“We can’t be everything to everyone.”
It’s been a tough year for video-sharing platform Vimeo, from job cuts to a stock that’s worth a fraction of its 2021 IPO debut. While the company is not growing revenue at the 40%+ rate it saw during the pandemic, it is seeing strong growth in the enterprise market.
For CEO Anjali Sud, that’s emblematic of where the business is going. “We set out to pivot the platform from competing with YouTube to being a platform that could power video for work,” she says. “We want to make video far easier and more accessible for every employee, every team and every organization to be able to create and share content the same way that they do on TikTok or their personal lives.
While Sud acknowledges the headwinds from a tough economy, she’s investing in AI and other technologies to prepare for a video-first world. From being a platform for creatives, she finds herself speaking as much to CHROs these days as marketers. It’s gone from competing with YouTube to partnering with them. And she’s seeing more interest in leveraging video to communicate with employees.
“It’s all about trust and authenticity today,” she says. “The next generation is not that different and and being disengaged at work isn’t that different.” What’s really changed is the onus is more and more on leaders to communicate and earn trust.
For that, Sud says that she’s learned some lessons:
Ditch The Script: “The first is that you have to be comfortable—and in some ways it’s like an act of real vulnerability—to be real and unscripted. The power of communicating in video instead of an email is that the email got edited and your comms team wrote it and then somebody like changed this word. But when I just record a message from me to our employees, telling them about important news, the more unscripted I can be, the more real and trusted it comes across as.”
“We have to teach ourselves to take the mask off and be comfortable being direct in a video—not just the words we say but our body language, the context. I’m betting that the leaders of tomorrow will get far more out of their teams if they can be comfortable being unscripted.”
Start With The Why: “The other thing I see a lot, particularly from the newer generation, is they don’t want to be told about a decision—or the what—without starting with the why. Explaining to people that, not just ‘oh we made this difficult decision or we’re going to do X instead of Y, but giving them the respect to share the context, hear the trade-offs: here’s how we made the decision, here’s who was involved. That’s kind of like a Comms 101 No-No: Traditional comms was like just ‘tell them what you know you need to tell them.’”
“I think people today want to feel like you are being transparent. Even if they don’t agree with your decision, or it’s a hard decision— and I’ve made my share of them in the last year—people will respect it a lot more if you take the time to explain the why.”
Everyone Participates: “My last lesson speaks to interactive video. We have to move from this idea of a lean-back broadcast and create more of a lean-forward engagement. That means we need to ask our employees to participate, whether it’s live Q&A, ‘click here,’ or ‘choose your own adventure.’ If you don’t engage people as part of a conversation, they’re not going to sit there and watch something and listen to it and just pay attention.”
As for Vimeo’s future, Sud says she has learned some important lessons, too. “During the pandemic, everyone’s using video and what happens is you start to get a little bit of ‘shiny object syndrome,’” she says, “because everything looks like a good opportunity.”
“The places that we’re going to streamline or we’re going to shift or adapt away from are the things that we didn’t need to be great at to begin with. We actually ended up getting distracted by all of that shininess.”
“Everybody, every business of every size in every industry, was using video more,” she says. “We were simultaneously pursuing how to be the platform of choice for those users while simultaneously moving into the enterprise.”
“We can’t be everything to everyone. In video, we can’t serve every user the way we want. So how do we focus on the enterprise, on helping businesses use video in marketing and employee comms. That’s our focus for 2023”