efforts, and much more. Again, these can be creative and fun to produce.
9. Product Review Video. With technology moving at the speed of light these days, members may be hazy on how a new digital service works (Apple Pay comes to mind). Feature one of your IT experts reviewing and explaining this service to build trust with members and position your credit union as a teacher and technology leader.
10. New Member Welcome Video. Many credit unions have produced these videos, and you should, too. What an ideal opportunity to create and build a connection from the beginning. Business at its core is all about relationships, and nothing breaks the ice like a personal welcome. This video can double as a subtle upsell/cross-sell.
11. Course Videos. If your credit union is offering an online course on investing, retirement planning, or debt management, to name just a few popular topics, then you’re a step ahead of the competition. A multi-week course keeps members coming back week after week, day after day for more information. This video production makes your credit union a trusted resource. At CUbroadcast, we are producing a number of online courses to educate our audience in 2017. We can help you with the process.
12. Video Advertisement. We’re not talking about a traditional TV commercial that might get watched or passed over via DVR. Today’s advertising has become a pay-to-play game, and social media advertising is a fantastic way to find and attract members and prospective members that would benefit from your credit union’s products and services. Facebook advertising, if properly performed, can be an incredible investment delivering amazing results.
13. Launch Videos. When you’re ready to promote your product or service (Can you say mobile?), you’ll need to record this series of videos to alert members about the impending launch and build anticipation for its delivery.
14. Promo Video. Create these videos to educate members about a product or service that needs to be promoted over time. A tip that many marketers forget is to make these videos highly sharable to spread the word organically.
15. Free Content Video. Any time you can provide members with free educational content, do it. They will love you for it—and come back again and again as their primary financial and trusted resource. Many of us, me included, need all the help we can get when it comes to our finances.
16. Interview Videos. Q&A videos can be incredibly engaging. Interview an expert on a high-interest topic, such as mortgages or investments, and post the conversation in episodes. Keep them short—under four or five minutes is best.
17. How-To Videos. One of the most sought-after forms of video on YouTube is the how-to. If you have a product or service that might be confusing, that’s an opportunity to create one of these videos. Providing educational, helpful material builds affinity and trust.
What successes have you had in using video? Let us know so we can share your ideas.
As seen on CUES Inside Marketing May 2016.
We are living in financial technology times that are like no other. It’s exciting, suspenseful and, at times, stressful. How do we keep up with what’s next? We have to ask ourselves: Is it compliant? Is this something we really need — if so, why? It’s head-spinning stuff that makes our lives anything but dull.
As most of us may remember, financial services were pretty mundane back in the day. It was something we had to do — writing checks, making deposits to savings, paying off loans, transferring between accounts, and opening CDs. But today there are so many headline-grabbing stories of payments technology advancements, biometrics security solutions, and mobile everything, which all directly impact our industry.
Navy Fed logo
It wasn’t until I saw the logo of $73 billion Navy Federal Credit Union, Vienna, Va., logo onscreen behind Apple CEO Tim Cook when he announced the first few financial institutions that would be using Apple Pay that the “cool factor” really kicked in for me. I got started in the financial services industry just as Internet home banking was on the proverbial launch pad. But that seemed more like science fiction at the time — with a ton of questions: What, I’m going to manage my money on a website? Are you sure that’s gonna fly?” The Navy FCU logo onstage at Apple’s event, however, was so legit, so cool.
I just went to the pet store to buy some dog food for our two furry family members and there on the payment terminal was “Apple Pay Accepted Here” message. So I used my Apple Pay-enabled credit union card via my iPhone to make the purchase. That’s cool — the fact that my credit union (San Diego County Credit Union shout out!) offers Apple Pay makes me love it that much more.
I’m sure there are many other industry milestones that have similar meaning to you at whatever stage of your career you were/are at. But the point is, can you remember any time in history where financial services has been so mainstream, so popular, so interesting, because of all the major players involved and their mind-blowing innovations? And to have your credit union affiliated with those organizations enhances its attractiveness in a big way. That’s good for marketing — and eventually business (as long as it all works well.)
