You’re probably already aware that maintaining a social media presence is absolutely essential for any type of business to gain brand exposure and engaging with your consumer audience. But have you been keeping up to date with the social media trends that are set to dominate in 2016?

This year is all about fresh and up-to-the minute content through visual forms of communication, such as video and emojis. Users are also getting more social media-savvy and expect to be able to do everything they need in one app. “Tell me more!” you exclaim excitedly. Here are 5 social media trends that can’t be ignored when considering your social media strategy for 2016.

1. Real-time engagement rules

Towards the end of 2015 it became very clear that users are hungry for real-time video content. Live streaming app Periscope’s rapid rise in popularity since its official launch in March 2015 is a perfect example of the demand for live content. Once logged in, users are able to post live, unedited video segments that are viewed and commented on by their followers. In a similar fashion, Snapchat and Twitter Moments allows users to post live updates to their followers at the tap of their fingertips.

Give your audience a deeper look into your brand

Businesses who are taking advantage of these social platforms are quickly seeing results. By posting live video streams, a company is showing a more authentic side to its consumers, which in return builds trust and loyalty. People love the idea of getting live, behind-the-scenes peeks at what goes on with a company. For instance, retail chain Target used Periscope to provide a behind-the-scenes peek into their new Lilly Pulitzer line which resulted in such huge demand that 90% of the collection sold out within days. Behind the scenes, interviews and product announcements are just a few ways that Periscope and other live streaming apps can benefit a business.

2. Data-driven marketing will increase its dominance

It’s no secret social media helps you figure out who your audience is and how you can tailor your content to promote engagement and encourage conversions. Marketers haven’t previously had access to so much information about consumer preferences before and are quickly trying to cash in on this benefit.

Benefits of breaking down your data

Social media analytics can be used to determine when consumers are going through significant lifestyle changes, such as getting married, having a baby or buying a house, businesses. This is a time when consumers are more willing to change their spending habits and a sweet spot for gaining their loyalty. Plus, these consumers are also more likely to be advocates for your brand.

Coca Cola used Twitter’s Tailored Audience function to create personalised tweets that used consumers’ first names for their Share-a-Coke campaign in 2015, and increased sales by 7% in Australia and 3% in the US. These results strongly suggest that when marketing platforms are micro-targeted by audience segments, there is a noticeable increase in brand exposure and engagement.

3. Major leaps and bounds with in-app functionality

Long gone are the days when a user has to jump from one app to another to achieve what they need to do. Social media platforms and messaging apps are providing everything you need within one app for a seamless and time-saving experience. A perfect example of this is the messaging app WeChat, which currently has 549 million active users worldwide and contributes $1.76bn in lifestyle spending in China. Aside from allowing users to send messages to their contact list, WeChat gives users the ability to:

  • Express emotion with emojis and stickers
  • Send money and pay bills
  • Purchase products
  • Get one-on-one customer help
  • Make a call
  • Send voice messages
  • Host Group Chats
  • Post images, videos and status updates

Other messaging apps, like Whatsapp and Viber have developed similar functions although they’re not yet quite as developed as WeChat.

Jumping on the bandwagon

Due to its huge popularity, particularly in China, businesses worldwide are quickly realising the need to corner this lucrative market by setting up their brand on WeChat. By setting up a WeChat platform, companies can give users a range of functionalities, such as purchase products, access customer service and view regular updates and announcements.

Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo increased sales by 30% in China and doubled their WeChat followers from 400,000 to 1 million in just six months with the launch of their Style Your Life campaign in 2015. Consumers were able to try on outfits and use their mobile phones or in-store monitors to take photos and load them onto WeChat to superimpose them against different backgrounds (snow, tropical island, etc).

4. Gifs, videos and emojis.. oh my! 

Visual communication has become driving forces of engagement, with micro-videos, gifs and emojis becoming a common form of expression, especially amongst young consumers. Facebook, Twitter and Google are all vying for more video and integrated gif content to deliver the demand and retain users.

