Social distancing. Fomite. Self-quarantine.
These phrases and others have unfortunately become commonplace in recent weeks with the spread of COVID-19. The ripple effects have been far-reaching: cities have issued “shelter in place” orders, colleges and school districts have canceled in-person classes, and cultural and sporting events are postponed or held exclusively online.
But humans are social creatures. So how do you keep social distancing from feeling like social isolation?
Video has always been a hugely popular way to connect with audiences, and now it’s helping people connect in new and unexpected ways. Here are seven ways that people around the globe are using video to connect with students, employees, audiences, and each other:
Employers embrace remote work
Across the US, most mandated remote work in an effort to keep employees safe and healthy. With workers decentralized, companies are adapting their internal communications strategies to keep everyone informed, connected, and productive.
Early adopters like Splash, an events marketing software company, consider video to be a key part of their strategy. They use live and on-demand videos to extend the experience of in-person meetings, team scrums, and town halls to remote employees.
“If we had an employee training three years ago, it would have been a quick conference call with a slide deck,” said Michael Mehlhorn, Multimedia Director at Splash. “It lacked energy and became so impersonal to see slides and hear voices. Live streaming has helped build our company culture and make things personal again.”
Schools move classes online
Since the University of Washington announced the cancellation of in-person classes in early March, most universities and K-12 schools have followed. Schools have gotten creative, live streaming when they can while offering online education options to students stuck at home.
Kansas State, a live-streaming veteran, has been hosting a weekly live show since long before the current public health crisis. Called “EdCats Live,” the show provides far-flung student teachers with professional development and community.
The shows must go on(line)
Live streaming has always been a great way to increase the reach of sporting events, concerts, and other public events. We’ve seen users increase their reach 50x over by streaming events to social platforms and their own site.
Now, in efforts to reduce crowds and enforce social distancing, theaters, music venues, and broadcasters are reinventing their online experiences. Venice’s opera house now streams concerts you can only attend online. Musical artists like John Legend and Pink are performing from their living rooms. You can even watch Broadway from the comfort of your own home.
Living rooms become home gyms
With so many people stuck inside, online fitness classes are a great way to stay active and healthy. Fitness brands like FitFusion by Jillian Michaels, Brooke Burke Body, and LES MILLS already offer online classes today.
“The mission, and what we’re trying to do with digital, is to get it in the hands of as many people as we can,” said Courtney Deri, Digital Producer at The Class by Taryn Toomey. “Granted, the people at home might not have the crystal set up, but what really makes the class special is beyond that. It’s what the teacher is bringing, how you’re connecting with that, the music, and everyone moving together on the beat.”
Communities gather virtually
Houses of worship, nonprofits, and other community groups can use video to connect virtually as well. Many church leaders are live streaming sermons (including Pope Francis, who recently broadcast Sunday prayers in lieu of an in-person ceremony). Nonprofits use video to share important policy information and raise awareness. A quarantined student in New York even live streamed her bat mitzvah, turning “lemons into lemonade” as remarked by Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, principal of SAR Academy.
Small businesses rally their communities
Whether it’s an accountant live streaming an info session for tax season, or a local pizzeria reminding customers that they deliver, we’ve seen small businesses use video in some pretty creative ways. In fact, 57% of small businesses created video last year and, of those creating video, 96% agreed video made their businesses more successful.
Conferences switch to virtual events
Industry events are being canceled, postponed, or moved online across the board in response to travel bans, government mandates, and social distancing. Instead of canceling outright, companies like Adobe, Facebook, and Google have opted to turn their conferences into virtual events. If you’re an event planner faced with canceling an event that took months to plan, read this first.
No, video cannot — and should not — replicate many in-person experiences. But video can create a deeply immersive and transportive experience all its own. We have seen many talented people leverage video to move audiences and drive engagement in new and inspiring ways. These new mediums for creativity and communication can, we hope, keep social distancing from making us truly distant.
Updated: March 18, 2020