This is the first post in the “BizBlog Series,” which was formally its own blog. Check back each week to see articles about partners and advertisers on YouTube.
When the end goal of your online marketing is philanthropy, you have to take a unique approach. We’ve tried to do our part by providing the tools needed for the task through the YouTube Nonprofit Program. One nonprofit that’s leveraged these offerings effectively is Causecast.org. We sat down with their CEO, Ryan Scott, to find out how video has amplified their work.
1) What role does video play in the development of Causecast (both the site, and in campaigns created for your clients)?
Video has always been a core component for Causecast. We covered red carpet events and fundraisers, interviewed celebrities, and created special campaigns like the "Milk" typographic piece, which was commissioned by Focus Features. We also had an ongoing video project called "State Your Change," which was a video wall created by user-generated uploads about the changes people wanted to see in the world, which was then submitted to the newly-elected President Obama. After a year and a half, we've found that we work best when focusing on individual campaigns that are directly tied to a single organization or brand that’s connected to a single website or cause. We can (and do) create content for all causes and nonprofits, but each one individually should be focused on one clear goal.
2) Can you provide an example of how you've utilized video in impactful and relevant ways for your clients? Explain why you decided to utilize video over other media and how YouTube was specifically involved in the campaign.
One of our successes was a project called STILLERSTRONG, which we helped create with Ben Stiller and his team. The campaign started as a project to build a school in the central plateau of Haiti and video was used as the main medium to drive awareness and donations to the Stillerstrong platform. Ben applied his unique brand of humor to communicate his message to engage his fellow philanthropists and celebrity friends to publicly support his cause. Lance Armstrong, Owen Wilson and former President Clinton got involved and were part of the video campaign. Ben even did a video with Robert De Niro specifically urging Ashton Kutcher to re-tweet the video, which he did.
We used YouTube annotations to incorporate buttons into the video that allowed people to perform functions, putting links directly into the video. People could donate, post to Facebook, Tweet out the video, buy the STILLERSTRONG HEADBAND, and even upload a video comment. Annotations and the benefits you get with a nonprofit account on YouTube were hugely helpful, saving us a great deal of development work.
3) How has the role of video changed in the past 10 years, with regard specifically to cause marketing?
One word: cost. Ten years ago, there were a handful of websites that had streaming video of any kind. Now there are many options (probably too many), and fortunately most of them are free and very versatile. You can get a decent video HD video camera for $150. And hosting is free. So, there are very few reasons why a nonprofit should not develop and utilize video is some way. The popularity of social networks, which has grown significantly in the last five years, has made sharing videos much easier. More people can learn about your cause through a short video than through landing onto a text-only website. Nonprofits have used video in very effective ways to ask for donations, recruit volunteers, or contact their local representatives, but sometimes the most moving videos are when we see the volunteers in action or how donations are utilized on the field. This closes the donor / volunteer / organization loop.
4) In your opinion, what are recent examples of organizations or campaigns that have utilized video in new or innovative ways?
One video uploaded by the World Food Program in this last year came up with a simple statistic: approximately 1 billion people are active online and yet over 1 billion people are chronically hungry. The video was 60 seconds long. In that amount of time, 145 million emails were sent, $43,000 was spent on eBay, 2,000 tweets were sent, and 10 children died of hunger. Pretty tough to ignore those numbers. They had a simple story to tell, and they kept it simple. They linked the video directly to their donation page, which lists how much money it takes to feed a baby, student or adult for one year.
5) How can/are nonprofits utilizing compelling videos to maximize their reach and funding? What are some tips for nonprofits struggling to create video content on their organization?
The best videos are the simplest: one idea, one cause, one action. You can upload an unlimited number of videos for free, so there's no point to throw in the kitchen sink. Also, viewers have a very short attention span, so presenting too many ideas dilutes the power of all of them. The videos we like most are when volunteers are interviewed on camera or nonprofits show the environment in the field where they are actively distributing or rebuilding. We need to see how the organization is making positive change. Charity Water makes some beautiful videos of their well drilling. Invisible People has a massive library of interviews of homeless people telling their stories. AARP made a video of very inspiring words featuring only scrolling text, and it still gets passed around (and re-made) three years later. Videos are very easy to create and very, very easy to share, and we haven't yet created as strong of a mental "spam filter" for video as we have for emails. Just be sure to keep it simple and direct.
Ramya Raghavan, Nonprofits & Activism Manager, recently watched “Lance Responds To Ben Stiller and STILLERSTRONG.”