When it comes to video blogging, most people do not have enough talent to be in front of a camera, or enough to say that would not be better as text. But there are some exceptions: In some cases, video can help make a point that you could never make with just text, and in some cases, a video blog can establish you as a thought leader in your field.
The field of well-known video bloggers is much smaller than the field of well-known text-based bloggers. So it might look like video blogging is a quick route to a big audience, but the truth is that the bar is higher with video than with text.
Video blogs that have taken the world by storm are pretty much full-time jobs. For example, Ze Frank spends six hours a day preparing a few minutes of video for The Show. And Wired reports that the popular video lonelygirl15 who seemed to be a home-schooled teen with too-strict parents turned out to be an actress starring in bankrolled, scripted show about a home-schooled teen with too-strict parents.
On top of that, video has to be a lot better than text to stick around. It takes much more time to download a video than just text, and you can’t skim a video. So “the quality of the video blog is very important. If I take the time to se a video and it’s not very compelling, I am not sure I would go back to see the next one,” says Constantin Basturea, director for new media strategies at Converseon.
“The best video bloggers are about customizing their schtick,” says Mark Amerika, professor of media at University of Colorado at Boulder. For example, RocketBoom is all schtick – serving up wacky information with a zany it-girl as presenter.
If you are still thinking video blogging might be for you, here’s a reality check: Five good reasons to create a video blog. You better have at least one of these before jumping into the video blog arena:
1. You are commenting on things that can be seen on video.
The video world is full of moving images that beg for commentary, ranging from video resume horrors, to botched mainstream news, to hipster advertising. If you have a lot to say about a lot of moving images, give video blogging a try.
2. You have a lot you want to illustrate.
A tip on how to be a powerhouse with Excel, for example: that’d make a good video. And, if you had 1000 tips up your sleeve, you might have a good video blog. “Video is good for illustrating things and making tutorials. You can write a very long post to do something difficult, but you could show it very quickly on a video,” says Basturea. It is no coincidence that one of the most popular downloads on YouTube is instructional (and amazing): How to peel a potato.
3. You need to show your emotional side.
A video blog, more than text, can “show emotions, humanize a product and make people more accessible,” says Basturea. When Microsoft, wanted to show that there was a soul behind the logo, Robert Scoble toted a video camera through the company and “people were able to see there are people behind Microsoft products.” (This video blog was so successful that today Scoble is video blogging on his own, backed by investors.)
4. You know you should blog but you don’t have the time.
Video blogging may be just plain more practical for some people. While there are many reasons for executives to blog many may not have the time. As long as the executive “has charisma and is comfortable in front of the camera, a video blog is a solution for a very busy schedule,” says Converseon.
Robert Wright, of BloggingHeads, concurs: “Having a conversation is a lot faster than writing a piece. It’s a way to get your views out quickly.”
5. You are really, really funny and intelligent and charismatic.
If you have all three of these talents, surely you will not be video blogging for long, because some agent will pick you up and put you somewhere in Hollywood. But until then, a text blog would be a waste of your talent, so use video.
Colbert and Stewart also give us a window into the future of video online. “Young people are getting most of their information from Steven Colbert and the Daily Show and the audience is learning a video language from that,” says Amerika. “The shows demystify the process of creating media. People learn to become their own media producers and develop their own spin.”
Amerika says students used to come to his classes to learn how to use Photoshop. Now they want to know how to produce their own videos. So if you’re wondering what the future of video blogging will be, look at the bleeding edge of video art where people like Amerika live. And look at popular shows for twentysomethings, because those are the training grounds for the next wave of video blogging.