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Using Video and Email Together

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Video email has come a long way. In fact, thanks to HTML5, it’s now possible to have a video play directly in email on a variety of devices and apps (though it’s not universal yet). Like peanut butter and jelly, video and email are better together. Video boosts email click-through rates, adds an enticing interactive component to communication, and makes email feel like less of a chore for your audience. In this guide, we’ll show you why and how you should be using video and email together to accomplish your marketing goals.

Despite competition from emerging tech like rich-media SMS and professional chat apps like Slack, email continues to be a popular and effective means of communication. In fact, millennials spend more than six hours a day in their inboxes!

But as the volume of email being sent and received increases, readers will need more motivation to open your messages and scroll through your content. Using a video will help make your email stand out and pique the viewer’s interest.

Video can have a positive effect on email conversions. Some data suggests that including the word “video” in a subject line boosts open rates. Our own study told us that video thumbnails increase click-through rates up to 40%.

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And while the word “video” may imply that consuming the content in your email will be less work for the recipient, it can also help make your email more engaging overall. By gathering clicks on your thumbnail, you’re able to direct readers to a landing page where there’s even more context, giving your viewers the opportunity to learn more about your product or dig deeper into your content.

When deciding how to incorporate video in email there are many factors to consider, including your goals for the email, technical limitations, and the overall user experience — just to name a few.

Start off your video email marketing campaign by asking a fundamental question: What’s the goal of your email?

We generally find ourselves discussing these two options:

  • Option A: Encourage the reader to visit our site and read, watch, or do something.
  • Option B: Encourage the reader to consume content and take action within the email.

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In the past, the goal of most of our emails was to get people to leave their inboxes and consume content on our website, for multiple reasons. We wanted recipients to comment and start discussions. We wanted them to share a link with their friends. We wanted them to read another article, watch another Wistia video, and ultimately sign up for more content or our product, all while learning about video marketing. This used to be possible only by getting people to your website.

But now, many email marketing tools offer interactive forms and widgets within the body of the email, so don’t rule out option B if your ultimate goal is conversions.

Given that email is the primary vehicle we use to stay in contact with our audience, it’s proven to be the most effective way to get our videos in front of receptive eyes. Since 2011, we’ve been using this magical combination to cultivate a growing audience.

This is how we combine the superpowers of video and email to build Wistia’s audience:

  1. We compose an email that includes an attractive link to a video on our website.
  2. We send that email to a loyal audience base.
  3. An enthusiastic percentage of that audience shares or forwards our email.
  4. Through these shares, new viewers discover our content.
  5. If new users find our content useful, they sign up for our emails, too (fingers crossed).
  6. Our audience grows!

By harnessing the power of both email and video and using them hand in hand, we’re delighting our readers and made lots of new friends (er, readers). Of course, this tactic is also dependent on consistently delivering timely, helpful, and engaging content, but that’s a lesson for another time.

“If copy is the brains of your email, video is the personality. Users are far more likely to click a play button than they are to read a paragraph of text. That’s because humans are inherently lazy and would much rather be spoon fed an idea than have to read it themselves. So we’ll always include a video in an email where possible.”

Ruairí Galavan, Content Marketing Manager, Intercom

With multiple opposing voices and new technology entering the discussion every day, it’s hard to stay on top of options and best practices regarding video and email. By now, many of you have probably seen a video or a GIF embedded directly into an email in your inbox. If you haven’t, that might be because your email client doesn’t play well with video. In these cases, the sender most likely set an image as the default option, or, worst case scenario, the email arrived at your door looking like HTML roadkill.

With the goal of expanding our audience and ultimately encouraging conversions, we have found certain email and video tactics are particularly effective:

  • Let people know there’s a video (subject line, email text, play button on a thumbnail).
  • For informational or brand emails (welcome messages, thank-you emails) have the video play directly in the email.
  • Choose an enticing thumbnail from your video to include in your email (hint: friendly faces attract clicks).
  • If you want viewers to take an action on your site, and video analytics are important to you, send people to a landing page after they click.
  • Keep the number of calls to action limited.
  • We’ve also found that a friendly play button atop an enticing image is a highly effective invitation, especially when the text in the email is direct and concise.

