February 8, 2016


Guide to employee-generated content

The quick rise of technology has been a boon for offices as it has driven an upsurge in employee-generated content. Companies are no longer bound by production crews to create video for their employees to watch – now digital content is in the hand of the employee.

Homemade videos garner higher engagement rates with workers because, to borrow from the FUBU brand, they were made for them, by them. Employees are far more likely to watch a video the person sitting next to them made, rather than a production company they know little about. If you can find a way to add humor to the videos then you’re golden.

Take Children’s Hospital Colorado, for example. Staff videos about patient safety have made onboarding training enjoyable, instead of bearable. So how do you get your employees on board the video bandwagon?

How to encourage employees to shoot and appear in videos
It can be challenging to develop employee-generated videos. Some people don’t like being in the limelight, and company rules often prohibit it in the workplace. The latter is the wall that Lizzie Costello, writer and video producer at Children’s Hospital Colorado, initially ran into.

“It’s especially challenging in a health care environment, where it’s against hospital policy to take video or pictures at work outside of the marketing and communications department,” Costello said. “The focus is on patient care, and there are high expectations for employees. How can they find time to engage with communications?”

The answer is simple – create an incentive. Contests are an excellent way to boost employee engagement, and often bring out the competitive side of employees which makes the quality of videos much better. Costello used box seats to the Denver Nuggets game as Children’s Hospital’s grand prize.

The result of this tactic is greater brand awareness. Videos that show employees having fun often point to high levels of engagement and reveal the real faces behind the company. This serves as great motivation for internal use, but also public. Prospective hires and industry specialists will get a different vantage point of the company, rather than thinking of it all as numbers on paper.

Paolo Tosolini, director of emerging media for RuN Studios in Kirkland, Wash., also recommends getting executives involved in the process. By doing so the company is proving to its employees that creating videos is fun for everyone, and their actions will inspire people to produce videos as well.

Above all, make sure the process is accessible. Employees may shy away because of their inexperience with video production software.

“When you have knowledge of tools, you’re more confident and you can shoot videos more often,” Tosolini said. “Otherwise, it feels like the barriers are too high to do an acceptable job. People don’t like to look stupid; they want to look smart.”

Spend time teaching employees two or three editing programs so they are able to produce quality work. This will inspire them to take the initiative, rather than waiting for an order.

How Youtube-like channels can boost your internal communication
Youtube channels are portals for employees, investors and customers to view all your hard work in one easy and accessible area. While it serves as a great outlet for external communications, it can also be used in a similar fashion for internal communication.

Creating a proprietary portal for your internal videos may take time, but the investment is well worth it. While a private Youtube channel may seem like an easy way to get it done and over with, Youtube doesn’t provide everything that enterprises need – such as an approval process for posting content. Video gateways should be easy to manage for executives, and straightforward for employees to use. Convoluted systems rarely promote engagement. Allison Manning, corporate communications specialist at Textron, found that having a workflow system enabled the company to test drive content before it was released for mass consumption.

“We can take steps to publish content to just a few people at first, so they can review videos before making them available to everyone,” Manning said. “It’s good for quality control – we can make sure the audio is loud enough and that the visuals are clear.”

Some companies like Con Ed, an energy company, have taken their portals to the next level by streaming content on its 90 monitors around the office.

“On the screens, we’ll try to tell stories in 30 or 45 seconds,” Ann Cameron, company director of creative services, said. “The screens will do the job of publicizing the videos. The screens have a lot of potential for allowing us to deliver corporate content and make it more easily accessible.”

By creating a platform to easily view and upload videos, businesses are making it easy for employees to get involved in every step of the process.

How to shoot pro-quality video on your phone or tablet
The whole point of boosting employee engagement through video is making sure they have the tools necessary to develop quality videos. Follow these steps to ensure excellent quality across the board:

  • Hold the phone horizontal, not vertical. This helps you avoid the black bars on the sides in the final product.
  • Make sure the device is steady. Shaky films don’t have a professional quality.
  • Understand the rule of thirds. Imagine the screen has three different sections. If filming an interview, the middle area should be vacant, with both people occupying the outermost sections.
  • Ensure that lighting is even throughout the video. Scenes that are too bright, or too dark, can ruin an otherwise perfectly good video.
  • Think about the setting. Try to spice up the movie by moving the set to somewhere that hasn’t been filmed before.
  • Use an external microphone to capture sound. This will make editing a breeze once it is filmed, because the phone sound quality just isn’t good enough.

Consider creating a video to relay these instructions to employees, as pictures are worth a thousand words. By following these steps, your employees will be well on their way to becoming the next Steven Spielberg.

Watch this video for a few tips on shooting your own content with your smartphone.