Press record to encourage engagement

Facebook is set to dominate the video scene with the introduction of 360 video, a camera system that simultaneously records 360 degrees of a scene, allowing viewers to pan and rotate to watch the video from different angles. For instance, ABC NEWS used 360 on Facebook to allow their viewers to take a look into Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Utilising new video apps to gain brand exposure and increase engagement will show that your business is focused on creating buzz and staying

Making sense of emojis

Emojis are another trend that marketers are using to their advantage. Think what you want about Kim Kardashian, but her release of the Kimoji app generated 9000 downloads per second which generated $1 million revenue per minute! The app was so in demand the servers crashed due to its inability to keep up with demand.

At first glance, they might just seem like a fun way to express yourself but if you take a closer look you can gather important information about your consumer base. “But how?” you ask (insert frustrated emoji here), “they’re just cute little images people use when messaging their friends.” Consider the following questions:

  • Do you know what emojis are associated with your business and what they mean?
  • Do you know the context of such conversations?
  • Can you convert that information into actionable insight?

By analysing the actual meaning and logic behind the use of emoji characters, you should be able to discover valuable information about your target audience.

5. Buy buttons will become the norm

The ability to purchase products in social media apps has already been introduced by Facebook and Pinterest, who’ve introduced ‘buy’ buttons for advertisers and users. Facebook are currently testing their ‘call-to-action’ button across small and medium-sized business in the US with the hopes of rolling it out worldwide this year. Pinterest ‘buy’ buttons are displayed on pins, which allows the user to click and purchase without having to leave the app.

A new way to reach your target audience

By the end of 2016 most major social media brand will feature a ‘buy’ button in some kind of capacity as an element of their advertising campaign. This will allow businesses access to a whole new realm of advertising, giving them the ability to push specific products targeted towards segmented audiences. For example, a baby products company is able to target women who are due to have a baby or recently given birth, to advertise newborn products such as clothing, nappies and nursery accessories which can be purchased at a click of a button.

So there you have it… another exciting year in the always-changing world of social media. Are there any other social media trends that you think are set to take over in 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Kristine Stone is a copywriter at Sydney-based design agency Orion Creative. She’s obsessed with social media, blogging and keeping up with the latest digital marketing trends. A self-confessed word nerd, Kristine has experience writing about women’s lifestyle, bridal, technology, interior design and a wide range of other industries.

If you’ve ever had a public online presence – such as a website and social media pages for your business, or yourself – then at some point you’ve probably come across people who dislike you. Sometimes they have a reason, such as a bad experience at your establishment. Sometimes there’s no discernible reasons – haters gonna hate. And sometimes, it comes down to a case of misinterpreted words and bad luck. Just ask poor Justine Sacco.

How these people react can range from something as simple as a grumpy, “I hate you” statement, to rude and aggressive messages, to a full-on barrage of posts and tweets from people threatening to kill you or demanding you kill yourself. Hopefully, most of us will never experience that last one, but it can and does happen every day.

So, how should you deal with online harassment?

1. Take your hands away from the keyboard

Of course you want to respond immediately. Perhaps you were misunderstood, or the other person is using a spurious argument, or there’s a valid reason for what you said or did.

It doesn’t matter.

Don’t touch that keyboard. Close the browser window, step away from the computer, and go do something else. Go look at your nice flowers outside, or crochet one. Beat up your punching bag, go for a run, cook some comfort food. Whatever floats your boat.

Then, and only then, come back to the comment or comments. Consider the tone of the comment. Is the person serious about having a dialogue, or do they just want to prove they’re right? If it’s the latter, don’t respond.

If you do decide to respond, by this point you should have calmed down enough to give a less heated, less emotional response. To have a constructive debate, if you will. “But I’m not the kind of person who gets angry!” you say. Perhaps so. Just keep in mind that a lot happens in the unconscious mind, such as your choice of words. Consider, for example, how the phrase “Police fired tear gas” evokes a stronger emotional response than “Police sprayed tear gas”.

So step away from the keyboard, go do something else, then come back later.

2. Do not engage! Repeat: Do not engage!

As mentioned in the previous point, if someone is simply out to prove they’re right, or wants to complain, don’t respond.