Everybody smiles when they see something cool
So what’s your credit union’s cool factor worth? Probably more than you think. Everybody smiles when they see something cool — whether it’s a movie, song, sports, and, yes, even technology.
So, subtly, when you implement a new mobile service, a new biometrics security measure, or even a teller-free branch loaded with iPad kiosks, aren’t you instilling a cool factor — along with the efficient new services? The answer is a resounding yes. And your members, most likely, are going to love it because it’s cool to use. And, even better, they’re going to talk about it.
Tell me, Navy FCU members, that you weren’t over the moon when you saw your credit union’s logo at that Apple event as one of the first FIs to implement Apple Pay? The whole credit union industry was buzzing. Tell me, First Tech Credit Union members, that you aren’t stoked to use MasterCard’s “Selfie Pay.” Tell me, Mountain America Credit Union members, that you aren’t amazed to use its EyeVerify biometrics account opening app that essentially requires you to blink your eyes to gain access to your account.
Good grief, I was so excited when my San Diego-based credit union (which has $7 billion in assets) implemented remote deposit capture a few moons ago and I used it for the first time. I couldn’t wait to tell every living soul about it. “That’s so cool,” was what I heard from just about everybody — while probably piquing their interest in a credit union for the first time.
One of credit unions’ biggest concerns today is staying relevant. Trying new things like proven biometrics, convenient mobile payments, voice-command banking (Amazon Echo or Apple’s Siri), integrated finance within the growing area of “Internet of Things,” and much more, all greatly enhances that relevancy. There’s an old marketing strategy of smaller, lesser-known companies associating themselves with larger, high-profile companies that propel them to a higher level. This association results in more credibility, increases leadership position, and, yes, enhances their cool factor.
I’m not saying to do these things just because they are cool. Do these things because they work and future members (hello, again, millennials) will need them. So skate to where the puck is going to be (thank you, Mr. Gretzky). This affiliation enhances the visibility of your credit union exponentially being “aligned” with such high profile and, hopefully, reputable names as Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Samsung.
Giving back is cool
Let’s jump off the technology hoverboard for second and think about another good thing your credit union can do to enhance its cool factor: giving. Philanthropy, as we all know, rocks. And probably most, if not all, of you do this, anyway. But you can never rest on your laurels when it comes to giving back. Doing so is cool and enhances your credit union’s value in your members’ eyes. And chances are these efforts pass on to consumers to consider you as their new primary financial institution.
To sum it up, a cool factor definitely matters to be relevant. As superficial as it sounds, it’s true. But you have to back it up. You have to work to get there. You can have the cool technology, but make sure it works well and your members really need it. Ask your “why” here, and make your move. Also do the cool things that matter to your community; the message that sends about your values will resonate throughout your membership.
Work hard to do what’s best for your credit union, your members, and your community — and your cool factor will thrive. What’s that worth?
As seen on CUES Inside Marketing April 2016.
At nearly $397 million, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) is the most expensive movie ever made. Coming in second and $100 million less is Titanic at $294 million -- and then Spiderman 3 at $293 million. Yes, these are obscene amounts of money that many of us don’t have stashed away in the kitchen cookie jar much less our savings accounts. But, many times, it’s because of scary cost scenarios that companies – including credit unions – shy away from video.
That said, almost every week I get a few emails from CUbroadcast viewers asking me how I do my online and onsite interviews without an expensive Hollywood production budget. Yes, I’m happy to say that I can take off a few of those million-dollar zeros and come up with fairly good quality productions for under $1,000 (post computer purchase). The productions are labor intensive, but the equipment cost doesn’t have to be.
For instance back in the day, you would have to hire a crew to come in and rig up the lighting, wire interviewees with mics, and set up camera(s) at various angles. This process is still done today and many times valid for the type of production you are trying to achieve. It’s pricey. But if you can afford it, go for it.
Many of us, however, don’t have the budget to hire an expensive video crew like this. Plus, it’s a bit intimidating and time consuming with all the people, lights, mics, cameras, etc.
