Publisher, Getting Attention Blog & E-Newsletter
See3 and friends have just released Into Focus, the first-ever benchmark guide to video in the nonprofit sector. It’s a good read based on solid research, with these key takeaways:
The same can be said of social media, marketing planning and other marketing approaches that generate organizational resistance. BUT the data and models in Into Focus have crucial implications for the right-now actions you should take to:
I recently asked See3 founder Michael Hoffman to share his recommendations for nonprofits that want to flee the common can’t-move-forward-due-to-no-resources-or-confidence trap. Here’s the 8-step escape route he suggests:
1) The goal (and challenge) is not just to learn how to use video effectively, but to integrate a new approach into your organization’s culture and operations.
2) The role of video in the content spectrum has changed. Shift your mindset from videos as one-offs or supporting specific projects or campaigns, to a continuous video story (composed of multiple videos.)
3) The time to do more and better with video is now. The adoption cycle has speeded up big time. Plus video is a superstar format for mobile delivery.
4) Right now, most nonprofits simply sprinkle video into the communications mix. To be video-strong, take a more deliberate approach to building skills, metrics, comfort level and more.
5) The most reliable approach is to make video a regular practice, finding a way to integrate short, simple video into the work you’re already doing.
6) Start with a low-commitment project, focused on building skills, generating productive feedback and building organizational comfort with and understanding of the medium.
Quick-start examples include creating a video issue of your organization’s e-newsletter, thank-you videos for specific donors (post on YouTube then email the link to the donor) or interviewing a beneficiary, colleague or a volunteer on how they got to your org and why they care about your cause.
7) Post your videos on social media channels, framing them as experiments to build momentum and action around your cause in a new way. Share where you are with video, and where you hope to get to.
8) Your initial video projects will help you develop a video production habit, build confidence and create feedback and learning that will guide what’s next (and be strong fodder for your recommendations to your boss and colleagues).
Practice makes progress. Start your practice now, by reading Into Focus.
How have you helped shift your organization’s culture to embrace a new approach?
Guest blogger John Haydon advises nonprofits on new media marketing strategy. John is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies, a contributor to the Huffington Post and an instructor for MarketingProfs University.
It seems that most brands and nonprofits are still trying to get their head around what works on Facebook. What content works best, what time to publish updates and how to use sponsored stories are just a few of the topics discussed among nonprofit marketers.
But these issues are just symptoms of bigger challenges that we all need to better understand.
Here are five reasons why Facebook marketing is presenting new and/or unusual challenges to you and your colleagues:
You’d think that social media would have changed the mass-productive push mentality that’s been so pervasive since the Industrial Revolution. But it hasn’t.
Facebook, and most social media for that matter, are still viewed as a free email list to be “targeted” and marketing to. To amp things up on Facebook, you have to flip this mindset 180 degrees and instead think about creating a space for your supporters to share what matters to them.
Google tells you what people are searching for in in the form of words typed into a little search box. It’s literally spelled out for you. Not so with Facebook.
What makes Facebook users share, comment and like is still very much a mystery. Look for patterns in Facebook Insights and make inferences based on those patterns for insights into the emotional drivers of your people!
Think about the last time you opened up Facebook on your laptop or mobile device. Was it to find out what your favorite brands were sharing? Exactly.
It’s the same thing with your supporters. Every time you publish an update in their Newsfeed, you’re competing with birth announcements, political rants, vacation pictures and recommended bands! You’ll never trump someone’s friends, but the more you can come across with a friend-like voice, the better you’ll do.
Facebook users are constantly distracted. They might have the best intentions to view an update they were notified about by email, but as soon as they open up Facebook, they see more notifications in the menu and in their friends lists.
They see a dog dressed up as little red riding hood. They also see ads that are also competing for their attention. Capturing and recapturing people’s attention will always be a challenge on Facebook.
Every other challenge mentioned here happens in a much smaller dimensions on mobile devices. Did you know that each image you post on your Facebook Page takes up the entire screen on an iPhone? There are fewer elements to distract users there’s less space to play with.
Most of the challenges here are not insurmountable, but sometimes they feel that way. The best way forward is to have a solid understanding of how to best use Facebook for your organization. Write this plan down, and stay curious!
Update: How to Re-Assess and Re-Engage
Review these useful insights from nonprofit marketers and fundraisers like you. Please add your thoughts, experience, and questions.