We imagine that most readers’ inner dialogues go something like this: “Looks like there’s a new Wistia feature. Hmm. Do I have time? Wait. Is that guy going to do magic tricks?!” Click.

You can generate traffic to your website quickly and efficiently by including an appealing link in your email. Unlike a video playing within an email, a video playing on a company’s website is surrounded by complementary elements. Why settle for giving your audience a taste when you can provide them with total immersion in your brand?

Video embedded directly into email can be an effective method for engaging your audience — as long as most people can view it.

Embedded videos are immediately interesting to look at and make your emails look “alive” and personal. Take, for example, a video voicemail delivered to a customer’s inbox. There’s a friendly face delivering the message, without asking the reader to click around or read paragraphs of text.

An embedded video is also a fantastic branding tool; it shows off your creativity and knack for visual design and sets the stage for building a deeper customer relationship

If you’re thinking about giving email embedding a try, remember that HTML5 video is only supported by some email providers. Many email services and devices now support HTML5 video, but there are a few notable exceptions, including Gmail and Android devices. Take stock of your audience data to see what client most of your customers are using, and analyze whether it may be worth it for you. According to Email on Acid, video compatibility in 2019 looks something like this:

  • Apple Mail: Plays video within email
  • Outlook for Mac: Plays video within email
  • Samsung Galaxy (mail app): Plays video within email
  • iOS 10+ (mail app): Plays video within email
  • Gmail on desktop, Android, and iOS devices: Shows a fallback image
  • Outlook 2016 and earlier: Shows a fallback image
  • All Android devices besides the Samsung Galaxy: Shows a fallback image

Note that many email clients show a fallback image when a video is embedded. To create an optimal user experience for everyone, it’s critical that your thumbnail image is able to stand on its own with the rest of the design for the email.

If you’re looking for steps to embedding Wistia videos in your marketing emails, head over to our Help Center for a detailed guide.

Soapbox is Wistia’s webcam and screen-recording tool, and it’s a game changer for using video and email together. With Soapbox, all you need to create a great video is our Chrome extension, a webcam, and something to say. Hit record, and then edit to share your webcam, your screen, or a split-screen view.

Since it’s so easy to record and edit a custom video in Soapbox, you can use video as a communication tool, keeping the conversation alive with product updates and walk-throughs that the recipient can watch wherever, whenever.

You don’t need to know how to code to share a Soapbox video in your email. All you have to do is copy the thumbnail link right into your email provider (or email marketing tool if you plan to send to several people).

Animated GIFs can be a great, accessible alternative to embedded video, if you’re looking to give your emails some extra spice without fretting over client compatibility.

The one thing to remember is that file size matters. GIFs won’t animate in an email until all of the frames are loaded, so larger file sizes can create a subpar experience. If you’re lucky, an oversized GIF might pause on the first frame. Conversely, it could appear completely blank. Since many (if not most) of your readers will open your emails on a mobile device, it’s best to limit your use of large GIFs. In their 2019 post on optimizing GIFs for email, Campaign Monitor recommends keeping files to around 1MB in size.

Animated GIF (looping single shot)

One of our favorite styles of GIF is the cinemagraph, which shows subtle movements through layering. In a cinemagraph, a mostly static image is animated by a looping video in one part of the frame. It’s entrancing to watch, leading people to linger over cinemagraphs longer than other images. In fact, cinemagraph-creation tool Flixel reports that cinemagraph advertisements generate 5.6x higher click-through rates than static images.

Airbnb has been known to use cinemagraphs in their emails — check out this adorable, bubble-filled example:

airbnb gif-3b9b819aafd535a8b1feb04a10bc63d0

Since less than 10% of the frame is in motion, the GIF almost presents itself as a still shot with a delightful, bubbly surprise.

