If you go to YouTube right now and search for lawyers, you’ll probably find some clips of popular lawyer movies. You’re also likely to find a lot of crappy legal marketing videos and some that might make you laugh.
But for some lawyers, video might just be the best medium to communicate with audiences.
You might be surprised to learn that video is already “the content of the internet” (beginning at 7m55s):
And as more people access the web at high speeds via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, it’s likely that video will become more and more ubiquitous online.
But let’s forget all that for a moment. If I asked you which medium, text, audio (only) or video was the most effective, which would you choose?
Perhaps you fancy yourself a writer and not much of a presenter, and are therefore partial to text. And there can be no doubt that the written word is likely to forever remain a vehicle for human communication. Some communications simply lend themselves better to writing than speaking.
But as unfortunate as it may be, it’s difficult to deny that the majority of people prefer watching and listening to reading.
How to Produce Videos
You might think that you need fancy equipment, a studio and sophisticated video editing software to create professional videos. And there is no doubt that getting professional video production help makes a huge difference in the quality of videos.
But the quality of entry-level video recording devices, and even smartphones, is getting pretty impressive. Couple that with free live broadcasting platforms like Google+ Hangouts on Air, and everyone can publish video content pretty easily.
Of course, just like with text, you can put all the digital lipstick you want on your videos. If they lack substance or watch like advertisements, they’re likely to do more harm to your reputation than good.
One popular type of online video is the explainer video. According to Unbounce, when Dropbox switched their homepage to a single video, they increased conversion rates over 10%, and with the video being viewed 750,000 times in one month alone, the 10% increase resulted in several thousand extra sign ups per day.
However, just because it worked for Dropbox, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for your law firm. According to Neil Patel:
The reality is, most explainer videos won’t boost your conversion rate or make you more money. It isn’t because the idea sucks, it’s because you are going to take the wrong approach of making the video.
Patel agrees that, “the most important aspect of a successful video is the script and not the actual video quality. Whether you have a high quality video or a mediocre one, if the script isn’t good it won’t convert well.”
He also offers some great tips for growing an audience on YouTube:
While lawyers cringe at terms like “convert”, if you want to motivate internet users to contact you (and admittedly you may not), you have to supply their demand for information in a way that they can understand. Obviously, not all legal questions lend themselves to simple explanations that can be clearly articulated in a 2 minute web video. But some do.
Interview-style vignettes are another popular online video format. Interview vignettes can be used to showcase one’s knowledge or experience relating to a particular niche, subject or issue. Here’s a quick example.
If you opt for an interview-style video, avoid the TV advertising trap. Don’t talk about how hard you will fight and how passionate you are. Talk about the problems your prospective clients face and how you help them solve them. Think haiku of what you do.
You don’t have to come up with creative explainer videos or stumble through interviews. Most of the time, the most effective web videos simply provide educational information. Simply talk about something that your background, education and experience has taught you that regular folks don’t know about. You can view some examples here.
Maybe it’s a legal issue. Maybe it’s a medical or financial issue that your clients typically face.
Yes, Ethics Apply in Video too
In case there are any doubts, you obviously need to consider ethical issues related to producing video content. Hopefully, it’s obvious that you shouldn’t reveal client confidences. If your video might be subject to attorney advertising rules, make sure you follow your state’s rules to stay compliant. In some states, that might mean submitting your video content for review in advance or including disclaimer language.
Video & Service
Of course, video isn’t only for client development and reputation enhancement. As Meryl K Evans explains in her 2009 GIGAOM article, 34 Ways to Use YouTube for Business, YouTube can be a customer service tool:
Create “how to” videos to help your customers use your product or service.
Post solutions to common product or service problems.
Answer customer-specific questions using videos. Imagine how surprised a customer will be when you point them to a video with the answer!
Embed videos on your web site on appropriate pages, including customer support and product tours.
Post a blog entry discussing a problem and include a video for visual support.
Go the extra mile by adding closed-captions or subtitles to your videos. Remember that not everyone can watch or hear videos in the same way.
Show a work-in-progress project to a customer for review and approval, without the need for a face-to-face meeting or in-person demo.
Don’t think of videos in a vacuum. Just like blogging and social networking, there is a community aspect to online videos. You should consider how you might create a video channel that would actually attract subscribers and spur discussion. Spend some time exploring YouTube Help.
Videos don’t have to be about explaining stuff, demonstrating your knowledge or providing educational material. They can also be a really effective way to network.
You might be surprised, but there are actually a bunch of lawyers who regularly hangout on Google+. Facebook also has a video chat function.
Video Markup & Rich Snippets
Finally, don’t forget to markup up your video pages to get video rich snippets:
Adding video markup can have a significant impact on how your video pages appear in search results:
If you’re serious about web video, I would be remiss if I didn’t reference Wistia, which is an extremely powerful video hosting tool.
Have you produced online video content? Have you participated in a Hangout on Air? Do you see video as a viable medium for enhancing your professional web profile?