I’m here to provide a quick and semi-easy way to shoot your videos on a DIY budget and still get terrific results. Maybe not Hollywood production results, but how many of us or our corporate productions end up on the big screen? Very few.
Most video productions end up on YouTube or on your website (a.k.a. online), where the actual video quality doesn’t have to be uber HD. It’s delivering the compelling content that counts.
So now the stage is set. Here are my tools of the trade for producing video:
For onsite video shoots (b-roll and interviews), I use my trusty Nikon D5100 (DSLR camera $500). When I first started shooting onsite interviews, I used a little Kodak Zi8 pocket camera ($200), which, for the price, rocked. Today, the Nikon D5100 allows me to shoot stunning stills and hi-res video. A fantastic investment.
More recently, however, I have used my iPad Mini 2 ($319) for shooting onsite interviews. Amazingly, I have found the quality to be somewhat similar – especially if you’re posting online to YouTube or your website. It’s so easy to use with a Makayama iPad movie mount ($70) for tripods. It looks a little hokey, but it works really well.
On one occasion, my iPad’s battery died while I was shooting. Operator error on my part. So I took my iPhone 6 out of my pocket and used that. With the better lens than the iPad, the videos I shot with the iPhone were a bit better quality. I have used it several times since.
The reason I’ve started shooting with my iPad and iPhone is that they synch perfectly with my MacBook Pro and its bundled iPhoto and iMovie programs. As a result, the production process is more efficient than most other processes. I’m sure the same can be said on the PC side using an Android smartphone or tablet. If you’re not shooting major motion picture, than these tools work really well.
For sound on my onsite shoots, I use the RODE VideoMic Pro ($250). I love this mic. It’s directional meaning that it primarily picks up sound directly in front of it – not omni-directional that picks up everything around.
This mic fits perfectly on the Makayama light/mic mount on top (above the iPad). Just make sure you point it toward your subject and it picks up the sound like a charm. And, if you want the sound to be a bit louder, just hold the mic in your hand reporter style. The sound is even better. (I only do this if there’s a lot of background noise like at a conference.)
If you want to get a bit fancy, you can use a boom mic stand ($25) to get the mic closer to the subject without it being in the frame. It also provides hands free movement in case you have to do a little show and tell.
Other mic brands to consider include: Sennheiser, Blue, and Audio-Technica. But above all, please don’t use your camera’s built-in mic if you want decent sound. You can use it, but it will sound “tinny.” That’s annoying to the ear. Sound is the one thing you want to splurge on if you can. What good is a video with really good content if you can’t hear it well?
For lighting, I try to find an area with as much natural light as possible. The sun is your friend when shooting. But sometimes shadows can wreak havoc on your shot (even indoors) and you have to use a studio light to eliminate the shadow. Most of my onsite shots are indoors. So I scramble for natural light, which means I have to use studio lights to complement whatever light there is onsite.
I use the Westcott uLite Constant Light Kit – and for $250 it does the job very well. You can get lighting kits for a bit less or way more. I just stumbled across this one in a pinch when my primary lighting kit didn’t show up onsite one time recently (thank you UPS). I’ve used this set-up ever since.
Lastly with lighting, always position your subject with the light source on their face. Never have a ton of light coming from behind them. They will appear as a silhouette in the picture – something out of the witness protection program. Not good.
Face them so they are looking at the window (especially if you don’t have a lighting kit) with the light directly or indirectly onto their face. Makes a huge difference. You can even add lighting kit lights to fill in shadows in the background or add warmth to the picture.
So that’s it for our onsite shooting tips and tools. These items prove you don’t have to break the bank (err, credit union) like Hollywood to shoot and produce a quality video.
Next month we will cover how to cost-effectively shoot interviews (member testimonials, especially) or footage online with all the software and a bit of hardware, too. This is where the technology truly shines and you can produce some compelling videos right from your office.
And let us know what you’re doing with onsite shoots. We’d love to hear and share. Nothing gets your message across quite like video.
As seen in CU Times March 23, 2016, issue.
