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Using Video to Engage with the Community

Using Video to Engage with the Community

Video is a great way to engage with people and it does not have to complicated, expensive, or time-consuming. Here are some ways you could use video in your community council’s work:

  • With the permission from those attending, you could film the community council monthly meetings, either in part or in full, and publish the videos. This allows the public who were unable to attend the meeting to see what was discussed. Likewise, you could create a summary video to accompany the minutes you publish, which could make the information more interesting.
  • Show the community the work that your community council is involved in by filming at community events, even interview event attendees. You might already be doing something similar by taking photos at events and publishing them to your community council’s website or social media pages. Posting videos can often hold people’s attention for longer than posts with just text and images.
  • Film short interviews of community councillors talking about why they joined the community council and what their role is. This could help to encourage others to get involved in your community council and can show that you are welcoming and transparent.
  • Sometimes funders will ask for a video to accompany a funding application. If you already have experience making basic videos you will feel more comfortable about getting your message across through this format, which will then be beneficial to your application.

Filming can be done on just about any smartphone or tablet, although camera quality does vary between models. To help you start creating your videos, we have put together a list of basic tips and, once you feel comfortable with the basics of filming, we have shared some ideas for making your videos even better.

We’ve asked Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council to share their tips for using video to engage with the community.

Another example is Blantyre Community Council, who have also been using video to great effect and posted short videos to social media sites Facebook and Twitter.  Have a look at some of the films they made to introduce themselves online, about their heritage, and on how to stay safe in the community.

There are lots of ways to use video, so don’t be afraid to try things out and make mistakes; you will find ways that work for you.

If you use this guide to create your own videos, we would love to see them. Tweet us them at @ScottishCCs.

How Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council uses video

Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council, in Midlothian, creates videos to share on Facebook. It has used videos to recruit new members, share planning consultation information, and to show the chairman's annual summary at a community council meeting.

It has found that more people engage with video than they do with posts that are just texts or just images.

To see more about Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council and its use of video, go to

Basic tips for filming

  • It is important to think about why you are filming and why. Do not worry about having a script or a complex plan - just have an idea of what you would like to film and if there is message you would like the video to convey.
  • Make sure when filming on your smartphone or tablet that you film in landscape view, not portrait.
  • Get close to the subject you are filming.
  • Try to have as much natural light as possible on your subject, for example filming outdoors or near a window. This will make the video look clearer. Try to avoid filming with the light behind the subject, such as filming a person standing directly in front of a window, as this will make the image dark and difficult to make out.
  • Sound is often more important than images. If you are indoors, close windows and doors and try to film somewhere quiet. If you are filming outdoors, try and stay out of the wind and away from traffic.
  • Don't worry too much about editing to make it perfect. If the message is right, just publish the video.
  • Try and keep video lengths fairly short as, particularly on social media, this will make more people willing to lend their time to watching it. A minute or so is good for social media, while three minutes is fine for websites.
  • Consider making several videos if you have too much footage for the one video.

Some more advanced tips

  • Consider using a microphone if you have one.
  • While almost any smartphone can be used for filming, you will often get better pictures if using a dedicated video camera or a DSLR camera with a video function.
  • Consider getting a small tripod for your smartphone or camera. They will help making the picture more stable and professional looking.
  • If filming people, try to have the light on their face at an angle of about 45 degrees from the side.
  • If the sound quality is poor or you do not like the lighting or angle of the shot, do not be afraid to ask people to move. Being confident enough to direct someone will give you a better video.
  • If you use Apple products, such as an iPad or a Mac, you can use iMovie for editing, which is a very user friendly editing program. For Android the choice is less obvious, but there are many good free apps available, such as Adobe Premiere Clip.

More guides about using video