Most organizations use internal video, but social features lag, survey says

Video has become a commonplace tool for reaching staff, but few allow YouTube-like sharing, ratings, comments, and employee productions.

The Swiss pharmaceuticals company F. Hoffmann-La Roche uses videos to explain stem cell research to its employees and the public.

The British Columbia Ministry of Health webcasts a live monthly executive town hall to its regional offices in the province.

MillerCoors has just launched an internal portal for storytelling about a far-flung company with eight major breweries.

Video has arrived in internal communications, with 71 percent of respondents saying they produce videos to communicate with employees, according to a survey conducted by Ragan Communications and Ignite Technologies, “Engaging Employees with Video.”

But the YouTube-style social revolution—sharing, ratings, subscription to individuals, and posting of employee-produced videos—has yet to reach most organizations. Few allow much more than starting and stopping a video at will.

Some in the industry were surprised by the Ragan and Ignite findings. Drew Keller, president of StoryGuide, says he would have thought far fewer organizations were producing video for employees. Many small and mid-size companies still consider it too expensive.

But Paolo Tosolini, director of digital and emerging media at RUN Studios, says he thought social features would be widespread. Tosolini, who launched Microsoft’s internal platform, has been promoting employee-created video since 2007.

“Maybe we’re living in a bubble” at RUN Studios, he says. “Maybe the world out there is going slower than what we think.”

Large organizations predominate

The survey of 713 communicators polled company owners, vice presidents, writers, producers, and managers. Organizations ranged from hospitals to defense manufacturers, with responses from as far away as Australia and the Czech Republic.

Most of our survey group—51 percent—work at organizations of more than 5,000 employees. Only 4 percent worked on staffs of fewer than 100 or were self-employed.

This story is the first in a four-part series sponsored by Ignite Technologies. A free white paper is also available.

In this series, video is defined as a live event streamed to desktops or mobile devices, and/or archived and posted to a portal for future viewing; a video created in-house or by employees; or a webcast, which uses a combination of a video feed and slides for employees to view in real time or archived and posted to portal.

Awareness of the importance of the medium is growing: 72 percent of organizations will increase their use of video this year, the survey reveals.

Kimberlee Lueders, vice president of marketing communications at Ignite, says the survey suggests that internal video is accelerating.

“We’re at the tipping point,” Lueders says. “We’re just teetering on it. I don’t know what that extra little push is going to be, but it’s definitely building.”

Among the organizations expanding video is MillerCoors, which uses video to feature river cleanup efforts, its free rides home after St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and a series of executive interviews titled “Over a Beer With…” The last is shot in the company pub.

“What’s a way that we can bring people together and take them to each location?” says Communications Manager Kelli Watson. “Video can do that.”

The largest group of organizations (42 percent) who produce video do so on an “as-needed basis.” Twenty percent say they do so rarely, while 38 percent frequently use video.

Why outsource?

The majority (73 percent) of respondents use an in-house team to produce their videos; only 6 percent allow employee-created videos.

A team of three produces video at the British Columbia Ministry of Health: a communications coordinator, a multimedia specialist, and Internal Communications Manager Eddy Piasentin. He says video is becoming the dominant medium because of its storytelling capacity and humanizing aspects.

The ministry uses video for everything from webcasts to informing employees and the public about an initiative to replace provincial health cards.

“I view video as a tool that gets used when needed, so we don’t automatically do videos every time one is requested,” he says. “We work with the business areas to figure out their communications needs, and if video works, we build it into the communications plan.”

Of those who aren’t communicating with employees through video, nearly half—48 percent—say it’s too time-consuming. Another 42 percent don’t have the equipment. (Multiple answers were allowed on some questions.)

“Very limited in what employees can do,” one communicator wrote. “Lack social media features and methods for intranet sharing and collaboration. Intranet used primary to send communications out to employees.”

Still, most communicators recognize the power of video. Even those who don’t use video are vowing to mend their ways: 44 percent of the laggards promise to get out the cameras this year.

An internal YouTube?

