[Community] Leverage the Power of Visual Storytelling in Your Online Community

7 minute read

May 23, 2018

[Community] Leverage the Power of Visual Storytelling in Your Online Community

In short, any business that’s not using video is missing out on its versatile and superhuman powers.

In this post, we’ll focus on how to use video to bring your online community together.

Build Brand Rapport

With easy-to-use content tools and social media channels, almost anyone can create content. However, video demands more consumer attention than any other content piece time and time again. With marketing budgets being tight as they are, capturing attention is important.

We know that visual content helps create stronger engagement, and video is no exception to that rule. Your target audience is ten times more likely to share, embed, engage, and comment on video than on blogs or social media posts.

To create brand rapport, there needs to be an emotional connection.

Consider testimonial videos. They’re often super effective because people in video help to create an emotional bond. Fostering such emotions has been proven to help consumer decision-making, so by showcasing videos that tell a story, you have a better chance of engaging prospective customers.

GoPro does a great job of using video in their online marketing process. They have excelled at drawing attention to their product and its many unique uses. Who doesn’t want to watch a GoPro Hero3 venture into space or the deep sea? Other companies make video cameras, but none has held the imagination of their potential and current customers quite like GoPro.

Humanize Your Brand

Making a commercial can help you communicate your brand message on a larger scale, but online video allows you to build human connections with your viewers. That’s how you build an audience who’s passionate about your company.  

For example, with video, companies can go behind the curtain and give honest portrayals of their cultures and products. McDonald’s Canada has used this concept effectively to show how their food is made and advertised.

This video was part of the McDonald’s Canada “Our Food. Your Questions” campaign. Launched in 2012, it was designed to combat critics by answering consumers’ questions, no matter how unflattering. According to The Globe and Mail, “the campaign was so successful that it was adopted in the United States. Last year, out of the 10 biggest markets for McDonald’s, Canada had the second-best results.”

Once you start exploring, there are endless opportunities to humanize your brand with video. If you’re new to video, personal reply videos are a great way to test the waters. Instead of typing out a response to a community member in your forum or group, why not make a video instead? Pop out your camera—it could be your laptop webcam, your iPhone, or the Wistia record feature (test out the beta!), hit play, and answer your community members in a more human way. We’ve seen that quick, selfie-style videos have done extremely well in communities—whether the videos are more support focused, or simply introductory.

Explain Complex Ideas

If you’re a B2B company with a complex product, try using a video to demo your features. After all, wouldn’t you rather watch someone demonstrate how to use a product than slog through a bunch of hard-to-decipher instructions? Google has noted, for example, “How-to” searches are up to 70% on YouTube.

Home Depot has some great how-to videos, which show first-time renovators how to fix their houses easily. By creating these videos, complex problems around the home are simplified, reducing stress for the viewer and building trust with the brand.

video camera

Making videos that explain complex ideas or initiatives doesn’t have to be a huge project. Wistia made a short video about shooting your laptop screen, for example. How-to videos can be straightforward and to the point. They’re an opportunity to provide folks with value, while reinforcing your brand.

The Five Ways to Use Video in Your Online Community

Videos are a powerful way to engage and grow your community. The following are some tactical ways you can use video right now:

1. Introduction Videos

Introducing yourself to your community via video, and having others do the same, will create a real connection between community members. It’s hard to feel a connection with a bunch of usernames. Video lets your personality shine.  

Check out the video introduction that Margot Mazur, partnership coordinator at Wistia, made for the Wistia community. It’s light, friendly, and open-ended. Creating a welcoming environment is the key to success with this endeavour. Make it easy for members to add their videos, and make it clear that recording a simple video with a smartphone is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged).


2. Collaborative Videos

Communities are ideal spaces to share ideas with others who have common interests or passions. Creating a collaborative video allows community members to add their own individual pieces and work towards an awesome final product.

Wistia’s community made a collaborative video with one goal—to ensure newcomers felt welcomed. When you first join a community, it’s hard to feel like you belong there. You’re surrounded by avatars, but you don’t really know anyone’s personality or much about them. This video was meant to showcase the friendly faces and personalities behind the avatars.