When you’re in the maelstrom, it’s highly emotional. Most people’s first instinct is to either defend themselves, or lash back. After all, you’re under attack. But those are two of the worst things you can do, because it encourages your attackers to respond – and the last thing you want is a protracted, emotional debate in the public eye. It puts you, the public figure, in a bad light and gives more people a (bad) reason to attack you as well. It’s why authors, for example, are told that it’s generally a bad idea to respond to negative reviews.

…the last thing you want is a protracted, emotional debate in the public eye

It’s not worth it, and you will never be able to change another person’s mind through an online argument because they’re already convinced they’re right. It’s called Confirmation Bias.

There are also those who deliberately post inflammatory statements to get a response. Whether it’s for attention or for amusement, these “trolls” just want to agitate you and make you angry. There’s a reason one of the most common sayings online is “Don’t feed the trolls”!

And if there’s an online mob out to attack you, responding simply makes you a bigger, better target for them. Anything you say can and will be used against you.

3. Total lockdown

Anyone seriously determined to harass you will also try to get into your email, social media accounts, website, and anywhere else they can dig through your private information and find information and/or pictures that can be used against you.

Lock down all your important accounts. Change your password and security question/answer – and make sure they’re secure! Use a password manager, which generates long, randomised passwords for each site and automatically signs you in – meaning you only need to remember one password. Turn on two-factor authentication, which requires an additional code sent to your mobile or generated by an app, before anyone can log in. Perhaps this sounds like overkill, but if someone is out to get you, gaining access to any of your accounts is like a goldmine for them.

Finally, ensure your personal data is scrubbed from the internet (see this useful guide). It’s not always foolproof and you may not be able to remove everything, but you can make it a lot harder for a stranger to find out where you live and work!

4. Seek support

The “Do not engage” principle doesn’t always work. There are people who, despite your silence, will continue to attack you.

Sometimes, it’s just one nasty comment. Other times, it’s a protracted attack by a particularly determined individual, or a whole segment of the internet. Whatever the case, it can be easy to become stressed and beaten down by the ferocity of the attack.

Don’t try to deal with it alone.

The internet can become a vicious place when you’re a designated target. Just ask anyone who’s experienced more extreme bullying, and they’ll have tales of having their personal details leaked online (doxxing), receiving abusive anonymous calls, violent threats, takeaway sent to their door for payment on delivery, even in some cases having the police called to their property after being tipped off about someone being attacked there. (In America, the standard is calling in a SWAT team, and there’s even a term – swatting.)

It can be overwhelming, so seek support from loved ones and friends. Complain to them offline, out of the public eye. Ask them to help you sort through the nasty messages, because it’s much easier for them to keep an emotional distance. Crash at their place if you feel threatened, or cry on their shoulder.

You can also seek support from communities dedicated to helping people who are being harassed online. Crash Override Network is one such community set up by two online abuse survivors, who have created a network of experts in fields from law enforcement and law to white-hat hacking, PR and counselling. They provide advice for how to prevent attacks, as well as support for those under attack.

And if you ever reach the point where you’re contemplating suicide, please, please reach out to organisations such as BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 if you’re in Australia, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1800 273 8255 if you’re in America. Here is a list of suicide hotlines for a number of other countries.


Online harassment can be a stressful, heartbreaking experience. But you can learn to deal with the smaller-scale haters, and survive through the big ones. You are not alone. You don’t have to be.

Maybe you’ve put a lot of energy into getting your branding right, the brochure is nothing less than a masterpiece, you feel proud to share it, maybe your website is the same, a visual masterpiece, this in itself is good PR but it isn’t where communication stops.

Today, consumers expect you to be present on social media channels. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat all actively encourage brands to set up profiles. But is it enough just to be visible? If you want to really engage with your customers, you need to go where they spend most of their time – and embrace social media or be left behind.

