9 Keys to Using Online Video to Increase Your Nonprofit Marketing Impact

Online video is big and getting bigger. So much so that it’s rapidly changing the communications landscape. And we have some great models to work from.

Online Video is Getting Bigger – Fast

Here’s the proof, drawn from a recent ComScore study:

  • Over 133 million Americans watched online video in July 2007 – or 74% of US internet users.
  • They watched more than 9 billion videos, 27% of them on Google sites including YouTube.

There’s so much nonprofit video out there on YouTube, DoGooderTV and organizational Web sites. Here’s how distribution breaks out:

  • YouTube captures 40% of the current market – This most popular video hosting site receives 50,000 video uploads and streams some 50 million videos to about 6 million viewers daily.
  • MySpace, a social networking site, accounts for another 25%.
  • The remainder consists of major Internet players like Google, MSN, Yahoo and AOL, and niche venues like the nonprofit-focused DoGooderTV, each of which capture a fraction of the overall market. My guess is that audiences for these niche players will grow fast and furious.

So online video is big. But what’s the best way to put online video to work to strengthen your nonprofit marketing?

Pros Share Online Video Guidelines for Nonprofit Marketers

Here are some critical guidelines for jumping into online video:

  1. Online video is an expectation, not an option, for online audiences 25 and younger
    Higher ed marketing guru Bob Johnson suggests that online video is an expectation for most 30-and-under nonprofit audiences (definitely for prospective college students).
  2. Keep videos short and sweet – 30 seconds to two minutes max
    Video length is a classic case of less is more, advises Alia McKee of Sea Change Strategies Direct. Obviously, a good edit is crucial.She also recommends that online video should complement – not replace – other communications channels.
  3. Know your audiences
    This is definitely one of the ten commandments of online video production. You craft your messages and graphics to your audiences. Don’t forget to do the same with your video. The imagery, soundtrack and text you select must appeal to your target demographic. Video is more “in your face” than text or graphics so if you strike out, you strike out big.
  4. Make sure your video is more than moving, talking delivery of traditional content.
    Bob Johnson warns against oh-so-deadly talking heads and other staged approaches. Use video to show, not to tell – that’s the beauty of the medium.
  5. Tap that funny bone
    Most online videos that succeed in high pass-along rates (and viral distribution is a key strategy to increase views), usually include some humor or satire, say the experts at Online Video Services.Remember how Hillary Clinton grabbed attention when she spoofed the widely-viewed “Sopranos” finale on to motivate participation in her campaign song contest. Not only was she covered everywyere, she was credited with a seldom-seen-before sense of humor.But be careful in being funny. Humor is delicate. and the right timing and broad appeal have to be spot on. Testing humor is a good idea; a bomb can be fatal.
  6. Don’t forget the call to action
    It’s great to build awareness and support but you’re stopping short if you don’t include a clickable call to action at the close of your video. This Greenpeace video offers engaged viewers the opportunity to act with a simple click at the very moment they’re processing this very powerful video. Grab ’em when they’re hot.
  7. Work it: Put your online video to work in multiple versions and venues
    Forget the stand-alone gala dinner video that never again sees the light of day. Your organization should milk your video productions for all they’re worth.Your videos, in some form or another, can be projected in your org’s waiting room, at a gala and during programs, as well as distributed online via video sites, your own site,and your blog and e-news. The possibilities are nearly endless, suggests See3’s Michael Hoffman.
  8. Do-it-yourself is fine…for now
    As a matter of fact the authenticity of “amateur” video is au courant right now. Just take a look at this video Katya Andresen “produced” as her blog post response to my query.
    However, my guess is that amateur video will soon become tedious as the novelty of the medium erodes. Expectations for higher-end production values will begin to increase very quickly. I’ve watched this cycle before, most recently with blogging.

    Meanwhile, you can produce your own videos for almost nothing with a WebCam or video camera.

  9. Budget $1,000 per minute of finished content for a professionally-shot and edited video
    The OVS experts feel strongly that quality counts, cautioning that you get what you pay for. OVS estimates the cost for a professional video shoot, including editing, at $1K for each minute of on-demand finished content. Live Webcasts are much more costly.Another firm – Charity Docs – produces online on-demand (e.g. not live) videos for a flat fee of $2,500.

What’s working best with your online video production? Please share your tips with me as a comment below and I’ll pass them along to Getting Attention readers.

Nonprofit Facebook: Worth It or Waste of Time?

Facebook—so adored, so dear to so many of us at a personal level—has dramatically changed its spots. And I think your organization’s Facebook free ride is over!

I bet you’ve noticed the change—that is, if your organization is striving to use Facebook to strengthen connections with supporters and prospects and spur them to give. And by now you’ve probably heard the raging discussion about Facebook’s value—or lack thereof—for nonprofits and for-profits alike.

Now, when checking Facebook page activity stats (aka Insights) for our client organizations, I make sure to dive in with a sweet treat in hand. That’s because I need to balance the bad news—which tends to decrease followers and reach—with something good.

If you’re not up on these changes or are unclear on the facts, let me fill you in. You need to know what’s going on so you can make the right decisions for your fundraising and marketing agendas.