Like you, my heart and head are heavy in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing [or relate this guidance to the latest mass tragedy—there are so distressingly many of them]. Especially since I feel so helpless.
I had a completely different post planned for the morning after but wanted to respond a.s.a.p. to the questions, worries and just totally-wrong communications I’ve seen going out since the bombings and all the fear-inducing activities that have followed it already.
Most of this outreach was harmless, but simply a mismatch with what’s on our minds right now. Because most of us are feeling horror, sadness, fear, uncertainty, and a sense of helplessness and vulnerability.
Here are my right-now recommendations for your organization’s response to this crisis and to others that, unfortunately, we will face together. Already follow-ups are undermining our collective sense of safety and well-being.
Please share your strategies, and add your questions and feedback here. We are so much smarter together.
Given our collective state of mind, some of the nonprofit outreach I saw post-Boston-Marathon bombing was off the mark—like the e-invite I received at 7:19 PM that day from Save the Children via Harris Interactive, asking me to respond to its survey.
This email came in as the details of deaths and serious injuries continued to flow, including the death of an 8-year-old boy and the critical status of his mom and sister. It was obviously auto-scheduled and on auto-pilot.
As a result, this ask missed the mark by 1,000 miles, coming across as a huge “who cares.” If I was in charge of this survey, I’d put it on ice for now.
Be aware that we could have all so easily made similar mistakes. I have. In fact, this was just one of many pre-scheduled tweets, Facebook posts and emails I saw in the hours following the bombings when we were in the spell of first shock.
These “business as usual” communications, at a time when nothing was usual, which caused a huge disconnect. And yes we’re all just trying out best at times like this, but slow down.
Our state of mind doesn’t get more ungrounded than it is right now. Be ultra-sensitive.
Your cause and work is vital to making this a better world. And although it may seem easiest to go dark right now, please don’t. Your network counts on your work to carry our world to a better place.
Proceed slowly and strategically, based on accurate and timely insights and thoughtful assessment, but do proceed. The last thing we need is staying stuck right here.
Relevance rules more than ever in the shadow of a crisis or tragedy like this one. What’s top of mind for your network is the only lens that matters, now more than ever.
Put yourself in the shoes of your prospects and supporters. What are they focused on now? It’s likely to be fear, horror, sadness, empathy, helplessness and/or anger. That’s your cue.
Your own agenda must fall behind for the first few days post-crisis—at the very least—unless there’s a real, organic link to bombing-related issues.
It’s never productive to communicate into that environment at the moment of. You’re not missing an opportunity if you pause to assess and re-tune, and you risk alienating your network if you blindly push on with plans.
Show your support for the affected community and empathize with the shock and sadness your supporters are likely to feel via Twitter or a brief Facebook post.
This is a same day or next two days approach in most cases; after that it’s not additive, and will seem like you’re jumping on the bandwagon. If you’ve missed that, fine. Just note for the next time.
Social media is an ideal way to let your supporters know you’re with them right now, and to share words of comfort. Plus any tangible help you can provide. That’s the kind of response that puts a human face on your organization.
Here’s a good model tweeted by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
Immediately un-schedule what you have lined up to release the day of the crisis and for the balance of the week at the very least. You’ll reschedule what’s in line with your base’s state of mind after a brief review.
Stay real, and stay respectful. That will ensure your relevance in good times and bad.
> Link your message to the bombing only if there is an organic link (e.g. children’s health and well-being, violence prevention, gun control, public safety, anti-terrorism.) Otherwise, avoid trying to capitalize on a tragedy. You’ll fail, miserably.
If your organization isn’t working to help the Boston/Marathon community or related issues, consider taking a couple of days off from your asks. Those in support of your issue are already making contributions and circulating petitions. But it’s too raw today to start persuading others, or even showing them how they can help avert future disasters like this one.
> Depending on the mood and focus over the course of the week, pick the right time to dive back in with a moving forward focus. That may be in a few days, but may be more.
Instead, craft your outreach for down the line (that may be a few days, a week or even later—you’ll need to assess for your community and your organization) so you’ll organize most powerfully, galvanizing disheartened supporters to join you in action for a better future. The exception, of course, is if you’re helping the affected community directly.