“We were amazed about the videos on our homepage and wanted to bring one into our emails. With the launch of the new homepage, it was the right time to do it. We did it to surprise and delight our travelers directly in their inboxes. An animated GIF was the easiest way to do it, we selected the sequence and then sliced it to the minimum frame to make it fit in our email.”

Lucas Chevillard, Email Marketing Coordinator, Airbnb

Animated GIF (multiple shots)

Animated GIFs have been around for a while, but, like Krazy Straws, they haven’t lost their appeal. We’ve continuously experimented with sharing GIFs in email over the years — here’s one of our most recent examples:

For this particular email, our goal was to showcase what you could do with Adobe’s latest feature, Content-Aware Fill. And what better way to give viewers a glimpse into what our post will cover than to actually show them what they’ll end up learning how to do?

“Like Wistia, I’m a proponent of relying on GIFs to provide motion in email. While HTML video in email can be immensely powerful, it more often than not lacks in providing a net benefit over GIF-based approaches. Part of the reason is the lack of strong client support, but the stronger argument against the method, I think, is the cost incurred on mobile subscribers; for the biggest mobile carriers like Verizon and AT&T, the days of unlimited data are long gone, having been replaced by restrictive, low-cap plans.

Any way you slice it, video incurs a file size cost that’s higher than many GIFs. That means, when you send an email to your subscribers that includes HTML video, you can literally cost them money if they’re near or beyond their monthly cap.

For simple motion, the use of CSS3 animation is the better option, particularly because of low file size impact and wider support than HTML video. For more complex motion, GIFs are still king in the world of email.”

Fabio Carneiro, Lead Email Designer & UX Designer, MailChimp

When sharing GIFs in emails, the image quality isn’t exactly optimal, of course, there’s no sound. There are many factors that influence a reader’s decision to open an email, but we certainly don’t think trying something new like incorporating a GIF will hurt!

If you haven’t already gathered, we are really passionate about the relationship between email and video. That’s why we decided to give you some free templates to get you started. Whether you’re just starting to experiment with the dynamic duo of video and email, or you’re already grooving, we hope these templates will inspire and empower your efforts.

We designed and built each template from scratch, based on our experience to date. They’re set up so you can easily replace components with your content and make changes to fit your needs. They’ve been mobile optimized and put through Litmus’s testing tool to ensure cross-browser compatibility.

The future is looking bright for video and email. After all, two of the biggest trends in email right now are personalization and interactivity, and video fits the bill for both. Whether you choose to include full videos in the body of your email, animated GIFs, or colorful thumbnails, there are a number of techniques when it comes to video that can help make your emails more dynamic. When you incorporate video into your email strategy, you stand a better chance of becoming a source of inspiration and creativity for readers — not an unwanted interruption.

At the end of the day, your audience subscribed to your mailing for a reason; they like what you’re doing and what your company has to say. So, why not give people a reason to get excited about your content by featuring a video in your next email marketing campaign — we bet your audience will be eager to share it!



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Video Marketing

How ProfitWell Built and Launched a Media Network with 7 Binge-Worthy Shows

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When you think about binge-worthy shows in the business world, whether that’s a video series or a podcast, chances are a few companies come to mind. You might conjure up the names of enterprise businesses like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Mailchimp. These brands have been in the “show business” game so to speak for a while now, and have even built out content departments to help execute against their goals.

But what if I told you one SaaS company with less than 100 employees actually built out an entire network of shows on their own? That’s right, let it soak in. If you’re having trouble imagining that, then read on to find out how Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, a software company that helps businesses achieve faster recurring revenue growth, started the Recur Network and launched seven shows on their own.

Image Source: ProfitWell

With the inbound marketing space more saturated than ever before, ProfitWell launched the Recur Network to cut through the noise and separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

“We started looking at what was happening in the world of content and noticed that content was just getting better and better, which is great for the community and world,” says Campbell. “But how do you compete when everyone has really good, 2,000-word blog posts today?”