THE SCOOP

Those of us who have been in the Facebook weeds for a while, trying to figure out how best to use it to drive causes and donations forward, know how tough it’s always been—and now it’s even tougher.

This graph, from a recent study by EdgeRank Checker, says it all:

 

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NAY OR YAY—WITH JOHN HAYDON

Now here’s a roaring point vs. counterpoint, thanks to Facebook for Nonprofits expert John Haydon, who shares his Yay below.

NAY, IN MOST CASES

There are two main reasons Facebook use is in question:

  1. Long-time ugh: Facebook constantly changes its algorithm (a.k.a. formula) for what’s fed to your org page “likers” on their own pages and its page design, without advance notice or how-tos. That means for those of us with limited resources, it’s an enormous expenditure of time (and the related ) to learn how to adapt, and to do it.
  2. Most recent ugh: Pay to play with a huge decline in organic reach of your content. Now the frequency with which your posts are placed on “likers'” own pages relates to the level of Facebook ad buy by your organization.

What’s clear is that Facebook isn’t free— plan to pay to have your messages delivered.Now it’s just another paid advertising channel, albeit one with targeted reach if your organization thinks the expense is worth it. 

My recommendation: Use Facebook ONLY if you fulfill most or all of these criteria:

  1. You’ve selected Facebook as your social media channel of choice because your priority people ARE on Facebook, and you have a good way to drive them to your page and keep them there. Few organizations can effectively utilize more than one social media channel, at least to start.
  2. You use Facebook as a complementary channel to direct marketing (online and offline), your website and the other places where you have a track record of motivating the actions you want (giving, registering, etc.). Content and look and feel are consistent, tone varies depending on channel and the segment of folks you’re reaching out to in each channel and/or each campaign.
  3. You set concrete goals for whatever is measurable on your page (much isn’t) and try to link actions taken on other channels back to Facebook (and other influences)
  4. You are willing to invest a lot of time, expertise in your Facebook presence, AND a lot of cash for ad buys (your nonprofit will be competing against Zappos and Proctor & Gamble—what are your chances?).

Most organizations I know DON’T FIT THIS PROFILE. So for most of your organizations, Facebook is NOT worth the investment, even if your CEO or board chair is pushing it hard.

Exceptions!

1) If your organization works with cats, puppies, or other adorable animals, that’s another reason to pursue Facebook reach. Take at look at RedRover’s Facebook page. Cute animal photos pull big-time on Facebook!

2) If you’ve successfully built a loyal, active group on Facebook, keep up the good work. Two examples, from small to mammoth, are the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation and Planned Parenthood of America, which has nurtured a dedicated, at-the-ready group of activists via Facebook.

Now over to John…
YAY, IF DONE RIGHT (from John Haydon)

Nancy: What is the value in nurturing a brand page/community for orgs on Facebook?

John: Every marketing plan—whether it’s for a brand or a nonprofit—should include word of mouth elements. You want to create opportunities for your community to tell their friends about you.

The fact is, people talk with their friends on Facebook about what’s important to themmovies, weekend activities, family milestones, and causes.

Nurturing your community on Facebook increases the likelihood that they’ll talk about your nonprofit with their friends. In fact, according to one study, Facebook is the most powerful word-of-mouth social media channel.

Nancy: Are there a few criteria a nonprofit can assess to clarify if and/or they should invest (or continue to invest) in its Facebook brand page?

John: It isn’t reason enough for you to simply have a Facebook Page. If your nonprofit depends on fundraisers and volunteers to exist, Facebook should be an important communications channel. Most of the people in your database probably use Facebook already.

If you want to see how many people in your community use Facebook, you can upload your email list as a custom audience and see how many Facebook users are in your email list. Just follow the instructions in this video.

Nancy: What should orgs change strategy wise, with this new algorithm?

John: The purpose of the News Feed algorithm is to display the most interesting content to each Facebook. This way, they will continue to to use Facebook as an important way to connect with friends.

Because Facebook is a friend network, using your nonprofit’s “brand voice” will not work. For example, if all you talk about is your 50th anniversary fundraiser gala, you will bore people and therefore get zero visibility in the News Feed.

The solution is igniting your nonprofit’s “friend” voice (your community sharing your content with their friends).

Nonprofits can start with these questions:

  • What does out community get passionate about?
  • What’s truly useful and interesting to them?
  • What needs are not being met by competing organizations?
  • What are specific ways you can become indispensable in their lives?

Again, getting your current true fans talking about you with their friends on Facebook.

Nancy: How should nonprofit communicators start advertising on Facebook, if they fit the criteria I shared?

John: There are four things to keep in mind when using Facebook ads:

1. Have a plan. As with any type of ad investment, be really clear about why you are using ads in the first place. Do you want more website traffic? Do you want more engaged fans? Do you want more likes?

2. Target wisely. If a breast Cancer foundation targets all women in north America, they will be wasting money on Facebook ads.

