You may dismiss it as a website for attention-deprived teenagers with an interest in strange cats, but YouTube, and other video sharing services like it, have the potential to change the way you communicate. YouTube factor is about much more than generating publicity. As impressive – and destructive – as viral video can be, it is its impact on internal communicators, and the way organizations operate, that really interests us.
For communicators with deep enough pockets, video has been a much loved channel since the mid 1990s. Those organizations lucky enough to have the technological infrastructure, and with a big enough team and budget, have used video as an integral part of their communication mix – to bring corporate messages to life, to broadcast time-sensitive news to all employees, to reach People in far flung locations, and to generally increase the impact of their communications.
Whilst its power as a communication tool cannot be denied, video has remained out of reach for many of us-a medium that is simply too costly and too time consuming for the majority of internal communicators to consider using as a core channel. But all that has changed.
The barriers to video production and broadcast have now all but disappeared. Businesses of all sizes now possess the technology to stream video direct to employee's desktops via their intranets. No longer do we have to rely on expensive business TV satellite networks or on distributing content on VHS cassette or DVD in the vague hope that employees will make the effort to view them.
Furthermore, the YouTube factor means that your video production no longer has to be of Scorsese standard – as long as it's interesting, relevant and authentic, 'home grown' will do. As many podcasters have already found out, content is more important than presentation – if you have something to say that is relevant and genuinely interesting then listeners will tune in. The same goes for internal communications.
When it comes to capturing content, decent quality digital video cameras can now be bought for a few hundred quid, making them cheap enough for even the most budget-restricted teams. You may well want to use a video production house to shoot additional content and to edit your video, but remember that in the world of YouTube, it is authenticity that counts. As marketers are now finding out to their peril, content that is over produced is valu greeted with caution.
The same principle applies internally – employees will respond much more favorably to a CEO's honest unscripted assessment of an organization's performance shot by a member of the comms team on a handicam, than to a glitzy professionally-filmed and heavily scripted TV-standard video. The same rationale underlines the role of face-to-face inside organizations – the more 'real' and 'unfiltered' communication is, the more credible it generally is.
With trust inside many organizations at rock-bottom, it is those leaders and communicators who learn how to apply social media techniques internally that will be rewarded with higher levels of trust and, ultimately, improved performance.