3 min Read
July 22, 2010

Beyond Viral Video

Last night I enjoyed a fascinating 501 Tech NYC meeting where Michael Hoffman of See3 Communications and Sara Fusco of Refugees International shared some great ideas about how nonprofits should be thinking about video as part of their communications strategy. I’m embedding their slides below–so do take a gander. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • The first question you should ask is not how long your video should be or how you’ll come up with something so hot it puts the Old Spice guy to shame, but how does video relate to your mission?
  • It’s not the number of views that count, but the eyeballs behind those views. Let the goals of your video and who you are trying to reach drive your creation–and how you measure its success.
  • Riddle me this: What’s the most likely thing someone’s going to do after watching a video on YouTube? a) Donate to your nonprofit?; b) Email it to their friend?; or c) Watch another video? Viewers spend almost one hour on YouTube per session. Your best bet for engaging them is programming your nonprofit video channel with more related videos.
  • A good video strategy accounts for planning, production, placement, and tapping into the cultural moment. What gets passed around today may not work as well a year from now. Like all good communications, the messaging in your video has to resonate with the people you are trying to reach–and speak in their language, not yours.
  • Speaking of culture–your organization’s culture is a huge determinant to how successful you might be with video. Is yours a culture of storytelling? Do staff tend to throw around a lot of facts and figures or do they speak about real people and real impact?
  • Integration is important. Connect your video with your website, campaigns, emails, and other outreach activities. In fact, videos make for great content to share on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Find your passionate people and train them on how to be good storytellers. Like how most fundraisers I know always say ‘people give to people’–same idea is true for video. People want to watch charismatic people who are authentic and draw viewers in.

Michael Hoffman makes a fine point about the importance of picking passionate people to star in your nonprofit videos. (Captioning provided by StenoKnight CART Services.)

Michael Hoffman makes a fine point about the importance of picking passionate people to star in your nonprofit videos. (Photo: Adam Soclof; Captioning provided by StenoKnight CART Services.)

  • What needle is your video trying to move? The content and creative need to work well together to resonate with your audience. Is your video a conversation starter? Does it push viewers to take some sort of action?
  • Personalizing the story works. There have been lots of great examples from MoveOn, MomsRising, and the American Cancer Society where a person’s name can be added into the video content. Expensive, but incredibly effective.
  • Video should be part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Google often indexes videos on YouTube in the first page of results for some keywords. Also, YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the web.
  • For those of you who like tracking statistics and monitoring analytics, YouTube now has an Insight program that can help you track conversions, length of views, and more. Have you set up applied for the YouTube Nonprofit program yet?
If you find yourself in Brooklyn on August 18–come to our next meeting! The fabulous Deanna Zandt will be discussing her new book, Share This! How You Will Change the World through Social Networking. The event is free and you can RSVP here. Would love to see you!
As always, if you have other ideas or examples of nonprofits awesome use of video, please comment away.