For example, it’s better to target only women who have expressed an interest in breast cancer (liking breast cancer related Facebook pages). Additionally, use your Facebook page Insights to determine what demographic is most likely to like your page, and engage with your posts. Targeting Facebook adds wisely will not only save you money, it will increase conversion rates for those ads.

3. Only promote awesome. If you are using Facebook ads to promote page posts, make sure you’re only selecting posts that have performed well. This way when people do see the post as a result of an ad, they will be more likely to engage with it as others have done before.

4. Avoid smelly fish. Facebook ads are like relatives and fish – they go bad after about 5 days. Always make an effort to push fresh posts with ads, instead of letting an ad run for 30 days.

Nancy: What can we expect next from Facebook?

John: You can expect more competition in the newsfeed from brands, friends, and competing nonprofits. Your only solution is to become likable in the real world, not just on Facebook.

Please share your Facebook plan (or plan not to use) and why here, and/or tell us what it does (or doesn’t do) for your organization.

 

How 6 Nonprofits are Putting Great Online Video to Work (Case Study)

Online video is hands-down, no-contest powerful. Just look at these stats on video audiences, drawn from a recent ComScore study:

  • Over 133 million Americans watched online video in July 2007 – or 74% of US Internet users.
  • They watched more than 9 billion videos, 27% of them on Google sites including YouTube.

The pull is undeniable. So move on it. No better first step than to review some of the high-impact nonprofit videos out there to inspire and guide you in your own online video initiative.

Here are six of my top picks:

Young Greenpeacer Demands Change

This imagery (stark, monochromatic and exceedingly plain) grabbed me, as do the angry words of this child demanding protection for his right to live in a clean environment.

It’s so different from how we’re used to seeing children (in bright colors, playing happily). This child narrator is almost post-apocalyptic; frightening but 150% compelling.

Warning: Many Getting Attention blog readers hated this video. What’s your reaction? Email me.

Biz School Students Speak Out on Value of Their Learning

This video from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School showcases students discussing how they’re advancing their careers via their UNC studies. It’s a strong example of “storytelling” content that’s far more effective delivered via video than the written word. These faces and voices are just more immediate, more real, more effective.

Thanks to higher ed marketer Bob Johnson for the tip.

18-Year-Old Kartieaa – Who’s Without Parents, Income and Confidence – Tells How the TRAC Program Has Put Him on the Road to College and a Positive Self-Image

The Central Dallas Ministries Transition Resource Action Center (TRAC) produced this video about Kartieaa, an 18-year-old client, who tells his incredible story.

After Kartieaa was bounced through seven foster homes and four group homes, plus two years in jail, TRAC helped him get on track to stability and a college degree. It’s sad, pleasing and ultimately engaging.

This video motivated NPowerDC’s Jocelyn Harmon to become a first-time TRAC donor.

International Rescue Committee Video Diary from Darfur Shows What’s Really Going On – and How IRC is Helping

IRC communications officer Emily Holland recently traveled to Darfur to document the lives of displaced Sudanese survivors. Her video diary shows us how IRC is working on the ground in key areas. Authenticity rules.

Thanks for the lead to Sea Change Strategies’ Alia McKee.

Environmental Org Puts Video to Work for Online Training

North Carolina environmental organization RE3.org is using video for online training, with the long-term goal of reducing training-related travel. After all, online audience reach is infinite, and cheap.

RE3.org takes a simple but clever approach to do so: Staff members film a PowerPoint presentation with audio, to generate a full-fledged Webinar (Web-based seminar) available on demand to almost any online user without requiring additional software downloads. Simple but elegant, RE3.org.

California Bar Association Sets the Bar for Online Video

Online Video Service credits the California Bar Association with setting the bar in using video as a fully-integrated component of its anti-smoking campaign. CBA puts celebrities like Carol Burnett delivering messages about stopping smoking and the importance of clean air.

Do you have a powerful nonprofit video favorite to add to this list? If so, please leave a comment below.

P. S. Remember to review “9 Keys to Using Online Video to Increase Your Nonprofit Marketing Impact”

Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Timeline Page: Checklist for Connection (Part 1)

Be sure to read: Message It—How to Make the Most of Your Facebook Timeline Page (Part 2)

There’s no stopping it…your organization’s Facebook page is changing forever, whether you like it or not.

If you haven’t started on Facebook yet, this is a great time to dive in (and it is the place to start with social media—with the potential to be a second website for your organization).

Even if you aren’t really launching publicly yet—as you’re still working on your marketing plan or have determined that social media isn’t yet a priority channel for your organization—get your feet wet now so you’ll be ready to go 100 m.p.h. when you have to.

For those of you already on Facebook, the format change will happen whether you’re ready or not, so be proactive in using the shift to boost your relationship building.

1. What’s Changed
You’ve probably heard about the transition but may have resisted diving in. Here are the crucial changes:

  • Greater opportunity to tell your organization’s story over time as Welcome Pages disappear, replaced by Timeline.
  • More visual: A large-format “cover photo” must be featured at the top of your page (851×315 pixels). Using these specs, the photo will take up about 70% of the vertical space of the top screen on your page. This is a huge amount of real estate; you’ll have to work hard to use it well.
  • Increased ability to highlight:
    • A key post at the top of your timeline for up to seven days by “pinning” it, to feature your call to action. Change it weekly if possible.
    • Important stories/posts with the star icon (and de-emphasize those less relevant).
  • Plus even more visuals: Larger photos and videos in your posts.
  • More interaction: People can message your organization (much like they message their Facebook Friends) and can see what their friends are saying about your org.
  • No more landing pages.

