March 28, 2016


Video’s surging popularity for internal communications

A familiar image comes to mind when companies think of using video for internal communications. It’s the classic “head and shoulders” of an executive glancing down at a script and reading it straight into the camera with all of the enthusiasm of a tired city bus driver. Thankfully for employees and executives everywhere, video has grown to new heights.

Video as a medium for company communication has truly evolved. Part of the reason for that is video’s widespread popularity throughout the culture. Between smartphones, laptops and TVs, it seems someone somewhere is constantly watching something. But another key part of the development is the ever-increasing ease with which companies are able to deliver video content.

An ingrained cultural tool
Online delivery is as seamless as it has ever been. In January, YouTube reported 4 billion video views per day and 300 hours worth of new videos uploaded every minute. That is an incredible amount of traffic. It’s no wonder that leading institutions – the White House, for instance – use the website for engagement and expansion. Video’s usefulness for external communications inevitably drove businesses to take a closer look at it for internal communications as well, particularly in the last couple of years.

By now, video has reached a point where the majority of internal communications experts see it as essential. A recent study from the UK-based research firm Melcrum found that 92 percent of IC professionals regarded visual communications as an important tool, while close to 54 percent said their employees expected to see video internally.

This surge in global popularity is clear evidence of just how far video has come. Few other internal communication methods have the diversified reach of video, or allows employees to absorb and retain information as effectively. One study found that after three days, a person will retain only 10 to 20 percent of written or spoken material, but nearly 65 percent of a visual presentation.

For companies living on strict budgets and for whom employee engagement is key, video has become crucial to their success. HR Zone, citing data from another Melcrum study, reported that more than half of the companies they analyzed already relied on online video in one way or another for internal communication. Almost 70 percent said they could see their business investing more time and money in video in the coming years given the platform’s proven abilities.

Specific uses for video vary across companies, however. There are different paths to visual internal communications success.

A platform of many talents
Based on HR Zone’s joint research with Melcrum, it would seem that the old “head and shoulders” approach to company communications is still very much alive. But now there are plenty of more creative schemes too, like bite-sized, one- or two-minute training films; employee-generated content focused on reaching other employees; and multi-camera interviews with senior company leadership discussing everything from strategy to sports teams. And that’s only the start. There are countless inventive video ideas out there.

What each company using video effectively  agrees upon is that there are few better means for establishing an emotional connection between employers and employees. Video helps to break down the barrier that traditionally exists between employees and the company culture they’re supposed to buy into. It introduces a personable, human element to the discussion by having workers talk directly to their counterparts. Values are exchanged between equals through face-to-face connections.

An added benefit of video is how it can overcome dialogue challenges. For instance, the person a company hires or promotes to a leadership position wasn’t necessarily chosen for their communication ability. More likely they were selected because they produce at a high level. But a great performer may struggle to talk with other employees, which presents a challenge for maintaining effective dialogue. Video takes the pressure off. Someone else delivers the message, leaving the manager to direct their efforts elsewhere.

Video bridges gaps that sometimes exist in in-person internal communications. Companies that employ the right tactics find that video increases their accessibility, improves their engagement and encourages a more open (not to mention more productive) workplace. Benefits like these simply cannot be ignored. Video has come a long way. Every business needs to take advantage of it.