Using Video In Your Next Online Community Engagement Project – A DIY Guide

Using video for online community engagement projects is a great way to liven up your engagement portal and drive engagement, which is why we’ve written about it for years.

For today’s article, we are focusing on “Do It Yourself” video production and how to get it done quickly and with little cost to your budget.

While the advice here is specifically focussed on creating a DIY video, some of the planning tips we provide should also help you communicate requirements to professional production teams and ad agencies. Having an informed brief will always improve chances of getting the materials you require for your projects.

DIY Online Engagement Video

Before you create a piece of video content to support your next online engagement there are a few important things to remember. Use these tips to help guide the production of your next DIY engagement video.

1. What is the purpose of your video and where will it be displayed?

Online engagement videos can be used for a range of different purposes and in different places on your site.

Deciding where you are going to display your video and it’s purpose is the first step in creating your own DIY video content. A good way to begin this process is to think about your project and ask yourself; “what do I want to say?”, “where will I use the video?” and “what is the purpose of the video?”.

Once you have established this, the next step is to make a list of the key points you would like to communicate in your video. This list will serve as an outline to the draft of your story so it’s important that it covers the core messages you want to convey.

In the examples below, the two images on the left are videos being used on project pages to help explain concepts and report back findings.

On the top right video is used to introduce engagement activities such as forums. And, on the bottom right, video is being used to get people involved and motivated for joining a site.

2. Draft the story for your video

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but at the centre of any good piece of media is a story.

Creating a story for your new online engagement video should be a simple process. Use the list you created in step 1 to draft a script for your video. Ensure that your script touches on the key points you identified earlier. This script will either be the guide for your voice over, piece to camera of combination of both.

Once you have done this, draw out a storyboard on a piece of paper and make some decisions about the shots that will be required for your video. Your shot-list doesn’t need to be at the scale of a Hollywood blockbuster, but you do need to know what you are going to capture to help you tell your story. Remember, when you are shooting video, your script needs to relate to your images and your images should help you explain yourself. A picture tells a thousand words… A moving picture tells many more.

3.  Select your video equipment

Choosing your equipment for a DIY video is simple. Basically, it’s whatever you have available. The first thing to look for is your camera. You might only have to look as far as your pocket for your smart phone!

Simply identify the best camera available to you. This might be a 1080p USB webcam, a 4K video mobile phone, or you might be lucky enough to have a high power DSLR or Handycam in your organisation.

All of these cameras will be suitable for shooting basic “talking heads” or “piece to cameras” which are the most commonly used devices for explaining concepts and introducing themes. In good lighting, these cameras are capable of shooting basic panning shots of scenery and location shooting, as well as simple interviews with your community members.

Where mobile devices fall short however, is with recording high quality audio in non-optimal conditions. These include high wind situations, construction and traffics noise or other environmental factors. Always select the appropriate equipment based on your shooting location.

If your shots are of scenery or places, then you may consider doing a voice over with your videos. In this instance audio quality of the videos won’t matter so much. However, if you do require clear audio, you may require microphones. There are many popular microphones available for recoding simple videos including mics by Rode. Many of them even work by direct connection to your smartphone audio jack.

You might also decide to do some basic screen recordings, which means you will require access to screen recording software. All Apple computers come with Quicktime for free, which enables you to do this and there are many other free screen recording packages out there to assist you in capturing screen recording video.

Once you have filmed your movie, the next step is to edit the content using video editing software. Two popular free video editing options include iMovie for Mac and Lightworks for Windows.

Other equipment you may need include a tripod, screen, usb storage or secondary voice over microphones. You may also require a drone if you are looking for aerial footage of a particular area.

But remember, the aim here is to produce this video with readily accessible equipment, without spending too much time producing it. Your focus is to get your message out and start conversations with the community.

4. Shooting, editing and hosting your video

When it’s time to shoot your video you will be working from your shot list created in step 2. If this involves doing interviews with your community you will also need to provide some form of consent and release documents giving permission for use of the footage.

Once you have completed the shots, be sure to save and name the files. Using easily identifiable naming conventions helps you find the footage later.

After you have completed capturing the footage you will then be required to upload your footage into your editing software of choice and piece it together as per your storyboard.

You should also complete any voice overs that you have planned for and ensure that you top and tail your footage with your organisations logo or video branding devices.

Finish your production with an audio track to give your video personality and momentum. You can find plenty of royalty free and create commons licensed music files on Soundcloud and other places throughout the web.

Host your video on free sites like Youtube or Vimeo and embed your new videos right into your site. We highly recommend that you upload your scripts to be used as closed captions with your videos to ensure added accessibility and also… “so your community can watch your videos on the train or bus without the sound on!” Closed captions are awesome!

Finally, once you have uploaded your video and placed it on your site, use it to tell the world about your project. Video makes your projects even more shareable and you should always lead with you video content on social media to help drive traffic to your online consultation.

Follow these simple steps and with a little practice and learning of new skills like basic video editing (won’t take long), you will be better equipped to quickly create video to support your online engagement activities.

If you haven’t read our articles on using video in online engagement we highly recommend “6 Best ways to use video for online community engagement”  showing examples of video used in online engagement and “How to use video to enhance your online engagement strategy”  which sets out a comprehensive list of the techniques often deployed for the use of video.

Project Specific Video

This video is full of drone shots showing the natural environment. Its aim is to showcase the diverse and unique environment of the Shire of Augusta and encourage people to participate in Environmental Sustainability Planning.

Project Specific Video

In this video we hear details of project benefits and information about proposed changes to Caulfield and Dandenong level crossings. This video has a convincing tone about it and focusses on the benefits of the project.

Welcome Video

This video from Halton Hills in Canada is a great example of how easy it is to cut together a video to welcome your community to your site. It encourages them to get involved and can be used as a promotional video to drive traffic.

Strategic Planning/Visioning

We often see video content used to support strategic planning and visioning projects. Newcastle Better Together is a good example of how to use video to build a sense of shared purpose and drive engagement with planning and shaping the city. It even features local councillors encouraging the community to get involved.

The Explainer

This is a fantastic video from Niagra Falls that seeks to explain benefits to the communities of becoming actively involved in consultations online. It’s well produced, engaging to watch and is intended to motivate.

Project Specific

This follow up video from Niagra Falls features the same actor, this time explaining the benefits of the new playground strategy. Using the same talent in multiple videos helps to create a strong brand and is a very familiar device of the advertising industry.

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