Here are my top 10 tips for brands to make their PR socially engaging:

  1. Make sure your content is targeted and relevant to your audience. Social media users share a wealth of information about themselves – use it wisely.
  1. It’s not a sales pitch. They have invited you into their phones and their homes – sales driven updates will only annoy your audience.
  1. Post regularly – but don’t make trivial updates for the sake of updates. They don’t care what you’ve had for lunch – unless you’re a food critic!
  1. Everyone loves a freebie. Consider offering a promotional code or small gifts to encourage initial sign-ups.
  1. Your customers will create content around your brand if they love the product or service experience. Encourage them, real recommendations are worth far more than any paid advertising.

If you want to really engage with your customers, you need to go where they spend most of their time – and embrace social media or be left behind

  1. Monitor what is being said. Social media happens in real-time and you’ll be ready to grasp unique opportunities and prevent any negativity before it spreads.
  1. Social media is replacing customer service phone numbers. Why would a customer call to tell you something is wrong when they can do it quickly and publicly shame you across social media? Turn it to your advantage with a speedy, transparent and human response that highlights your excellent customer service skills.
  1. Support your content with images and videos – they are more likely to be viewed and shared than plain text.
  1. Dare to be different. Don’t bore customers by posting the same content week after week. Try something new now and again.
  1. Lastly always keep a record of your campaigns and social click-throughs to your website. What has worked? What hasn’t worked? How can you adapt future campaigns to ensure success?

I’m working with a company who planned PR into their strategy for growth, they knew exactly how it would work within their company, and what they wanted it to achieve. From their website, to social media and print media they engaged PR to develop a consistent message across all platforms. As a result of this activity they won a hundred thousand pound contract!

Plan your communication and join it up to embrace all the channels available to you. This is public relations use it and share it and watch your public image grow.

Search Engine Optimisation – or SEO – is always a hot topic because it is so important – it allows your business to be found online with ease. It’s also been a hot topic because in the past, it’s been shrouded in mystery. It’s an area of business people need to be made aware of – if you get it wrong and Google penalises you, the consequences are dire.

In the past, SEO was a challenging game to play; a big industry grew around it which continued to perpetuate the view that if you were going to make it to page one on the search engine results page, you needed an expert who knew how to manage the search engine in the way that no ordinary digital marketer could. This is not the case anymore. Google wants transparency and actively discourages any smoke and mirrors search engine optimisation tactics.

So what is Search Engine Optimisation today?

Here’s a definition – Search Engine Optimisation is a set of techniques applied to your website so that the search engine (usually Google in Australia) recognises your site as relevant to a search query entered by the user. The search results that come from a user entering a search query is called a search engine results page or SERP.

The aim of SEO is to have the links to your pages appear naturally or organically on page one of the SERP.  Consumer behaviour has changed, and these days we don’t usually go beyond page one of the search engine’s results pages to find what we’re looking for. If we don’t find what we want on the first page, we simply refine our search query or keywords. The position of the links on the search engine results page is a result of SEO techniques.

Why is Search Engine Optimisation the business of everyone in the business?

SEO and content are today’s dancing partners – the ice cream and jelly of digital marketing. The SEO process starts with keywords, and it’s no longer just the job of the digital marketing team to think about these keywords. Defining keywords helps a business understand what it represents for its customers – what value or solution the business provides to its customers and what business it is really in.

What do I mean by this? Here’s an example. I recently ran through a keyword exercise with a doctor for her general practice. We started with the big headings; womens health; mens health, etc. Then I asked – what do you do in these areas? The answer I got was thorough and technical – a lot of terms that I could not understand. The next question – if your customers were looking for that service, what would they type into a search engine? That’s when we get to the real value, finding the words that your customers would use to find your product or service. Only then can we build out a strategy for SEO and establish a framework that informs website navigation and where the content will go. Would the doctor have thought she would be part of determining the SEO structure for the buinsess? No, she didn’t. Will the GP be doing the SEO? No, she wont be. But as you can see from the example, she is an essential part of its success.

Any content creator in the business also needs to know the keywords for the business and the SEO strategy. In the case of the doctor’s business, that is going to include the receptionists, the practice nurse and the other doctors in the practice, all of whom write some form of content that will most likely be published on the website (as well as used in other formats).

