Aaaaand … Action!
Online video is one of the best ways to tell your nonprofit's story. When done right, it can forge powerful connections between your organization and your supporters — but only when it stands out from the competition, in three minutes or less.
Here's why your organization should be using video now:
1. Video production now can be done by anyone with a video camera and Internet access. Brief, on-the-fly videos provide authenticity, the sense of "being there" and compelling visuals via a short production cycle.
2. There's an expectation, especially among those 30 and under, that video be an element of every communications mix.
3. Quality video contributes immediacy and excitement to your communications mix and strengthens overall impact. Well-crafted videos can emotionally engage your audience in a way that reading can't.
It's almost like being there in person and sometimes even better, with the ability to provide the human element (e.g., an online site visit) that's unmatched for creating trust and driving action.
Videos are shown to:
● Generate response that's both intellectual and emotional.
● Inspire action — The right combination of storytelling, imagery (through photos and video) and personal appeals can be more effective in moving people to act.
● Significantly expand audience reach through online distribution. An engaging video is easily (and likely to be) passed on by your viewers, representing an exponential growth in reach.
The St. Joseph Ballet, a youth development organization, created a simple video (youtube.com/watch?v=kPVuwzEBjV0) to build understanding of its work and impact around its name change to The Wooden Floor. This moving video is hugely engaging and was just named a winner in the 2010 DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards. It's a powerful example of modest production values generating significant impact.
11 steps to launching a successful video
1. Develop a simple plan to guide your project. Whether you're shooting a 30-second public-service announcement or an hour-long documentary, begin by shaping a plan incorporating preproduction, production and postproduction.
This is really no different than other nonprofit marketing endeavors you work on. You don't jump into writing a brochure, annual report, website, fundraising campaign, advocacy campaign, etc., without some up-front planning.
2. Test your video idea against your communications goals. Don't produce a video just for the sake of doing a video. Review your organization's communications goals and best strategies to meet them to assess if video is a relevant channel.
Key questions include:
● What's the purpose of the video?
● Who is the target audience?
● What actions do we need to motivate?
● Who do we need to reach?
● What are the best channels to reach them?
3. Know your audience. This is definitely one of the 10 commandments of online video production. You craft your website, annual report, and e-news messages and graphics to connect with the wants and preferences of your audience. Do the same with your video.
The imagery, sound track and text must appeal to your network. Video is more "in your face" than text or graphics, so if you strike out, you strike out big.
4. Evaluate your resources to ensure they match your concept. There's always a connection between production values and budget. However, advances in software and hardware technology, and the increase in those trained to produce video, means quality video is within reach of the typical nonprofit.
No matter the approach you have in mind, your video budget and work should include at least these basic elements: the team — on camera and off; the location(s) where it will be shot; the equipment for the shoot and edit (cameras, lighting, editing suites); the graphics needed for the video (still photos, logos, other typical artwork you integrate into your organization's fundraising outreach); and other effects including music, props, costumes.
5. Make sure the video conveys a clear, relevant message. Remember, your video has to be clearly linked to your overall messaging. Before you head into video production, summarize the video's core message and goals in a simple paragraph that you can have on hand and share with the production team. When you run into the inevitable twists and editing challenges, you'll have it to guide your decisions.
6. Decide on your video's format. In general, the video format most easily achieved is a short-message video that doesn't involve live people. Instead, this format features a series of still images — photos and text artfully arranged with various, subtle movements and transitions on the screen (a zoom, page turn, dissolve) with the backdrop of a compelling voice-over and music.
Other formats to consider are those you're more familiar with through a lifetime of seeing video and television: the talking head (a simple, tight shot of someone speaking into the camera); the standard interview with two people sitting across from each other or standing up; the documentary; the story approach with a fully written and rehearsed script; and the video magazine approach, which typically features an in-studio host who introduces the topic, serves up transitions between "in the field" video reports and wraps up the program.
7. Choose a style that matches your goals. This is an easy concept but one you have to get right. Will a silly or serious video be more effective? Formal or informal? Be sure your style selection matches your goals.
Some Web video pros believe a successful video must move at least two emotions (i.e., sympathy, outrage, fear, joy, laughter, awe, wonder, etc.); tell a bit of story (dramatic tension, heroes and villains and victims, etc.); and provide a spectacle (the viewer is wowed in some manner, often in a way that ultimately causes her to respond to the call to action).
8. Consider tapping that funny bone. Humor certainly has its place, but temper it for your audience. You need the right timing and broad appeal. Test before you launch.
9. Get feedback from colleagues and members of your target audience. Once you have a rough cut of your video — meaning all shooting and most editing is complete — be sure to preview it to colleagues, family, friends and those representative of your target audiences (if possible). It's critical to get some more objective opinions. The most frequent feedback you'll hear is, "It's too long." Compile the feedback, review it and revise.
10. Make sure it gets seen. There have never been more outlets for delivering a video to your target audience, so do more than post it on your organization's website.
Be sure to maximize your video's exposure by:
● Posting it on YouTube and Facebook, and linking to it from your LinkedIn pages.
● Tweeting about it.
● Embedding it in your blog.
● Running it in your waiting area and/or at events.
● Sending out an e-mail (in your e-news, if you have one) to your base with an invitation to view, share and comment (and give, of course).
11. Emphasize the call to action and track results. You're stopping short if you don't include a clear call to action and a trackable URL, e-mail address and/or phone number at the end of your video.
Members of YouTube's Nonprofit Channel (every U.S. and Canadian organization can join — youtube.com/nonprofits) can make this link clickable, so it's even easier for viewers to act.
By creating a unique landing page for this action, you're able to measure the impact of the video.
Using video in your marketing mix is becoming essential. Follow these steps and let me know how you're doing (firstname.lastname@example.org). I'd like to feature examples of your organization's work in future articles and case studies. FS