On the Thursday of Pre-conference certification programs for ATD ICE 2015, I was working with my Volunteer Co-Chair to set up the Volunteer Office to be ready for volunteers from around the world, who would be showing up, starting on Saturday. We had about 200 Volunteers registered to assist us.
As Kristina Grant and I were walking the conference center once again to get to some remote location to deliver something or check on our volunteers working in the certification program events, I made an off-handed remark to her.
“We should do a video showing how far of a walk it is from the parking area to the volunteer office.”
Her response was “Really? I don’t want to do that.”
After some convincing that it would be fun, her and I set forth to create the simple video that would make me a viral sensation to our 200 volunteers.
WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY MEAN TO GO VIRAL?
In the training and development environment, I don’t think “going viral” means quite the same thing as it does at the wider level of the Internet.
When one thinks about viral videos, they think of Justin Bieber, the Kardashians, or some of the various internet memes or personalities like PewDiePie or Markiplier that perform “watch it played” videos.
That’s not what I am describing.
What I am describing is having a large percentage of your potential audience watch your material, engage with it, recognize you because of it, and ask for more.
That is surprisingly what happened.
I am a fan of video. I think it allows people to get a more personal sense of who someone is and creates a bond between the viewer and the personality, even if they have never met.
Therefore, I felt one of the mediums I wanted to use as a communication tool from us to our volunteers was video. At the onset of our solicitation for volunteers, we created two videos. One of our chapter president thanking people for their interest in volunteering.
Then, I created one that talked about some common questions, so we could head these off before they occurred.
The only other option was a text FAQ list on our event site – BORING!
These videos did alright. It got people acclimated to who I was and my personality. That was the goal. And, people asked for a little bit more.
I tried to coerce my partner, Kristina, to do a video from her hotel, but she was a little reluctant. I thought it would be fun to have her on-site at her hotel talking to people. But, it did not happen.
As we got closer to the event, it became clear that I was going to be unable to attend the Volunteer Orientation event due to other commitments. This opened the door for creating another video.
I didn’t want to do anything too complex and I promote the fact that we all have cameras in our pockets that do a pretty good job for quick video creation. So, I decided to act on that and do as I promote. It was not as easy as it sounded. It took at least six or seven tries to get the content right. I was working from notes and there were people around. But, I did it and posted it that night.
It took about a total of 3 hours to create and post.
This video was received with great success and several comments. This video received 138 views.
THE VIRAL VIDEO
The one that hit it out of the park was a simple video I described at the beginning of this article. It was simply me with my phone, following Kristina as she walked from the hallway to the parking area to the Volunteer Office. To break up the monotony of watching that, we stopped at various landmarks along the way and explained what to do next. We also filmed a little in the office to show people what we were doing.
While in the office and I found appropriate pop music (I wanted a ripping guitar solo, but Kristina reminded me of my audience) and edited the video together. I sped up the walking parts and added the music there.
This video saw about 190 views – remember, we had about 200 volunteers. That’s almost a 100% viewing rate!
Here’s an interesting side point – this is certainly not a polished video. Kristina was concerned that it did not look as clean or professional as she would have preferred. That’s just what she is used to. Also, there is a point in the video where, in the editing, I accidentally cut her off – and inadvertently cut a very important piece of information (the room number of the Volunteer Office). I chose not to go back and fix it because it took 45 minutes to render the video because of the sped up portions. I did not want to have to sit for another 45 minutes to re-render the video. We compensated by adding the name in the video title, the email subject that went to the volunteers, and I made fun of this error in the body of the email.
The bottom line here – nobody cared about either of these issues and it did the job anyway!
DISCLAIMER: I am not suggesting you follow this model, but keep it in mind when perfection stops you from delivering useful content to your learners.
THE RESULT OF THE VIDEOS
On Sunday and Monday of the conference (I was not there on Saturday), as volunteers came into the office or passed me in the conference center, the story was similar. They stopped me, smiled, and said “Barry! I loved your videos! They were awesome. Thank you for doing that. I was so nervous about where to go because I have never been here before. You and Kristina really made me feel welcome, as a volunteer!” They would shake my hand and be on their way. Over and Over again.
I even had one or two people say “Your video caused me to decide I needed a cab and have them drop me at the front doors. The walk was really long.”
This is what you want, as a learning professional. As you create videos or content for your learners, you want them to desire more, get something from your content, engage with it (comments and “likes” in this case), and thank you for providing them with valuable information they can actually use.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN THIS SITUATION?
Have you had the pleasure of experiencing this situation? Has any of your content gone viral with your group of learners? What would it mean to you or them if you had a piece of content go viral and you affected people’s lives because of it?
We would like to know if you attempted this or if it happened by accident for you.