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David Lee King: Explainer Videos

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Image: Explainer Videos

I recently read 5 Most Important Trends in Online Video for 2016 over at In the article, their fifth trend for online video is "Explainers."

Image: David Lee KingDavid Lee King

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.

He speaks internationally about emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media, and has been published in many library-related journals. David is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

His newest book is Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections.

David blogs at

Read David's other articles…

First, they talk about the limited lifespan of an entertainment-based marketing video. Then, they say this:

"An explainer video, on the other hand, is designed around being useful for the audience. From the moment it is first conceived, through storyboarding, shooting, editing, and distribution, an explainer video is centred on being something that users will find helpful in understanding a product, using a piece of software, negotiating a challenge, or learning a new skill."

I love this video marketing concept for libraries! It fits us well. In fact, some of us are already creating explainer videos – we just didn't know it. You know all those tutorials, screencasts, and “how to search the catalogue” videos your library has made? Those are a type of explainer video.

Image: Explainer Videos

The only problem? Our explainer videos can be pretty boring at times. And long. Here are some quick tips for making our library-focused explainer videos better:

  1. Focus on "Why", not "How". Instead of explaining all the details of functionality, focus on why. Why someone might want to search that database or use that library service.

  2. Just the basics. Don't take 20 minutes explaining the advanced search page or Boolean logic. Instead, just focus on getting the viewer started.

  3. Keep it short. See if you can make everything fit into 2 minutes or less.

  4. Make it fun. Tell a story that goes along with the search. The story keeps viewers interested in continuing to watch, so it's a sneaky way to get your main points across.

  5. Edit. Then edit again. Edit out any long pauses and anything that isn't absolutely necessary.

What do you think – can you improve your explainer videos (or start making some, if you haven't yet)? I think so. Get those cameras rolling!