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(How) Are You Using Video in Your Campaign?

December 7th, 2011

The nonprofit without video in its campaign is leaving money on the table.  It’s a compelling part of storytelling, and has increased dramatically as a social media channel.  More smartphone market share will only bolster these figures.

Like other social media channels, video works best when it is incorporated with existing campaigns, in addition to occasionally – and eventually – standing alone.  Particularly if you are entering this arena for the first time, you’ll need vehicles to drive your audience to your new venue, so inserting links into your direct mail pieces and emails is a good place to start.  Don’t forget to use QR codes as well, since they can also represent a hyperlink.

Videos don’t always need to be professionally produced, either.  It really depends upon the purpose of the message.  Many nonprofits simply purchase a flip camera and begin shooting.  There may be times when a more polished image is necessary, however.  This is not different than printing many mail pieces in house and investing occasionally in a fine piece with a professional printer for a special mailing.

An important thing to remember is that it’s better to keep your message(s) short and to the point, however.  I advised a client in the past who had just begun to delve into the world of video, after presenting me with their first production that it needed to be chopped into several different pieces.  It was over ten minutes long, which I informed them that nobody would watch!

The great thing about it, though, was that it could easily be segmented into usable smaller portions.  What they had done was have an intro, where the director said “hello,” and spoke about the organization and its mission.  Next, they showed footage of a client they’d helped, with “before” and “after” footage, which took about three minutes.  After that, they showed another client’s “before” and “after,” and another client . . . and another . . .

Putting the right tags on each of these videos as separate items, I explained, would allow viewers who were interested to have the videos come up in the menu sidebar as “more videos like this,” and those viewers could continue watching, but it wouldn’t be a turn off as being too long and prevent nearly everyone from learning about their organization and its services.

There are a variety of messages that nonprofits can convey to their constituents through video, just as they can with direct mail and email:

•  Tell a heartfelt story about the people that the organization is trying to help

•  Have a spokesperson succinctly summarize the mission and add a call to action

•  Have a narrator summarize the mission and add a call to action

•  Provide a progress report (“Here’s what your donation is accomplishing!”)

•  Keep in touch with constituents, send a warm greeting

Additional ways to incorporate videos within existing channels would include adding a YouTube, Vimeo and/or Flickr tab to your Facebook page, and capturing still frames as photos to place in mailings or emailings as needed.

Finally, apply for a YouTube for Nonprofits account, which will allow you to insert clickable links within the videos you produce.  This important addition makes it easier for your viewers to take direct action straight from the video they are currently viewing.

How are you planning to make use of video in the coming year?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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