A colleague sent me a blog post (YouTube At Work: Why Your Employees Should Be On There) recently that discussed the virtues of using online video for business. It’s a topic I think about a great deal because video marketing is a component of Internet marketing that is growing ever more important.
But because the advantages of video marketing are so vast and varied, the overall topic is too big to tackle in one blog post. I will, therefore, break the topic down into its components and write a series of posts on various aspects of video marketing.
Today I’ll address a topic I’ve been tossing around for some time: Video Biographies for Business.
Staff Biography Web Pages
Many company web sites include a staff section that include an individual page for each employee featuring their written biography, a photograph of the employee, and such essentials as their title and contact information.
Why not add a short video interview of that employee to their bio page?
The Benefits Of Video Biographies For Business
The benefits of video biographies are many.
People are familiar and at ease with the medium. Americans have been watching television for 60 some years. And, as the extraordinary popularity of YouTube demonstrates, people love to watch video online and increasingly are coming to expect it.
Video biographies are easy to use. It is a lot easier to watch a video than it is to read. I’m not suggesting that video should replace written biographies, but why not make it easier on your site’s visitors by offering them the option to watch a bio instead?
People are increasingly distrustful of faceless organizations. Video biographies can help a great deal in overcoming that obstacle to gaining people’s trust. Trust, after all, is the foundation of any business transaction. Video biographies will help humanize organizations by focusing on the people that make up the organization rather than the faceless entity itself.
In Naked Conversations, authors Robert Scoble and Shel Israel credit the Channel 9 video blog with helping to humanize the monolithic Microsoft corporation. Bill Gates has been one of the most vilified chief executives ever. This video interview with the head of Microsoft for Channel 9 shows he’s human who likes the 24 television program and maybe even a little boring when he talks tech. But it’s hard to consider him evil after watching the video:
There is nothing like building trust than seeing someone eye-to-eye, even if it is through video. Video biographies showcase the humans in an organization, and people are much more likely to trust other people than they are an organization.
Video can help demonstrate the passion, expertise, or competence of your staff. Humans’ presence and demeanor cannot be communicated through text. A person’s tone of voice and phrasing can convey emotional triggers that are lost in print. When people love what they do and are confident in their abilities, those qualities come through loud and clear when they talk about their jobs. Video can demonstrate that better than any other medium.
Video biographies can familiarize your staff with strangers and provide an icebreaker. Most people will look for a biography or other information about strangers they are about to meet with in a business setting. Video biographies can help strangers not just recognize one another but the content of the video biographies can serve as a conversational icebreaker.
Video biographies for conferences, events, or speaking engagements. Many organizations offer select employees to serve as speakers or as experts or representatives at conferences and business events. Such events traditionally include a list of participants and short biographies of those people. More often than not, these bios are posted online. Providing embeddable video biographies is a great promotional tactic that will definitely make your biography stand out.
Video biographies can help strengthen media relations. Journalists are trained to be professional skeptics, so they are more inclined than most to distrust organizational messages. Video biographies for organizational spokespeople put a personality to what is often just a voice over the phone for journalists. Just as for anyone visiting your web site, video biographies can help to humanize your organization to reporters and help build trust with them.
Finally, video biographies can be marketed off site. In addition to featuring video biographies on your organization’s web site, video biographies can be marketed off site at video sharing sites, as well.
The Obstacles To Implementing Video Biographies
Asking your employees to be interviewed for video biographies may be a tough nut to crack.
Plenty of people are uncomfortable in front of a video camera. Some people may feel uncomfortable about having a video of themselves online. These are legitimate concerns and should obviously be honored. Video biographies should be voluntary.
Not everyone in the organization need have a video biography. Certainly, the top leadership of an organization should have video biographies, especially if they want to convince lower level employees to have their own. Video biographies are most important for the people who are often in contact with others outside the organization.
For the camera shy, these people need not even appear in the video if they don’t want to. They could be interviewed off camera and appropriate visuals could be edited in over the course of the video.
How Should Video Biographies Be Done?
Though the style of video biographies will depend upon the nature of the organization, here are some thoughts on how video biographies might be implemented.
The interview format will probably be the easiest and most natural format for your employees to execute. Include job-related questions (what do you do? what is the favorite thing about your job? etc.) but also include some personal questions that will help viewers get to know the person rather than the employee.
More often than not, video biographies should be informal and conversational so as to reinforce that this is a person rather than a spokesperson or an employee.
Unless you’re a slick production studio who wants to demonstrate your slick production capabilities, I think raw, even amateurish video helps to reinforce that personal and informal atmosphere.
Video biographies can also be as simple as the subject talking directly into the camera telling the viewer about themselves without the presence of an interviewer. This format might be more difficult to pull off because the subject may try and read from a script or memorize a script and therefore come off as less genuine.
Conversely, video biographies could be as sophisticated as a Ken Burns documentary complete with voice over and featuring a montage of images and video that is not necessarily about he subject directly but related to the subject’s bio.
You can get as creative as you like with video biographies but always remember that their primary purpose is to build trust.
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