These changes are significant and take some time to review, digest and strategize on. Start now if you haven’t already.
Read on for what these changes mean, to your organization and to your Facebook network…

2. Why You Should Care and Act
Your organization’s Facebook page now features an engaging cover photo (if you do it right) like this one:

By April Fools Day, the Facebook community you’ve been working to build (whether you’ve been slaving away or approaching it more casually) or thinking about trying to nurture, will see something completely different. But the something different goes way beyond your “cover page” (as it’s called).

Equally important is your ability to tell your organization’s story over time on your Facebook page, much like you do on your website. That means you have to actively curate current and past Facebook content to make the connections for your audiences, and ensure they make sense. That’s very different from the “of the moment.”

And since nonprofit pages will be more similar in appearance than ever before with this new standardized layout, it’s more important that you are as strategic as possible with every element on your page to make the experience visit most compelling for your Facebook network.

As a result, your Facebook community’s experience with your organization via Facebook will change dramatically and, assuming you want to continue building and strengthening relationships via your Facebook page, you must focus on shaping that experience to be most satisfying for them, and most productive for your organization!

I urge you to be proactive; to use this shift in Facebook’s own strategy as an opportunity to strengthen your organization’s Facebook presence, or launch a great first-time page.

 3. Your Facebook Timeline Checklist: How to Take Control in Just a Few Hours

Then jump on it.

What’s your strategy for your Facebook Timeline page, whether your page(s) are a minor part of your marketing agenda or a major component? Please share your strategies and questions here.

Be sure to read: Message It—How to Make the Most of Your Facebook Timeline Page (Part 2)

There’s More to Marketing than Social Media

We, as nonprofit communicators, are facing a difficult challenge.

The challenge was seeded years ago when social media began to take the nonprofit world by storm. First came blogging. I treasured (and still do) the vitality and vibrancy of blogs as a source of succinct, timely content and discussions. That’s why in 2005 I launched the Getting Attention blog to complement our long-form e-update articles.

But as we continue to be inundated by a plethora of social media tools, many of us have caught the fever, allocating our never-enough-time to experimenting with whatever’s new and shiny—frequently in response to pressure from above. I’m concerned to see nonprofit marketers forsake the well-tested cornerstones of effective nonprofit marketing to do all social media, all the time. Or even 40% of the time.

I get it.

It’s hard to resist jumping on what’s hot. Social media is practically all you hear from marketing experts and nonprofit leaders alike. So much so that many nonprofit leaders frequently push their communicators to jump in, even if they don’t really understand what the “in” is. Several of you have shared with me the pressure you’re feeling – whether self-inflicted or coming from other sources.

This human services agency is using Facebook’s “safe space” to build awareness of its family violence prevention services. That international aid organization is bringing front-line stories of its far-away work to supporters back home via online video. And an online organizing superstar dramatically increases email list counts and quality for his client organizations via social-media advocacy campaigns.

It’s incredibly seductive. Lots of success stories, lots of experimentation and lots of attention. Finally, we communicators are on the leading edge!

Don’t get me wrong.

The excitement generated by social media tools has dramatically changed the marketing landscape and invigorated our field. And I do value the distinct benefits of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other tools for GettingAttention.org and for nonprofit clients. Twitter is fantastic for sharing and discussing hot news. Facebook is an ideal way to nurture an engaged community, and enable community members to extend it to their friends.

But these are just tools, and should never lead your marketing agenda. Dedicating 40% or more of your organization’s marketing resources to social media all too often comes at the expense of the fundamentals that form the foundation for effective marketing. I promise you that for every nonprofit social media success story you hear, there are three or more failures. They are there—but folks are just too shy to share them.

Core marketing is your path to breakthrough results—beginning with a thorough, proactive, ambitious, but realistic marketing plan that defines your steps to make the most of what your organization has to offer, in a way that connects with the network you need to engage.

Social media tools just won’t do that. But focusing on the cornerstones will—from planning to getting to know your audiences, crafting relevant messages, defining the best channels  to engage those folks in productive conversation and action, and measuring the impact of your work.

Here’s the dilemma. Many times when I talk marketing cornerstones to nonprofits I get a nod, but that’s about it. It’s only about half the time a nonprofit marketer agrees that the cornerstones come first, with social media somewhere down the line. These are the folks who most frequently report dramatic marketing wins to me.

That leaves at least half of you who are missing out on your nonprofit marketing potential.

In the last two months, others I respect greatly have articulated the same perspective.  Social media wizard Chris Brogan recently highlighted the problem with social-only nonprofit campaigns, cautioning us to avoid littering the online communications landscape. MarketingProfs contributor Elaine Fogel asked Isn’t Anyone Using Offline Marketing Anymore?

