Five reasons to use video in your ministry and five tips on improving it (@jdblundell)

As 2013 approaches, there’s no better time than now to start seriously thinking about an online video strategy for your community of faith or organization.

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Of course many wonder why anyone would want to add more work to their already strained schedules, but when it comes to cost and engagement, it’s becoming harder and harder to beat the value video now offers everyone.

It’s now easier than ever to create and publish video content.

On our trip to New Mexico this spring I woke up early one morning and walked out to the garden of the Bed and Breakfast we were staying at armed with nothing but my iPhone. In less than 20 minutes I had gathered sound clips, still photos and video for a 3 minute video documenting the great environment surrounding us. By the time breakfast rolled around our hosts were astonished to see the video I had already edited and published online promoting their B&B with nothing more than an iPhone.

But why should YOU delve into video?

  • The technology is here, it’s affordable and easier than ever to use. Whether you’re shooting on your smartphone, a Flipcam, a DSLR or a fully dedicated HD camera, the costs to create, edit and publish video content have never been cheaper.
  • Video and moving pictures are a universal story teller. Even if I don’t understand the language being spoken, I can still typically gather the highlights of a story from the video footage being used.
  • Video is easier than ever to share. Copy the URL, copy the embed code or simply click one of the major social media buttons on the major video sharing sites and your friends around the globe can watch the same thing you are in seconds.
  • Viewership is rising. In May of this year, U.S. users watched 34 billion YouTube videos alone. In my company we often assume that our clients don’t read – I’m not convinced that’s entirely true, but regardless they are definitely watching videos.
  • Of all the searches in the world, YouTube remains the second largest search engine on the interwebs. Why would you want to exclude your content and message from those individuals?

So I’m ready to make the leap, how can I make my videos better?

These tips are just a tip of the iceberg…

  • Create valuable content. Offer answers (why do we do communion this way?) or advice or how to videos (how to be a better husband – and why it matters) for your viewers. People don’t want to be preached at, yelled at or pitched to. Offer something of value and people will tune in and share.
  • Tell a story. We all identify with stories. Whether you’re sharing someone’s personal story or a how to video, find the story you want to tell and help the viewer relate to it. I always like Andy Stanley’s method: This is the problem I have, this is how it affects you, this is what Scripture says about it, this is how we should change because of this truth and then cast a vision of what it would look like if we all made these changes.
  • Decide on a goal before you start shooting. What do you want your viewer to do because of this video? Be a better neighbor? Treat their children with love and respect? Love the unloved? Come to a closer understanding of grace? Don’t just make videos because you can or to promote yourself or organization Fix your eyes on the goal and don’t stray (and pick ONE goal per video).
  • Check your lighting and audio before hand. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the editing process and realizing you can’t see or hear what’s going on (its even more frustrating for the end user). One advisor recently told me that people will forgive lousy video quality but they’re very slow to forgive lousy audio quality. Spend money where you can on external mics and/or lights.
  • Create and post. Get your content out there and post it everywhere you can. Make it accessible and shareable. While You should always have the video available on your site(s), don’t forget to share it on other video sharing and social networks. As a confession, I’m sometimes guilty of “create and ship” to a fault. For that reason I encourage you to find one or two people on your team with an eye for detail to be sure titles are spelled correctly, audio is clear etc., but don’t get drug down into the finer debates about edit details and the like.

BONUS: Transcribe your video. This can be a time suck but it’s also an invaluable benefit to your viewers. If nothing else, be sure and summarize the content of your video in an easily digestible format on your website. While video is growing like gangbusters we don’t want to leave any viewers/readers out who may not be able to view your video content for whatever reason.

So with these thoughts and tips in mind – what is your video strategy for 2013?

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About Jonathan D. Blundell

Jonathan Blundell is a husband, father, blogger, podcaster, author and media geek who is hoping to live a simple life and follow The Way. You can find him and links to his numerous projects at jdblundell.com or follow him on Twitter: @jdblundell or circle him on G+.