To find the answer to this tricky question, ProfitWell decided to study the companies that are best at attracting and holding people’s attention — the media industry. “We studied lot of media sites like Bloomberg, Hulu, and Netflix and ended up discovering that the best folks in the world at creating content were, essentially, these media companies,” says Campbell. “Launching the Recur Network really came down to us deciding to be more like a media network and less like a traditional SaaS blog.”

In order to emulate these media networks, ProfitWell split their content department into three teams — production, writing and scripting, and audience development.

As the head of the production team, Campbell serves as Executive Producer. Below him sits ProfitWell’s Creative Lead, Dan Callahan, who runs all creative and production. Underneath Callahan sits a show producer, who focuses on the execution of specific shows from end-to-end, and a creative producer, who focuses on each show’s brand and graphic design elements.

“In order to emulate these media networks, ProfitWell split their content department into three teams — production, writing and scripting, and audience development.”

ProfitWell’s Editorial Lead, Danette Acosta, runs the writing and scripting team that develops each show’s concept, storyline, and script. She manages two writers who are also show-hosts. They split their focus on two different verticals — B2B SaaS and D2C, or direct-to-consumer.

Last but certainly not least, is ProfitWell’s Audience Growth Manager, Danielle Messler. She’s in charge of each show’s distribution and launch strategy, which includes email and social media campaigns.

Image Source: ProfitWell

At first glance, ProfitWell’s content team might seem like one of the biggest in the B2B space. But keep in mind that ProfitWell isn’t simply focused on creating one video series or podcast — they’re trying to build out an entire media network.

“Our team is big for a B2B content team, but it’s not that big for a network. If you think about BuzzFeed, they launched their morning show, AM to DM, with a 30-person team,” says Campbell. “To me, it’s super fascinating to see how we can produce content at a certain scale without having dozens and dozens of members on our team. I don’t know if we’ve figured it out completely, but we’re certainly working towards it.”

When ProfitWell first started brainstorming show concepts for the Recur Network, Campbell knew he could bring a ton of SaaS, subscription, and pricing knowledge to the table. But he needed his content team to craft and hone-in on the messaging and helm the creative side of things. So, he tasked them with a job that any marketer (No? Just us?!) would work a weekend for — creating the SaaS versions of their favorite TV shows.

“All of our content folks — who hadn’t worked in SaaS before — would consume content on E!, TMZ, ESPN, Bloomberg, Netflix, etc., and pick out the most interesting concepts that they wanted to emulate,” says Campbell. “We didn’t know how we would apply it to the world of SaaS, but we knew there was probably some way to do it. Once we started to collaborate, we knew what to focus on. For instance, our show The ProfitWell Report is a very news-inspired show.”

ProfitWell adopted a “learn as you go” mentality when coming up with the Recur Network’s first batch of show concepts. And after they produced and promoted them, their approach helped them realize that the network had even more room to grow.

Image Source: ProfitWell

“Now that we had these shows, we decided to ask ourselves, ‘what are we doing wrong?’ For us, we found out that we weren’t targeting certain industries and personas enough,” says Campbell. “We’ve worked on that, at least in a couple of experiments in the past couple of months, and they’ve paid off as we continue to grow the network and build it over time.”

The thought of producing one show, let alone seven, can be a little hard to wrap your brain around at first — and we totally get it. Managing the production calendar for seven different shows sounds like a huge undertaking (because it is!). But, Profiwell has been able to run their network so seamlessly and successfully by not tackling everything all at once, and by working in batches.

“We basically work in different seasons. If we focus on making X-show now, we can also distribute Y-show now and don’t have to worry about producing two shows at the same time,” says Campbell. “Overall, it’s been a very iterative process, and there’s no silver bullet, except for having people who are super comfortable with figuring out things as we go, and not being afraid to get a little crazy once in a while.”

