The shear volume of videos and views on YouTube makes it an obvious choice for posting videos as opposed to other video hosting sites that offer similar features. However, it also creates a incredibly crowded marketplace, which is often difficult to crack. Many nonprofits and foundations want to create the next "viral video," but with an oversaturated market, this may not be the best strategy?
Let's look briefly at the kind of videos that go "viral." In general, the most popular videos on YouTube contain either animals, babies, sexuality, violence, celebrities or a combination of those elements.
The top 10 YouTube videos of all time are a good indication of the trends. The top four videos are all music videos with global celebrities, each with over 300,000,000 views. The fifth most viewed video of all time? “Charlie Bit My Finger Again,” featuring a baby who bit his brother's hand.
Does this mean that everyone should hire Justin Beiber and a baby to star in their next video? Probably not. Most companies and organizations would be better served with a more narrowcasting strategy.
You don't need everyone and their mother to watch your video anymore to be effective, you need your target audience to watch your material.
Video success will be better served when we stop hyper-focusing on total views and begin to look more into what we want the videos to accomplish.
Are you looking for more traffic on your site or engagement in a campaign? Videos that are targeted for a specific audience with clear, measurable goals in mind can be more effective than a million people watching and ignoring your next viral video featuring a cat riding a motorcycle on top of a dramatic chipmunk.
This week, I am attending a convening of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s 119 America Healing grantees. America Healing is a one-year-old, $75 million investment by the Foundation to support programs focused on racial healing and racial equity. The new initiative addresses issues at the core of structural racism – those policies and practices that continue to create barriers for children of color.
Like many nonprofit or issue-based conferences, the “America Healing: Building the Field and Connecting the Leaders” convening brings together grantees to share experiences, discuss best practices and learn from experts in the field. What sets this conference apart, is that it is focused (to paraphrase) not on what grantees can do for the Foundation, but what the Foundation can do for its grantees. In the end, I think the Foundation’s leadership will find that this approach was of equal benefit to both grantees and the Foundation. Here’s why:
The first day was devoted to grantees’ personal stories of racial discrimination and organizational stories of racial healing in practice, and we were fortunate enough to catch some of these stories on film (available soon on americahealing.org). Opening up emotionally facilitated grantees networking and sharing of best practices; collectively, these stories will help the Foundation tell the thematic story of racial healing and demonstrate the systemic nature of structural racism.
By developing panels and sessions based on grantees’ needs, the Foundation is providing more personalized support for programming, which I believe, will provide greater return on investment for the Foundation.
By listening intently to its grantees, the Foundation is gaining insights and perspectives that will allow it to create – and lead – a more cohesive racial healing movement with consistent messaging that still respects the diversity of its grantees and celebrates their unique approaches.
The grantees here feel like partners that, in the future, will be more willing and able to become involved in broader Foundation initiatives that go beyond the America Healing program.
I’ll share more insights from the conference as the week goes on. In the meantime, let me know what you think makes for a good foundation-grantee relationship.
Yesterday at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing grantee conference, Alan Jenkins, director and co-founder of the Opportunity Agenda, shared guidelines on how to talk about race in a way that mobilizes the base, persuades the “persuadables” and marginalizes opposition. Although he was focused on race, several of these principles can be applied to nearly any social movement and the way we frame our messages around the issues we are trying to address:
Lead with values: Tell people how or why your program or movement will affect opportunity, community and the common good.
Be rigorously solution-oriented: Rather than simply discussing the disparities and inequities you are trying to address, demonstrate how the solutions you are proposing address the problem. This will help to overcome cause-fatigue.
Link your solutions to broader solutions: show how your social movement helps solve issues facing individuals right now (economic recession, healthcare reform, equal opportunity) and over the long-term (more educated workforce, more opportunity for better paying jobs, more equitable society).
Recognize progress: To reach the “persuadable,” it is particularly important to note and celebrate milestones, while demonstrating there is still work to be done.
Talk systemically while maintaining the human story: Sharing just one story, while compelling, makes an issue or inequity seem episodic and isolated only to an individual, rather than an example of a larger social issue. Use a combination of stories and data to demonstrate the size and scope of the issue.
Carefully select vehicles and audiences: Think carefully about how and when different target audiences may be most receptive to your message.
Flickr Creative Commons photo by u5com
I spend a good part of my work days thinking about creative ways to garner attention for important public health issues. However, yesterday I found myself at my desk wondering if I was prepared in the event of a zombie attack.
What do zombies and getting public health information out have in common you might ask? The answer is the buzz about a new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) campaign about the importance of personal preparedness plans in case of a public health emergency. The campaign grabs people’s attention with a clever hook about zombie attacks, but delivers important information for more likely emergencies.