Most significantly, nonprofit innovators Beth Kanter (the nonprofit social media guru) and Allison Fine published The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change, in which they position social media as a principle means, not end, for effective nonprofit operations today.

These social media and marketing experts join me in asserting that social media tools are just that, tools. And warn of the dangers of mistaking them for strategies. But despite the fact that the choir is growing in size, I bet many of you remain skeptical that there’s nothing more important right now, nonprofit marketing wise, than finding ways to use social media to advance your organization’s mission.

I want to ask for your feedback.

For those of you who believe in the value of marketing cornerstones, and maintain them as the heart of your nonprofit marketing work:

  • Why do you do so in the face of so many social media options?
  • How do you respond to leadership and colleague pressure to do more with social media when your resources are already limited?
  • How can we build understanding among our peers that the basics must come first?

For those of you feel that social media is your MOST important focus now, please share your strategies:

  • How do you decide what to do social media wise?
  • How do you measure results?
  • How do you communicate effectively without having to tackle the marketing basics I rely on?

There’s no single way to do it right. But I also know that that marketing cornerstones remain the right way to go, even in the shadow of the new and shiny.

Baby and bathwater; we can have it all. Hearing your ideas and experiences will help. Please share them here.

Thanks, in advance for participating in the discussion!

Nonprofit Video: 9 Steps to Nonprofit Marketing Success, Plus Our Mistakes to Avoid

In the age of YouTube, everyone knows there’s nothing like online video to grab someone’s attention. In the past two years, we’ve seen more and more for-profit and nonprofit organizations putting online video to work to reach out and engage their networks to build loyalty and motivate action. It’s nonprofit communications 101 in 2010.

So I thought I should put together a list of key steps to consider when you’re thinking about a video production. I’m putting this together for our clients, but I think it can be useful for anyone thinking about making a video. The more you consider these issues before beginning, the more effective your video will be.

3 Reasons Why You Should Use Video Now

1.  Video production, once complicated and expensive, is now doable by anyone with a video camera and access to the internet.  Brief, on-the-fly videos provide authenticity and compelling visuals via a short production cycle. This is great news for nonprofit organizations looking to connect with their networks in a way that reaches beyond narrative and photos.

2.  There’s a growing expectation that video will be integrated in every communications mix.

3.  Video, when done right, contributes immediacy and a sense of “being there” to your nonprofit communications mix to strengthen overall impact.  Well-crafted online videos can emotionally engage your audiences in a way that reading can’t.

Videos:

  • Generate a response that’s both intellectual AND emotional.
  • Inspire action. The right combination of storytelling, imagery (through photos and video) and personal appeals is most effective in moving people to act.
  • Significantly expand audience reach through online distribution. An engaging video is easy (and likely) to be passed on by your viewers, representing an exponential growth in reach.

What We Did Wrong, So You Don’t Do It

Check out our Great Nonprofit Taglines Video on Vimeo.

Our Goal
We wanted to build our video skills by producing a video announcement of the 2009 winners of our annual Nonprofit Tagline Awards program. We were confident that a video featuring the finalists and winners would be a compelling and complementary addition to our outreach on the program and an effective way to build awareness of and interest in the award program and Nonprofit Tagline Report publication.

Our Mistakes
Eager to get our feet wet but with limited video production experience, we dove right in with little more than a concept outline in hand. As a result, our initial end product was a seven-minute video featuring tagline award winners and finalists. It took over 30 hours to produce.When we shared the video with colleagues, the main response was “it’s too long,” and we agreed.  We went back to the drawing board and cut the video to less than two minutes, transforming it into a “trailer” for the Report.

In hindsight, we realized we did not do the proper initial planning for the video.  We didn’t first clarify the goal of the video!

Our most significant mistake was that we did not storyboard the movie or concept before beginning the production. We began production before we had a clear vision of what we wanted to produce. Don’t forget the storyboard!

We did do some things right like beginning with a fairly simple production strategy. Our video movie is a simple slide presentation with text animations, created in Keynote (for Mac, you can also use PowerPoint for PC) and exported into a movie file format.  Once editing was complete, we uploaded the video to Vimeo and YouTube.

Next Time: The Right Way to Do It
Despite our mistakes, our first experience in producing online video was a valuable one.  We flexed our creative muscles and learned useful lessons about planning and production that we can pass on to you.  We are excited to get our next production rolling and have a much clearer sense of the right production process.

So, upon further reflection and research, here’s our new, expanded take on how to succeed:

9 Steps to Launching a Successful Video for Your Nonprofit

1.  Develop a Simple Plan to Guide Your Project
Whether you’re shooting a 30-second PSA or an hour-long documentary, begin by drafting a plan incorporating pre-production, production and post-production aspects of your video project.

This is really no different than other nonprofit marketing endeavors you’ve worked on. You don’t start writing or designing a brochure, annual report, website, fundraising campaign or advocacy campaign,  without some thinking through.

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 evaluate 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?
  • Whom do we need to reach to make that happen?
  • What are the best channels to reach them?

