Readers of my regular blog (blog.sibdu.com) have been innundated as of late with my posts (read: ramblings) on why using video in commercial real estate is good. Brand building. Promoting yourself as an expert in (whatever field, property type, geographic area, etc., you're in). Promoting listings. Promoting your clients for potential leases / purchases (this one assumes you have an iron-clad tenant/buyer-rep agreement in place). And probably most important: search-engine optimization (SEO).
You can be the next commercial real estate video "star," in an effort to achieve any (or all) of the above. I put "star" in quotes, because in this age of YouTube and Internet video, anyone can be a "star." It's the quality of the video product you produce, though, that will truly make you a "star."
The easiest way to tell you how to do this, from the technical side, is to let you in on how we do it at Sibdu. For production, I use a Mac:
iMac 24-inch 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
24-inch glossy widescreen display
1GB memory (jacked up to 4GB post-purchase)
320GB hard drive
8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory
Built-in iSight Camera
I use the iSight for my "set pieces" that are seen before and after some full-screen graphics I have in every piece. Those in-the-middle graphics are called a “donut,” because they’re filling the hole in between the intro and out for each piece (a bit of TV lingo there).
Two money-saving tips: I actually bought the above unit as a refurbished unit from Apple, which saved me $400. And I got the memory upgrade from a third-party provider for a little over $100. Apple wants $800 (if memory serves - pun not intended) for the same amount of memory — a $700 savings right there.
Prompt 7 lite - free version. Prompt 7 lite is the TelePrompTer-like software I use for the intro and out of each piece. This little beauty of a program runs on both Mac and Windows. I use the free version, because I’m never on camera long enough to use the full version, which provides unlimited characters. The free version is limited to something like 2500 characters, if memory serves. I will never be on camera too long — too boring for the viewer; that’s why I use graphics (see ScreenFlow and LiveType).
ScreenFlow - $100. I use ScreenFlow capture video directly from my monitor. This gives me the video I need to show Web sites, PDFs, programs, etc. All of this video, which goes over my audio track (so you see the sites, PDFs, etc., instead of me), is called “b-roll” (more TV lingo). This software’s Mac only, but there’s plenty of others out there that will do the same thing (Mac and PC). But for some reason, ScreenFlow’s output is the only one I could use easily with Final Cut Express (see below). That very well could have been because of a mistake I was making. But peace of mind is important to me, so I ponied up the Franklin for ScreenFlow. We’ll be using it quite a bit for Sibdu itself, too — mainly for the Video Help section we’re building.
iMovie - free with the Mac. iMovie is the free video production software that comes with the Mac. While I’m sure it works well for home users, it’s pretty limited for our purposes. But it does give me direct access to the iSight camera. I use it to record and trim up my intros and out pieces, as well as for recording the voiceovers for the donuts. I then output it to …
Final Cut Express 4 - $199. This is the lighter version of Final Cut Pro, a $1300 beheamoth of a video production platform that would probably bring my iMac to its knees anyways. Don’t get me wrong — FCP is fantastic, but overkill for Internet productions. Final Cut Express 4, though, gives us what we need to do our videos. Plus, there’s a lot of capabilities that I haven’t even learned yet (but will do so and will probably start using as I go along with this whole video thing).
LiveType - free with FCE. LiveType (link goes to the full version that comes with FCP) is the graphics-creation program I use to do all of the titling and the full-screen graphics I don't get from ScreenFlow. The version that comes with FCE doesn’t have as many bundled elements/templates than what comes with FCP, but there’s a huge third-party marketplace out there that sells entire libraries of templates. One of these days, we’ll do a full graphics upgrade with one of these packages. For now, though, what we have is pretty nice looking.
I bought a good tutorial for FCE, called Final Cut Express 4, Movie Making for Everyone, by Diana Weynand. It comes with a DVD-ROM and lesson files. It’s very easy to understand. If you do the lessons, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
The one piece of equipment we don’t have (do you hear me, boss?) is a video camera. If we had one, we’d take it to events, etc., and produce videos for your viewing pleasure. For now, though, a guy can only wish … It doesn’t help that FCE only imports in digital video, which limits us a bit on what kind of camera we can buy (no mid-80’s models from eBay or Craigslist). Sure, there’s analog-to-digital converters out there, but from what I hear, they can be a hassle.
Detailing how this all works together would take some serious classroom time, which I can’t really do in a blog. Thing is, all of this stuff is pretty easy to learn and use.
And by the way, this advice works for anyone who wants to drum up more business … could be CRE-related, or could be someone who sells cars, flapjacks or candy — and anything in between — for a living. It’s the power of video and the Internet that, if properly used, could work very well.
Now, for distribution. Here's a "kind-of" secret of mine: TubeMogul.com. It lets you upload video to all of the major video distribution sites … we’re talking YouTube, Viddler, Veoh, Revver, AOL Video, Google Video, etc. … all at once.
Can you imagine if you had to upload your video individually to each and every single one of those sites? You’d be doing videos on a full-time basis. And as we all know, we don’t make money by doing that.
Getting set up at TubeMogul.com is pretty easy. But just like life, it’s those first steps that are hard.
As you can probably imagine, you need to be registered at all of the sites to upload to them. And TubeMogul uploads to 16 of them. That’s right, 16. So plan on taking some time and doing the registration thing when you get started with videos. That’s not TubeMogul’s fault, of course. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
Thing is, you don’t need to actually upload to all 16. We upload to most, but not all of them. 5min and Howcast, for example, only take strictly non-commercial instructional video. If you can’t push your business, then video is no good for you, so don’t register at these sites. They monitor each and every video uploaded to them, too, so don’t even try — take it from my experience. (They are great for viewing all kinds of instructional videos, though).
So you’re already down to 14. There’s a few other sites that aren’t appropriate for CRE pros; namely, Crackle, StupidVideos and MetaCafe. Just click through on those links and you’ll see why. Heck, I doubt you’d want to be seen as a professional on StupidVideos.
Now, you’re at 11. That’s about how many we upload to here at Sibdu (we do 9 total). And just FYI, we’re seen the most on (in order) Revver, YouTube, Viddler, DailyMotion and AOL Video. Even better, though, is the search-engine optimization (SEO) we’re getting out of it. We’re now appearing in a lot more search results. Of course, the results are going to the video sites and not to us. That’s why you have to make sure that your “member areas” at each of those sites is strong, with cross-links to your sites and well-written copy.
Oh, yeah — make sure your site(s) is/are prominently mentioned in your video, too. And speaking of site(s), don't forget the best places of all to promote your video … your own blog and Web site. If you have neither of these, you should forget about video and get those started.Only after you have a good blog and Web site going, should you even consider video. They all go hand in hand, as you build yourself up into being expert -- and/or get more business from video.
In Part II next week, I'll have more on our efforts and how they're working so far.
By the way, I do have video content produced of all of this, which is available at our channel page on YouTube. The material from the above is featured in Parts I and II of my "Video Built the CRE Star" special.
If you have any questions, etc. on video, please do not hesitate to contact me. While I'm "stepping off my soapbox," in terms of promoting video in commercial real estate, I want to help agents, brokers and companies out in any way I can. I'm not opening a side business in video consulting or anything like that; if I can help with a pointer or a recommendation, though, I'll be more than happy to.
Thanks, all, and have a good weekend.