I recently attended NAFCU's Strategic Growth Conference in San Diego and the theme of the gathering wasn't: “How do we sell more products to grow?” The unofficial theme that quickly percolated to the surface was: “How can credit unions improve the lives of consumers?” From there, you will get growth.
Nothing too earth shattering here. But the refreshing aspect was that this message was consistently delivered by credit union CEOs. Gone are the days of yore when sales speaks through wrinkled newspapers, crackling radios and tube TVs. Yes, selling is still involved ultimately, but not overtly. That isn't how credit unions roll these days.
Don't get me wrong; rates are great, but it seems every financial institution has great rates in this era of 0.00008% APR. Nearly everybody knows it, though. As a primary message, it's become diluted. As a closer, it's still needed. The great connector now is: How can we improve your life?
This simple question connects because it has emotion behind it – and that sells.
The emotion stems from life's wants and desires: Wanting to be out of debt, a new home, a better car, an excellent education, a vacation, a worry-free retirement, 80-inch flat screen, investing advice or comfort. Our lives are home improvement projects always in the works and credit unions are the HGTV shows that can help make those improvements and quench those desires.
For example, we’ve all seen those home buying/renovation shows that feature an emotional couple getting caught up in the moment on whether to go with the waist-high wainscoting or wheat-colored wallpaper. It's fraught with tension – until the experts show up and provide sound advice on the better option. The once-weeping couple is now joyful with their choice after seeing the finished version of their fixer upper.
That's you, credit unions. No, not the tearful couple, but the experts saving the day. They’re emotionally charged and emotions drive action.
I’m looking at California Coast Credit Union's webpage right now, which is laden with life milestone images and emotional text:
For young professionals: “Life is getting busier and better by the minute. Together, we can get you where you want to be.”
For retirees: “Congratulations! You deserve this time for yourself. Together, we can get you where you want to be.”
For parents: “You’re juggling so much and caring for so many. Let us help you plan for your family's future.”
For college graduates: “You have your whole life ahead of you. Together, we can get you where you want to be.”
Notice there isn't a lick of rates mentioned. It's all “how we can improve your life” content – which resonates with all of us. It's the story you want to tell.
So what's your story? It's the credit union difference – not necessarily the member-owned, not-for-profit, low rate stuff. It's important, but most consumers today want action. What have you done for me lately?
As NAFCU Executive Vice President and COO Anthony Demangone shared in his presentation, it's extreme member service that improves lives – the actions that make news and create word of mouth. That's action we all can relate to, are attracted to and admire.
Demangone shared a couple of stories as samples of extreme service. One was from the Ritz Carlton. No, it wasn't about an honest-to-a-fault valet returning an accidental $100 tip for the intended $10 tip for parking a guest's Bentley. It was something much more humble, fun and relatable.
A family staying at the Ritz Carlton left the resort for home, but one of the kids left behind their stuffed animal: Joshie the Giraffe. A child losing their stuffed animal is like one of us losing our smartphone – a life or death situation. So the desperate dad calls the hotel to see if someone was able to locate Joshie.
The hotel's staff did find Joshie, thankfully. But here's where the extreme service kicks in. Staff members didn't just return the stuffed animal. With staff guidance, Joshie experienced many adventures during his solo stay at the Ritz Carlton – all documented on film: Sunning himself by the pool, getting a massage at the spa, making friends with other stuffed animals and driving a golf cart on the beach.
This amusing act of extreme service not only enhanced the vacationing family's loyalty, it also made headlines nationwide – most likely capturing the hearts (and dollars) of would-be Ritz Carlton vacationers. They didn't have to sell a thing. Their actions did all the selling.
Another story Demangone shared was closer to home for us: Visions Federal Credit Union President/CEO Tyrone Muse went undercover bagging groceries at the local Giant grocery store in Bethlehem, Penn. Muse would then tell shoppers who he really was and kindly paid for their groceries – showing the credit union difference and improving lives.
Visions didn't officially garner any new members that day, but the promotion did fill the credit union's staff and members with tremendous pride – along with making local and industry news and spreading word of mouth advertising from existing members to friends, family and peers. The fruits of its labor will most likely increase membership down the road.