First, Wistia made a short video asking their community members to make their own short videos (so meta!) saying “hello and welcome” to new community members. Next, Wistia edited their videos together into one large video and made it a permanent fixture in the onboarding process. The response was overwhelming! Folks were excited to collaborate because they knew that their videos were meaningful and would be used on the Wistia site.


You can watch the final project video and jot down ideas for collaborative video projects you can make with your community.

3. How-to Videos

How-to videos are a great way to bring your community together with video and easily help them find value in your product. When a community is passionate about a complex subject, how-to videos can be a perfect fit.

Engage your community by asking them to share their experiences with your product, what they’ve learned about using it, tips and tricks, and more. How-to videos are a solid way to educate and improve a member’s experience. We’ve seen Vanilla customers using this technique in various niches, such as painting, golf, and BBQ.

Video sharing can become an integral part of your community experience. Not only will it make your community more engaging, but it will offer you insights into what your members care about. Keep your community engaged with content about your industry, product, team, and community at large, and attract new members with unique video content.

Your community is a great space to post your own how-to videos, and encourage others to create their own learning content. Videos can start conversations about workarounds and offer different solutions to similar problems within your community. Below is a video Studio Mule posted in the Wistia Community about making screencast videos—it sparked a conversation about the editing software.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 8.47.55 AM

4. Feedback Videos

Feedback videos are another great way for your community members to share their own experiences with your product, and encourage other members to use your product differently. When someone shares a video in the edmunds.com community about a vehicle, it has much more impact than any written review—the viewers can see the results for themselves.

Video is a powerful tool for video game makers and developers as well. Vanilla Forums powers many gaming communities. Members use video for game walk-throughs and sharing feedback with the production team about beta changes. When they find bugs in the game, they’re able to show exactly how to reproduce the issue with video. This makes fixing bugs significantly easier for developers, and crowdsources QA work. It’s also a great way for game fans to share their enthusiasm about achievements within the game, like reaching new levels, unlocking impossible trophies, or defeating tough bosses.

Video is the best way to share experiences online. Feedback videos are powerful testimonials that can help build excitement about your product or service. Recent popularity in unboxing videos (see the growth of interest in the graph below) has spiked in the last few years. These videos share immediate feedback, and allow viewers to experience a product before they purchase it.


5. Live Video

Live video has become a huge buzz term in the video marketing community, and for good reason. There are multiple opportunities to stream live videos easily thanks to apps such as Periscope, or by posting them directly on Facebook using Facebook Live.

A simple Facebook Live video by a mom in a parking lot showing off her Chewbacca mask became an internet sensation overnight, garnering over 100 million replays. Of course your business probably isn’t going to become a viral sensation overnight, but your community can still harness the power of Facebook Live to build significant connections. Check out this guide from Wistia to help you start thinking of ways to take advantage of the platform.

In the past, Wistia has hosted a video hangout-based #WistiaChat, allowing community members to see one another and come together in conversation.

Ultimately, these types of platforms are ideal for live streaming community events, or just sharing video content on the fly.

Getting Started

Most people don’t have a fancy studio or an expensive DSLR, and that’s OK! You can make your first video simply using an iPhone and a tripod, so getting started doesn’t have to be a challenge.

The same goes for setting up a studio. You can put together a professional-looking studio for under $100. Wistia has come up with a list of equipment you can get at Home Depot or Amazon that will outfit your needs for any video project.

When it comes to scripting videos, try to be as conversational as possible. You want your videos to sound real, like you’re speaking to a friend. Bookmark this handy video scripting blog post and start writing.

The key to creating video content is to be authentic and personable. Video brings out the human element in businesses and helps community members connect and relate to one another. Be yourself!

Get out there and make a video!

Video offers numerous opportunities to engage your community in a visual way, separating you from your competitors by being more human and approachable as a brand. Remember—you don’t have to have a huge studio or a big budget to make your videos stand out. All you need is an authentic voice and a few best practices to keep in mind.

Community Marketing

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Alok Chowdhury

Written by Alok Chowdhury

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