The state of employee generated video inside the enterprise

[This is a reprint of a guest post we contributed to Simply Communicate and distributed to 15K subscribers of their web site]

Based on recent research by IDC, the top three drivers for internal video adoption in organizations are training, video messaging and executive communications. However, while the research reveals the business reasoning behind this trend, each company implements their video programs in different ways.

In this article I’ll share some of the results of my own research I personally conducted by interviewing several organizations across various industries on the kind of business processes and adoption strategies that fuel their internal video programs.

The rise of social and mobile video

There used to be a time when video distribution was as simple as posting a link on the intranet. But the digital workplace has been evolving towards a social and mobile experience, and media content has followed suit, too.

VZTube, Verizon Wireless internal YouTube platform

Let’s take for example the Mayo Clinic which invested early on considerable resources in creating a solid infrastructure for internal training. Ernie Hain, Video Production Unit Head, leads a staff of 14 people (8 producers / directors, 4 editors, 2 Motion Graphic artists) tasked to feed their internal cable system with fresh videos serving their 60,000 employees. Nurses and physicians increasingly need this content to be sharable and portable, pushing the company to augment the current distribution model with an internal system enabled for mobile access.

Verizon Wireless launched its VZTube platform in 2005 mostly for training and internal communications. Being a mobile company, they have been strategizing training videos to be easily consumable on small screens in order to support B2B and indirect retail engagements. “Videos are always considered supplemental and never a replacement to official updates,” explained Gary Minor, Midwest Area Employee Communications Manager at Verizon Wireless. “’Employees can quickly familiarize with a topic using media, but we always want them to pay attention to the details.”

Crowdsourcing knowledge from your workforce

Knowledge is one of those assets that is distributed all across an organization. However, establishing the flow of information from those who have it to those who need it has always been a challenge. Using video is a smart way to tackle this problem, although it needs to be contextualized as part of a larger strategy that includes easy ways to capture, categorize and distribute it.

Steven Rath Morgan, Manager Global Learning Process at Xerox, explains how high performing organizations have a strong learning culture. Xerox believes that employees should be encouraged to share knowledge that drives performance, and the company should provide the means to make it happen. That’s why they launched an internal user-generated video platform that encourages everybody to ‘Show, Share, and Lead’ through the power of video on their PCs, tablets or smartphones.

Employee generated content at Xerox

If done correctly, the economics of crowdsourcing content are there. Nina Kelley-Rumpff, Program Manager, Enterprise Collaboration at SAP, told me that the company has been open in letting employees publish their own videos straight to their ‘internal YouTube’ platform. The results? A sounding success with 5000 submissions and half a million views in the first two years of running the program.

Both Xerox and SAP believe that the policing of the content shouldn’t be a task solely assigned to a specific individual or team for pre-approval. Governance can be driven, in part, through social dynamics, which means that employees should be trusted to do the right thing when they create and publish their videos. User-generated content providers cannot upload anonymously. Viewers have the ability to rate, comment and report any content that is inappropriate, and so far neither company has experienced any problem by embracing this open approach.

Correlating motivation to social video

In his book Drive, best-selling author Daniel Pink explores the triggers of human motivation. He argues that employees can be organically motivated by the challenge of self-improvement and achieving common and higher goals, provided they are given some autonomy to make that happen.

Drive by Daniel Pink

How do those findings relate to video in the enterprise? Very well, indeed. Let’s think about what could persuade people to spend time recording themselves to the benefits of others. After all, everybody is already busy with their day jobs, and they might not be interested in spending time learning how to shoot or edit videos.

There are a couple of approaches here: the first one is to include these deliverables as part of the employee commitments. This might work to a certain extent, but anecdotal evidence shows that people will create videos out of the necessity of being compliant with their goals more than anything else. The second approach is to demonstrate value in sharing knowledge by correlating this effort to an opportunity of showcasing expertise in a particular field.

The latter will likely yield the best results, and the company should consider ways to leverage internal communications to praise those efforts which will ultimately translate in a positive boost of the contributors’ reputation.

Adding game mechanics to the mix

Gamification is a fashionable word these days. By gamifying a process, you reward people for accomplishing certain tasks and reaching various goals. The rewards could be tangible or intangible.

To accelerate user generated contributions, Microsoft had a program called Academy Rewards, named after their enterprise YouTube platform. Employees accrued points for each video they uploaded and they also received points when people watched them. This stimulated employees not only to create content but also to advertise it among their colleagues. Points were then redeemable for tech gadgets via an online store.

Another popular way to get employees involved is to run internal contests. Laura Shanley, Staff Employee Communications Specialist at Qualcomm, explained to me how the company recently asked employees to record a video on why they loved to work there. The campaign was named ‘I ♥ Q’ and produced more than 200 short user generated clips involving more than one thousand employees. The outcome was so successful that Qualcomm decided to remix those videos into a single montage and use it to kick off their company meeting. It was also submitted to the ‘Great Place To Work’ contest. This initiative accomplished multiple goals, including fostering team building by incentivizing employees to meet new colleagues to create a video.

If there is a single lesson to draw from my research it is that employees can be a great source of stories and learning content if you know how to engage and motivate them properly. The companies who let go some of the control on user generated content are the ones that are benefiting the most from this approach

How major organizations leverage online video internally

Early this year I was invited to speak at IntraTeam 2013, a conference focused on intranet, collaboration and internal communications held in Copenhagen, Denmark.

We held a workshop on mobile video for corporate communicators, as well as a session on how major organizations take advantage of online video internally. In particular, the session outlined the results of primary research we conducted with various Fortune 500 companies such as Qualcomm, Xerox, SAP, Microsoft, Verizon Wireless and more.