“Profiwell has been able to run their network so seamlessly and successfully by not tackling everything all at once, and by working in batches.”

Interested in taking a peek at some of these shows from ProfitWell? Get a taste of the types of shows you can expect from the Recur Network:

When it comes to investing in the creation of binge-worthy content, it’s not enough to just make the content — you have to get people to consume it. And ProfitWell understands that in order to build a loyal audience, you have to market your content like a media company, too. That’s why they’re relying on building their subscriber base and utilizing email to keep people engaged.

“We’re working to figure out how to distribute multiple shows at once through email. We don’t want to send people too many emails, but, then again, some people want more emails, so we’re learning how to strike that balance,” says Campbell.

“That’s been our mental model — how would we approach marketing if we had a network of sites? The main way we do this is by taking stock from the Bloombergs of the world. What are they doing to push things forward? A lot of times, what it comes down to is creating email digests and sending subscribers everything as soon as it’s published.”

Here’s a look at how ProfitWell is collecting subscribers from their “Protect the Hustle” channel. Image Source: ProfitWell

ProfitWell may have spun up seven successful shows as part of their own media network, but their journey was not void of any obstacles, particularly when it came to content creation.

“As soon as you decide to create a video series or podcast, you start to multiply your surface area, which can become super problematic. For us, we first just had to figure out how to create a video. Then we had to figure out how to create a series. And after we created a series, we had to figure how often to shoot it and what the content was going to look like,” says Campbell.

“A lot of that came down to how we could produce content at an affordable cost, how we could prove the value of these processes, and what we learned to completely reformulate our approach.” When it came to troubleshooting, Campbell noted that it was all about taking a big problem and distilling it down into smaller ones that were easier to solve.

“A lot of that came down to how we could produce content at an affordable cost, how we could prove the value of these processes, and what we learned to completely reformulate our approach.”

“Itreally just came down to breaking down the problem. How do we best break down the issues into digestible bits?” says Campbell. “Oftentimes, when you want to launch a network, you suddenly have to ask yourself what that means and how long it’s going to take. So, I think it’s more about breaking the process down into small pieces. Taking on the bigger pieces can get overwhelming.”

There’s certainly a competitive advantage to becoming an early adopter in the show creation space, and thanks to the Recur Network, ProfitWell has been able to break through the noise in their space.

“Producing informative content that’s also just as entertaining is really good for our brand,” says Campbell. “Each of our shows attracts a lot of subscribers and engagement, so they’re really helping us differentiate ourselves.”

A still from another one of ProfitWell’s shows, Subscription 60. Image Source: ProfitWell

The Recur Network has generated a substantial increase in traffic, leads, and sales for ProfitWell, too. But Campbell warns against falling into too many rabbit holes when measuring the performance of your own binge-worthy content. They’ve found that you can lose sight of the forest for the trees when you get too bogged down by metrics — and that’s saying something coming from a company that’s all about boosting revenue.

“The one thing I will say is that it’s hard to measure this stuff. That’s why we don’t worry too much about granular ROI. It’s just really hard to measure that,” says Campbell. “Over time, we will worry more about it, and we’ll get better at measuring it, but, right now, we want to focus on the overall investment of the network.”

ProfitWell’s primary marketing focus will be building out the Recur Network for now and in the future. “I don’t know if the dollar amount will increase in terms of actual investment, but the time is certainly going to stay consistent, if not up in certain capacities,” says Campbell. “We’re rolling certain things into the Recur Network, like some of our other content and some new launches, and turning it into our central content hub.”

Regardless of the approach ProfitWell decides to take with their binge-worthy content strategy moving forward, we can’t wait to see what they’ll create. Stay tuned!



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How Video Producers and Other Creatives are Forging Ahead with Remote Work

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This time last year, we were scheduling pre-interviews, working with expert animal handlers, and heading down to Pennsylvania to pick up our beloved Brandwagon — all in the name of producing a binge-worthy show. If we were tasked with making season two of Brandwagon today, however, things would certainly look a lot different.