And Visions didn't peep an ounce of sales speak. You can bet your bottom dollar that Muse wasn't talking rates while he was bagging and buying groceries. It was all generous action toward improving people's lives. Again, that's how credit unions roll.
So what is your credit union doing to improve the lives of members? What emotional story are you telling to make a difference and do the selling for you?
As seen on CUES Inside Marketing.
As video becomes increasingly prominent not only in our personal lives but in our businesses, creating sales productions for the “screen” are becoming staples of more and more marketing plans today. But I don’t see these productions as really sales pieces – unless it’s your local car dealer or furniture warehouse declaring (cue the baritone voice with the echo effect): “It’s our annual liquidation sale! Everything must go, go, go, go!”
Instead, video presents an opportunity to connect and teach on a personal level.
For credit unions, these productions (if done right) are tools that provide helpful, educational information to members and greatly enhance the value of your financial institution. A teaching-focused video can create and foster strong, personal connections that ultimately position you as a trusted, primary financial resource. That’s the road you want – not the loud, extreme “sky is falling” promo from Candy’s Classic Couch Emporium.
In this article, we cover eight steps on how to create an awesome sales/marketing/educational (whatever you want to call it) video production. Again, to achieve a greater connection with your members, you have to seriously consider producing a series of these videos that also rise above today’s ever-increasing marketing noise.
But how do you create a video that doesn’t fall flat or even repel the viewer, defeating the whole purpose? And believe me, there are plenty of them out there that reek of eau de lameness. To avoid creating a classic clunker, follow the eight steps below and you’ll be well on your way to a successful production that gains attention and results…
1. Get Attention
Right out of the box – or the first frame – use a compelling question, impressive statistic, clever humor, or a big promise to hook your members and keep them watching all the way to the end.
Much of the time credit unions are getting member/consumer attention with super low rates on loans. This tactic is fine, but after a while it almost becomes white noise. There are so many numbers flying around from different financial institutions, it’s dizzying.
One tactic that will permeate the eight steps and set you apart is creating a story that stems from a consumer’s desire to need a low rate. Why do they need it, how will it help them, and what do they need to do to get it? This would be an ideal stage setting, indeed.
2. Identify the Problem
Everything you sell must solve a problem. The bigger the problem, the bigger demand to solve it.
One big desire that most of us have, unless you’re Donald Trump, is to save money. The Donald, in all likelihood, probably doesn’t have too stringent of a budget to live on. But the rest of us, most likely, yes.
So the problem is to make a smart purchase and not to bust the budget. But “saying” and “doing” are two different things. How can the consumer achieve this feat successfully? That’s the problem. Now for the rub…
3. Agitate the Problem
It is not enough to simply identify the problem you will be solving. You must agitate it for your audience to really engage. What does that mean? It’s what happens or what the worst-case scenario could turn into if this problem persists.
In this case, we want to save because that’s what we’re told is the smart thing to do. But we also want to have the best, which might cost a bit more. It’s the classic case of the angel and the devil on each shoulder bickering about saving vs. spending.
That’s agitating that we all can relate to – and resonates really well on screen.
4. Identify the Solution
The solution isn’t you or your credit union’s products or services. The solution creates an inherent problem, which is: how do I fix or stop the original problem?
Cue your credit union riding in on shiny white stallion ready to save the day: a.k.a. the solution. Your credit union is the solution because it’s a solid financial institution that has super low rates, superb member service, and much more that allows the consumer to perhaps spend a bit more and save at the same time.
That’s pretty cool. So how does one do this at your credit union? Let’s proceed to step five.
5. Introduce your Product/Service
Now it is time to introduce what you’ve been pitching. Include a big promise or guarantee with your introduction.
For example, it’s time to show off your new auto or mortgage lending package with those super low rates that will allow your member to spend and save – satisfying both desires. You can also declare, in a non-salesy tone, that your credit union’s rates are some of the lowest in town – or even the lowest if that’s accurate.
