Five ways to rock an advocacy video
In this age of tablets, smart phones, and social networks, video is a powerful way to introduce people to a cause. But on YouTube and other video-sharing sites, real-world issues often take a back seat to pop-culture favorites like “Fuzzy Fuzzy Cute Cute“Â (which, incidentally, surpassed a nonprofit video aboutÂ global warmingÂ by more than 2 million views).
The reality is, many advocacy groups are struggling to capture the attention of the general public. It’s time for them to step up their digital-storytelling game. These five tips can help.
Every now and then I come across a beautiful advocacy video that’s inspiring, motivating, and communicates a really important cause– then forgets to call its viewers to action at the end. Talk about a missed opportunity! (The acclaimed Skateistan is a tragic example of this.) Even if there isn’t a specific campaign attached to the video, you can still point your audience to a relevant website where they can learn more and get involved. Where Hope Works does it well, and The Last Lions takes it to a whole new level by raising 10-cents for every view on YouTube.
So hard, yet so important. Especially considering how depressing these topics can get. I love Bag It for this reason — no matter how upsetting the stats, Jeb Berrier kept me laughing the whole way through. Better yet, when people have FUN watching something, they want to share that experience with others too. Fun = a better chance at going viral.
Facts and figures generally make up a big part of the stories we’re trying to tell — but dump too many on your audience at once, and you’ll risk losing viewers. Animation can help. Check out The Story of Bottled Water to see it done well.
I see it all the time — a nonprofit group has so much information to share that they struggle to focus their story, and end up stuffing three videos into one. If you’re juggling more than a couple different themes, consider breaking them into 1.5-minute shorts that run as a series. Not only does it help you keep your storyline super tight, it also allows your audience, likely a busy bunch, to engage in little bits at a time, coming back to it when it’s most convenient for them. Climate Wisconsin does this beautifully. The Answer is Clear, despite its powerful story and images, does not.
Don’t be so literal! Subtle advocacy goes a long way. Growing is Forever doesn’t talk about what would happen if we were to lose our Pacific Coast’s old-growth forests– but I guarantee viewers understand the value of those forests by the end. Similarly, We Are All Connected doesn’t wax on about the extinction crisis, but gently reminds people that humans are part of the puzzle, too. Sometimes the best advocacy is the kind that’s in disguise.
Want to learn more about the science behind video, film, and multimedia with a cause? Visit www.thedigitalnaturalist.com.
Amy Marquis is the founder and editor of The Digital Naturalist and associate editor on National Parks magazine, published by the National Parks Conservation Association. She works out of her home and favorite coffee shops in Boulder, CO.
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Tags: advice, Amy Marquis, philanthropy, storytelling, videographer, videography