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.