Many industries that rely on in-person interactions to do their work have had to adapt their practices to stay afloat and maintain connections with their audiences — and video producers and other creatives are no exception. In this post, we’re highlighting the ways we’re seeing these folks forge ahead despite the circumstances given the world-wide pandemic. Keep reading and get inspired by how people are adapting to working remotely (and continuing to stay creative).

Sometimes the show must go on. Here at Wistia, our production team hasn’t given up on bigger projects we had slated for this year. Our Producer, Adam Day, shared how he’s still continuing to produce a video project despite being remote:

“Before the pandemic, we were right in the middle of production for a new Wistia series. Our shooting schedule was interrupted, and everything from key guest interviews to b-roll production was put on hold! So now we’re doing anything and everything we can to push the project forward in post-production. Wistians are using cell phones and laptop cameras to record stand-in scenes. We’re shooting b-roll in our apartments. And we’re leaning into animation and finding creative ways to use stock footage to get rough edits of our episodes together. This way we can still get a sense of the look, feel, and flow of a video. It helps us with creative decision making and planning so we can quickly finish production whenever we get to work together in person again.”

On the other hand, oftentimes the pre-production process can take up a ton of time, and not every type of show’s pre-production work is the same — some shows require much more creative thinking and strategic planning than others. Doing a bunch of prep work right now such as choosing the execution of your show wisely and writing all your scripts could set you up for the future when we’re back in action!

If you’re a video producer out there, you might think your value is dependent on being in-person to help people shoot videos. But, you should know you can adapt your offerings and still be valuable to folks who are trying to create content from home. Our Head of Video Production, Chris Lavigne, explained how you can step in on a more consultative basis in remote environments and still charge for your services. Video producers are uniquely good at making shots look great, and in a remote world, there are plenty of instances where a little remote directing can go a long way.

“Video producers are uniquely good at making shots look great, and in a remote world, there are plenty of instances where a little remote directing can go a long way.”

On the second episode of our (Out of) Office Hours livestream, Chris covered remote directing techniques from his experience shooting a video of our co-founders remotely. Some direction you can provide remotely includes production design tweaks, helping adjust camera angles, and coaching your talent by being a bug in their ear (or an airpod, if you know what we mean). These things aren’t all that different than what you’d do if you were producing a video in-person, and they’re just as valuable in this remote world!

Other video producers and creatives are seeing this moment as an opportunity to experiment and lean into new formats to adapt their offerings. For example, if you’re a creative producer who primarily focused on video, but has audio experience, too, you could pivot your offerings toward podcast production. Not only podcast production, but creating a podcast and video interview series remotely isn’t out of the realm of possibility, either.

We’re also seeing people’s creativity come to life in new and engaging ways. We’re big believers in creativity being born from constraints, and two examples of delightfully entertaining content that’s been put out into the world in recent days come from Saturday Night Live and Bon Appetit.

Recently, we saw SNL put on their first-ever remote episode, and we had a few guesses as to how the staff would go about producing the show. Even though the cast wasn’t working with a complete arsenal of video production gear for shooting their segments, they focused on making their content genuinely entertaining, which definitely paid off.

Image courtesy of NBC.

Our main takeaway here was that quality content will always be more important than high-quality production value. The team also took the time to understand their audience to inform the content they created. By leaning into our shared experiences surrounding staying home, self-isolating, and navigating our “new normal,” they created entertaining content that had a little something for everyone.

Similarly, over at Bon Appetit, their chefs can’t all be together to film their series Test Kitchen Talks. So instead, they’re having their Pro Chefs take you on virtual tours of their kitchens to share their favorite tools and recipes. From making 13 kinds of pantry pasta to brewing their favorite coffee at home, they’re working with what they’ve got to spin up entertaining content for all of us to consume.

As creators, seeing the quality of content SNL and Bon Appetit is putting out is super inspiring to us. Despite the circumstances, they’re letting their creativity drive their ideation of concepts to continue to engage their audiences. If you’re a creator out there during this time, thinking creatively about how you can still produce content right now is a power you can employ (and charge for) as a creative person.

