What would you rather do: Watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in a movie theater, or flip through the storyboards?

I know the storyboards seem pretty cool, but if you have to choose just one, you’d probably watch the movie. The movie conveys the action, the emotion, and the narrative much more powerfully than just pictures and words.

Why we love video

Unless you’ve been living under a rock with no Internet, you realize that the amount of video content on social media has skyrocketed over the past few years.

Here are just a few stats about video content:

  • 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching videos
  • 80% of people remember a video ad they viewed in the past 30 days
  • More video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major TV networks have created in the past 30 years

But why is video content so compelling?

  • Video Grabs Attention – Much of our visual wiring is around our peripheral vision. As a species, we evolved to be super sensitive to movement. This is why auto-play videos on Facebook and Instagram grab our attention more than static pictures.
  • Video Communicates Emotion93% of human communication is non-verbal. A person’s feelings, attitudes, and personality are conveyed much better in video. When Richard Nixon squared off against JFK in the first televised presidential debate, viewers could see how nervous and sweaty he was. And because of this, he lost the debate, and arguably the election.
  • Video is Real-time – Live-broadcasted video is quickly becoming a way for organizations to demonstrate impact and connect intimately with donors – real time! Facebook Live and Periscope broadcasts are being used by more and more nonprofits each day.

Mobile and Video = Power to the People

The great success of the ice bucket challenge is largely due to the videos that were so easily created on smartphones. All of these videos had a hook, a hold, and a payoff – three elements that are essential to successful storytelling:

  • The Hook – A person doing good for others.
  • The Hold – How will they react when they dump a bucket of ice over their head? Can they do it?
  • The Payoff – Donate, share, and help cure ALS.

I wonder how successful the Ice Bucket Challenge would have been without the ability to easily create videos? Ten years ago it would have been almost impossible.

Instantly differentiate your nonprofit from the competition

Here’s the best reason to start publishing video content: Most of your competition ISN’T publishing video content. They’re either scared to, not sure how to, or think it’s too much work. Video is so much more impactful than the words and pictures published by your competition. Your videos will bring your brand to life, and your competition won’t stand a chance.

We are now all filmmakers

In my September blog post for Blackbaud, I’ll share specific tips for creating videos with your smartphone.

Until then, here are 3 quick ones:

    1. Be smart about your video’s title and description – Describe your video with words your supporters use – not the jargon you hear in your board meetings.
    2. Add your website URL in the description of each video – It’ll be the first thing people see after watching your video, and it will drive more people to your website.
    3. Add captions to your video – Most people watch videos without sound! Make sure your videos include captions people can read while their silently watching your video.

That’s all for now. What do you think? Share your comments below.


John Haydon helps nonprofits change the world with smarter marketing. He is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Wiley), consults for nonprofits and community foundations across the United States, and can ride a bicycle backwards.

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