3.  Evaluate Your Resources to Ensure They Match Your Concept
There’s always a connection between you4 budget and the level of production value when shooting a video. However, advances in software and hardware technology and a growing number of people trained to work in video production, means quality video is within reach of the typical nonprofit budget.

Whatever approach you have in mind, the concept for your video must take into account at least these basic items: the video team—on camera and off; the location(s) where it will be shot; the equipment needed for the shoot (cameras, lighting, editing suites, etc.); graphics  (still photos, logos, other imagery you integrate into your marketing materials); and other elements including music, props, costumes, etc.

4.   Make Sure the Video Has a Clear, Relevant Message
Remember, your video has to be clearly linked to your overall marketing strategy and messaging. Before you head down the path of video production, summarize the goals and core messages of the video in a single paragraph to share with the production team and other colleagues. When you run into the inevitable twists and editing challenges, this blueprint will guide your decisions.

5.  Decide on Your Video’s Format
In general, the easiest format is a short-message video doesn’t involve live people. This format features a series of still images—photos and text artfully arranged with various, subtle movements and transitions on the screen—a zoom, a page turn, a dissolve, etc.— with the backdrop of a compelling voiceover and music.

Other formats to consider are the ones you’re  familiar with through a life-time of TV: The talking head ( a tight shot of someone speaking into the camera); the standard interview with two people; the documentary; the story approach with a rehearsed script; and the video magazine approach, featuring an in-studio host who introduces the topic, serves up transitions from various “in the field” reports and wraps up the program.

6.   Choose a Style and Tone that Will Sit Well with Your Base
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 selection of style will connect with your audience and support 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).

Caution: Silly certainly has its place. But you’ll want to be sure that the silliness-factor is properly tempered. Getting it right can be a real challenge when you consider serious nature of most nonprofits’ messages.

7.   Get Feedback from Colleagues and Members of Your Target Audience
Once you’ve got a rough cut of your video—meaning you’ve completed shooting and most editing—preview it to colleagues, representatives of your target audience and family and friends.  Objective opinions are a must. Collect the feedback (“it’s too long is what you’ll hear most often), review it and revise.

8.   Make Sure Your Video Gets Seen
We’re in the midst of a video-Cambrian explosion. So don’t go to the trouble of producing your nonprofit video just to post it on your organization’s website.

Once you have the finished product in hand, be sure to maximize your video’s exposure by:

  • Posting it on YouTube and other video venues
  • Embedding it in your org’s Facebook page and linking to it from your LinkedIn page
  • Tweeting about it
  • Embedding the video in your blog and website
  • Featuring the video in your e-news via a screen shot linked to the video with an invitation to view, share and comment.

9.   Emphasize the Call to Action and Track Results
As you map out your video, be sure you end with a clear call to action and a unique and trackable URL. Tracking click-throughs is the best measure possible of video success and these results will inform your next video project and other communications strategies.

Using video in your nonprofit’s marketing mix is becoming essential. Follow these steps and let me know how you’re doing in a comment below. I’d like to feature examples of your organization’s work in the future. Thank you!

Message It: How to Make the Most of Your Facebook Timeline Page (Part 2)

READ THIS FIRST: Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Timeline Page: Checklist for Connection (Part 1)

Your Facebook Cover Photo Is Prime Real Estate, It Better Be Good

Photographs have incredible power in their ability to draw us, almost sub-consciously, into stories. And it seems that digesting visual content, rather than the narrative content we’re more used to, allows us to engage a bit more freely and fully than usual. Here’s how to make the greatest impact with the large cover photo featured in Timeline, the new Facebook page format:

Facebook Timeline requires organizations to place a large “cover photo” at the top of the page, up to a size of 851 x 315 pixels. That’s about 70% of the screen on my huge iMac screen, which means it could cover up to 80% of the vertical space of the average laptop. That doesn’t leave much space to view other elements on the page, so you have to make it rich and ultimately engaging.

This transition in your Facebook page layout is of minimal importance, but what is compelling is how this transition (and the need to come up with an engaging cover photo) has focused nonprofits like yours on a key challenge: How to convey their value in a single image.

Beyond the real estate, your cover photo is a vital hook in drawing your Facebook community (and visitors) into your organization’s story (now conveyed as a timeline on Facebook), and drives them to learn more about the organization and (we hope) take action.

How to Know What Photo Will Work

Select a photo (or collage of photos) that conveys the core message of your organization’s impact in a way that’s relevant, specific, and emotionally compelling. Before you choose a photo, join your colleagues to pinpoint what you’re trying to achieve, and whom you need to engage to get there, . Then move on to define the strategies and impact that should be conveyed in the photo.

Search for, or take, an image that is strong enough to transport members of your network so they can experience what it’s like to step in another’s shoes. That’s what the best storytelling does, and what you can do with visual storytelling Facebook style:

Here’s how to shape your new page around photos and images that engage and motivate your community:

The Right Message Makes Even the Best Photo Resonate More Strongly: Shape and Use Your Cover Photo Well

Most photos (and video) are stronger when framed by some context. That’s why video starts with a title screen and generally finishes with a close, and why many photos and illustrations feature captions. The messaging has to be just enough—not too much as to prevent the viewer from fully experiencing (think of it as entering the photo), but not too little so that the viewer is barred from entrance by confusion or frustration.