Link Building is a lot like Public Relations

SEO includes ‘on-page’ techniques, using your keywords in the URL, page title, headings, content and images; as well as ‘off-page’ techniques, which is essentially having other sites link to your site. Anchor text are the words or phrases on the site that links to yours containing the hyperlink to your site. These should be your keywords. You can understand that “click here” or “learn more” won’t do a lot for you. Links and anchor text should always make sense to the visitor. This is a way you can assess quality. If a link or anchor text looks weird or out of place, like it doesn’t belong, then it doesn’t.

If your customers were looking for that service, what would they type into a search engine? That’s when we get to the real value, finding the words that your customers would use to find your product or service

Good linking is helped by having active social media profiles and publishing a quality blog that others link to. But it’s also simply a matter of ensuring that businesses and organisations that you do business with have links to your site on theirs. Look to your partners, organisations that you sponsor, your community affiliations. Does that university business school that your CEO just made a speech to have a link along with the info and pic about the event? Does that sports team you support have a number of links to your site? What about the sponsorship you make to the local training awards program, is there a link from their site to yours? You check and if not, you make the phone call or send the email and ask that the link be made and then you check again. If every organisation you partner with in a variety of ways over time included links from their site to yours, your off-page SEO would be doing well.

What can you do about making SEO the business of everyone in the business?

It’s likely that most people in the business, outside of marketing, have little idea of what SEO is, and even if they do, they won’t think that they have anything to do with it.

Here are my top five tips for increasing the focus of everyone in the business on SEO.

  1. It starts with education. How this happens in businesses varies greatly but even the very simple “paper bag lunch” training session will go a long way.
  2. During your training, avoid technicalities and keep it simple. Playing a keyword game is a great place to start. Choose a topic and have everyone come up with three different words or phrases that they would type into a search engine if they were looking for that thing. Run some live tests and show the results.
  3. Demonstrate how other businesses in your sector are using keywords by visiting a few sites. Show page titles and URLs, as well as content, headings and subheadings and images for sites that have good SEO structure and ones that don’t.
  4. Inform everyone what the target keywords are and benchmark your performance for those. After some dedicated keyword -focused SEO work, celebrate your success as you move up the rankings in Google.
  5. Set a quality ‘link’ challenge. How many links can your team generate over a month or two?

What are your tips to encourage your organisation to focus on SEO?




Beth Powell

Beth Powell is the founder of Digital Marketing Club, a coaching and support program for marketers and non-marketers that provides direct answers to your questions about your own digital marketing and gets your roadblocks unstuck.  She has become known as the go-to person for clear explanations about how digital marketing works and how businesses can use the various solutions to improve their marketing and grow their business. Beth is a sought after conference speaker and author of the soon to be published book “Drive More Business: A 5 step Guide to Digital Marketing for Auto Dealers”. For more information, email [email protected].

In the physical world of business everyone checks out what their competitors are doing, right?  But what about getting a clear understanding about what they’re doing online? In my experience, many businesses either forget that part, or are so random about it, that there isn’t any strategic benefit from the exercise.

Dave Chaffey, the UK-based digital marketing expert and author of the excellent book “Emarketing Excellence: Planning and Optimizing your Digital Marketing” says, “The purpose (of analysing your competitors online) is to gain a level of insight that allows you to evolve your digital marketing strategy based on competitor insight. It’s not that you should be dictated by what you learn about competitors, since being very reactive to that can be worse than doing nothing. Yet common sense tells us that knowledge is power”.

Here is my 5 step method to knowing what your competitors are up to in Social and Digital

1. Start with a spreadsheet or whichever recording tool you prefer

Note the date of your analysis, the name of your company and the name of the person who is doing the analysis. The reason for this is that you are going to continue to do this over time, so you want a good record. Put column headings in your spreadsheet and include the following columns:

  • Competitor URL
  • Website observations/opportunities
  • Blog observations/opportunities
  • Positioning words
  • Email
  • Social (you can choose to have a column for each social channel: Facebook; Google+; You Tube; LinkedIn; Instagram; Twitter)

2. Choose four competitors to analyse

Two of those should be direct competitors, and two indirect competitors that are outside of your specific industry, but similar.