“If you’re a creator out there during this time, thinking creatively about how you can still produce content right now is a power you can employ (and charge for) as a creative person.”

While you’re thinking of ways to produce videos remotely, consider creating a crowdsourced video. Crowdsourcing could be an aesthetic choice at any time, but it’s super practical today. Like with any video, you have to produce the content, shape it, and direct it. And just because you aren’t there to shoot the video, doesn’t mean you can’t have a hand in making it the best it can be. As we mentioned, remote directing is a valuable skill you can still put into action! It’s also nice to keep in mind that high-production value is not what’s expected right now — people are comfortable with seeing low-production value content.

Pointing to Saturday Night Live once more, they crowdsourced footage from their talent to recreate their iconic intro. The editors there leaned into post-production with their familiar outlines, text treatments, and music to put out something that felt very in line with the SNL we know and love. It was a prime example of edits being saved in post-production and just goes to show how leveraging old tools can help you keep forging ahead.

We hope these examples of how people are adapting to working in remote environments and forging ahead will get your creative wheels turning. In these uncertain times, creating might feel like a constant uphill battle. Many of us are doing things we’ve never done before and trying to figure out our own value as creatives. But we’re all in this together, and if there’s any way we can help each other during this time, it’s sharing the new things we’re seeing and learning along the way.

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Creative Ways to Use Video for Remote Team Building

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Life during a pandemic isn’t something our roadmaps or project plans could’ve ever prepared us for. And while practicing social distancing has led to adjustments in all aspects of work and life, one that is especially obvious to us is the switch to being a fully remote company. As teams around the world make this transition as well, there’s a real need for creativity and resourcefulness when it comes to keeping your company culture thriving (and your employees engaged).

So, how do you maintain meaningful connections with your teammates when your workplace norms have changed so much? Whether it’s keeping in touch with your team on weekly Zoom calls or just saying “Hey, how are you!” with a Soapbox video, communicating via video has become the new norm.

Help during COVID-19: A few weeks ago, we made Wistia and Soapbox available for free to organizations that are in the education, healthcare, or non-profit sector and are using video to support current community needs. Please reach out to us at support@wistia.com with the subject line “COVID-19 Response” for more information.

Let’s take a look at some creative examples of how businesses are using video for remote team building. Hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll walk away with some fresh ideas for what you can do to keep the company culture you’ve worked so hard to build thriving.

Getting to know your teammates

Take a look at our friends at Help Scout, for example. It’s clear from their “office” culture success, that we can learn a lot from them when it comes to working remotely. Their team consists of about 60 people — 75% of whom work remotely. Help Scout didn’t actually start out remote, but hiring for talent and culture fit has helped steer them in that direction. Finding the right folks for the job was always a priority over proximity, so they decided to bake remote culture into how their company was structured from the beginning.

“Finding the right folks for the job was always a priority over proximity, so Help Scout decided to bake remote culture into how their company was structured from the beginning.”

Today, they use video in all aspects of their business. From making weekly all-hands into a “Monday video party” to Friday Fika coffee chats, team members have ways to easily connect over video during the workweek. But, of course, there’s more to life than just the workweek.

Inspired by MTV Cribs and a realization that most of her remote team would never see where everyone else in the company lives and works, Leah Knobler of the People Ops team started an “At Home With Help Scout” series.

With this series in place, team members were able to show off a bit of their home life while learning some fun facts about other members of their team. Whether someone built their own custom desk, or they happen to co-work with chickens, it’s the little details that really help people feel connected.

Keepings folks engaged and excited

Here at Wistia, our company-wide meetings like Show & Tell (now attended on Zoom) are hosted by a different team member who leads an engaging game throughout the meeting. This small lift keeps folks entertained through what might have been an easy opportunity to lose focus. The first time we experimented with this, we played a game called “Where in the World is Lenny?” Throughout the game, we were led on an extravagant scavenger hunt à la “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego,” and based on the reviews, it’s safe to say it was a hit!