A succinct, targeted message that complements your photograph provides credibility. Even more importantly, it frames the image to direct the viewer towards the action you want them to take, often leading directly to the “aha” moment.

But Facebook Says You Have to Soft Sell—No Calls to Action

Facebook’s always been big on rules, and this transition is no exception. Here are the rules for cover photos:

Cover images…may not contain:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.”

Well that wipes out the most vital messaging there is: Your website (still your home base online) and your call to action.
It’s ironic that this ban comes from the organization that turned “Like” into the biggest call to action ever.

But I hear that Facebook enforces the rules, and I advise you to play by them. Pages like the one below, featuring two banned messages, are likely to be yanked:

Here’s How to Use Messaging that Connects, While Following
Facebook’s Rules

I urge you to integrate messaging into your cover photo to frame the experience of your page for your Facebook network and occasional visitors. Here are some messaging approaches that work well:

1) Weave in your tagline, if it connects your organization’s results with what’s important to your target audiences, quickly and effectively in eight words or less. Make sure it is motivational, and easy to remember to repeat. And your tagline should relate clearly and easily to your cover image.

This example from the International Rescue Committee is a fantastic example of powerful branding. I always knew what IRC did but this cover photo plus tagline clarifies its impact in a deep, emotional way.

2) Announce an event or campaign (but don’t try to sell tickets!)

3) Include Messaging Within The Image Itself

If you’re dead set on featuring a call to action or other messaging, this is one of two ways you can do it.

4) Feature Your Call to Action in the Description Field

 Mix and Match

I recommend that you approach your cover image much as you do your website home page. Like your home page, your Facebook page is viewed by fans who return constantly, and by those who are learning about your organization for the first time. There’s no longer a welcome page option, so your cover page has to engage all groups.

Here’s how:

  • Rotate your cover image, but ensure it conveys a consistent organizational brand. Otherwise, you’ll confuse visitors and fans alike.
  • Use your four tabs to engage return visitors.
  • “Highlight” and “pin” key updates.

Bonus: Create a Cover Image or Two for Your Facebook Community and Other Supporters to Use on Their Pages

The quickest, cheapest and one of the most reliable way to expand your reach is to ask your colleagues and supporters to serve as messengers, and show them how to be most effective.

I urge you to jump on this opportunity to get your community involved at the nitty-gritty level, by asking them to use your organization’s cover as their personal cover image. And these images can include your vital calls to action!

The Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano models this approach and provides a range of images for its supporters to choose from.

 

Here are several other models that provide a strong jumping off point for your own “spread the word” campaign.

What’s your organization’s Facebook cover photo strategy—what are the types of images you think will work well and why, and how often to you plan to replace the photo?

Remember to read: Your Nonprofit’s Facebook Timeline Page: Checklist for Connection (Part 1)

(Note: This article was first published as a post in Beth’s Blog, thanks to blogger Beth Kanter).

Nonprofit Facebook ROI—Yay or Nay? (w/John Haydon)

Get ready for a roaring point vs. counterpoint, thanks to Facebook for Nonprofits expert John Haydon, who shares his Yay below.

I’ll be following up with mini case studies and links to research supporting my recommendation. Please share your Facebook plan (or plan not to use) and why here, and/or tell us what it does (or doesn’t do) for your organization.

NAY, IN MOST CASES
You’ve probably noticed the raging discussion about the value (or not) of Facebook for all organizations (profiteers too)—it even made the most mainstream ever Time magazine.

There are two main reasons Facebook use is in question:

  1. Long-time ugh: Facebook constantly changes its algorithm (a.k.a. formula) for what’s fed to your org page “likers” on their own pages and its page design, without advance notice or how-tos. That means for those of us with limited resources, it’s an enormous expenditure of time (and the related ) to learn how to adapt, and to do it.
  2. Most recent ugh: Pay to play with a huge decline in organic reach of your content. Now the frequency with which your posts are placed on “likers'” own pages relates to the level of Facebook ad buy by your organization.

What’s clear is that Facebook isn’t free— plan to pay to have your messages delivered.

My recommendation: Use Facebook ONLY if

  1. You’ve selected Facebook as your social media channel of choice because your priority people ARE on Facebook, and you have a good way to drive them to your page and keep them there. Few organizations can effectively utilize more than one social media channel, at least to start.
  2. You use Facebook as a complementary channel to direct marketing (online and offline), your website and the other places where you have a track record of motivating the actions you want (giving, registering, etc.). Content and look and feel are consistent, tone varies depending on channel and the segment of folks you’re reaching out to in each channel and/or each campaign.
  3. You set concrete goals for whatever is measurable on your page (much isn’t) and try to link actions taken on other channels back to Facebook (and other influences)
  4. You are willing to invest a lot of time, expertise in your Facebook presence, AND a lot of cash for ad buys (your nonprofit will be competing against Zappos and Proctor & Gamble—what are your chances?).

