What Are Explainer Videos and How Can They Be Used? - Social Media Explorer
What Are Explainer Videos and How Can They Be Used?
What Are Explainer Videos and How Can They Be Used?

With content marketing, it depends on the message needing to be conveyed as to which is the best way to present it. Sometimes, long-form written content is the way to go; other times, an infographic gets the point across better. In many cases, though, a combination of different communication forms is needed to make marketing more effective. This is true on websites, but also on social media platforms too.

To get the point across in a clearer way, sometimes explainer videos are used. Let’s explore what those are, the different types, and how they can be used to your advantage.

What is an Explainer Video?

An explainer video takes on the role of covering key points to the viewer. It can be a method of conveying a few ideas in an illustrative, visual manner that’s easier to take on board. It’s also useful to provide a secondary way to understand what a company offers or explain a technical thing in layperson terms.

There are different types of explainer videos including live action, screencast, and animated ones, to name just a few. Each has their pros and cons. We’ll cover each of them later in this article for you.

How Long Should They Be?

The idea with videos is that they’re short. According to engagement studies by Wistia, they’ve discovered that a sub-2-minute video works best. The engagement falls steadily as the video length deepens with anything longer than 20 minutes losing the interest of most viewers.

A shorter video captures the attention of the viewer without them getting bored or bogged down in detail. While these videos are among the most successful when shared on social media, they can also be embedded on websites or on a landing page. The shorter content limits information overload, which could paralyse the viewer, resulting in them watching and not taking any action.

What Do They Cover Best?

They’re a visual and auditory way of providing and explaining something in a brief format. They can be accompanied by long-form content with a more detailed explanation.

They work especially well in a world where people use their smartphone more often than a PC to access the internet. Watching a one minute, 45-second explainer video can be done on a break or while stuck in traffic. It’s highly convenient and requires little bandwidth too.

Choices of Explainer Videos

Here is a brief breakdown of the different types of explainer videos. You can find out more detailed information about the explainer video options to learn more:


Screencasts are inexpensive screen recordings of a computer screen. The idea is to create a tutorial or demonstration about how to use a piece of software, look something up online or resolve a technical problem. They may or may not include narration and a live cam shot of the narrator.

It’s common to see these types of videos uploaded to YouTube channels and Vimeo because they’re easy to produce at home using digital screen recording software or a web browser plugin/extension.


3D animated videos are created to provide a multi-dimensional view. That is typically a computer-generated visual or animation to explain an idea, a CAD viewpoint or another concept. These are helpful for people who don’t have a physical model to look at and would benefit from a 3D video instead. They’re frequently used by property developers to show how the exterior or interior of a home, office or another project will look like once it’s completed.

3D videos are pricey to complete depending on their length and complexity. For the cost per second, they’re usually the most expensive of all types.


Cartoon videos use a character as a focus of attention. As the protagonist in the story being told, they effectively act out one or more scenes, sometimes with voice over added, to successfully convey the points. Also, they are useful to make a brand come across as more user-friendly.

These are not inexpensive, but they are cheaper than live action with actors and the need for props and a suitable location with filming permits, etc.


Whiteboard involves a white background with a visible hand drawing the animation within the video. It’s one of the least expensive options besides screencasts. This type of explainer video is excellent at packing in complex topics while retaining a human-like style that’s digestible within a couple of minutes.

Stop Motion/Clay motion

This is an older style of animated video that requires around 800 photos for only a half-minute of video time. Digital animation has largely replaced these types of animation because of its speed of production and lower cost of production. However, for brands keen to retain a classic or older style image, then they still have a place.

Motion Graphics

Motion graphics videos are an animation style that sees objects move into the frame and slide across or move in other directions. They can combine other animation types such as cartoon or 3D to add more visuals into each frame of the video.

Live Action

Live action is a recording of a real-life situation. It offers fewer editing options and changes because there’s only so much you do with actors, locations, and lighting. It’s also one of the most expensive per second to produce.

Implementing explainer videos using an experienced creator is the best bet. This way, the information provided and the manner it is conveyed will be professionally done.

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About the Author

Alexandra Calukovic
Alexandra Calukovic-Deck, aka the Marketing Guru, is a data-driven marketeer. Growing up in the traditional marketing era, this Inbound marketer has experienced first-hand the shift to a more digital world. Versed in email, social and content marketing, Alexandra Calukovic-Deck drives the strategy behind Yoh's international sales and marketing divisions. Claims to fame include the longest possible last name ever, being able to call herself a certified Strategic Marketer and being a Philly phanatic.

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