> Change any metaphors or analogies you use that feature bombs, explosion and the like in not-yet-published content for the next two weeks, at least.
These are some of the most-used references, usually used in a positive way (but there is no positive now). Think exploding with daffodils (from a Facebook post morning after the bombing from one of my favorite botanical gardens) or the fact that the star’s first Broadway show absolutely bombed (in the e-newsletter scheduled to drop the day after the bombings from one of my performing arts clients).
Comb your content carefully. Over-caution is the way to go here.
> Get speedy input on your revised approach today with colleagues on the ground and members of your marketing advisory group
These are the folks who are in touch with your base (and are your network members), and you need their insights.
If you don’t have a marketing advisory group already in place, reach out to a few current supporters in each of your segments, asking for five minutes of their time for a quick call.
Even though your colleagues’ may not have been aware of your plan for your marketing and fundraising outreach going forward, update them on what’s changed and why.
It’s still early in this tragedy, and events are yet to unfold. So stay close to what’s top of mind for your network (and the rest of us) through this week and next.
Go ahead and schedule coming campaigns across channels, but review what’s scheduled on a daily basis. Engage at social listening at every point along the way.
I recommend placing review of queued-up communications at the top of your crisis communications checklist, whether it’s a crisis within your org or outside of it.
Crises like the Boston Marathon Bombings and the ensuing scares are shared crises. In many cases, crises outside of your organization impact your network of supporters and partners equally, if not more than, crises that effect your nonprofit.
What are you considering changing, or unsure about? Do you have guidance to share?
Guest blogger, Annie Escobar is co-founder of ListenIn Pictures which produces compelling video stories for nonprofits.
Creating engaging, sharable videos doesn’t seem to come naturally for most nonprofits and I think I know why. Instead of highlighting naturally dynamic stories about people, nonprofits tend to create videos about programs.
I call this The Program Trap.
Your organization’s job is to run your programs well. That’s why you care about the details of how they are run. But your audience is hungry for meaning, belonging and purpose. They want to be a part of something that matters.
The best use of video is not to inform and educate. It’s to make your audience feel something and through that emotional response, create a connection to your work. As humans, we respond to stories. Stories about people we can relate to. Stories that show what’s at stake in your work. Stories that inspire us to see ourselves as a part of your story.
It’s about the why, not the what. Showing, not telling. Feeling, not facts.
Recently, I saw a nonprofit video that claimed to tell ‘the story of [this program].’ But in reality, it was just a list describing what their program does.
So how do you know if you are really telling a story in your video?
Stories have a beginning, middle and end. They have a protagonist who wants something- that could be a mother wanting a better life for her kids or perhaps your founder who wanted to find a solution to an intractable problem. They keep people curious by making them ask, “How is this person going to get what they want?” They have tension then resolution. Not all stories you tell have to be about the people you serve, but I’ve found these to be the most effective and moving.
Whenever I ask employees of non-profits what drives them to keep doing their work, time and time again, they tell me that it’s the stories of people they’ve met through the organization.
That’s where your power to inspire lies.
In my next guest post, I’ll share what I’ve learned about how to translate programs into compelling stories for video.
Does this resonate with your organization’s struggles to represent what you do? What have you learned about how to encourage your organization to move away from descriptions and towards stories?
Guest blogger, Kerri Karvetski, owner of Company K Media, helps nonprofits communicate online.
How did nonprofits share the love on Valentine’s Day 2013? Let us count the ways.
But this superstar technique isn’t limited to Valentine’s Day. Get brainstorming now to connect your cause with days coming up—St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day and Earth Day. It’s a proven way to connect with supporters and move them to give, donate, volunteer or spread the word. Here’s how:
There’s so much content around on storytelling, lots of its focused on why stories are so effective.
But there’s far less guidance on helping you know what your story possibilities are, and building your skills in shaping and sharing your stories. That’s what most of you said you wanted to know to become 5-star storytellers, and that’s the focus of this article.
Is yours as deadly as this one? Because you have all the ingredients to make it far more effective.
The 18 winners of the 2012 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Award Winners, presented in this brief video, were selected by 3,300 voters. They were selected from 63 nonprofit tagline finalists identified by our expert panel of judges.
This tagline was created to bring the organization forward when its major fundraising event—the Father’s Day Fishing Derby—began to overshadow LCI’s overall mission and identity, says James Ehlers, executive director.