Here is the presentation I used at the event. How is your company using video internally? We’d like to hear from you!

How corporations can leverage tablets and enhanced ebooks for internal communications and training

[This is a reprint of a guest post we contributed to Simply Communicate and distributed to 15K subscribers of their web site]

As an internal communicator, you may find yourself in situations where you might be asked to wear the hat of a digital reporter who has to document an event, a procedure, a best practice or an idea in multimedia format.

Video is always a powerful medium and in a previous article I covered some of the apps that can help you create and edit content right on your device. This piece takes the concept of multimedia storytelling to the next level, remaining true to the principle that you can accomplish the entire workflow on your tablet with minimal or no use of another computer.

Creating your first iBook

People absorb information in different ways. Some of us are more visual and videos, photos or diagrams are what make concepts stick in our memory. Others prefer to read, as details expressed in written words can be referenced multiple times with a quick glance of our eyes.

What if there was an easy way to author a multimedia experience that could combine all these formats together without requiring you to get a PhD in computer science to make it happen?

Luckily there are a few solutions out there, but the one that captivated me the most was the ability to create interactive ebooks (also known as iBooks in the Apple ecosystem) that could play on iPhones and iPads alike.

The process for creating an iBook is similar to other multimedia projects: first you need to plan for your content, and then you create all the assets and assemble them together. Finally you export and distribute your iBook.

For the sake of this article, we’ll assume the following simple scenario: you want to communicate to your sales force how to sell a new widget that your company just brought to market. You’ll do it by creating an iBook that explains the value proposition of your widget and a few sales strategies to better engage with potential customers. You’ll throw in a chart, some text, a quick video demo and a brief simulated role-playing audio recording of a typical negotiation.

Creating the assets

To create your assets you could resort to your Mac / PC, but your goal it to be able to keep the entire experience mobile, specifically on an iPad. Therefore, you’ll need to download some apps that will help you generate and manage each of the media types:

  • Writing text – Pages ($10) or the default iPad Notes app (free)
  • Creating slides and diagrams – Keynote ($10)
  • Capturing and enhancing images – Default Camera and Photos apps (free), optional PhotoShop Express (free)
  • Editing video – iMovie ($5) or Pinnacle Studio ($13)
  • Producing your iBook – Book Creator

Assembling the assets into an iBook

Being a multimedia author requires some familiarity in handling a variety of media. While there is going to be a slight learning curve to master these apps, don’t get discouraged as I found them all to be fairly intuitive. Pages, Keynote and Book Creator come with simple step-by-step tutorials, while the others will require some experimenting to familiarize with them. Let’s assume at this point that you already created all the assets and it’s time to use the Book Creator app to mix them together into an iBook.

As you launch the app and choose the page format of your new publication, you are presented with a blank canvas. The first page is the cover of your iBook and you’ll want to brand it properly to quickly convey what this is all about. Adding a title, a sub title and a meaningful image should serve the purpose.

Book Creator treats all your assets as floating objects on the page, so you can easily resize and position them anywhere you want, even on different layers. Text handling is not very sophisticated, so don’t expect the same functionality of Microsoft Word. To import text from another app, you’ll have to copy and paste it into the proper text field. Then you can change properties like size, fonts, alignment and color.

Creating the cover of your iBook with Book Creator

Adding a diagram or an image requires you to have them already edited and available in the iPad Photo Library. To export a single slide created with the Keynote app, you can just take a screenshot by pressing together the Power and Menu buttons on the device. This generates a full screen grab, which you can quickly crop in the native Photos app or further manipulate in dedicated programs like PhotoShop Express.

Your goal is to make a multimedia iBook, so it’s time to add some motion pictures. As with images, videos need to be previously edited and exported to the iPad Photo Library before being imported into Book Creator. But how do you get videos into your tablet?

Apple sells an iPad Camera Connection Kit that simplifies the process of importing media from digital cameras. Not all cameras create movies compatible with Apple devices, so some testing will be necessary. Alternatively, you can shoot video with an iPhone and beam the files wirelessly to your iPad using the Photo Transfer app ($3).

I found iMovie and Pinnacle Studio to be two excellent video editing apps. iMovie will work also on your iPhone, which might be handy when capturing video with your smartphone. Pinnacle Studio is richer in functionality and probably appreciated by more expert users. Video can quickly inflate the file size of your final deliverable, so keep that in mind if that’s a consideration.

Finally, you want to add to your iBook a simulated role-playing negotiation recorded in audio format. Book Creator includes a very essential sound recorder feature which will embed your audio track into a page.

The final iBook created with Book Creator app for iPad

Distributing your iBook

Once you complete the creation process, it’s time to name your publication, package and distribute it to your sales force.

iBooks can be sent via email or uploaded to a cloud service like DropBox. If you target audience is equipped with Apple devices, you can share your work with high confidence that everybody will be able to use the standard iBooks reader app to open your file, flip through pages and play your multimedia content.

How mobile video can make you a communication hero

I’m a big believer that the best camera is the one that’s with you. So if you own a smartphone, you already have what it takes to create good videos.

But does this principle apply also in a business environment, where you might be asked to interview a client at an event, or visually document a procedure for training purposes? Yes, it does and while your smartphone alone is a good start, you may want to consider a few apps and accessories to enhance the quality of your deliverable.

Here are a few resources that you’ll find handy if you want to try video storytelling with your smartphone.

  1. Mobile video shopping list by Drew Keller, curator of
  2. Video tutorial: How to supersize your smartphone to capture better audio and video 

Drew and I are also frequent speakers on the topic of mobile video in corporate communications. Here is the presentation that we recently delivered at a conference hosted by Ragan Communication and Disney