The best types of online video content

Author bio:
Justin Champion is a part-time digital nomad, author of Inbound Content and Principal Content Professor for HubSpot Academy. Justin created HubSpot Academy's Content Marketing Course, which has awarded over 100,000 certifications to professionals across the globe. You can find him on Twitter @JustinRChampion.

LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/championjr
Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/justinrchampion


When creating video content, it’s important to ask yourself, “What’s the intent of this video?” Is it to be an awareness play and attract new visitors to your brand? Is it meant to engage people who know you through the consideration stage and either convert them into a lead or close them as a customer? Or is it meant to delight your audience, making them more successful customers of your brand, which in turn transforms them into well-informed evangelists?

Answer these questions before creating your next video. The last thing you want is to produce a video that’s not aligned with your goals.

To help get your creative juices flowing, here’s a list of online video types your brand should consider creating to attract and engage your audience.

For each video type, I’ll:

  • Define it and provide a top-level overview on how it’s used.
  • Offer an example to show you what the finished product looks like in action.

If inspiration strikes during or after you watch an example, consider pausing and writing down your own video ideas.

One recommendation to consider when jotting down notes: Get creative and think about how you might be able to combine learnings from the various video types to produce your own creation. There are no boundaries when it comes to the creative process.

Example of a brand video

A brand video is a video used to showcase a company’s high-level vision, mission, or products and services.

Videos like these are generally created as part of a larger campaign. The intention with this video type is to create a connection with your audience and help them understand your brand’s purpose.

Let’s take a look at a brand video from Wistia, a company that specializes in video software. As you watch, consider what Wistia is trying to communicate to you and how they’re doing it.

Example of a viral video

Let me tell you a little secret: You should never ask someone to create a viral video for you. Actually, I wouldn't even call it a viral video. Why? Because the word viral is unpredictable.

Creating a video without purposeful substance in the hopes of achieving an unrealistic engagement goal or to be part of the latest fad is not a road you should go down.

Going viral — or achieving a high number of shares and views for your video — should be a by-product of something that’s definable, scalable, and social. So let’s call it just that: a scalable social video.

This term was created by Travis Chambers, principal of Chamber Media. A scalable social video is a brand entertainment video that’s made for the internet with the goal of being widely shared and viewed on social media.

When it comes to this video type, don’t create unrealistic performance expectations.

It’s easy and exciting to dream that your video will be viewed and shared millions of times, but it’s important to be realistic. If you’re looking for a place to start, I recommend setting a goal of times five, meaning that a video type like this should have a goal of five times the engagement as your average social video. Let’s say on average one of your video tweets gets 250 views. In this case, having a video tweet that received 1,250 views would be an example of a successful scalable social video.

Videos like these are generally done with a low budget. For example, let’s check out a scalable social video I recorded with my friend and fellow teammate, Jesse Abbruzzese. We recorded this on an iPhone X with an external mic. I created the video to announce the publishing of my book, Inbound Content. I thought it might help create some buzz if I did a dramatic reading of the content. In case you’re interested, this video was my top-viewed video tweet in 2018 with 2,861 views.

Remember, if your typical video view count is 600 views, then 2,861 views is a big win for a scalable social video. It's unrealistic to plan to go from 600 views to 300,000 views with one video. Start small with a smart, scalable strategy, and go up from there.

Example of an intro video

An intro video is a short, direct, introductory video that provides an overview to the viewer on something they’re about to learn more about.

Videos like these are helpful when you want to give a brief explanation of one of your offers like a guide or course. For example, HubSpot Academy created an intro video for their Social Media Course and featured it on the course landing page. This way, people could learn more about what the course has to offer before signing up.

Example of an educational how-to video

An educational how-to video is a video that teaches your audience something new or provides the foundational knowledge they’ll need to better understand your business and solutions.

The subject of these videos is generally industry related. These videos can take two formats: a long, in-depth training video or a short,  quick-tip video. Let’s cover both.

Let’s start with the long in-depth how-to educational video. I’m the creator of HubSpot Academy’s Blogging Course, which teaches the fundamentals of how to start and grow a successful business blog. This course is chock full of in-depth educational how-to videos that are meant to help educate and inspire viewers to transform.

Here’s a sample in-depth video from this course;

Now let’s cover the short quick-tip format.

To help promote the launch of the Blogging Course, I made a short educational how-to video with a list of tips that I repurposed from the course scripts. The purpose of the shorter video is to give a glimpse into what the longer educational how-to video offers. If people find value in the shorter video, then it’s likely they’ll tune in to the longer one. Let’s take a look at the shorter quick-tip video.

Example of a series video

A series video is just like it sounds — a video as part of a series of other related videos. This video type requires much more thought and effort than just creating a one-off video.

Think of it like creating a show with multiple episodes. This could be a video blog, also known as a vlog, on a channel like YouTube or  multiple videos that comprise a video campaign.

And don’t be afraid to get creative with these—show how amazing your product is in a funny and memorable way. Blendtec—a company that makes tough blenders—does this with a series of demonstration videos titled “will it blend.” In these videos, they put their product to the test by blending things like an iPhone, a glow stick, and so on.

Example of an animated video

An animated video is an engaging video used to communicate an idea or a company’s product or service to its potential customers through intriguing visuals and informative audio.

Animated videos can be a great format for hard-to-grasp concepts that need strong visuals or to explain an abstract service or product. Though, keep in mind, videos like these tend to be more complex to create and may require using an outside agency. But they can be very effective, which is why they’re so popular. Let’s take a look at an example from Yum Yum Videos, an explainer video production company, to see how they use animation to tell an interesting story.

Example of a demonstration video

A demonstration video is a video that shows how your product or service works.

For example, if you’re a software company, then this could include taking viewers on a tour of your software and how it can be used. If your business offers a physical product, then it could be you on camera showing your audience how to use it appropriately.

The purpose of a demonstration video is to be helpful. Let’s take a look at a demonstration from inbound marketing agency, Campaign Creators, on how to use HubSpot’s free pop up form tool.

Example of an explainer video

An explainer video is a video used to help your audience understand why they need your product or service.

Many explainer videos focus on one of two things: one, a fictional journey of the company’s core buyer persona who is struggling with a problem. This person overcomes the issue by adopting or buying the business’s solution; or two, interview clips to educate someone on why your process or solution is important for them to consider.

Let’s take a look at an example from SmartBug media, one of HubSpot’s agency partners, on using a smart, data-oriented approach to deliver what they call “intelligent inbound.”

Example of an expert interview video

An expert interview video is a video where you capture experts and thought leaders in your industry discussing a specific topic. This video type is a great way to build trust and authority with your target audience. Find the influencers in your industry — whether they share your point-of-view or not — and get these discussions in front of your audience.

Let’s take a look at an expert interview by Wipster, a video workflow and collaboration platform. This video was produced with their newest team member, Caspian. It shows how to help companies scale video and how to perform under pressure.

Example of a case study or testimonial video

A case study video, or a testimonial video, is a video that features one of your satisfied, loyal customers talking about their experience with your brand.

Your prospects want to know that your product can (and will) solve their specific problem. What better way to show them by having one of your current customers talk on your behalf? Get them on camera describing their challenges and how your company helped solve them.

Let’s take a look at an example from Zendesk, a customer service software company. In this example, a myriad of Zendesk’s customers talk about the benefits of using their platform.

Example of a live video

A live video is a video meant to capture the attention of your audience and engage with them in real time.

Videos like these perform well on social media platforms like Facebook. And longer live videos on social media generally drive higher engagement rates than shorter ones. Additionally, viewers spend up to 8.1 times longer with live video than with video on-demand. Consider livestreaming interviews, presentations, and events, and encourage viewers to comment with questions.

HubSpot Academy frequently hosts live events like these on our Facebook page. Let’s take a look at a clip from one of those events titled, “Negotiation 101: How to Drive a Conversation.” Notice how the moderator and interviewee engage with people inserting comments to the live feed.

Example of an event video

An event video is a video used to capture moments from a conference, round table discussion, or any other type of event that your audience may be interested in.

Videos like these could be a highlight reel of the entire event or an interesting interview or presentation from the event.

Each year, Content Marketing Institute hosts its annual conference to bring the content marketing community together to learn and share their stories. Let’s take a look at a highlight reel from a recent event.

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