Video has emerged as a powerful communications medium that is well-suited for the business world. Moving beyond "commercials," businesses are now using video to inform, educate, and influence a wide range of audiences.
While the use of video is great for external-facing applications aimed at customers, shareholders, or the general public, it is also a powerful tool when it comes to delivering engaging messages to internal audiences-namely employees via the company intranet. In fact, according to a survey by the British firm Melcrum, 93% of internal communications teams said they see video as an important tool; another two-thirds said they expected to increase their budgets for video.
Advances in recording and media streaming technologies have made video more affordable and accessible than ever, allowing companies of all sizes and types to incorporate video into a multimedia communications strategy. If your company is on the fence about whether to employ video as an internal communications tool, here are five compelling reasons to move full-steam ahead.
1. Employees expect it. As consumers, employees understand how video has become integrated into nearly every aspect of daily life. Even traditional print media, such as local newspapers and magazines, are incorporating video into their web presence. Wired magazine has been a leader in this video-integration movement, adding vibrant and engaging video elements to its interactive iPad editions. And, according to Nielsen Wire, some 147.4 million Americans watch video on the internet (nielsen.com/us/en/newswire/2012/cross-platform-report-how-we-watch-from-screen-to-screen.html).
It's easy to see that Americans are accustomed to video being available on the internet. In fact, they expect it. According to the Melcrum survey, two-thirds of internal communications professionals say their employees expect their company to use video internally. Adding it to your company's communication repertoire demonstrates that you understand the importance of the medium as well as the importance of keeping pace with society's technological evolution.
2. Video aids comprehension. Video is one of the most effective ways to gain and hold the attention of learners while communicating complex ideas. Far and away, visual learning is the most powerful of the sensory learning styles-65% of people say they learn better by seeing or watching. Auditory learning comes in second, with roughly 30% of the population favoring this method. Since video incorporates both senses, it's easy to see how the use of video can be a powerful educational tool that speaks to a full 95% of the population. For internal communication purposes, showing "how-to" videos or footage of customers using your product in action can help product developers, marketers, managers, and even potential buyers immediately see how your product will help them.
3. Video saves money and ensures compliance. In addition to corporate training, video can be used extensively with any learning management system to deliver both company-specific and mandated HR/compliance training, such as nondiscrimination and sexual harassment prevention courses. This method not only eliminates the time and cost associated with travel (either to bring employees to a central location or to dispatch a trainer), it also reduces the lost productivity that often goes along with on-site training. With video, employees can view videos during breaks, at lunch, or when their schedule permits, versus consuming an entire morning or afternoon with the typical socializing and chitchat that usually accompany such events. Perhaps even more valuable, HR and training managers can see exactly who has viewed the training-and who has not-to track and report on compliance.
4. Video boosts speed, efficiency, and consistency. The use of video chat, live streaming video, or on-demand content can make it faster, easier, and less expensive to share company-wide information. For example, meetings can be broadcast live to personnel around the world, eliminating the logistical challenges and added expense of travel. Employees can tune in to live content or watch content on-demand at their convenience on any device at any location-at their desk, from home, in the airport ... wherever their work or personal life takes them. And, with content provided through the security and control of the company intranet, employers can feel confident that the information will be consistent with their key messages because they control the content, access, and distribution.
5. Video enhances communication and collaboration. Nonverbal communication is considered the single most powerful form of communication, with so much being "said" through body language, facial expression, posture, and gesture. Documents, email, texting, online chat, and phone calls simply do not allow for this vital information to be expressed (hence the risk of uncomfortable misunderstandings). Video captures all of these nonverbal cues, allowing you to see these richer-and sometimes critical-components of a message. The nonverbal aspect of video also helps to improve collaboration and cohesiveness among colleagues and throughout the company. A remote workforce can use video chat to communicate more intimately, overcoming time zone and geographical boundaries. Interactive video can also be used for board and cross-company meetings that require interaction and deep discussion even when participants cannot be physically present in the same room.
While the use of video in the workplace has a number of undeniable advantages, there are some considerations to be made when selecting an internal video strategy:
- Keep the content short, sweet, and lively. Add music, humor, and other engaging elements wherever possible to get-and keep-viewers' attention and make the content relatable. After all, that dry, snooze-inducing financial presentation isn't going to get more exciting just because you record it and post it on the intranet.
- Make content and production quality a priority. Employees expect quality content because they see it every day as consumers. Failing to meet employee expectations can harm your company's reputation. While there's no need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a professional production crew to record your CEO's speech, it shouldn't look like a middle-school project either. Use quality cameras, lighting, and reliable video streaming software to ensure the best viewer experience.
- Don't forget to include metadata to make the content searchable. Where text documents are easily searchable by design, video is not without taking this extra step. Posting video to the intranet that no one can find is an effort in futility.
- Choose the right video streaming platform to fit your needs. Look for workflow software that makes it easy and intuitive to prepare and distribute content without overburdening staff with additional workload. With so many video platforms, file types, and viewing devices (PC operating systems, web browsers, tablets, and smartphones), you'll also want to use software that is platform-, format- and device-agnostic so it can deliver any video to any viewing device without complicated conversions, added expense, or loss of quality.
Regardless of your company's size, industry, or location, incorporating video as part of your internal communications strategy is a must for engaging and educating employees in the most efficient and effective way. With technologies and platforms that have democratized the process and made it incredibly affordable, video can not only deliver your message in a clear and compelling way, it can also provide a valuable return on investment for internal-facing communications.