Social video platforms are revolutionizing communications, but our survey shows this is still a new idea. Only 49 percent of our respondents have such a portal.

Just about everybody (87 percent) allows staffers to start or stop a video as they wish. (Show of hands, now: Who doesn’t let their employees do this?) Other commonplace features on YouTube and other social media have yet to penetrate most internal firewalls.

Star or number ratings? Only 21 percent allow this. Hey-Joe-get-a-load-of-this video sharing? Fewer than one-third (29 percent) allow sharing. Subscribing to an employee featured in a video? Sorry, only 3 percent of employees can look forward to a notification whenever that stellar colleague pops up in another video. All right, then how about subscribing to a department? Not so much: just 4 percent.

In most organizations, don’t expect to get a question answered during live-streamed events; only 23 percent allow Q&A. Even fewer offer chats (11 percent) or polling (9 percent) during events. Save your questions for your managers, people.

“Without sharing, internal video is simply a bullhorn shouting the company’s position,” says Keller of StoryGuide. “It becomes one more source of noise in an employee’s day. There is no evidence that management is listening, there is no accountability, and there is no conversation.”

For some, the limited number of features is symptomatic of a larger problem: budget. Asked about internal social features, one survey respondent wrote, “Hahahahahahaha. … None of these except using the player. Did I mention we use unpublished Flickr and YouTube channels because we have no money?”

Roche, the Swiss pharmaceuticals company, has an interactive portal, with videos in German and English, the native languages of 70 percent of its workforce, says Manfred Weber, editor-in-chief of the company’s myRoche cross-media platform.

The company allows social features such as “likes” and comments internally. Although advocates of such features often tout the benefits of employee feedback, the portal also permits senior leaders to offer attaboys, such as, “Great project, thanks to the team,” Weber says.

“For us in the pharmaceutical industry, there are very strict rules about what we can post externally,” Weber says. “Mentioning products, for example, is already perceived as product-marketing and not allowed. Just for this reason, we need an internal portal to tell at least our own staff about our drugs and the benefits they have for patients.”

Organizations with larger budgets tend to be more likely to host a YouTube-like platform. Just under 60 percent of organizations with a budget of more than $100,000 report they have one.

Can they watch it again?

Most organizations report that employees can access videos on an Internet portal “indefinitely” (68 percent). Others (22 percent) make the videos available only “for a limited time.” Five percent answered “no.”

Another 5 percent selected “other,” explaining that it depends on the video or that each video is kept for just a year to save server space.

“General employee videos remain in our collaboration platform indefinitely, accessible to all,” wrote one respondent. “WebEx recordings of CEO all-employee meetings are available for a limited time.”

Tablet? Smartphone? Where can they watch?

Different formats? IT guys may find this a headache, but 64 percent use different formats for their videos depending on the end user, such as employees in remote locations. Only 36 percent use these different formats based on the end user.

If you think the large companies have it all figured out, think again. Larger organizations are no more likely to allow tablet or smartphone access to their videos than are their dinky brethren.

Some 99 percent of all organizations enable their videos to be viewed on desktop computers; far fewer enable viewing on tablets (42 percent) or smartphones (35 percent).

Lest you assume this is another area where the fat cats have an advantage, budget doesn’t seem to matter here. Organizations with an annual video budget of less than $10,000 (excluding salaries and benefits) are just as likely to enable viewing of videos on tablets and smartphones as those with budgets of more than $100,000.

For some, it’s a work in progress. “Getting there,” wrote one company director, while another senior director stated, “We’re working on access for additional devices.”

Do you code?

How important is an embed code? Not very, judging by our survey. Only 21 percent say it is very important and that they use it all the time.

For many, it is less essential. The largest group—38 percent—say they don’t have an embed code capability. Another 26 percent have a proprietary system that enables them to upload video.

It’s also clear that people are still learning. Many stated in the comments section that they don’t know what an embed code is.

Wrote one: “I copy and paste code in our news stories to post the video; that’s all I know.”

Download the complete white paper, “Engaging Employees with Video.”

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