By Peyman Aleagha
RISMEDIA, January 29, 2009-Just when you think you’re catching up with technology by having a website or blog, you find that there is now a requirement for video on your site. It’s not a legal requirement, but one of demand from the consumer and your other site visitors. Video on the Web has mushroomed, with YouTube alone hosting almost 100 million videos from 3.75 million user channels. Then there is Google Video, Yahoo Video, Vimeo, and a dozen others in the mainstream.
Videos are also becoming very popular on cell phones, as technology is moving rapidly-beyond the Web. The iPhone is changing the way that the cell phone is utilized. And, what percentage of your real estate customers come from out of your area? If they aren’t local residents, they need information about the area, attractions, natural beauty, parks, schools and more. But, they also want to see what all of this looks like. Photos are great, but video rocks!
Don’t fret, though, because the same rapidly advancing technology that makes video a demand item on your site also makes it easy and inexpensive to do. We aren’t just talking about listing videos for virtual tours, either. We also should have video of all of the area’s features that make it unique and a great place to live and work. What you need is a camcorder and some video editing software, neither of which is very expensive.
One of the easiest to use video editing software solutions is absolutely free, and it is probably already on your PC if it’s operating with Windows XP. Windows Movie Maker will take your still photos or motion video right from your camera or camcorder, or off your hard drive. You can add voice-over and music, titles and credits, and even fancy transitions between photos or video clips. Other solutions with more capability are all over the Web, and at prices from $39 to hundreds. It’s all up to you and your requirements.
A higher -end software product is Camtasia Studio. Many of the training videos you see or purchase are done in this software. The latest version produces videos in all of the common formats, but the default is MPEG 4, which gives you high definition video with smaller file sizes than the other formats. The smaller file size lets the video play through with fewer of those annoying pauses while the download catches up to the playing. This software will also produce an iPod video format directly.
What about a camcorder? You can spend a lot of money, or you can do a very credible job with less than $150 for the high end “The Flip” video camcorder. It’s really easy to use, produces 640 x 480 video, and has one really great feature. It is called the “flip” because a button flips out a USB connector to plug directly into a computer. Even better, the on-board software will send the video up to YouTube directly, bypassing your hard drive if you want. It will even let you add music in the process.
OK, we have a camcorder, and we have editing software. Where do we put our videos? Here are a few places to start:
YouTube – This is the gorilla in the video world. And, it’s free, so very popular. Your videos will get a lot of exposure on YouTube, and you’ll begin to get followers who will subscribe to your “channel” to see your new ones. Once the video is up, you can get “embed” code to place it right into your website or blog.
Google and Yahoo Video – Both of these major players have free video sites as well. Together, they don’t even come close to the plays that YouTube boasts, but they get traffic, so you want to upload your videos there as well.
Vimeo – This is a newer and free service. Vimeo has a nice presentation, and it offers HD quality. They don’t take commercial videos though, so don’t put listing presentations up. They will pull them down. However, if you don’t put promo stuff in your area videos, they should be fine.
Animoto.com – This is a really fun video production site. It offers free videos of less than 30 seconds in length, with a nominal annual fee for longer videos, with no limit on the number you can produce. The difference with this site is that you will be uploading only still photos. The site, designed by Hollywood producers and directors, allows you to match music to your video, and the service produces a really amazing video with multiple transition effects-all paced to the music. It is a little too fast for a listing video, but is great for action shots or local color.
Tubemogul – This isn’t a video production service, but a great tool to get your videos uploaded to multiple services at one time and track the views. You start a free Tubemogul account, and give it your logins to services like YouTube, Google, Yahoo and other video sites. Then you upload your video, title and describe it just once, and TubeMogul uploads it to all of the sites at once. It gives you graphs of daily views, and you can even give your listing client a link to keep up with the views of their home videos.
So, remember-have fun, don’t spend a lot of money, and make your site visitors happy with video.
Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft.com. RealtySoft provides Realtors with Real Estate Web Design (http://www.realtysoft.com), Real Estate Print Marketing and Free IDX (http://www.realtysoft.com/freeidx.php) solutions.
For more information, visit www.RealtySoft.com.