One of the main challenges we hear from clients is that their internal comms videos fail to engage the viewers over the course of the video. Internal videos usually have a much higher open rate than communication via written words or still images but the analytics show that viewers often drop off before completing the video and there may be a vital piece of information contained at the end of a the film.
Here are our top tips to keep viewers engaged throughout.
1. Value your audience’s time
Think of the audience’s time as precious and don’t waste a second of it. Because a video is used for internal comms the temptation is to believe that everyone in the company is a captive audience member, eager to hear the latest company news. But they are in fact, as time pressured and have as many distractions as any YouTube viewer and you have to consider structuring the video so they know that it’s worth watching.
Like any great YouTube video you should hook viewers in within the first five seconds so don’t waste time with lengthy branding boards or title cards. Consider that by clicking the play button they are looking for some ROI for the time they are investing. Tell the audience upfront what the video is about and what they will learn from watching it. Hook them in within the first five seconds and once you’ve told them what they will learn you are much more likely to keep engagement levels maintained throughout.
If you create a long boring video of the CEO waffling on about something abstract then you’re also damaging the future potential of the medium as people won’t want to spend time watching your next video. Each communication should be concise, to the point and above all relevant to the audience it’s intended for.
2. Emphasis delivery
One of the most common mistakes we see in internal communications video is an over emphasis on script and under emphasis on delivery. Many times we see clients pouring over every word of the script that they are writing for a member of staff to deliver.
Days are spent going backwards and forwards between multiple stakeholders who each need to ensure that every word is correct and there is nothing contentious that could upset another department. However, when the person delivering the message hasn’t had time to prepare, to read the script, and to thoroughly learn the dialogue, they will come in and read material off an autocue that they are seeing for the first time. This leads to a stilted and unnatural delivery that will put up a barrier between the audience and viewer that will lead to them switching off in droves.
A better way to approach the video would be to bullet point information and make sure that the subject thoroughly understands what they are there to talk about. If they can fill in the gaps around the bullet points with their own words then the delivery will feel natural and authentic. This will hold viewers for far longer than a robotic, autocue delivery.
3. Visuals are a primary consideration
Visuals are very often an afterthought when they should be a premium consideration. A talking head in a white studio is easy to achieve, but consider whether it’s the best place to do a piece to camera. As often as possible we try to take talking heads out of the studio environment into somewhere more visually appealing. A nice backdrop can work wonders to keep engagement levels high but an even more effective technique is to move the interview to a natural setting such as a meeting room or, if your camera team are brave, a walking-whilst-talking interview going through the corridors of your building. When it’s done right, this technique ensures maximum retention as the audience feel a constant progression through the visuals.
Taking the presenter to an informal location can also work wonders. Maybe try a local coffee shop and deliver the piece to camera there. Yes the audio will suffer but with the correct microphone you can exclude a lot of background noise. The communication will feel more personal, natural and authentic than a clinical studio setting. It only takes a bit more time, imagination and of course permission from the coffee shop but if your presenter is a confident public speaker they should be able to deliver their piece to camera in a relaxed and genuine manner which is likely to be well received by all levels of your organisation.
4. Niche content for specific employees
Company wide coms are great but consider sending some messages to targeted groups employees so you can niche the video content to them specifically. Employees appreciate that video is more time consuming and expensive to produce than a newsletter so by using the medium to deliver communications to smaller groups of people you are sending the message that it’s important that they listen to what is being said.
5. Increase the production value
We use the term production value to describe the elements that either increase or decrease the perceived quality of your video. Things like the quality of the camera used, the amount of work that has been put into the graphics, whether the material has been colour graded, how much attention has been paid to the sound quality and the location that the video is shot in all contribute to the production value of a video. By increasing the production value you are sending a clear signal that the communication has gravitas and should be watched thoroughly.
6. Analyse your content
There are various metrics that you can use to measure the engagement levels of your videos and you should be constantly testing and learning from them. One obvious metric is the length of the video. It may seem like a simplistic way to solve the problem but by keeping the length of the video short you have an exponentially better chance of viewers completing the video. Statistics from video hosting platform Wistia may offer some helpful advice in terms of how long you should be aiming for:
Videos under 1 minute enjoy 80% viewer retention up to the 30-second mark, while videos 2-3 minutes in length still enjoy 60% retention. 5-10 minute videos see over 50% drop off halfway through the running time.
7. Test your content
Distribute variations of video content to learn how your audience responds to them. Dip your toe into the water by creating short simple videos rather than spending lots of time on video creation before you know whether the type of video you’re creating is the most effective way to deliver the message. For example if you have recently got the results back from an interesting sales report and you want to inform the workforce, would it be better to create an animation to illustrate the stats in kinetic typography or have your sales manager address the team in a talking head video? You could try both approaches and randomly A / B test them on staff members to see which one performs best so that the next time you need to create a stats heavy video you can be sure to use the approach that maximises viewer engagement.
8. Include a call to action at the end of the video
If you want to test the effectiveness of a particular video then adding a clickable call to action button at the end of the video will enable you to measure more than just the completion rate of the video. Just because someone didn’t click away from a video doesn’t mean that they paid attention to the end. By including a compelling call to action at the end of the video you can measure true engagement rates. By including a call to action you are also highlighting the fact that there was a point or an end goal to them watching the video.
9. Consider an interactive video
One way to ensure viewer engagement is to give them the opportunity to interact with the content. Give viewers the ability to choose their own path through the material or click to learn more about a particular subject. This can be a great tool to use when you have a long or detailed message that you want to communicate to a large number of internal staff. It’s inevitable that some staff members will require a greater level of detail than others and by giving them the opportunity to ‘click to learn more’ you are respecting their time and their intelligence by giving them control of their own learning. You can also test people’s retention of the knowledge by adding in fun quizzes at the end of a chapter or by giving them the opportunity to repeat the material if they haven’t fully understood it.
10. Promote your video
One overlooked tool is the promotion of internal video. It’s easy to do with videos on YouTube so why not do it via your internal platforms. If you have a company wide newsletter, promote the fact that you have a new video coming out which contains some vital or fascinating information. A lot of time and effort goes into the creation of the video and if you aren’t promoting it then you aren’t doing the content justice. Spark as much excitement as possible by creating a teaser trailer or use still images from the video to add a deeper level of interest.