When you decide to make an instructional or training video, you probably have at least an abstract idea of who your audience is.
But how clear is that picture?
I’m going to make a bold statement: When it comes to making videos (or any other content), knowing your audience is just as important as the topic itself.
If you don’t know your audience, how do you know what they need and how they prefer to receive it? How do you know if you’re actually delivering something useful?
It’s important that your video feels appropriate to your audience and delivers what they’re looking for. Delivering video content that matches their needs will give your video an authentic feel. Your audience will feel more at ease and ready to learn.
Questions to Ask
Luckily, learning more about your audience isn’t difficult, but it does take some time and diligence. Here are a few questions you can ask to get you started:
- What are their professional interests?
- What are their personal interests?
- Are there other tasks or activities associated with the process or content you’re presenting?
- Does the community this audience is a part of have collective interests or styles?
- Are there any references to avoid that might not translate well across cultures?
- Why are they seeking this information?
- How will your video help them?
There are a number of ways to research and find information about your audience. These include:
- Interviewing or surveying current clients or customers
- Perusing forums and social media conversations where your audience congregates
- Reading publications that interest your audience
- Watching other videos and content they consume
What Is Their Problem?
Once you know the basics of who they are, it’s time to get to the heart of why you’re creating the content.
What problem are they trying to solve?
Want to grab and keep your audience’s attention? Focus your video on a single topic or objective. If you know the problem your audience is trying to solve, this is relatively easy.
Use your understanding of the problem to include context in your video. Show that you know how the audience arrived at this point, use examples that relate to their experience, and give them an idea of where they might go next.
Most importantly, stay laser focused on solving the audience’s problem. Minimize the asides and be sure that if you don’t solve the problem itself, you at least provide them with the information they need to know about what they need to do to find out more.
What Is Their Skill Level?
This is a quick question, but it’s important to consider. Members of your audience will fall on a general spectrum of less to more experienced with your topic. A highly experienced audience won’t need as much hand-holding or context, while a novice audience may need more basic information.
Create Your Content Accordingly
Where and how will they access the video?
Creating the right video is only half the battle. You want your audience to actually find and watch it. Where exactly will that be?
If you plan for your audience to find your video using search, use good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices when naming, describing, and posting your video.
Here are five tips to help you make your video search friendly:
- Create a strong title that clearly states the problem your video is solving, how it is presented, and the product or process it applies to.
- Include a description that outlines the content and key learning points (not just the learning objectives) of your video. Aim for a minimum of 200 characters and include keywords and alternative wording.
- Conduct keyword research and incorporate alternative terms and wordings into your description and video tags.
- Tag your video with your target keyword and then choose other tags related to your primary keyword. Around 10 tags is ideal.
- Provide captions so your content is more accessible. Plus, video sites like YouTube use captions for content-indexing to improve search results.
Search isn’t the only way that your audience will find your video. It’s good to consider the other places or ways someone might encounter your content. These include:
- Groups on social media
- Professional forums
- Company intranet
- Shared by an expert in the field
- Shared by a friend on social media
Share your video in groups or forums where your audience congregates, such as Slack, Yammer, Teams, etc. You also can encourage viewers of your video to share it with their network.
Getting to Know Them
Video continues to be an important go-to for many people who want to learn new skills or gain knowledge. But creating remarkable training and instructional videos is more than just creating content. You need to know who it’s for, why they need it, and how they’ll consume it.
Before you hit the record button, knowing your audience will help ensure your videos truly hit the mark.
Matt Pierce is Learning & Video ambassador at TechSmith Corp., the go-to company for visual communication. TechSmith empowers people to create remarkable content to share knowledge and information. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has more than 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith.