22 March 2021

How to make an instructional video your followers will love

Think of what you search for when you go online: when it's not to browse the latest news or to fact check something, it's very likely that you're looking for how to do something you've never done before, or aren't sure about. From repairs to home electronics to learning how to cut your hair at home, especially during the recent pandemic-induced lockdowns, we've all been forced to get creative and try our hand at things we might have otherwise called someone in for. It follows, then, that learning how to make instructional videos can be a gold mine for your social media profile and attract lots of traffic.

Whether you're an expert in a niche topic or just enjoy sharing information with people, making instructional videos isn't just a viewer magnet. It can raise your profile in your professional niche and establish you as an authority. And, if you're looking to market your brand, creating instructional videos will help potential buyers better understand your products and visualize themselves using them.

This guide will help you narrow down your video style, come up with creative instructional video ideas, and nail your delivery so you're creating genuinely useful content that your followers will love.

Figure out what type of video you want to make

If you're struggling to find instructional video ideas, start with the style and build from there. According to TechSmith, here are the five main videos you could make:

  1. Microvideo

For focusing on a single, highly specific topic, microvideos are ideal. You can use them on TikTok or Instagram to teach a 5-step routine or make a product look really simple to use. Make sure you shoot 5-6 clear frames, potentially adding some helpful text below, and keep these to no longer than 1-2 minutes.

  1. Tutorial

This is the "mother" of them all: to break into the how-to market, you need to know... how to film a tutorial! These videos can be a bit longer, up to no more than 10 minutes, and go in-depth into a particular topic. Ask yourself whether this is a topic that is best explained visually and what could be the best ways to do this.

  1. Training Video

Unless you're looking to film instructional videos for a company, you'll probably skip this one. This is the sort of video where highly specialized information is conveyed for technicians, health & safety officers, etc. It could also be a safety training video for an airline. This is best left to the "real" specialists.

  1. Screencasts

This type of instructional videos are made of a sequence of screen captures showing someone how to move through a process on their computer. On YouTube, you'll find lots of videos showing you how to set up an account on a particular website, how to work with complex equations in Microsoft Excel, and more. Screencasts can be shorter or longer, depending on the topic.

  1. Presentation or Lecture Capture

If you're recording a lecture or presentation to make it available later, this is the instructional video you're producing. You can find out more about how to film educational videos like this here.

Plan your video

Once you know what type of video you want to produce, plan it out and create a script. This will help you think of the props you need, the angles from which you need to film, and any creative ideas you can add in.

Consider whether your video will need close-ups or someone else to film you performing the actions you're describing. Finally, always start with the goal in mind: what are you trying to teach your audience? This will keep you from straying during filming.

Keep it short and spread it out

If you're wondering how to do an instructional video out of tons of material and great ideas, don't worry! While the best-performing video content in the instructional niche grips audiences' attention for 6 to 9 minutes maximum, this doesn't mean you should rush to blurt all your information out quickly and leave your viewer confused.

Instead, organize your content in chapters or phases which could allow you to spread it out over a series of videos. For example, say you're putting together some content on growing your own vegetables. You can split your videos into sections about planting seeds and caring for seedlings, transferring seedlings into the garden, caring for younger plants, special tips for more specific scenarios like growing tomatoes, etc. You can then organize all these into a playlist and you'll get double the hits when people search for gardening-related content!

Angles are key

There is nothing quite as frustrating as watching an instructional video and not actually being able to see how the actions described are being performed. Talking your audience through the steps required to achieve their goal is great, but you'll also need to film from several angles to ensure that what you're doing is clear. This doesn't mean you need to set up a massive production set! Set up your phone on a tripod and shoot the same scene from at least two angles: from the front and side, for example. Then, use a video editing app to put it all together for maximum clarity.

Add helpful text or voice-over

To create a good instructional video, be aware of how the audience perceives the on-screen action. Just like using multiple camera angles, helpful additions like written instructions or a voice-over recording overlaid to the footage of you performing the action you're teaching can be great add-ons to your video. Again, this is where, with your video editing app, you can easily drop effects like this in and enhance your video.

Engage viewers

Speaking through what you need to do can become boring, especially in longer videos. Prompt your viewers to follow along with what you're doing or remind them about previous steps, creating a clear continuity.

To hook viewers from the beginning, start your instructional video showing them what the end product will be. For example, if showing how to plaster over a hole in the wall, show a "before" and "after" pair of images to demonstrate what they'll learn from your video.

Be specific

With your titles, descriptions, and content, you need to be specific to get the most views. For example, people will search for a video on how to clean their air conditioning unit and find a massive list. However, if they are searching specifically for how to unblock a clogged drain pipe on their air conditioner, your very specific video will probably come up first if that's what you've listed in your title and mentioned in your content and description.

Your expert knowledge of your subject should steer you in the direction of topics to pick, but - if you're struggling - check out Google Trends and Exploding Topics to see what's in demand.

Apps and templates

Do you need instructional video templates or apps for making this type of video? While it's a great idea to draw inspiration from some best practice examples, you won't really need to follow a template for your instructional video to perform well online. The key requirements for this are satisfying search intent and being genuinely helpful. To make it easier, a good video editing app will have some built-in templates you can use for editing, or you can try out some free templates from Canva.

As for the best app for making instructional videos... you only need your mobile phone! Once you take advantage of the tips above, you'll have great footage to edit and publish in no time. It's a great video editing app that will make a difference, as it will help you put your footage together and make it look professional. Your instructional videos don't need to be particularly elaborate or extremely high quality - they just need to be clear and helpful!

Instructional videos are a quick way to build a base of followers and engage your audience with useful content. If you create a strong brand within your niche, your videos will be shared and appreciated and your channel will grow exponentially. Remember to keep them simple and relevant, and have fun in the process!

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