For example, for car dealerships it is appropriate to look at real estate sites and boat sale sites. In some industries, a few website supply companies or digital marketing companies serve most of the businesses and even when that is not case the digital marketing practice of particular industries can start to look very similar. This is the reason to look at sites outside your own industry.

3. Start with a manual process

Go to the competitor websites and look at the structure, design, content, positioning keywords and the way the website is generating leads. Do the same with the blog and ask the following:

  • Does the blog add value to the prospect/customer?
  • Is it customer focused or product focused?
  • What are the keywords?
  • What is the frequency of publishing?
  • What content opportunities are there for us?
  • What can we learn?
  • What are they doing that looks great that we are not?

Be critical and granular in your analysis. For email/newsletter analysis, simply sign up to any email program and, while you are signing up to things, “like” their Facebook page and follow their Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +. Subscribe to their You Tube. Analyse these for the content topics and types, the level of engagement, and frequency of publishing.

4. Use some online tools for a different perspective

There are a number of free online tools that are useful

  • Rob Hammond’s SEO crawler ( great for analysing your competitors’ pages, keywords and titles
  • will show you which keywords a site ranks for, if they are moving up or down in search, how many keywords are unique and how many are shared across competitor sites and the value of search engine optimisation to the site (expressed as a dollar amount). This tool will also tell you if your competitor is using Google Adwords, or paid search links in Google and for which keywords and what the bid is for that keyword (how much they are paying for a click through on that link). Note that data won’t be perfect but will offer some insights in a comparison, only if the website you are performing the check on has enough data for the tool’s analysis.
  • For an overview of your own site and competitor sites there is a handy free tool called It provides site ranking, traffic overview and traffic sources (both of which track volume) for your site and competitor sites. Yes, you can see how much traffic your competitor gets and where it is coming from! You can see how they are performing against you in search, if they are doing display, how they are tracking with referral sites. Very cool and useful! For very small sites, however, there may not be enough data to get the full analysis.

Go to competitor websites and look at the structure, design, content, positioning keywords and the way the website is generating leads

  • A useful site to evaluate digital marketing technology investment is This site allows you to input any web address or URL and it provides information on the technology the site is using. You will be able to understand from here what advertising systems the competitor is using, what technology they are using for email distribution, for analytics, and for their website. At the very least you will learn how much investment your competitor is putting into digital marketing and over time you will be able to evaluate continuing investment.
  • For a catch-all, regardless of the size of the site, use Hubspot’s Here you will get an overview of social, mobile, SEO, blog activity and a handy score. It’s really useful for a strengths and weaknesses analysis.
  • For Facebook, Meltwater has made a tool called This tool analyses any Facebook URL and provides information on engagement, time and frequency of publishing and response, use of hashtags and an overall score.

A note on the site-focused competitive intelligence tools – these tools are sometimes not very accurate but as Avinash Kaushik, author of the Occam’s Razor blog and the book Web Analytics 2.0,  says, “You are comparing ‘bruised apples’ with ‘bruised apples'” . There are many competitive intelligence tools available, so choose the one you like to use and stick to using that one for your analysis. That way you are always comparing the same bruised apples.

5. Draw some conclusions and apply the “So what?” test

Ask yourself: What did we learn? What actions can we take?

It’s useful to benchmark the data you gather about direct competitors against your own data. You can then take the data analysis an extra step. Ask yourself – “why does this matter?” and then ask the same question of the answer you get. This process will result in one of two responses, either: “okay, this is just an interesting observation” or “we can act on that and this is what we are going to do”. In analytics, the second response is the only correct one (more on that in another blog post) but in competitor analysis, so long as we observe and learn from the process, I think the first response is okay also. For indirect competitors ask yourself, what are they doing that seems to be working that we are not doing? How could we implement and test that to make sure it works for us?