In the end, we wound up with this gem, which is sure to keep us laughing for a while.

Now, you might not have an office dog that also doubles as a world traveler, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still engage your team in a similar way. Other ideas here include house tours, or videos of pets and kids at home, to name a few. Not only did we get to learn about the different projects and initiatives our teammates were working on, but we also had a lot of fun all together. Which, these days, is something that we’re not taking for granted.

Introducing new hires to the team

Team members at Animalz, a content marketing agency, are also encouraged to make a short intro video when they join the team to help people get to know them better. Share a fun fact, show off your favorite pet, or give a tour of your local neighborhood — these videos showcase the unique personalities of every team member.

As their remote team grew, one thing never changed — the emphasis on their core values. Your values don’t have to be compromised just because your team isn’t structured “traditionally.” Video helps you find creative ways to build your team without location constraints.

“Video helps you find creative ways to build your team without location constraints.”

Similarly, when we bring on a new hire here at Wistia, making an introductory Soapbox video is baked into their onboarding. We do this even though we’re an in-person-first team because we understand it can feel overwhelming or inauthentic to have the same first conversation with 100 people. So, the Soapbox intro gives us an opportunity to relate to folks and inspire unique conversations from the get-go.

Here’s an example from Brock, a designer who started at Wistia a few days before the office shut down:

Nowadays though, our Soapbox intros have proven to be even more helpful when introducing new teammates. Since we can’t be in the office together, it’s a really fun way to get to know new folks.

Of course, we can’t talk about using video to maintain a thriving remote culture without mentioning how we use it to have some fun just for the sake of having fun. After all, studies show that workplace fun leads to improved communication and increased job productivity. Not only that, but some of the best parts of office-life are the quick conversations we have in passing or the impromptu discussions in the kitchen about the latest show we’re all binge-watching.

And now more than ever, it’s so important that we keep those casual, yet vital, interactions up. Thankfully, video makes it easy to do so. Every week we hold various “social Zooms,” hosted by volunteers from the team. These social Zooms have included a dance party led by our VP of Product’s daughter, solving the New York Times’ crossword puzzle, group Peloton rides (any indoor bike works though), and a full-on debrief of Tiger King, complete with a PowerPoint presentation and discussion questions.

Whatever your team activities end up being, make sure to stay mindful of where folks are at. Host activities that are inclusive and give people a variety of ways to participate. Maybe parents could use a social zoom to keep their kids entertained for a little bit during the work-day, or maybe they just really miss the social aspect of working out.

Whatever it is, the idea here is to bring back a little bit of the normalcy everyday life used to have. It might seem inconsequential, but clearing some mind space with stress-free activities is key to maintaining a happy and unified team, especially in these times.

“It might seem inconsequential, but clearing some mind space with stress-free activities is key to maintaining a happy and unified team, especially in these times.”

When it comes to using video, it doesn’t matter if your company is big or small, has been around for a while, or is just getting started. Video is a great way to help you communicate and build culture for remote workers. Here are some helpful suggestions to get started!

  • Encourage your teammates to share their skills. This could be anything from coding, to cooking lessons, or even how to make some impressive origami. Create a community that values sharing knowledge by showing your teammates your unique skills. And maybe even inspire others to learn something new!
  • Ask new hires to make an introduction video. This helps people get to know new members of the team and shows that you care about your team members beyond the work they contribute.
  • Have your team members share their favorite quarantine life-hacks in a video. Who’s mastered the art of sourdough baking? Or have they figured out the best way to make a standing desk with pots and pans? These tips could end up being genuinely helpful and allow your team to feel more connected!
  • Talk “in-person” whenever possible. Hop on a Zoom for conversations that might have just been in Slack if you were in the office. It might add a little time to the conversation, but the digital face-to-face conversation will be worth it.



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