First announced via a blog post by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Kahn Thursday, the CDC information was generating so much traffic that it crashed the site. From a posting in the Wall Street Journal Health Blog to my friends’ tweets, I’ve seen discussions that may begin with references to zombie movies and the undead’s penchant for brains, but ultimately lead to information about the importance of having a plan in case of a real emergency, such as a hurricane or earthquake. All while driving readers to the CDC’s emergency preparedness tools.
For those of us working with organizations who want to get a public health message out, we face a big challenge to gain attention in a saturated online and media environment.
The CDC announcement stands out for three reasons:
• They Took a Risk – According to the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, “Zombie preparedness is the brainchild, so to speak, of communications staff who noticed that traffic took off when zombies were mentioned during one of its Twitter sessions on Japan and radiation, says Dave Daigle, a CDC spokesperson who led the new campaign.” I’m guessing there was some internal back and forth about whether zombies were a serious enough communications platform as they say in our business, but it was a calculated risk that paid off.
• Content is Still King – No matter the communications format, useful information, presented in a memorable and engaging way, is important. Kahn’s posting was both entertaining (including a brief history of zombies and referencing his favorite zombie movie, Resident Evil) and conveyed important information, such as a bulleted list of items everyone should have in an emergency kit, such as water, medications and first aid supplies.
• They Made it Easy – and Fun – to Share – Within moments of reading the post, I was chuckling and posting it to my Facebook page. The information was easy to share via social networks with badges and buttons, but just as important it was a light-hearted way to get a message out.
In the end, the real test of course is whether this push will motivate people to go beyond awareness and generate real behavior change --getting people to make a plan. But if you can catch the public’s attention with a creative hook through a popular culture reference, that’s an important first step.
Note: The CDC is a Powell Tate client, although we did not work on this campaign.
For nonprofit health organizations, Twitter is emerging as an online communications vehicle of choice for reaching target audiences and making a lasting impact. A study released this month finds that nonprofit and community health organizations are more actively engaged in posting information on Twitter than any other health-related institution.
“It is likely that nonprofit organizations and support groups recognize the rapid growth of Twitter and its value as an inexpensive but highly effective communication tool,” says Hyojung Park, doctoral candidate at the Missouri School of Journalism and author of the study. “Unlike business organizations such as pharmaceutical companies, nonprofit health organizations and advocacy groups may suffer from lack of funding, staff, and other resources in developing and implementing communication strategies for health intervention and promotion programs.”
The study, which examined nearly 600 tweets from organizations focused on health, found that 30 percent of the tweets were re-tweeted by other readers, further extending the reach of the messaging and promoting what Park calls “health literacy.”
Organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association (@alzassocation), Susan G. Komen for the Cure (@komenforthecure) and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (@CeliacAwareness), are setting a precedent for how Twitter can be an effective communications tool. For example, on Tuesday evening the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness held its second in a series of hour-long chats on Twitter with two dieticians answering questions about how celiac disease can affect women's health.
While Twitter’s 200 million users offer an engaging community for effective nonprofit outreach, Facebook recently established a strong stake in the game with the launch of a resource center geared toward aiding nonprofits in social media use. The resource center offers educational materials, video tutorials and discussion boards, as well as highlights current success stories in the space. The social network says it built this center to “bring positive change to the world.” According to Facebook, there are more than 30,000 nonprofits using Facebook pages.
You may have noticed that the news around Twitter’s role in mainstream media has become a little confusing over the past two weeks.
Last Monday, Twitter was given credit for breaking the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.
The following Monday Twitter was knocked down a few pegs by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism when it concluded that the traffic driven to mainstream news sites from Twitter was basically negligible.
Confused? Well, let me help you (maybe) by saying both are a bit misleading.
Let’s tackle both arguments separately:
Sohaib Athar, an Abbottabad resident who unwittingly live
tweeted the Osama Bin Laden mission.
Did Twitter break the Bin Laden story?
Twitter certainly played a role in spreading the news that night, but it is by no means a replacement for the news media. Both Twitter and major news sources played an instrumental role in breaking and covering the story in the first hours and days.
Twitter is a word-of-mouth technology, and the viral nature of it absolutely helped spread the word quickly. What once took hours, took seconds. There were 4,000 tweets per second throughout the evening about the Bin Laden news. This chart shows how quickly a news story now evolves.
We also know that 50 percent of the links on Twitter go to trusted media outlets. People useTwitter to spread information, but they want to spread information from trusted sources.
This leads us to our second story.
Is DrudgeReport more important than Twitter?
According to Pew, the three major referrers to major news sites are Drudge, Yahoo! and Google with Twitter accounting for less than 1 percent.
The problem with this story is that Pew is (admittedly) just counting referring traffic from Twitter.com and not the many different third-party apps that most heavy Twitter users use (Tweetdeck, CoTweet, etc). By some estimates, only 30 percent of users actually use the Web version of Twitter, which would mean Pew left out some 70 percent of the sample.
