Video is the perfect medium to showcase your store and your talents. Videos are easily absorbed by viewers, easily shared, and are not as difficult to make as you might think.
Although social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter make it possible to share videos, those are not the sites people turn to when hunting for this media. For that, you’ll want YouTube.
YouTube is the most widely used video platform in the world, and it would be a shame for your store not to reap the re-wards of its magnetism. Although you’re probably not a professional video producer, in the 21st century anyone can create content to further their brand with just a few pieces of equipment.
But before you can post online, you’ll have to create a YouTube account. To get started, sign in and navigate to the account settings. Click “create new channel” and then select that you would like to post as a business. From there, follow the prompts to set up your channel. Clicking on the placeholder logo (usually the first letter of your company’s name) will prompt you to add a logo. Then navigate to your channel’s page to add a description of you and your business.
With the basic set-up completed, you can now think about filming. Make sure the videos you create are done in a quiet, well-lit environment. There are numerous visual formats to work with: Some people show primarily themselves while they talk about the hobby, while others focus the camera on the products and include a voice-over. Look at existing videos for style inspiration. In fact, the best way to research YouTube is by watching videos. Find channels that you want to emulate and study those accounts.
When it comes to editing, there are free programs available on both OSX and Windows platforms, though you may want to consider higher-end software, such as Adobe Premier, as your skills grow. Don’t stress too much over technical perfection with your first few videos—that will improve over time.
Now the main question is, what will your videos be about? Here are four hobby-specific themes to consider.
ONE Product promotion and review videos
Product reviews are one of the most popular genres of YouTube videos. A recent Google survey found that between 60 and 70 percent of frequent online customers utilized YouTube for reviews of some sort. It’s safe to say that your more tech-savvy customers have gone to YouTube for reviews. As someone with extensive knowledge of your products, you can confidently recommend and discuss new releases, just as you would in your physical store.
Another popular product promotion format is the “unboxing” video. As the name implies, videos in this genre simply show you taking product out of the box and recording your reaction to its contents. Use these videos as opportunities to bond with your viewers and give quick, spontaneous first impressions on products.
Both reviews and promotional videos can help build excitement for new releases. Always direct viewers to your e-commerce store. In the description, say when the product will be available, when in-store demonstrations will be and when you’ll be running specials. After that information is no longer relevant, you can delete it.
TWO How-to videos
Google found that an astonishing 91 percent of smartphone users go online when completing difficult or new tasks. You could be the person they turn to for answers. Consider hosting a regular show where you teach others a skill you know. This skill could be drone repair, track layout, scale-model building—anything your customers would like to learn about.
These how-to videos don’t have to be long. Adweek found that the ideal YouTube video length is around three minutes, but don’t worry if you go over. If you are showing good information, people will keep watching. If you’re camera shy, consider a format that shows only your hands and the product after each step is completed. You can always record voice-over and edit down the video later.
When creating how-to videos, be sure to explain each step in the process thoroughly and include close-up shots whenever necessary. Think back to the questions you’ve had from customers before and answer them on camera.
Don’t worry about customers becoming too self-reliant and avoiding your store. Google found that 73 percent of frequent online customers value a brand more if they find its promotional materials continually keep them engaged with interesting and useful information. For example, brands such as The Home Depot have found users are more comfortable undertaking large projects when they can turn to a how-to video on their phone at any stage in the work to make sure it comes out just right.
You also might find that more in-depth instructions lead to more sales as you inspire viewers to try new things. Additionally, you can promote the various products related to your hobby that you sell. Tell people which glue, tool set, lighting apparatus, etc., works best. Direct them to your online store in the description of the video.
If you are still concerned about giving away too much information, you can show only the most basic of steps. What’s the information you’d give away for free in-store? Put that in video form and watch the views roll in.
THREE Tour videos
As you know, customers are turning to the Internet at every step when shopping, even before they walk through a business’s door. To show these potential customers that your store is worth a visit, give them a virtual tour.
Walk them through the aisles, showing off the merchandise and brands you carry. You can choose to be on camera giving the tour or record voice-over later. If you think the video speaks for itself, at least put a soundtrack in the background. People will feel more comfortable going to a new store if they know what to expect when they walk in.
Videos of your store shouldn’t stop there. Hit “record” when you throw events, too. R/C races in the parking lot, drone demonstrations, modeler conventions—record. Show how well attended it is, and possibly get a few quotes from attendees.
FOUR Interview videos
While people once would have had to attend an expo or conference to hear interviews with prominent hobbyists, YouTube makes this available at the click of a button. As a hobby-store owner, you may know people whose opinions your customers would appreciate hearing. It could be an expert patron, professionals who demonstrate at your store, or winners of hobby-related contests. These people may have an opinion or knowledge worth sharing in an interview video.
Obviously, this idea takes more planning and is dependent upon others, but if you can interview a leader in the industry, that’s golden content. An interview can take many forms, either as a conversation between two people on screen, or with the focus on just the subject. That said, if you think finding someone is too difficult, there’s still a group of experts at your disposal for interviews: you and your staff.
Showing the personal side of your business is good fodder for social media. Customers feel a connection to a store if they can put a face with the brand. Putting you and your employees in front of a camera is an easy way to provide that connection.
Not sure what to say in front of the camera? Ask yourself the following questions: How young were you when you first got into your hobby? What made you want to open a store? What is your favorite part of running a hobby store? You get the idea—ask yourself and your staff pleasant questions about the industry and what makes your store special.
Remember, you don’t have to do all of these ideas to see YouTube success. Depending on your location and available time and equipment, you might want to explore only one or two. No matter what sort of theme you choose, create videos that you’re proud of. Don’t be afraid to
re-record, and have fun with the content.
Elizabeth Nash is associate editor of Model Retailer.
If you own a digital camera from the past five or six years, there’s a good chance it shoots 1080p video. Many videographers have turned to DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras as a cheaper alternative to professional equipment, but even a point-and-shoot camera could do the trick if you’re just looking to get started. If you do de-cide to buy a DSLR, make sure it allows for manual ex-posure control when in video mode. Regardless, use a tripod as well.
Unless you’re shooting outside in broad daylight, you’ll need to bring in additional lights to expose your video. Either a few halogen or fluorescent work lights will do the trick (but don’t mix both). If the light comes off too harsh, try aiming the lights at a piece of Styrofoam and angling it at your subject to “bounce” softer light, or through a white sheet to “diffuse” it.
While your camera will have some onboard sound, the quality will be minimal. You can pick up cheap microphones online; a wireless clip-on microphone or boom mic would be ideal, depending on the budget available to you. You may be able to plug the mic straight into the camera, but if not you’ll want to find a way to record your audio, whether using a USB compatible microphone and recording direct to your PC, or a converter to make it compatible with your camera. Ideally, you’d get a dedicated digital audio recorder/mixer, but those can be expensive for a beginner.
If you use a favorite song of yours as the soundtrack to a video, you may find yourself in violation of copyright law, and YouTube may remove your video, mute the sounds, put ads on it or, at the very least, remove your ability to monetize your content. However, the Internet is littered with resources that you can use for free in your videos. Try typing “royalty-free music” into your Web browser.