Pictured above: The video studio at Washington REALTORS® features a green cyclorama soundproof wall and a sound booth for recording voiceovers. Here, Washington REALTORS® 2019 President Dale Chumbley prepares for a taping.
Does a day go by when you don’t view video content? Probably not. Whether it’s a TED Talk for motivation, a quick YouTube tutorial, or a news clip on Twitter, we’re surrounded by video in the office and at home. This is why more REALTOR® associations are incorporating video content into every facet of association communications, training, and outreach.
But is there real return on investment for video programs?
Associations with some of the largest video production endeavors say it’s money well spent.
“We made a video series of testimonials about our leadership program to attract applications, and we got the most applications ever,” says Suzanne Westrum, vice president of communications and marketing at the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®, which has a full-time video producer and an in-house studio.
Westrum also uses video to explain complex advocacy issues that she thinks members might not otherwise take the time to read about. “We just had a call to action about a local issue we’re opposing, and it was hard to explain so we did a video featuring our members—and other footage—to break down the complex issue and get members on board.” The results so far show a large number of views and shares among members.
At the Spokane Association of REALTORS®, Public Affairs Director Tom McArthur says there’s a jump in member engagement whenever he uses videos to communicate. “We made a video to promote our member survey and got a 35% response rate when the survey vendor said we could reasonably expect only 6% to 10%.”
Association results mirror the growth of video in general. The latest video marketing statistics from Social Media Today show that video is the most engaging content type on every social media platform, 72% of people prefer to learn about a product or service through a video, consumption of video content rises by 100% every year, and emails are opened 7% more with the word video in the subject line.
Done right, video content can drive greater response than other communication vehicles, but quality and relevance is the key in today’s video-cluttered digital space.
Not every message makes a good video
“Video used to be difficult to do and do well. That’s just not the case anymore,” says Eric Berman, RCE, former communications director for the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®. “My kids can edit videos on their phones. There’s a lower bar to entry for everybody.” But, he cautions, don’t make a video just for the sake of it. “You have to have a good reason to do it,” he says. “And if you’re going to do it, you have to think about it before you hit ‘record.’”
The Massachusetts Associations’ most-viewed videos are its monthly housing data animations, RPAC testimonials, and commemorative REALTOR® of the Year videos, but Berman says MAR has turned away from video in some instances in favor of audio podcasts because people will listen to longform media more readily than they will watch it.
The Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® also has scaled back video production recently.
“In our first year of having an in-house studio and a full-time videographer on staff, we produced over 100 pieces of video content,” says Kevin Juliano, the association’s digital director. “We learned a lot and now have a more thought-out process for video production and a dedication to quality content over quantity. We struggle with members saying, ‘Oh, just create a one-minute video on that.’ What we need to ask ourselves is whether it’s something that truly needs a video.”
Posting fewer but better-quality videos has boosted overall member engagement with video content, says Ann Gutkin, vice president of communications at the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®.
“When we first began doing video, the thought was, ‘Let’s use video for everything in the world and put everything out there.’ We were streaming a lot of programs, which involved a lot of staff time, and people weren’t sitting and watching the whole thing,” says Gutkin. Every association class and event did not make for compelling video, she realized, so she decided to take a more strategic approach and focus on the issues and programs that were the most significant.
“One thing we’re going to do this year is take longer videos and break them down into micro-learning opportunities to get out more bite-size information that members can consume when they have a few minutes,” says Gutkin. Another new video initiative is filming a committee chair or co-chair directly after a meeting when there’s something important to share with members. These quick recap videos get members talking about the latest things that volunteers are working on or the latest real estate–related legal cases. “We often video our board president or sometimes our CEO if there’s a really compelling issue that we want people to pay attention to.”
Gutkin’s video library, produced by the association’s in-house team, spans promotions, education, legislative issues, RPAC fundraising, orientation, leadership, legal, professional standards, and even training videos for the grievance committee. “Every area here has video potential,” she says, but not everything makes a good video.