6. Results and Benefits
What does your product/service do that will benefit your members? Can you demonstrate any unique features or selling points? (Remember: For video, you want to show, not tell.)
Here’s another cool strategy to use: To decide if each result or benefit your product offers is worth sharing, ask yourself: “So what?” after each.
This question is an excellent barometer to see what registers and what doesn’t. But just don’t ask yourself, ask others – especially people who are not associated with the credit union. You want this message to resonate strongly with your viewers. What results and/or benefits really matter? It’s the “proof in the pudding” that will spur your members to act.
7. Your Call to Action
What should your viewer do next? Use the “if/then” formula to create your call to action. For example, you could say: “If you are struggling with buying your first home, then click here for our first-time home-buyer mortgage loan packages” or “If you have less than stellar credit, then stop by and check out our special auto loan offer for you.”
Whatever the message it is, it’s imperative that you literally instruct your viewer on what to do next. If you don’t prompt them to act, your video is simply an entertainment piece. If you do prompt them to act, then it’s a potential sale that ultimately helps them in the end – a definite relationship builder. They’ll love you for it. So tell them what to do.
8. Social Proof
If your members who are watching haven’t taken action yet, try including endorsements, testimonials, super short case studies, and reviews in your video to provide social proof. These folks need a little more prodding to get moving – and social proof usually gets them out of their chairs. Social proof is peer-related proof that’s relatable. If they see somebody who has a similar story, immediately they can relate and it makes it real for them.
So those are our eight steps to creating a killer credit union sales video. These steps have been proved time and time again in other industries – and even other media. So why not credit unions and video?
You can have each of these eight steps strategically placed in a 30-second commercial or even a two-minute informative piece. Time doesn’t matter – just as long as each step is included and illustrated.
Lastly, video is not going away. It’s only going to become a more and more popular and effective tool for businesses. Now is the time to start working with it. Or if you already are, now is the time to refine and perfect your messaging tactics with it.
What are you doing with your video sales/education pieces? And how are they working for you?
As seen on CUES Inside Marketing.
In my last two video-related columns--“Why You Can’t Be Afraid of the Camera Anymore” and “What Kind of Messenger Do You Want to Be?”--we discussed the many reasons to start or up your credit union’s “video game,” along with who you want to “be” while delivering your video messages to achieve maximum impact. In other words have a why and a how in producing and delivering your credit union’s video productions.
In this piece, we’re going to venture to the other side of the tracks and gently suggest what not to do in your video productions. Even though you want these productions to be as genuine and authentic as possible (no Hollywood glitz, please), there are so many ways they can backfire. So listed below are six things not to do in your videos so they look good, sound good, and are free of distraction:
1. Camera too close (a.k.a. Wizard of Oz effect)
Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and the gang met the ghostly, giant talking head of the great Oz? It was menacing. This giant head, surrounded in bursting flames, connected to nothing and spouting unruly demands, was downright unsettling. It caused the Cowardly Lion to run and jump out of a window. That’s not good.
When you have the camera too close to your subject when recording, that’s how people feel. It’s unsettling. Probably not enough to make anyone jump out of a window, but it’s too “in your face,” if you know what I mean.
It’s simply too distracting when the camera is too close like this. Ideally, you want a torso and up shot so you can see the person’s hands when they’re talking. I read a study a few years ago that when an audience can see a person’s hands on video, they become more trust worthy. Not sure why, but I always tell my subjects on CUbroadcast to move back from the camera a bit so we can get that torso and up shot to show their hands. With smartphone, tablet, and desktop cameras, that is sometimes a challenge. But try.
If you are filming with a camera atop a tripod, it’s much easier to get the ideal position. So remember: no giant Wizard of Oz talking head. Shoot from the torso and up to see your hands for a more natural and trustworthy shot. Just don’t get too far away or you’ll lose audio quality.
2. Laptop up your nose (awkward camera angle)
Ok, this is an all-too-common occurrence on video conference calls or recording something from your mobile, tablet or laptop. The device with the camera is usually sitting on your desk below you and the camera angle is literally pointed up your nose toward the ceiling. Now don’t get me wrong; you may have a very beautiful nose, but it’s not an ideal angle for anyone.
