Not long ago, companies viewed videos as optional tools to achieve communication objectives. They were a luxury reserved mainly for marketing departments with huge budgets. Meanwhile, learning and development departments had only canned, off-the-shelf videos to draw from. And because creating and editing them was time-consuming and expensive, videos were developed to have long shelf-lives. In the end, the content was stale before it was even released.

Today, the reality looks far different. The rise of multi-screen, always-on technology has led to video becoming an essential component of any successful strategy to inspire and inform in ways that yield real business outcomes. Video is no longer an alternative option.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can slap together some images and text and expect people to engage. To truly move people to action, your videos need to be compelling and delivered in the right context. They must be developed even more fully than print or PowerPoint because in today’s workplace, distractions are common and time is short. In this context, it helps to examine some key trends that illustrate how companies are using video to replace old practices with new possibilities.

It’s also important to highlight why leveraging video itself has become a trend at progressive companies. To say that video is but one of numerous communication tools is to understate the medium’s true presence and power.

           Video is not supporting communication
           efforts so much as driving them.

Producing high-quality, innovative videos is no longer something that only mega-companies with mega-budgets can accomplish. Nowadays, every organization can achieve success with video. Given that creating videos has never been easier and more cost-effective, you no longer have to be a pro to make pro videos. Nor do you need a big budget to generate big results.

You can also understand how video has become so widespread by looking at the history of business communication technology. Take word processing, for example. When it first hit the market, it seemed that only the most advanced companies would adopt it to replace conventional typewriters.

Evolution of Office Communication

The 1980s changed all that. By the 1990s, desktop publishing similarly displaced word processing as a dominant tool. Later, by the early 2000s, blogs came along. Except, most companies shunned blogging. Until they didn’t.

There are countless other communication tools that have emerged over time to transform how we express our ideas. Yet almost all of them have one thing in common: Whereas initially, they appeared part of the domain of highly specialized skills, their use eventually became far more democratized.

We’re at that inflection point with video. Like communication tools that preceded it, video is now a driving force for companies eager to connect with and influence audiences. Here are some top video trends showing how organizations are—and will be—using video in novel ways.

1. Amazing Animation for Employee Education

The increased use of animated explainer videos, short bursts of content that enable people to access relevant information, parallels—and addresses—important changes that are reshaping the way employees learn. Whereas companies used to rely on instructor-led training to develop their workforces, employees today are the ones in the driver’s seat. That is, workers have taken on a greater role, not just in identifying the skills they need to succeed, but in choosing how they will build those capabilities.

58% source | 49% source

In other words, employees aren’t waiting for their employers to send them to some boring in-person training session. They want to access information anywhere and anytime in ways that allow them to get in, get out, and get back to work. Consequently, workers are turning to explainer videos. As prominent talent management advisor Josh Bersin points out, “In the consumer world, we want people to spend more and more time on our content. In the corporate learning world, we want them to spend less.” So sure enough, it should be no surprise that videos shouldn’t exceed six minutes to maintain people’s ever-shrinking attention spans.

And while explainer videos themselves are not entirely new, animating them is a growing trend. That’s because unlike conventional videos that often demand scouting locations, auditioning actors, choosing sets, and major editing, animated videos are simple and affordable to create. More and more organizations are discovering that they can use animation to engage people with content in ways that traditional videos cannot—because with animated videos, the only limit to explaining complex concepts is your own imagination.

2. A Supporting  Starring Role in Marketing

Eighty-seven percent of marketers are now using video in their marketing campaigns. The below stats help explain why:

  • 19% increase in open rate when an email subject line mentions the word “video”
  • 80% percent increase in conversion rate when a video appears on a landing page
  • 90% percent of consumers say that video can help them make buying decisions
  • 4 times more buyers prefer to watch a video about a product than those who prefer to just read about it

As a result, the script has flipped when it comes to how companies use video. They aren’t merely using it to support other marketing materials, like e-books and other written assets. They are taking a video-first strategy by prioritizing video, based on the notion that people are growing accustomed to viewing, rather than reading, content. Does this mean that video is killing the traditional print stars of marketing? No, not yet. Probably not ever. But it is unseating them as a primary asset.

For instance, take video white papers, which condense the main points of typical white papers into brief visual overviews. While only about 10 percent of video departments say their company currently produces them, over 50 percent say they are interested in making the switch to video white papers. That’s because they have the ability to showcase insights for audiences—especially senior executives—who are otherwise too busy to read (or even skim) a white paper, or even its summary.

3. From Storytelling to Storyshowing

There was once a time when terms like “employee experience,” “candidate experience,” “employee engagement,” and “employer branding” didn’t exist. Today, they are central to a company’s internal and external communications strategies. Organizations now recognize that the strength of their brand—as well as productivity, satisfaction, and other key performance indicators—depends on cultivating strong connections with candidates and employees.

Moreover, when companies first started using video, many focused on the what. That is, they aimed primarily to convey information. Today, organizations are making a shift to emphasize the why and how and who, creating fuller, richer stories to drive conversation and connection. And they are showing, not just telling, those stories with video.

One growing way companies are doing this is by replacing simple text bios with video bios of their executives and other staffers to infuse greater personality and humanity. Likewise, videos are showing up more in email signatures to help describe people’s roles or promote company initiatives with greater impact. Meanwhile, businesses are also producing more video case studies and testimonials to grab the hearts and minds of audiences. There is no better way to show, not tell, than video.

Ultimately, as web psychologist Liraz Margalit points out in Entrepreneur, “When we watch a video, we become immersed in it and create an empathetic connection with the screen. If you want your visitors to fall in love with your content, it makes sense to deliver it via video. That’s because it’s much easier for us to become emotionally attached to something we watch in a video than something we read in an article.”