How to Use Asynchronous Video for Internal Communications
Colin Rigley

Even as far back as 2011, when the firm Melcrum conducted a survey on the effectiveness of video for internal communications, 93 percent of internal communication professionals reported that video is essential. And in the five years since that survey, video has proliferated throughout nearly every aspect of our digital lives.

Online video streaming is taking over traditional television as cord-cutting is on the rise, Snapchat and Instagram have implemented video sharing on their platforms, and Facebook Live is showing the vast potential video has in our social future.

Yet, in the professional world, not that much has changed. We still use video conferencing services like Skype, which add another layer to remote communication beyond simple audio calls. But for many companies, that’s about it. Despite the fact that each of us carry a digital camera in our pocket that is capable of recording and broadcasting high-quality video to anyone we please, video has not yet penetrated most of our internal communications. For that matter, many people have yet to break free of their inboxes as email continues to dominate our communication, despite how much we want to reduce the time spent managing an inbox.

But think about the possibilities video brings to the table. Imagine, for example, if you could do away with internal monthly calls or reduce, even eliminate, the need to distribute company newsletters. Indeed, during a recent round of research with one of our clients, Carpool discovered that employees listed their top pain points as too many meetings and too much email.

Video could decrease dependence on both of those.

Many companies lean heavily on monthly meetings and calls, or email newsletters, to disseminate information. But with the arrival of internal live broadcasting on such services as Facebook at Work, or even our ability to record a video and publish to an internal network like Yammer, it’s possible to post the same content, reduce the work needed to package the information, and put it in a format that people prefer over long-winded newsletters or meetings.

It really doesn’t take much to do. And, actually, people sometimes respond more favorably to video content that is not perfectly polished and scripted. It is often better to present something casual, informative, and useful to your employees.

Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes recently did away with highly produced internal videos and, instead, began publishing quick “selfie” style videos to provide company updates. As Holmes explained in an article for Fast Company, “I started hunting for a different way to connect with my teams—something that didn’t feel too distant and remote but also wouldn’t consume more time and resources than I genuinely had to offer.”

He posted the first video to the company’s Facebook at Work and “just hours after I posted my initial video, it had been viewed by Hootsuite employees nearly 1,000 times. They could just as easily have ignored it. But instead, not only were they watching, they were also engaging with the content. I got feedback on everything from our plans to launch a company podcast to new sales initiatives—and these comments themselves generated their own discussions. Interestingly, I noticed lots of people who wouldn’t normally chime in at an all-hands meeting were leaving notes.”

At Carpool, we’ve been using the same method for a few months with great success. But we go a little further than video updates from the CEO. Actually, everybody is encouraged to embrace video where once they might have sent out a message or scheduled a meeting.

In a typical Carpool client kickoff meeting, an account manager will gather a handful of developers and strategists to go over the environment design, implementation, and support. This works fine enough, but it’s limited. It can be challenging to coordinate schedules between multiple people to ensure everyone is in the room at the same time.

Alternatively, the account manager could write out a summary of the project and highlight the next steps, but that takes time to compose and not everyone enjoys writing or reading dense pieces of content.

That’s why we’ve moved to video wherever possible. On a regular basis, Carpool employees will post updates on new projects, new leads, or just thoughts they have during the day. This allows us to move quickly and adapt on the fly. What’s more, these updates require nothing more than a phone and about five minutes of recording time. They enable the account manager to tag relevant people, but also encourage working out loud, which allows anyone else in the company to help out or identify missed opportunities.

We have also used live video, which adds an additional layer of utility. With live video, people who haven’t been specifically invited to a meeting can still tune in and contribute in the comments section in real time. And the content is automatically archived so there’s no worry of losing what was captured in the moment.

We like to think of these as asynchronous meetings. There are, of course, times when it’s necessary to gather in the same physical space, but using video to conduct our asynchronous meetings means that’s the exception, not the rule. This method of communicating is still relatively new, and we’re exploring a range of different uses to increase our productivity, but we have already seen that asynchronous video allows us to collaborate quickly, be more agile, discover innovative solutions, and do an all-around better job for our clients.