Entrepreneurs, embrace the power of video

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Steve Strauss, Special for USA TODAY

10:39 a.m. ET Jan. 29, 2017

Q: I hear so much about engagement these days but I don’t really have time to chat with potential customers on Facebook or whatever. What else should I be doing? Franklin

A: I have a question for you:

Have you watched a video on your computer today?

If you are like the rest of us, the answer is very likely yes. For the small business owner, the reasons to have video on your site and social channels are many, but for starters, consider these statistics:

  • 33% of online activity these days is now spent watch video (Note: most of the stats I cite in this column come from Hubspot.com)
  • Putting a video on a landing page increases conversion by 80%

Or consider this startling stat: “Real estate listings that include a video receive 403% more inquiries than those without.”

That is fairly amazing, and for the small business owner looking to engage online, the video phenomenon should not be ignored. How can you use video in your small business? There are many ways:

1. Include videos in your email newsletters: If your company has an e-newsletter (which you should) you should definitely be including videos in as many newsletters as possible (but not all of them – keep your content diverse.)

Just take a look at the statistics: Using a video in an email increases the email click-through rate by 200-300%. And because videos increase the likelihood that your newsletter will be viewed all the way through, it also means that you are likely to generate more traffic to your website and social channels.

2. Advertise your products: Videos are a great way to introduce whatever it is that you’re selling to prospective customers. Statistics show that videos are greatly influential in a buyer’s decision making process, and that 64% of users are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.

(Bonus: These types of videos will save you from having to answer the same customer service questions over and over again.)

3. Post videos of products, events, sales on your site or social channels: Make a short teaser video to build up a certain level of anticipation for an upcoming event. Show off the best aspects of your product or sale and offer a line or two about why it will be worth somebody’s time and money. Video engages and motivates people to action.

4. Go live: As I mentioned in my yearly trends column, the new kid on the video block is live streaming.

You can start a live video stream on Facebook, on Twitter using Periscope, and now even Instagram. What typically works is to give your followers a behind-the-scenes look; people love that VIP feeling and seeing how things are truly flavored. Introduce yourself, make some jokes, and introduce all your employees as well. Going live in this way really gives a human face to your brand, helps you connect and engage, and in our hyper-connected world, that personalized touch is exactly what small businesses need to stand out amongst the crowd.

As a final incentive, consider that over half of total Internet users use their cell phones to access the web. Many of them of course are less likely to stop to read some tiny text on a tiny screen than watch a YouTube clip. Maybe that is why, according to YouTube, mobile video consumption rises by 100% each year.

To reach those mobile customers, you have to be making videos.

For the entrepreneur, perhaps the most important statistic about video effectiveness is this: 80% of people remember a video they’ve watched in the past 30 days. If you want what they remember to be your business, then video needs to be in your future.

Today’s tip: One thing business people talk about a lot is innovation. Innovation energizes employees, builds the brand, and positively affects the bottom line. So, the question then really is, how do you create a culture of innovation?

If this is a question of importance to you, I would like to highly recommend the book, The Invisible Advantage, by Soren Kaplan. In this  readable, engaging, great book, Kaplan details how any organization can create a culture of innovation – one that promotes creativity, originality, and the entrepreneurial spirit. Steve says check it out!

Steve Strauss, @Steve Strauss on Twitter, is a lawyer specializing in small business and entrepreneurship and has been writing for USATODAY.com for 20 years. E-mail: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com. Website: TheSelfEmployed.

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