They claim that even if they had included the data from third party apps, Twitter traffic would still be smaller than the amount that “comes through Google or to the news site directly.” So, their defense is since including third party data wouldn’t put them on the top of the list it was ok to bury them at the bottom. This is an absurd argument coming from such trusted researchers.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project even told us last year that 75 percent of those getting news online get it from their networks either through social channels or email.
Twitter has not replaced any form of media. It is an increasingly useful tool for people to share information with our friends, family and colleagues.
And many of us rely on these networks to help us filter the deluge of information on a daily basis to find the important stuff. Like when to tune into mainstream media with 56 million other people in order to hear the president deliver special news.
In addition to April showers, May flowers, baseball games and spring vacation, this time of year brings with it many awards ceremonies in the communications industry. We recently wrote about Powell Tate’s PoliPulse being nominated for a Webby award, and last night, our work on the Pepsi Refresh Project was celebrated as the 2011 “PR Campaign of the Year” and “Best Social Media/Social Networking Campaign” at the Holmes Report’s SABRE Awards.
We’re extremely proud to have been a part of this collaborative effort across multiple agencies to make the Pepsi Refresh Project a success, but this award really speaks to the impact the program has had over the past year – on individuals, businesses and entire communities. Thanks to the funding Pepsi has put into generating hundreds of grants since early last year, we’ve seen theaters restored, playgrounds built for children with disabilities, and military members’ dreams fulfilled – because the public has chosen to support, and rally their own networks for, these projects.
The power of networking – both online and offline – has truly made the Refresh Project a success from the ground up. We’re honored to have taken home the award that recognizes this critical factor that’s allowed thousands of people to refresh their own communities.
In the New York Times’ recent special section on museums, I was excited to read about how museums are using social media.
The American Museum of Natural History in Brooklyn hosts Tweetups – a free after hours event where participants meet the curators and learn about the exhibits, all in exchange for tweeting about their experience. The Smithsonian is getting into the social media space using crowdsourcing to gather information and content like photos and stories from around the world.
Our Social Impact client Monticello has also been smart about social media. You can like their engaging Facebook page and see photos from Monticello and recipes from Thomas Jefferson’s time. Monticello’s Twitter feed provides updates to visitors and allows staff to engage with the many fans of architecture, history and Thomas Jefferson who are planning or are just back from a visit to the mountaintop.
I snapped this photo (see left) of new signs at Monticello with QR codes that link you to a blog that has content on the process of interpreting and restoring Mulberry Row, a part of the plantation where enslaved people lived and worked. The blog provides insights and updates about how this exhibition is being put together.
Museums are naturals for social media. They have rich content, research and stories to share. Sometimes they even have too much content; the Smithsonian has a half-million square feet of storage space. That’s a lot of stories left to share beyond the engaging exhibitions on the Mall and it’s perfect for social media. It’s a great platform for talking about the unseen aspects of museums, from the content not currently on display to a behind-the-scenes insights into how exhibitions are put together.
Museums provide a good reminder to all organizations to take a look around and think about how social media can help you tell your stories, share content and engage with priority audiences.
Today I learned that in 2010, Americans spent on average $340 billion on clothing and shoes, and according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, virtually all of it is sourced elsewhere. The second fact probably isn’t too surprising; we are rather familiar with seeing a “Made in XYZ country” clothing tag. But, even if we are accustomed to the fact that many of our favorite products are manufactured elsewhere, we are not familiar with the way in which those products are produced.
Enter the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a recently announced collaboration among retailers, clothing manufacturers, environmental groups and academics brought together to give every garment a sustainability score. This is an important and ambitious undertaking for the clothing and apparel industry. It is also timely given the growing conversation around sustainable sourcing and production. As CSR initiatives evolve, companies are being asked to answer beyond the “where” question and also address the “how” question.
- Where was this product made?
- How is it getting from supply chain to store front?
While this is a massive project for the coalition, they are wisely tackling it in a phased approach with three important elements:
- Collaborative knowledge-sharing: The 30 member coalition comprised of retail companies (Patagonia, Wal-Mart) environmental groups (EPA, EDF) and academics (Duke University) is putting together a comprehensive database of the environmental impact of every manufacturer, component and process in apparel production.
- Uniform measurement: Using the detailed database, the coalition will assign a score to the production of every element from dyes and fabrics to zippers, buttons, and grommets.
- Consumer focus: The end goal is to produce a label that would share a consumable version of the products sustainability score: where and how the product was made, and the environmental impact the creation of that clothing has on both the people and the planet.
I am most excited to see how the coalition will communicate the importance of the forthcoming sustainability index. Beyond producing a label, how would you propose educating and motivating consumers to pay attention to the sustainability score of a piece of clothing, and, would a negative score impact your purchasing decision?
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