Plus, this idiom as tagline forges a bond between those of us who aren’t seniors (yet) and those who are. All of us feel welcomed and secure, yet independent, in the corner of the world we call home.
An excellent example of the tagline clarifying a nonprofit’s focus, when the organization’s (new) name alone doesn’t do so.
The tagline “is an ideal introduction to our stories of small actions, ideas, gifts and grants that went on to cause big change,” says Barbara Heisler, executive director.
“Our constituents feel the tagline speaks to the ongoing debate about how we can feed the world in an environmentally-sustainable and socially-just way,” says Communications Director, Joanna Dillon.
Annie Escobar is co-founder of ListenIn Pictures which produces compelling video stories for nonprofits.
I’m on a mission to end bad nonprofit video. You know, the boring, long, put-you-to-sleep video about what the nonprofit does and not why, how or results. Nonprofits have too much on the line—and too many inspiring stories—for this.
When I first started working with nonprofits to create videos, I realized that communicators see the power of video to connect their audience to their mission, inspire action and build a movement, but often don’t know where to begin.
Overwhelmed, they put everything in a single video. So my business partner Ethan and I went on a journey to give our nonprofit partners a framework for thinking about video.
Here are two approaches we use with great success to help our nonprofit partners identify where their audiences are and what kind of video will help move them to the desired action. Give them a try:
1. How do you want to change the audience?
2. Focus in on a genre
The kind of video that you want to create must be aligned with your goals. It is not effective to create a campaign video asking people to take action on your cause, if they don’t even know what the problem is.
Listed in the image below are the six most powerful non-profit video genres. The colored dots correspond with the image above, highlight the strongest matches between genre and the movement you want your audiences to make:
Use these maps next time you’re starting the video development process to help you narrow your vision and define your goals. Good luck!
What other pressing questions do you have about your video strategy?
As nonprofits continue to realize the value of storytelling in their print and digital communications,
strong interview skills are critical for capturing constituent stories. Interviewing really is an art, as I learned when I first started writing professionally more than a dozen years ago.
These eight guidelines can help you conduct better interviews and accurately capture the most compelling stories.
1. Prepare. Try to get a sense of the person you’re talking to, when possible—look at a photo, a website, historical information, whatever your organization or Google has available. (But don’t make assumptions based on those things.) Spend some time putting yourself in that person’s shoes and considering what their perspective might be. (Might be.)
2. Compile a list of questions. Have an idea of what you hope to cover—you don’t want to waste people’s time with a lack of focus. As you talk (i.e. listen), skip questions that seem less relevant and instead raise questions you hadn’t thought of previously. Skilled interviewers ask the “right” questions and also can tell instinctively when to delve further or move on.
3. Record. You’ll be surprised what you can miss if you’re trying to take notes by hand, either with a pen or keyboard. Make sure you ask permission first, though.
4. Pay closer attention than you think you need to. It’s surprisingly hard to listen, process what you’re hearing and think of the next question to ask quickly. I recently heard a recorded interview where the interviewer summarized what the interviewee said after each question—but got it wrong almost every time. She clearly wasn’t hearing the nuances of what her source was relating. This is also why you record; so you can pay less attention to your notes and more attention to the person talking.
5. Clarify rather than draw conclusions or assume. Remember that you’re trying to gather someone else’s story. In order to clarify what they’re saying, ask “Am I understanding correctly that…?” or “It sounds like…, is that true?” rather than “So, you were X and did Y.” And never judge.
6. Be quiet. Don’t think of interviews as conversations, during which most of us feel pressure to make small talk to fill silences. It’s fine to “Mmm-hmm” or say that you understand (if you do), or to ask for more detail or clarification or just…be silent. Don’t hijack the interview by talking too much.
7. Ask. Always ask if there’s anything else the person wants to share or feels is important for you to know. You might get some of your best information this way. I used to worry that, if given the chance, people would talk my ear off about unrelated things. Sure, it’s happened. When it does, I politely interrupt and say I need to wrap up. But it’s rare; most people are respectful of others’ time and busy themselves.
8. Stay in touch. Make sure you have contact information so you can gather more details and confirm accuracy as you incorporate interviewee stories into your content. Always thank people for sharing, and follow up with samples or links to the related material your org produces.
Here to champion your nonprofit digital campaigns.