Most organizations I know DON’T FIT THIS PROFILE. So for most of your organizations, Facebook is NOT worth the investment, even if your CEO or board chair is pushing it hard.

Please share your Facebook plan (or plan not to use) and why here, and/or tell us what it does (or doesn’t do) for your organization.

Now over to John…
YAY, IF DONE RIGHT (from John Haydon)

Nancy: What is the value in nurturing a brand page/community for orgs on Facebook?

John: Every marketing plan—whether it’s for a brand or a nonprofit—should include word of mouth elements. You want to create opportunities for your community to tell their friends about you.

The fact is, people talk with their friends on Facebook about what’s important to themmovies, weekend activities, family milestones, and causes.

Nurturing your community on Facebook increases the likelihood that they’ll talk about your nonprofit with their friends. In fact, according to one study, Facebook is the most powerful word-of-mouth social media channel.

Nancy: Are there a few criteria a nonprofit can assess to clarify if and/or they should invest (or continue to invest) in its Facebook brand page?

John: It isn’t reason enough for you to simply have a Facebook Page. If your nonprofit depends on fundraisers and volunteers to exist, Facebook should be an important communications channel. Most of the people in your database probably use Facebook already.

If you want to see how many people in your community use Facebook, you can upload your email list as a custom audience and see how many Facebook users are in your email list. Just follow the instructions in this video.

Nancy: What should orgs change strategy wise, with this new algorithm?

John: The purpose of the News Feed algorithm is to display the most interesting content to each Facebook. This way, they will continue to to use Facebook as an important way to connect with friends.

Because Facebook is a friend network, using your nonprofit’s “brand voice” will not work. For example, if all you talk about is your 50th anniversary fundraiser gala, you will bore people and therefore get zero visibility in the News Feed.

The solution is igniting your nonprofit’s “friend” voice (your community sharing your content with their friends).

Nonprofits can start with these questions:

  • What does out community get passionate about?
  • What’s truly useful and interesting to them?
  • What needs are not being met by competing organizations?
  • What are specific ways you can become indispensable in their lives?

– again, getting your current true fans talking about you with their friends on Facebook.

Nancy: How should nonprofit communicators start advertising on Facebook, if they fit the criteria I shared?

John: There are four things to keep in mind when using Facebook ads:

1. Have a plan. As with any type of ad investment, be really clear about why you are using ads in the first place. Do you want more website traffic? Do you want more engaged fans? Do you want more likes?

2. Target wisely. If a breast Cancer foundation targets all women in north America, they will be wasting money on Facebook ads.

For example, it’s better to target only women who have expressed an interest in breast cancer (liking breast cancer related Facebook pages). Additionally, use your Facebook page Insights to determine what demographic is most likely to like your page, and engage with your posts. Targeting Facebook adds wisely will not only save you money, it will increase conversion rates for those ads.

3. Only promote awesome. If you are using Facebook ads to promote page posts, make sure you’re only selecting posts that have performed well. This way when people do see the post as a result of an ad, they will be more likely to engage with it as others have done before.

4. Avoid smelly fish. Facebook ads are like relatives and fish – they go bad after about 5 days. Always make an effort to push fresh posts with ads, instead of letting an ad run for 30 days.

Nancy: What can we expect next from Facebook?

John: You can expect more competition in the newsfeed from brands, friends, and competing nonprofits. Your only solution is to become likable in the real world, not just on Facebook.

Please share your Facebook plan (or plan not to use) and why here, and/or tell us what it does (or doesn’t do) for your organization.

Five Reasons Why Facebook Marketing Seems So Impossible

john-haydon-headshotwebGuest 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:

1. You’re still thinking push

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.

Start asking:

  • What’s their agenda?
  • What are they already putting out there that’s in synch with your cause?
  • How can you capture that on your Facebook Page?

2. You need to understand people

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!

3. You’re competing with their friends

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.

4. You’re competing for attention

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.

5. You’re dealing with mobile devices

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.

Curiosity and Creativity are the key

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!

This is What Nonprofits Need More Than a Facebook Donate Button

Urge Facebook to offer Facebook Ad Grants to nonprofits like yours—Please add your name now to this petition.

Facebook is a vital tool for most of us, and their attention to the nonprofit market (as with the introduction of the Donate button this week) is fantastic. However, they change the platform’s ways and rules at a million miles an hour, making it tough for us nonprofit marketers to use this important channel well to move our missions forward.

There’s no debate that Facebook is a productive platform on which to interact with supporters and build your base. But each change they make generates a lot more work for organizations like yours (our clients too!) to learn the latest and greatest techniques, and shift campaigns accordingly.

But one of Facebook’s recent changes is far worse than that—several months ago Facebook introduced promoted posts. I want you to understand what this is—a pay-to-play approach limiting the ability to reach Facebook fans on a regular basis to marketers who pay to promote their posts.

That’s going to cut many of your orgs out of the Facebook game altogether and put the rest of the sector at a significant disadvantage. But there’s something you can do about it!

Please join me in urging Facebook to introduce an ad grant program for nonprofits, so organizations like yours aren’t silenced by promoted posts. Sign this petition now

Thanks for joining me! I’ll keep you posted.