What we’re doing in front of the camera (and behind it)

If I were really smart about this whole online video thing, I would have created a video clip to discuss our strategy rather than write this post. But maybe mere words are what we really need here.

Like a lot of companies that come from a traditional publishing background, we made our reputation by maintaining a mostly one-way conversation with our audience through a single medium. Although a lot has changed since publications moved online, the introduction of video content to nearly every mainstream media outlet reminds me a lot about my own shift from print to the Web around 1999. Specifically, video strategies resemble the early dot-com days in three ways:

1. No one knows how to really make money off of it yet.
2. No one really knows the best approach to creating and managing the content.
3. Moving into this medium can make people uncomfortable or downright resistant.

Like a lot of IT projects, we acquired some of the necessary equipment before we really prepared our users for what lay ahead. We built a studio where we can host guests, demonstrate products and offer weekly (or even daily) commentary on technology stories and trends. Our reporters now have field cameras they take along with them to industry conferences, and we’re giving them the training they’ll need to develop the video with a level of quality commensurate with our print and other online products. We still haven’t really answered the main question, though, which is: what does a technology professional want to watch?

At a recent meeting with a couple of CIOs, one of them confessed that his employees aren’t supposed to be watching videos at work. Another said he would be willing to watch something up to an hour in length, which is far longer than the conventional wisdom around online video (such as it is) dictates.

I welcome any readers who want to tell me about the interest in video from us, but part of our job as editors is providing what our community will want before they know we want it. When I look back again at the early days of working online, I remember we conducted a reader survey in which we asked whether they would like to receive our content via e-mail newsletter. Less than 10 per cent said they would. I imagine some readers would say the same thing about online video right now. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be creating online video, but that we need to do a really good job of it.

A lot of our early efforts have already made it to the Web via our blog network, but you can expect to see a lot more on ITWorldCanada.com in the months ahead. The biggest challenge I see is figuring out when video is a complement to an article, when it takes the place of one and when video is ruled out altogether. Our goals are modest right now but they could be summed up like this: We’re hoping through video that we’ll have as much to show you as we’ve had to say.

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