The written word is great. You can express ideas in many ways, you can enter into an exchange with people, you can tell them what you think and hear what they say. But online, video is just more engaging. You just have to look at the power and reach of YouTube and growth of the Flickr community to understand the demand and use of media-sharing functions online.
We try to include media as much as possible in the online communities that we build and manage at FreshNetworks. We find that different community members will want to engage and express themselves in different ways, and so allowing them to do this will maximise participation. It’s also a great way to build engagement between the brand and the community – letting them see inside an organisation; video can break down the barriers between brand and customer. It’s an effective way of conveying content as it often encourages more personal and more efficient presentation of ideas. Finally, video can be easily shared and so has a great viral effect.
Somebody who we think has got the use of video right online is Gary Vaynerchuk and his daily wine blog: Wine Library TV. Gary’s enthusiasm is palpable, his knowledge about wine is significantly greater than mine, and his ideas are easy for me to take away. But what really makes his site work is that every day I can watch a short clip and learn something. Rather than read some text describing which wines go with oysters, I can just watch and learn. The videos are easy to pass on to friends and they make me feel like I am really engaging with Gary. I can see him, hear him, watch and learn his mannerisms and habits. I get to know him better than I suspect I might be able to just reading text. So, his ideas are great, the content informative and this information useful. But I suspect it is the fact that he delivers this by video that really makes Gary’s site a success.
So what can we learn about this when we are planning and building online communities? The answer is simple – use video, include video, interact with video.
If you haven’t seen Gary in action, then take a look at this video below of him in action at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York.