Nonprofit Videos

I am not a video expert, nor do I play one on TV. I am a nonprofit staff member who produces, edits, and publishes videos to further our organization’s mission. I am an amateur, not a professional, in video. So my approach to videos is utilitarian, a means to an end. And I am learning.

This piece is the product of that learning, a kind of reward because others have helped me.

Video matters. Viewers watch an average of 32.2 videos in a month, and about 100 million Internet users watch videos online every day. More importantly, the Online Publishers Association says that 80% of Internet users remember seeing a video ad on a website they visited in the last 30 days. Of that 80%, 46% took some action after seeing the ad. Additionally, around 64% of website visitors are more likely to purchase a product from an online retail site after watching a video.

According to research from Visible Measures, 20% of viewers click in 10 seconds or less. It loses about 33% of viewers by 30 seconds, 45% by 1 minute, and nearly 60% by 2 minutes.

While these statistics refer to retail and general usage, it’s no exaggeration to say that nonprofits can benefit greatly from increased, planned, and intentional usage of targeted video.

Here are some principles for people, including many nonprofit executives, who are new or relatively new to “making videos”:

 Make a plan about how many videos you need, what topics, what length fits the topic, and suits the social media or website you want to post to. Don’t just improvise. Systematically think about what you need and what result you hope to achieve.
 Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can post longer videos and people will see what they want. Not likely. Either they won’t look until they get the message you want to convey, or they won’t look at all.
 Don’t fall in love with your own voice. Brevity is beautiful. Less than 2 minutes is essential. 30 seconds is better, 15 seconds is even better, and if it’s like a TV commercial, only 6 seconds.
 Video clips can be custom produced, or you can create them from clips from your longer videos.
 Don’t worry about identifying yourself or the website. There is not enough time in the video to talk about this. You can easily add name, title, website, and other contact information during editing using banners and inserts or a 1 or 2 second end slide.
 If you need to make longer videos, and there’s still room for 2 minute videos, or even 6-12 minute videos for certain presentations, write your text ahead of time, upload it to a teleprompter app (several are available). available), and use scrolling text like a politician speaking at a campaign stop to create your new video.
 If you’re using a mobile device to record videos, learn where the camera is on your phone or tablet, then look at the camera for short shots or position your scrolling text so it can face the camera. This allows you to “look the viewers in the eye.”
 If you are alone, use a tripod and, if possible, a remote control. If you don’t have a remote, no problem, start your video, enter the frame, smile for a second, and you’re good to go. You can edit the front-end later.
 I mention smiling. If you’re natural, good for you, but when I’m thinking or stressed, like making a video, I can be unintentionally intense. So, I learned to smile a lot, even if it seemed fake at first, at first. My challenge now is to remember to keep smiling. It makes a difference in your video, as long as the theme fits with the smile.
 Be creative: inside, outside, with one of your children or pets, formal or informal, it depends on the topic and the audience.
 Short videos are about a topic or thought. Don’t try to say everything there is to say about your product or service. You can make more videos later. Come in, say something concise, poignant, or poignant, and come out.
 Remember lighting. You can look like an amateur or a professional faster in poor or good lighting, respectively, than in anything else you do. Most critically, you need good front lighting, then if possible adequate side lighting, and most challenging of all, unless you’re in a studio, some overhead lighting.
 If you want top-notch marketing videos, hire a top-notch professional and pay the person’s freight. There is nothing wrong with this. But when we live online these days, especially among younger people, what we are interested in is “authenticity” and “timeliness”. In other words, don’t be afraid to make a walking video, a street video, at your service location with some natural noise in the background. Be real. Be authentic. Communicate reality as you see it, which can actually be the opposite of “polished” marketing promotions.
 Don’t be afraid, in fact plan, do multiple takes, or at least as many as it takes to get the tone and message you want. Review your video after each take. Look, look for forgotten things like that bit of clutter in the background or dim light or no smile, or his neck is crooked…etc. You don’t get great videos by accident. Work the process.
 You don’t need to spend a lot of money or necessarily hire professionals to do basic editing. It’s absolutely amazing, with a little practice and a bit of a learning curve, all you can do on mobile devices or in apps like iMovie.
 Video is now big on Twitter, where people tend to “discover” video rather than “search” for it.

Spend some time on your preferred social media platforms. Research others, particularly competitors. Do not plagiarize but learn from them. What works and why? Taking the time to research is time well spent. It is as if Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening my axe.”

Video is here to stay. The more you learn to use it, the more effective you will be at getting your message across.

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