Skift Take

How-to videos inform and build brand awareness. If executed well, viewers will be moved to share them, which adds value by generating earned media.

It has been four years since Airbnb launched how-to videos and its most recent set is poised to reduce customer service time.

In 2011, Airbnb’s second series of how-to videos cast a young woman talking directly to viewers and giving a quick overview of Airbnb’s value proposition. She wasn’t really  teaching users how to search and book on the website. It was far from the Trivago guy.

Although the video didn’t focus as much on helping people navigate the site — the search, booking, contact and review pages were obscured — as the first set in September 2010 it did receive close to 2 million views.

“This video still continues to pop-up as people search for Airbnb because it was so warm, useful and so informative,” said Jasmine Maleknia, social media manager at Airbnb.

Since then, the booking site and home-sharing platform has enough customer data to pinpoint what the top user inquiries and use these insights to inform its content strategy. How to search, book, create a wishlist, and contact hosts or Airbnb were the five most- popular topics.

Airbnb’s newest branded videos use these inquiry types as their foundation. They feature a young Asia woman dreaming about her travels, asking questions, picking places to stay, and knowing what to expect on desktop and smartphone to educate and serve the Asia-Pacific region.

“The team is actually using these videos in the product, social media and on YouTube. Currently they’re testing them during tension points — where people may drop off or may have questions — and targeting these videos to certain demographics inside landing pages or on the right column of pages, so it also starts to cut down on customer service calls or people filling out the contact form, etc.,” Maleknia said.

When creating these videos for this region, Airbnb found it most effective to use voiceovers rather than subtitles to personalize the message. “The videos we produce now usually have voiceovers because cultural nuances are lost in translation on subtitles,” she said.

How-To Video in January 2011:

Latest How-To Videos in June 2015:


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Tags: airbnb, customer service, videos

Photo credit: Video still from Airbnb's latest How-To Series of five videos. Airbnb

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