Videos communicate personality, help the audience feel more connected to the people on screen, and show the faces behind the logos, avatars, and products. Since video is an inherently people-focused medium, it's ideal for online communities.
You can use video in your community in many ways—how-to videos that help your members get ahead of the game, response videos that allow members to speak face-to-face, collaborative videos where your members are the ones working together to create something amazing—the list goes on and on. In this post, I'll cover a few types of videos you can use to build your online community.
How-to videos give your community members a chance to show off their skills and help others achieve their goals, whether those be passing a hard level in a video game or setting up a marketing workflow. Whatever your community focuses on, a how-to video will engage your members, inspire conversation, and most importantly, bring folks closer together around their interests.
Encourage your community members to make how-to videos by making them yourself. At Wistia, we make how-to videos about scripting, editing, using DSLR cameras, and so much more. These videos help establish a sense of trust between Wistia and our audience and encourage folks to come to us when they're stuck. Here's a video we made recently about how to set up a backdrop for a stop motion animation video:
When you share how-to videos with your community, folks will engage with one another, comment on the video, and use what they've seen. They'll learn new things and associate your community with that newfound knowledge.
Below is a video by Nick Piegari of the Wistia Community on how to focus your camera when shooting alone. This short video had almost 500 plays, and the conversations around it were priceless. The more your community members create how-to videos, the better it is for every member in that space. Knowledge is power!
Having an online community can often mean that we don't see our members face-to-face. People can be scattered around world, and many won't make it to in-person events. In this case, a simple response video can make a huge impact—it allows members to see one another as human beings, and not just as avatars or profile pictures. Video makes conversations more human and real, despite the barriers of a computer screen.
You can use your iPhone or the Wistia record feature (still in beta) to record a response instead of typing one out. Simply say what you want to say and skip the typing! Then post your video in your community as a reply, or an @.
With response videos, you can laugh in real time (instead of just typing "lol", which is so boring nowadays), explain something that's hard to type out, show folks something you're working on, or even just express your thoughts on someone's post. Below is an example of a response video I made after a community member posted a recap video of our last conference in our new Slack community:
This video took no time at all to record, and it's organic and real. It shows personality and allows for us to connect and feel like we really know each other.
Many communities have used collaborative video to bring folks together for a common purpose. Whether that purpose is to help onboard new members, create rules and regulations for your community, or to surprise and delight others—there needs to be an end goal in the collaboration process.
The Smiley community created a collaborative video to show how much people appreciate being community members. This video encourages others to join the community and inspires already active members to engage more. That strong bond is what keeps their community thriving.
At Wistia, we created a collaborative video with our community members that welcomed new members. The goal of the video was to make newcomers feel comfortable and at home. We asked our community members to send in videos of themselves saying "hello" and "welcome," so new members felt like they belonged right away. This video was a small ask—it had a low barrier to entry, so it was easy for folks to participate.
With everyone coming together, we were able to create a sweet video full of some of our most active members from companies like Toast, TicketLeap, RJMetrics, and many more. We used Appcues to put this video into an onboarding process, and it became a modal that appeared as people entered the community for the first time.
These videos help sustain your community's trust and engagement, and they create intimate moments between your community members that they can look back on. They're a source of pride for your members, who worked together on something that has a purpose. For a collaborative video, try something fun and simple. Remember that a small ask can go a long way!
Making community videos
Video production doesn't always require a professional studio or set up. Community videos are a great way to get started because they're low-risk. Your community members tend to have a better sense of your company's culture and don't expect perfection. These videos are real, honest, and human. Because of that, they can be very simple to shoot and edit.
Shooting the video
For how-to and collaborative videos, you can shoot videos using just your smartphone. Shooting videos with an iPhone, for example, gives you great quality footage and allows you to capture some awesome B-roll, should you need it. It turns out that the best camera you have is probably in your pocket!
With some best practices under your belt, you can shoot an awesome how-to or collaborative video right from your smartphone:
Set up with some good light. If you're on camera, face a window so your face is illuminated.
Use a tripod to stabilize your iPhone so you don't get shaky footage.
Don't zoom in. The zoom feature on the iPhone just makes the picture larger, creating a more pixelated video.
Pay attention to your audio. Using your iPhone mic may not work as well as you'd like. You can position a second iPhone right above your head, creating a voice memo, or get an external microphone for great audio.
Now that you're all set to go, we'd love to hear any ideas that you have around community videos. Got an idea of a video that would shine? Let us know in the comments below. If you're a video and marketing enthusiast, you can join our Wistia Community on Slack.