Set that laptop or mobile on a stack of books, tripod, or some other contraption that raises it to eye level. In a business or professional setting, it’s an opportunity to be eye to eye. It’s a more natural and engaging angle that’s attractive and easy to look at – not distracting. This is what you want – people focusing on what you have to say, not your nostrils or how many ceiling tiles are out of place above your head.
3. Witness protection program (bad lighting)
Lighting is vital to any video production, but it can be very complicated. There are people in video production who make very good money as lighting experts. For what you want to do, however, there is a simple rule to follow: Have the light source shining on your face.
Your light source can be anything from a simple desk lamp to a well-placed window, or a professional lighting kit, which doesn’t need to be that expensive (Cowboy Studio does the trick here for around $100).
I’ve had many folks come on CUbroadcast sitting with their back to the window or a light behind them, creating a lovely “witness protection program” silhouette. Unless you’re running from the law or an international crime syndicate, that’s not usually ideal lighting for a monologue or interview. You want your audience to see you talking. That’s the connection. So I usually have the person I am interviewing simply turn around facing the light source and the problem is solved. (Just be careful what’s in the background, which is covered below in #5: Cluttered background.)
Side note: If you don’t have a professional lighting person on hand (and who does?), natural lighting is usually the best light. So go find a window and let the sun shine on your lovely mug.
4. Bad audio
Nothing can derail a video like bad audio. It’s probably on par with, if not worse than, bad lighting. It will ruin your video in a heartbeat. If you can’t be heard clearly, then what’s the point?
It’s completely distracting and disorienting if your audio is crackly, faint or too loud. So invest in a lapel or lavalier mic for those more formal productions. You can usually get one for under $100. A boom mic works really well and is not as invasive to the subject. Make sure this mic is “directional” so it only picks up the sound in front of it. (This is what I use for onsite interviews: Rode VideoMic Pro.)
In a pinch, you can even shoot and record from your iPhone or other mobile device. The cameras are pretty good these days, but the mics still have a ways to go. There are many mics on the market that can be connected to your device for better sound.
If you are recording or conference calling from your laptop, there are a ton of awesome USB mics out there. For my CUbroadcast interviews, I use the Blue Snowball connected to my MacBook Pro. I’ve used it for five years now and it’s still going strong. The Blue Yeti mic is an upgrade from the Snowball that I am currently considering. Both these mics are under $100.
So don’t derail your video with bad sound. Invest in a decent mic and it’ll make a huge difference in your finished production.
5. Cluttered background
When you’re on camera – especially those all-important Skype conference calls or an online video interview that shows more than just your pretty, make sure the walls, shelves, and floor behind are clutter free.
There’s nothing more distracting then trying to watch a video webcast or online video interview and noticing the stacks and stacks of files overflowing on the cabinet in the background, the piles and piles of books spilling from your bookshelf in the corner, or even the neglected plant sadly drooping against the wall behind you.
So before you go “on air,” clean up the background. People notice this stuff. It’s like having good manners. You don’t really think about it, but it’s really noticeable.
6. Don’t read from a script
Lastly, if you want to be credible, don’t read from a script. There’s nothing more inauthentic and unnatural than reading from a prepared script – especially on a video project. Yes, there are instances that a script must be used: police reports, legal proceedings, presidential speeches, etc.
In these types of video productions/interviews, however, where you want to be seen as a leading expert, use your brain. You are an expert in your field so you should be able to talk about it naturally. The more natural and knowledgeable you are without having to read something, the more credibility you will have. So practice, practice, practice. Use bullet points, memorize it, learn it, be a ventriloquist -- do anything except read from a script.
So these are the six things not to do in a video. Remember and apply them for more professional, genuine and engaging productions. Your audience will love you and return time and time again for more of your entertaining and informative talks.
Author: Mike Lawson
Married to a most gorgeous and wonderful wife, raising 5 kiddos (including twins!), enjoy helping others tell their stories, and love surfing SoCal waves. Keep it simple.