Considering Ideas for Business Vlogs

One common topic for discussion when videobloggers get together is how to use videoblogs in a business setting, either to make money or improve a business's exposure and promotion.

As videoblogging matures as a medium and an industry, more business applications for it will evolve. If you have the greatest idea for a business vlog, go for it. There is no limit to how these technologies can be used.

Activism

Some businesses are in political hotbeds and can't avoid becoming politically or socially aware, if not active. Some lines of business, of course, are less involved until lack of involvement affects their bottom lines. Some businesses engage in political or social activism, taking action to raise awareness about public issues.

If there is a law or issue that threatens or benefits your business, you would do well to let your customers know. A videoblog can help raise awareness of issues that affect you and make your business successful. A new zoning rule, for instance, may seem like a great idea to your customers — until you point out to them that the new law opens up your community to competition from major chain stores that will almost certainly drive you out of business. A videoblog can help get that message to your customers and your community.

Advertising

The most blatant use of a videoblog — and the least successful — is to post an advertisement for your product or service to your videoblog. This particular method of videoblogging isn't known for its effectiveness, because when people download your videos, they want something valuable in exchange for their time; they see a blatant self-promotion as a waste of their time and bandwidth. Since advertising is something that you as a business normally pay other people to show, asking people to download it of their own free will is counterintuitive.

Announcements

Whenever your company has an announcement or event, in addition to your standard press release, you can post the announcement in video format to your videoblog. Delivering a keynote speech? Video the speech and post it, or excerpts of it, to your vlog.

You can do this for product launches as well, with a video showing the product and your announcement, though this runs perilously close to an advertisement if it's done with too slick a style.

In the vlog post, include a link to the related press release, and at least provide contact information for media outlets to license your announcement video. You can even put the licensing in the vlog post itself — if you do, more casual vloggers will feel comfortable re-vlogging your company's news.

Behind the scenes

One advantage of a business vlog is that you can show parts of your business that no one else would normally have access to. You can show the world what your work process is like, or how you take an idea from its bare concept into full implementation.

If you're an artist, musician, or filmmaker, this behind-the-scenes look will fascinate your fans and help promote your work. If you're a businessperson with a product to sell, showing off the parts of your development cycle that are cool or effective gives your customers greater insight into your business and greater pride of ownership of your products.

Educational

The easiest application for many businesses is to create educational videoblogs. These can be instructions or training for employees or potential employees, of course, but a more general application is to create a videoblog that helps customers understand and use your product or service better.

For example, if you run a vegetarian restaurant, you could produce a videoblog teaching people how to cook a healthy vegetarian meal, a vlog on the meat industry and its impact on society, or a vlog about organic local farms in your area. Another example is that a law firm can use videoblogs to explain how to behave in court, what particular acts are considered criminal, or to show interviews with experts on legal issues.

Games and contests

Would you like to play a game? Businesses have used contests for years to promote their products, and you can use your videoblog as a delivery mechanism. Contests like these work well when promoted in a business videoblog:

  • Sweepstakes: These use a random drawing to pick a winner.
  • Trivia/knowledge contests: These use trivia questions or knowledge questions to pick a winner, or to qualify entries for a sweepstakes.
  • Skill games: These are often competitions of contestants' abilities, such as essay contests for kids, or film-festival contests.
  • Other games: Puzzle-solving games and riddles can challenge contestants' minds and logic skills.

Games and contests don't necessarily have to have prizes, though simpler contests such as sweepstakes usually need a tangible reward. For skill contests, bragging rights work (though providing a prize is also nice). Prizes can be cash, products, services, trips to events, or even a simple certificate.

If you hold a contest in your videoblog, check your local gaming laws to make sure you aren't breaking any of them. All those "void where prohibited/ no purchase necessary" rules in the fine print of contest entries are basically there to protect the contest sponsors from legal liability.

Media delivery

Some of the most commercial vlogs aren't even called videoblogs. They're called video podcasts or just videos in the iTunes Music Store. When Apple announced that iTunes would start carrying video in the store, the door opened for quick, inexpensive, video-on-demand downloads. It's now possible to miss an episode of Lost one day, and then buy and download it the next.

If you make your commercial media downloadable, eventually it will escape into the Internet. Although there's a lot of argument about the rights of creators versus trends toward sharing, consider which is more valuable to you: the cost of a download subscription, or another viewer eagerly snapping up your video. The business impact of your videoblog is in your hands.

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