How regularly you schedule time to revisit the five step process depends what industry you are in and how competitive it is. For some of my clients every 6 months is fine, for others monthly review is important. The main thing, though, is to decide your suitable time frame and schedule it. If you don’t it is unlikely to happen until the time comes for some massive review because you find you have a P76 (car metaphor there – tell me in the comments below who gets it?).

These are my methods to understanding what competitors are up to with their digital marketing. What methods do you use? We’d love to hear in the comments!


Beth-Powell-Leaders-in-HeelsBeth Powell
Beth Powell is the founder of Digital Marketing Club, a coaching and support program that provides direct answers to your questions about your own digital marketing.  She created the first social media and digital marketing training programs in Australia and has become known as the go-to person for clear explanations about how digital marketing can grow your business. Beth is a sought after conference speaker and author of the soon to be published book “Drive More Business: A 5 step Guide to Digital Marketing for Auto Dealers”.  For more information, contact her at [email protected]

The power of using video to boost business amazing. Many businesses are jumping on board to make videos. I’ve been making corporate videos for nearly 25 years and I’m seeing a lot of people making some avoidable mistakes in their rush and excitement of becoming YouTube stars.

Waste thousands

One of the common mistakes for people who are making videos is they rush out and buy expensive video equipment. They fork out thousands for a camera they don’t know how to use. It doesn’t have the functionality they need and they use it once and then leave it sitting it in the corner staring at them – making them feel guilty for the unrequited attention.

I recommend you hire the equipment you need if want to go down that path. Try it first. It will only cost a few hundred dollars for broadcast quality equipment. See what works for you. Learn what you need and what you don’t need. Then if you find yourself using it often you could look into buying something suitable. By this time you will have a better idea of what you need.

If you want to use your own equipment, then start out with your phone. The quality of the cameras on the phones these days are remarkable. With some decent lighting, you can create some useful videos.

Alternatively work with a camera operator who already owns his or her own equipment. They know how to use it, they know about white balance and depth of field and framing and lighting. Ask yourself do you want to be a video business or do you want to add value by doing what you do well?

Look stupid

It’s never been easier to make video content. It’s also never been easier to make videos that do damage to your brand. My advice is don’t release videos that make you look dodgy.

The first mistake people make is poor audio. We can tolerate poor quality vision, but we won’t tolerate poor sound. If you do make one purchase, make sure it is for a microphone. If you choose to dabble with your phone as a camera plug in a lapel microphone. You can pick up a decent one for $50.

When framing your image keep the head at the top of the frame. I often see people centring the subject’s face in the frame. They leave all this empty space above the head. Look at the entire contents of the frame and be aware of what is in it and how it should look.

Be aware of the lighting. You want to make sure the light is in front of the person being filmed and not behind. If you have it lit well, it look can great. If you have the light in the wrong spot, you can look silhouetted  like you are on the witness protection scheme – not a great way to build credibility.

Wobbly shots are also not a good look. It is easy to get a tripod or even a little stand for your phone to ensure your shot is steady.

And if you are using your phone please, please hold it in landscape mode. If you hold it vertically you will end up with a thin video and big black bars on either side. That screams amateur to me. It might look good on your mobile phone Facebook feed, but that’s the only time.

Other common mistakes

When thinking of what to talk about, I see businesses wanting to focus on what they do. When meeting with my video clients I explain some harsh realities of business – your audience doesn’t care about you and what you do. They care about how that makes their life better.

You need to quickly relate your service or product to a better outcome for them. Keep asking yourself why does this matter to my viewer. Amateur business video makers can become bogged down explaining their processes and systems. They talk about themselves. In this transitory viewing world, you need to quickly engage your audience and let them know why they should be excited about your offering.

Another common issue is videos that are too long. For promotional videos they need to be under 90 seconds. If you have more to say then make a series of short videos.

So slow down, take a breath and ask for some professional help so that you don’t waste your money or damage your credibility.

What mistakes do you see business owners making with videos?


Geoff Anderson
 is owner of Sonic Sight, a corporate video production company. He presents on using video in business and is the author the Amazon Bestseller “Shoot Me Now – Making videos to boost business”. To find out more about Geoff and to learn about the 5 Mistakes to avoid when making videos, visit or visit