6-Second Fundraising: How to Charm Online Donors With Digital Storytelling
Six-second fundraising? I'm not kidding. The new, ultra-short social-media services, Instagram and Vine, are showing how short little videos that are just a few seconds long grab the attention of millions of people, particularly people under 35 years old. Shooting six-second videos is easy to do on your smartphone, and as you'll see, they can be very charming.
Telling your story in a way that elicits a heart connection with your cause is the holy grail of effective fundraising. Many charities are finding success via digital storytelling or using online videos on YouTube to connect with potential donors. When it comes to social media, visual marketing is a primary driver for connecting with audiences. This is why videos - and super-short videos in particular - are proving to be effective outreach.
Videos are much more engaging than simple text-based storytelling. They engage our senses with images, sound and captioning. Most importantly they can speak directly to our emotions much more than text alone can. Even short videos can be emotionally charged.
In social media, the shorter the better
When I polled several nonprofit leaders for my Nonprofit Technology News Celebrity Forecasts for 2014, one important theme was the importance of multichannel fundraising. In a multichannel approach, fundraisers go beyond just email and direct mail to incorporate other channels, including social media and multimedia.
Many if not most of charities have expanded in to social-media fundraising outreach by now. Super-short videos are a kind of genius idea that combine the primary aspects of the two social-media giants: Facebook and Twitter. People love posting their pictures on Facebook, and they love the super-short, 140-character micro-blogging format of Twitter.
The Instagram and Vine apps are two newer social channels that have attracted the younger donors that many fundraisers are eager to reach. Both are heavily used by people under 35 and have massive audiences - Instagram with 200 million monthly users and Vine with 100 million. If your organization wants to connect with younger donors and you're looking for low- or no-cost approaches, these apps are a great place to start.
To be successful with this audience on social media, you need to give potential donors what they want the most: stories that are told visually.
How do super-short stories work?
The Instagram and Vine mobile apps are free video blogging services. They do one thing. They feature videos that are short - really short. Instagram's maximum is 15 seconds, and Vine's weigh in at six seconds. The apps for both services are for your smartphone. They make it very easy to create videos since they provide everything you need to shoot, edit and upload your footage. Shooting super-short videos requires no video experience. It only takes a few minutes to download the apps to your phone and try them out. They're surprisingly easy to use.
Once you've made your video, both apps allow you to share your videos on Twitter and Facebook, or add them to your organization's website. You can also add links for your videos in your emails and embed them in e-newsletters or your blog.
What I find most astonishing about super-short videos is how much they can convey in just seconds.
The 3 types of super-short videos charities are having success with
Aaron Bramley of Lights. Camera. Help. is one of the gurus in this field. In his experience, there are three basic types of super-short videos that charities tend to use for fundraising. Here are some that I like from the Chronicle of Philanthropy: Six-Second Appeal Challenge.
1. Fundraising videos
2. Thank-you videos
3. Mission-execution videos
Ways to use super-short videos for fundraising
Hundreds of people who work at charities attended our recent TechSoup webinar on super-short videos to see what this new media is all about. In doing a quick poll, we found that most of them haven't yet tried doing short videos. And most of them had no budget for doing any kind of video.
With digital storytelling, like all social-media marketing, it's a good idea to to begin outreach to the audiences you already have, perhaps on Facebook and Twitter. Try posting and tweeting about your new super-short video there, and ask what people think. It will take some time to develop an audience directly on Instagram or Vine. Use the apps to create and post the super-short video, and then take the links to your existing audience wherever it may be.
Engage with your social-media audience in an active conversation — retweeting and commenting on what they share. And, of course, don't forget to ask your community members to share your charming video with their networks — ask them via social media and also your organization's website, phone, email or e-newsletter.
TechSoup Storymakers 2014 Contest
Another great way to get some serious attention for your super-short story is to submit it to the TechSoup Storymakers 2014 Contest.
We're giving away $13,000 in cash prizes to YouTube videos and photo sequences for super-short visual stories. Just submit your nonprofit video or photo series and join the #Storymakers2014 conversation on Twitter.
The contest deadline is Sept. 26, so if you try out this new media, by all means send us your short video! Six-second fundraising?
Jim Lynch is a staff writer for TechSoup.