From The Editor | July 27, 2009

Improve Your Web Presence With Flip Video

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Written by: Mike Monocello

In the past I’ve written about the importance of creating valuable content for your website that does more than just list the products you carry and service you can perform. In many cases, creating such web content (e.g. case studies) takes only a little time and effort. Recently, I came across a cheap way to take your web content to the next level. Video. Even better news is that creating and adding video has never been easier.

In the July issue of Business Solutions magazine, we featured VAR FrugalTech who is using web video as a marketing tool. FrugalTech videos are posted on 11 sites — all free. The VAR used Google Analytics to follow the impact of his marketing efforts on his home website. “It probably took a couple months before we saw a noticeable difference in the traffic on our website, but we did see our bounce rates drop pretty quickly,” says FrugalBrothers President Bruce Naylor, explaining that if you get 50 visitors and your bounce rate is 80%, that means the visitors you are getting aren’t really interested. “When you drop that bounce rate, it means you’re doing something right.” Today, FrugalBrothers.com gets in excess of 1,000 visitors a month, nearly 10 times what they had a year ago. “If you get 10,000 visitors a year and 1% or 2% turn into paying customers, that is something,” he says.

FrugalTech primarily uses video as an educational tool. That’s a great way to show your company is on the cutting edge, is knowledgeable, and professional. Additionally, you can add product demo videos and customer testimonials. With so many websites looking the same, embedding your own video can give your website life.

While FrugalTech made a significant video studio investment, there are cheap and yet still effective alternatives. Enter the Flip Video camera. Flip Video cameras were created by Pure Digital Technologies, which was bought by Cisco in early 2009. The gist: the cameras have solid state memory (which varies by model) and record at 640 x 480 resolution at 30 frames per second (a HD model is also available which records at 1280 x 720 resolution). The low end models are definitely good enough for web video which is usually viewed at 320 x 240 resolution. The cameras have few buttons and are therefore easy to operate. A big red button toggles recording, a play button plays video and a delete button deletes. Aside from that, there’s a power button and a rocker button to zoom in and out. Prices range from about $100 to $200 depending on desired recording length and resolution.

To connect the Flip to a PC, a switch on the side of the camera causes a USB jack to swing out from the device. Once connected to a PC, video editing software that resides on the camera automatically runs. From within the software, you can edit video clips, add titles, combine clips, and add background music. When done editing, you can export the video file to your PC, share online with friends via Flip’s free sharing service, email, or burn the video to a DVD.

Flip sent me a camera to test and I have to report that the unit is one of the easiest things to use. In fact, today's MP3 players are more complicated than the Flip. And, editing video using the included software is equally as simple. Indeed, it takes mere minutes to edit a clip. To fully test the capabilities of the Flip, I recently took the camera on the road to a convention. To see what the Flip is capable of, visit www.bsminfo.com/insideretailnow.

There is only one limitation of the Flip that I can find. While the camera performs very well under average room lighting, the recording gets grainy under darker conditions. However, most more expensive digital cameras have this issue. If you’re using the camera for business, this shouldn’t be a problem anyway.

Finally, one best practice of producing video content for your website. If you want to take the best possible video, use a tripod. Holding a camera in hand produces shaky content. The stillness a tripod produces adds a definite level of professionalism and will make your video easier to watch.

If you decided to produce video content for your website, I'd love to see it! Please send me a link and we might feature it on one of our resource centers.

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