Saturday, August 22, 2015

What's an Explainer Video?

One of the newer and more commonly used terms when the subject of video production comes up is the “explainer video.”  Many in the communications field feel that the term alone is, well, self-explanatory.

Essentially, all communication is designed to explain something so as to educate, persuade or entertain.  So with that in mind, I thought I’d not assume the term is self-explanatory and take a stab at providing an overview of what is specifically meant by, but perhaps more importantly, what can be accomplished by a good explainer video.

The holidays are coming up, so let’s think ahead to when you will be in a conversation with your cousin who always asks you, “So what do you do for a living?”  It seems that the last time you answered this question the response didn’t take, so here you are answering the question again.  “This is who I am, this is what I do…”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just have a video on your smart phone so that every time someone asks you that question, you have a perfectly produced response so that with the touch of a finger you can let the video do the talking, and provide the most concise and memorable explanation?  A video calling card, if you will.

That’s the purpose of an explainer video, and it’s growing in popularity. People are no longer need to wait to sit in front of a computer in the quiet of an office or home just to learn about your organization.

More often, they’re accessing information on their mobile phones, and if they’re really interested, they may dig a little deeper using other mobile pad devices or laptops.  Given the time and places people use these channels, reading may be too inconvenient.  So that 500-word written descriptor on your home page just may not always work for the location of your audience.

Enter the explainer video.

Explainer videos are typically one- to three minutes in length; they provide a solid overview of what your organization does, how it operates, where it operates, who it serves; and they are most commonly accessed via the Internet on home pages/landing pages and social media.  Gone are the days when the primary purpose of a video is to be kept on a shelf until it is inserted into a player.

Explainer videos can be developed on a full range of topics, so if your organization has five affiliates, two offices and serves four different constituencies, there’s no reason not to consider explainer videos for each.

One thing to remember, because the medium is video not paper, don’t be too reliant on just the words.  Video offers many ways to use visuals – real and animated, moving and still, graphics and other tools and techniques – to tell your story.

In terms of tone, explainer videos are usually upbeat, fast-moving, oftentimes feature animation or graphics.