There is a laundry list of best practices for vlogging, but just like vlogs themselves should be narrowly focused, I will shorten this list to the seven most important tips.
- Choose one topic per vlog to focus on. Stick to this narrow slice of information. Don’t serve your audience the entire pie to devour in one sitting. This will overwhelm them with too much at once and may cause them to get confused or forget essential details. According to Insivia, viewers retain 95% of the info they watch in a video compared to 10% of info they consume via reading. Keep your ideas and thoughts clear, concise, and to the point.
- Videos are a mechanism for purposeful storytelling. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. From the top of your vlog, establish the topic at hand and maintain that focus for its entirety. Prepare three bullet points to guide you through the delivery of your presentation. But, no more than three. These bullet points should be the only notes you have in front of you, so that the words coming out of your mouth are authentic. Reading and referring to detailed notes is too scripted for vlogs and detracts from the goal of natural conversation. Writing too much ahead of time also makes your mind overthink because you are trying to remember things word-for-word. You are not performing in a scripted stage production or a movie or tv show. Improvising is the way to go. The three bullet points keep you on track, so you refrain from going off on a tangent. It helps maintain the structure and anatomy of the vlog. Know how you want to start, a middle point you want to make, and how you want to close it out. Prepare a well thought-out plan of how it’ll flow.
- Authenticity is key. Be you and let your personality shine through. This means you should not be perfect. Don’t try to be Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts, or David Muir. You are not a professional news anchor and your audience doesn’t expect you to be. That’d come across as overly rehearsed. Online audiences want to see the real, raw version of you complete with flaws, blemishes, and hiccups. People relate to the imperfect, so go ahead and post the unpolished delivery.
- The majority of web users watch videos with the sound turned off. WordStream says a whopping 85% of videos viewed on Facebook are muted. Make sure to caption your videos. If you have time and skill, adding graphics and infographics can also be appealing to the eyes, as long as you don’t overdo it and create distraction and busyness on the screen. You don’t want your vlog to look like CNN or a three-ring circus and people don’t know where to turn their attention. Imagery should add emphasis to the points you are making, but you should always be the star of your vlog.
- When it comes to online content, people’s attention span is very short. Some research has claimed that the human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish, however this interesting tidbit has been called into question by skeptics. When you begin to vlog, I believe a good rule of thumb is to keep your videos 60 seconds or less. When I dive into analytics, I see numbers dramatically slip after the 60 second mark.If you do post a longer video, lead with the most essential details, so your viewers will for sure see that even if they don’t make it to the end. Vloggers with an established following can get away with publishing longer-form videos. I’ve watched some five-minute videos, but others lose my interest in only 30 seconds. Finding your sweet spot for length will take trial and error. Publish videos of varying lengths and then look at the analytics to see what works best for you. At what timecode are you losing viewers? What were you talking about or doing at that point in the video? Did you lose viewership because of length or content?
- Upload your video natively into each platform that you plan to use it on. Native videos on Facebook have 10 times higher reach than posting a YouTube link in your feed, according to WordStream. Each platform — YouTube, Facebook, and IGTV — has its own algorithm, so the video will perform better if you upload it natively. When it comes to posting videos on your personal or business website, it is very costly to host native video. It is more realistic and affordable to embed videos from YouTube.
- When beginning to vlog, I recommend being a solo host to keep the focus on you, develop loyal followers, and become a voice of authority on the topic. You’ll develop comfort on camera and your audience will become comfortable with you. Depending on your business and goals, once you’ve established your brand’s voice and identity, it may suit you well to introduce a co-host, have a guest co-host from time to time, or have a guest that you interview on a particular topic they are knowledgeable on. Offering your audience variety could be one tactic to hold their interest and keep them coming back for more and more episodes.