11 things I learned at WistiaFest (and a bonus tip!)

I've just had the pleasure of spending 3 days in Boston for Wistia's very first conference: WistiaFest!

We have been using Wistia's video hosting for a few months at the company I work for, but I had discovered them over a year ago and have learned many wonderful things from them since then.

Fast forward a full year and you can only imagine my excitement when I heard they were running a conference. I asked the right people at work, and next thing I knew I was allowed to go.

So here we are post-conference and I wanted to share some things I have learned from the experience. However, I have severely cut down this list as I can't possibly talk about everything! Anyway, here goes:

1: A video should only live in one place

Tip from: Phil Nottingham

Phil Nottingham gave a great talk about video SEO, but my main take-away from this was to make sure a video has only one home on your website. You're shooting yourself in the foot by trying to rank the same video on two different webpages within your site.

Make a video for a specific page and keep it there. Makes sense, right?

2: 'Viral' is meaningless

Tip from: Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin (of Moz) discussed how Moz has never actually had a 'viral' video. This didn't hugely surprise me as while their audience is large, their content is made for a specific type of person. This means it is not in the nature of going viral. But who cares? It's better to have 20,000 people see it and watch 100% than 20m unengaged viewers.

It's so much more useful to make a video that services a need or answers a specific question, than make something you think will go viral. 

3: Make a video site map

Tip from: Ben Ruedlinger

I already knew this one, but I heard it from the horses mouth (no offence to Ben). It's not enough just to stick a video on a page and hope it shows up in search. If you want thumbnails, timestamps and titles to show, get that site map together and do it right. Thankfully, Wistia pretty much do all the work for you on this one so it's easy. You have no excuse.

4: Don't use YouTube (at least not for everything)

Tip from: Phil Nottingham

The 'YouTube debate' ever rages on. By this, I mean - 'should I put all my videos on YouTube and Wistia, or just some of them'. Well the answer is simple: create specific content for YouTube.

On the other hand if you want a video to rank in Google (and direct people to your site when they click on it) then you shouldn't be putting those videos on YouTube.

5: Make hyper-targeted content

Tip from: Phil Nottingham

I touched on this a little when talking about the Moz videos above, but it's a point worth explaining. Instead of making a 5 minute video about a generic and unspecific topic, make a 1 minute video about an extremely specific thing. 

Bad = Video: What is video SEO?

Good = Video: How Can Mobile SEO Help my Non-Mobile or Local Business?

I've use one of Moz's 'Whiteboard Friday' titles in this example, and you can see how incredibly niche the video topic is. It'll serve a very select audience, but they'll be highly engaged and likely to return.

6: Start with goals

Tip from: Mack Fogelson

There's no point making a video unless you know what you want to come out of it. Whether you want more email signups, more clicks to your product, or even just to entertain your audience, you need to decide this at the start. 

Secondary to that however is that your need to make sure these metrics of success are measurable. Use tracked links, UTM URL modifiers or video anaytics to analyse whether or not your video did what you wanted it to do.

7: Reduce your video to 5 keywords

Tip from: Heidi McKye

This is actually useful for all sorts of video content - online video, short films, documentaries - it doesn't hugely matter what you are making but this tip will ensure your video is consistent throughout. 

Diluting your video concept into 5 words will mean that anytime you make a decision, you are making a smart one. It's kind of like having brand values for your company and making sure everything you do meets those values.

8: Set limitations and grow from there

Top from: Elise Ramsay and Dan Mills

It's easy to brainstorm and get carried away when you're planning a video. But with every video, there are a set of limitations. You may be heading to someone's office to film their business, but they have only allowed you 1 hour to film. That's never going to be enough time, right?

But that's a perfect place to start. You know exactly how much time you have, you also know they expect a video by the end. In this instance I'd make sure I knew exactly what shots I was going to get. Make an extremely detailed shot list or storyboard so that when you walk in the door, you can get started right away and get the shots you need. 

You might even have a little time left over for extra shots. Good for you!

9: Sell your mission, not your product

Top from: Chris Savage

Oh man, I love this one. I'm not a fan of pushing product down people's throats. To avoid this, why not make videos that promote your company's mission instead?

Say you're a company that sells tools (like screwdrivers and stuff - cause I'm such a handyman). Well, instead of making videos about the stuff you sell in your shop, make videos about how to use tools (and how to use them properly).

Your mission can be: 'Helping people use the right tool at the right time'.

It's seriously okay not to mention what you sell! People will come back to you again and again for advice, and that'll be one heck of an engaged user over time. 

Turns out that 'selling your product' should be about 3% of your content. Instead, inform your audience about things related to your content. I bet they sign-up or buy something someday.

10: Make people feel something

Tip from: Chris Savage

Emotion is so important when you're making a video. A highly engaged user should feel a connection with what you have created (and maybe even your brand). It's not just about making a really sad, piano-scored documentary either, humour is just as valid. Throw in outtakes, jokes and recurring gags to ensure your new (and existing) viewers can invest their full attention in what you are doing. 

11: An iframe doesn't get indexed - so stop using it

Tip from: Ben Ruedlinger

You've spent a long time making your video, so go the extra step of making sure everyone can see it.

Wistia have a 'Video SEO' embed option which includes full schema.org markup, so use that. You can then add the video to your site map and be confident that you have made all the right choices. You've done your video proud. 

Don't forget though that iframes do have their place - for example, if someone wants to embed your video on their site - offer them that functionality (and you can be safe that it won't have an impact on the ranking of your video in Google search). 

Final bonus tip: Check if your video got indexed by Google

Tip from: Ben Ruedlinger

So, it turns out that Google Webmaster Tools is a bit of a liar when it comes to what videos have been indexed on your site. The answer found in GWTs is often not accurate so here's a better way to confirm your video got indexed. 

Head over to google.com/video.  

Then do a search for 'site:<yoursite.com>'.

The results will be exactly how Google has indexed your video content. If it isn't showing up, you might be doing something wrong. 

In related news, here is a little video I made on the way to WistiaFest.


So that's it. I have a note book full of loads more great tips, but I'll be a little selfish and hang onto them for a little while (a.k.a. I'm going to milk this one topic over the next few weeks). 

Do yourself a favour and search '#WistiaFest' on twitter to see loads more great insights people like me got from this conference. 

And finally a huge thanks to Wistia for putting the conference together. It was my first ever conference and I think I will find it difficult to top that one. Who else would have a dunk tank at a conference?


If you have any questions about the above, please comment below and I'll get straight back to you!

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