On yesterday’s post about stop beating the documentation dead horse and start riding the video pony, Stuart raised a very good question:

“Wait a sec, I just thought of something, if the customer won’t read the manual how do you get them to search for the correct video and view it. OK, the customer will probably do the viewing, but I am not so sure about the searching.”

Stuart, I think the key is building a workflow that connects tech support to documentation, and marketing.

I would start with making a few (about 5) screencasts (each about 120 seconds long) to cope with your most repeated issues.

Doing 5 in a row will help you get a comfortable grip on using this new tech: the goal is not perfection but chopping production duration down to as low a number as you can. The shorter the screencast, the better for you and the better for your customers and prospective customers.

Then, program your email text expander or FogBugz snippets so you can by typing “vid1” expand out to something like,

“Several people have asked that question recently, so I’ve made this video screencast to walk you through this issue. Please let me know if this helped by rating it and leaving a comment.”

Then you post it to YouTube. That’s right, you put it out there for all the world to see, let Google pick up the transmission costs, you make it easy and trustworthy.

Kind of like what Scrapblog did:

So far, so good. Now it’s time to leverage.

  • Feed your blog. Congratulations, you just made a nice short blog entry. A few sentences, a screenshot or embed and you’re done.
  • Feed your customers. Wonder what to put in that email newsletter you know you should be doing? Wonder no more.
  • Feed your online community. Whether it’s your own forum, or an online community you’re a part of, put it out there.
  • Feed your application. Be it your next release’s help page or your online app, time to add one to the list. Here’s part of the answer to Stuart’s question: make your customers have to pass though a nice attractive list of your videos in order to get tech support. Remember, your customers want answers now – giving them a video buffet of instant visual gratification is more of what they want, faster, at less cost (time is money, right?) to you.
  • Feed yourself. Subscribe in YouTube to your own videos, set up your YouTube email options so that you get emailed when comments are posted. Also, check your posted videos on a regular basis for new Links (see image below) – those are people you want to introduce yourself to.

The more that’s out there about your product or site, the more ways Google can index you and the more chances your current customers and prospective market can find what they want to know. Here’s the other half of the answer to your question Stuart – when you have a tech question do you a) RTFM or b) Query Google? So does everyone else!

By the way, if you’re wondering whether I’ve done what I preached, the answer is no, and I should have. Unfortunately, the software tools out there a few years ago when I released my first microISV product were too hard, too complex and too time consuming and there was no YouTube to cover the download costs. That was then, this is now. Now, the tools have gotten way easier and it’s a YouTube world. You can be sure I’ll be taking my own advice about screencasts on Project X later this month.

[tags]microISV, screencasts[/tags]

One thought on “RTFM into WTFV

  1. Well that certainly answered my question. I especially like the five ways you listed to leverage the videos after they are created.

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