How Video Helps To Drive Up Online Participation Rates?

Video has the potential to dramatically increase participant engagement and drive up online participation rates of your community.

Investing in video means two things for certain. 1. Time. 2. Money. Deciding whether or not to invest in video for your online community engagement project then becomes about priorities, ROI and probably moving out of your comfort zone. So why bother?

Why video kicks a$$!

Let’s start with a few  facts about video, and in the spirit of video, the folks at Diode Digital have created the great video below on the power of video.

I’ve pulled out some of the most compelling stats in the list below:

1. It’s where your community is!

  • Over 1 Billion Unique Visitors visit YouTube each month
  • An Internet user watches on average 186 videos each month
  • Over 90% of internet traffic is video content
  • Video constitutes 50% of mobile network traffic – rising to 66% in 2017

2. It connects!

  • Visitors continue navigating your website for an extra 2 minutes after watching video content

3. It’s easy to digest!

  • 60% of visitors watch video content first before reading any other text on the same webpage

4. Shareable!

  • 60% of people share their video experience

5. Ranks like a Rock Star!

  • YouTube is now over 28% of Google searches
  • With proper optimisation, video content increases the chance of front-page Google results by 53%

Seven video styles and how you could use them in to drive online participation

Hopefully you’re convinced that video has some serious street cred when it comes to engaging content.

I thought it would be useful to zoom into some of the most common video styles out there, and float some ideas about how the styles would be applied to an online community engagement context. I’ve picked seven styles to start with and provided an example of each.

1. Video Testimonials

Video testimonials capture a sense of what people think about something and are great for capturing social proof around a service, product or event.

Gather video testimonials at every opportunity, especially face to face community information sessions. Use this footage to convey a general sense of community perception within your online space.

Here is a great one from South East Water around the opening of their headquarters in the City Frankston.

2. Live Action

Live action is based on the world as we know it. Great for videos that rely on real people and characterisations.

Use live action videos to provide context around an issue, a sense of space and place and to introduce a human element into your online space.

This is a fantastic local example from the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy.

And a personal favourite of mine, the exquisitely simple “50 People, One Question” series. Here’s one filmed in Perth. Do yourself a feel-good favour and search this series. So simple, yet effective.

 3. Photofilms

Photofilms use a combination of still photography, video and audio to create gripping stories that question preconceptions and provoke change.

A photofilm would be a perfect way to capture historic images and the stories behind them. Think about how many stories you could generate from your community, about their community, by asking them to submit photos of “a time when” or an historic place and then record audio of them telling the story behind the images. What about special events you host – what are the stories behind the people that could really connect and engage the community.

This photofilm from Duckrabbit creates a great narrative around the world’s last touring vintage fairground. The folks at Duckrabbit do some very hard hitting and emotive work. Check out more of their productions here. The Do Lectures photpfilm group on Vimeo also serves up inspiration by the bucket load.

4. Infographic Videos

I’m a sucker for a good infographic. Pair one with music and movement and ding dang, I’m in heaven! Infographic videos are a great way to communicate key facts and figures in an interesting and engaging way to drive action. While they are a video style that need specific skill to create, they are really worth considering:

  • at the beginning of your community engagement project to outline the key issues around your topic and to drive engagement.
  • at the end of your engagement to report back on the impacts, changes and community sentiment around the topic.

Here’s one of my favourite infographic videos from the Girl Effect.

5. Livestreaming

Livestreaming incorporates videos that are streamed live to your audience as you record. While there are quite a few providers of livestream software and platforms, I’m not sure you can go past giving Google’s Hangouts On Air (HOA) a go.

The potential for this in a community engagement sense is huge! Imagine the ability to offer a virtual seat at your event to anyone across the world. The crowdsourcing and collaboration opportunities are incredible.

Here is a quick Google promo video that flicks through different and creative ways HOA have been used.

I would recommend doing a bit of research around the difference between a Hangout and a HOA.

6. Video Interviews

Interviews are a great way to draw out information about a particular subject from an expert in the field. I love that Skype has created the ability for recorded interviews with anyone, anywhere across the world. Here’s an example of a Skype interview I did with Ray to talk about getting the best out of EngagementHQ. I used a software called Call Recorder for Skype – it was about $50 to install and is super easy to use.

In a community engagement context, think about how you might be able to interview people who are experts on a subject to inform and provide context around your project. Or even better, think about interviewing panel members of your Community Reference Groups. Or would a weekly call with special guests about particular topics of interest for your community be the way to go.

7. Graphic Recording Videos

Graphic Recordings are the translation of conversations into images and text on large sheets of paper during meetings and events. Take this a step further and record this process, add audio and voila you have a scaleable way of translating your community’s stories and ideas and sharing them online.

Graphic recording is a well established tool in community engagement so the leap to imagining the possibilities of turning these into video isn’t too great.

In the spirit of getting creative, working collaboratively and evolving ideas, here’s a great graphic recording video about Where Good Ideas Come From.

Handy Resources

Creating your own video doesn’t need to be an expensive thing. Here is a collection of handy resources to get you started and inspired.

Editing and Recording Tools

Track Ax PC – designed for beginners, but with all the features you’d expect from pro video editing software, TrackAxPC is a simple to use editing tool. They also have a great resources about video editing.

iMovie – Apple’s video editing app. Just plug in your device, open iMovie and start importing your video – then edit away.

We Video – An Android based online video creation platform that helps you tell compelling stories and share them with friends and family.

Filmic Pro – FiLMiC Pro turns your mobile device into a broadcast worthy HD video camera. FiLMiC Pro gives you a real time, 4x zoom and full control over, focus and exposure, white balance and frame rates including a host of motion fx. Here’s a helpful tutorial about recommended settings in the app.

Soundslides – simple software to make slideshows that synchronise audio with images.

Camtasia – Camtasia can be used on MAC or PC helps you create professional videos easily. Use Camtasia to record on-screen activity, customise and edit content, add interactive elements, and share your videos with anyone, on nearly any device.


iStock Audio – a great selection of audio tracks to use in your videos

Video Blocks – a collection of clips of video, sound effects, production music, motion backgrounds to jazz up your productions.

Shop Around

Photojojo – part online store and part DIY inspiration, Photojojo is one place you have to check out for smart phone video gear.

StoreDJ – this Australian based store has a nice selection of mics and sound equipment that will rock your video world.

Of course Ebay and Amazon are great places to search for equipment as well.


These are a few sites I recommend you check out for some seriously inspirational video mojo!

iPhone Film Festival – the best of films made on an iPhone.

Fifty People. One Question – a film series exploring human connections through people and place.

The Webby Awards – The Webby Awards honour the best in websites, interactive advertising and media, online film and video, mobile and apps and social media.

DuckRabbit – Duckrabbit is an award-winning digital production company  that works with documentary audio, still photography and video to make compelling film and audio narratives.

Advancing the Story – a great blog post about generating content for photofilms…from a journalist’s perspective.

A Helping Hand

If you don’t have the time or inclination to learn everything about video production, especially post production, there are plenty of people who can help.

Sites like Fiverr, O Desk and Freelancer let you outsource all or some of this work to people who do it all the time. One thing to be wary of with outsourcing virtually, is the time it often takes to find someone you can work and communicate effectively with.

Thanks for getting all the way to bottom! Subscribe to our monthly digest newsletter if you’d like to be kept up to date about community engagement practice globally. Take a look at our two product websites: EngagementHQ if you need a complete online engagement solution, and BudgetAllocator if you need a participatory budgeting solution. Or get in touch if you have a story idea you think is worth sharing.

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