The Once and Future Media: The State and Outlook of Online Video


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Michael Hoffman, CEO See3 Communications, slides on his masterclass at the 2010 International Fundraising Congress in Amsterdam.

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  • Michael Hoffman from See3 Communications will speak about the critical nature of online video for nonprofit organizations and where all of this is going.
  • Michael Hoffman when he had hair and was traveling around the world. He saw amazing things and tried to share and describe those things to his friends and family.
  • Not long after the previous picture, Hoffman became a fundraiser and realized that when donors actually sit with those they are working to help, and meet the amazing people working on the ground, they become lifelong supporters. The organization Hoffman worked for ran “study tours” to bring mostly high-net-worth individuals to projects abroad. Obviously, this strategy doesn’t reach a mass market.
  • What Hoffman took away from his time as a fundraiser was that there is a gap between the amazing work on the ground and what donors can see and feel. Closing that gap is the most important thing a fundraiser has to do. Video, better than any other strategy, helps to close that gap because it can deliver the emotional content needed to connect to people.
  • 01/20/10 And so Hoffman founded See3 in 2004 when he realized the broadband internet could actually support a video future for organizations. See3 is an interactive agency working with organizations in the US and around the world, focused on those strategies that will bring high return on investment.
  • One of the best ways to learn about online video is to see what others are doing. See3 created the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards and, now entering its 5 th year, has partnered with YouTube to bring the best of nonprofit video to the community. Last year’s awards can be viewed at and stay tuned for the 2011 awards.
  • Do you know what this picture is from? Of course you do. The whole world does. Some things we learn from this. 1. Story trumps production costs. We spent hours watching a cable turn on a wheel as the miners were raised from the ground. But the story was riveting, even if the visuals were not always. 2. We EXPECT to see action while it is happening or soon after. If people can see the miners under the ground, why can’t they see your programs, wherever they are happening? 3. We can access this content from many places – TV, web, mobile.
  • If you spend lots of time making a story, but it doesn’t meet your donors where they are, it won’t connect and you will find, like in this picture, that you spent a lot of effort and you can’t achieve your desired result.
  • This picture is Dr. Jeffrey Sachs meeting Shawn at Notre Dame. Shawn, a 26 yr old grad student, was so inspired he dropped out of school and went around the world to tell stories. Shawn is what we call a Free Agent. He doesn’t work for any organization, but he can tell organizational stories, and raise money, without the burdens of organizational bureaucracy. At this point we watched a video Shawn did. Watch it here: This video, you shall see, is really a donor stewardship video. It shows how powerful it is when you connect your donors to the specific impact they are having. Can you tell these kind of stories inside your organization?
  • Don’t be hard on yourself. This stuff is VERY new! In fact, YouTube had their 5 th birthday in 2010 and it was only 4 years ago this month that Google bought YouTube. The landscape is shifting and the key best practice is to practice, to experiment. What we know for sure is that the future will only bring more access to media.
  • YouTube is the biggest site in online video – by far. And it is an example of why video should matter to you. On the left of this slide you will see something amazing, that there are as many people over 55 watching videos as there are under 18. This isn’t about kids, it’s about everyone. The amount of time people spend on YouTube is amazing, more like TV time than internet time.
  • Your audience is online, watching video. Are they finding you there?
  • Video is also critical for search for 2 reasons. 1. Google is delivering video results into first page search results. It is more than 50 times easier, on average, to get into first page search results via video than via natural rankings. 2. YouTube is now the #2 search engine online! This means people are starting their search with YouTube. Are you there for the terms that are important to you?
  • Remember Windows Media Players and Real Player, opening new windows to play video? Remember, a few years ago, when an HD camera would costs tens of thousands of dollars? When YouTube launched it kinda sucked. Now the tools for creating, editing and sharing video are better than ever and cheaper than ever.
  • YouTube runs a program for nonprofit orgs in English speaking countries – hopefully expanding to other countries soon – that gives nonprofits benefits unavailable to others. The biggest benefit is the ability to include clickable links inside videos. So a graphic donate button inside the video would actually link to the donation page. Very important!
  • If you are in the nonprofit program, you can make your YouTube page look more like your website, including clickable links inside the banner, as you can see in this example.
  • A bottom line is that the web and television are merging, and so you need to see your site as a channel that needs to be programmed.
  • We are seeing this change in the style of web design, which often includes large visual spaces.
  • Another example of web design, making websites increasingly look like content channel.
  • Each week someone calls See3 asking for a “viral video.” But what is this all about? Are YouTube views your organizational goal? Viral means moving your message by word of mouth – without paying. What you want is to get your message to get passed, person to person, but to your target audiences. The screenshot in this slide is of a viral success from See3 – a video that has few overall views, but reached the 19 members of the state legislative committee that we were trying to influence. So it was a viral success – passed on to the right audience for the right impact.
  • What makes videos get passed along? We focus a lot on the creative – cute kittens anyone? – but planning is key as well, seeding the video to bloggers and social media influencers. But also critical is the “cultural moment.” Imagine, for example, if an organization that works on international mine safety had a video describing the need to protect miners. Imagine what could have happened to that video while the world was watching the Chilean mine rescue? The time has to be ripe. What are your targets thinking about? How do you make your video compelling in the current environment.
  • Don’t think your video strategy is separate from all the work your organization is doing. Integrate it. Mine your current media assets, your most charismatic people, your events and plans, and make sure all the efforts are focused on your organizational goals and messages.
  • Too many organizations only tell their story, and not the wider story. Google Marshall Ganz and read what he says.
  • We focus a lot on short videos designed to reach people who have never heard of us. But there are many more ways to use video.
  • Watch this video and see how Michael’s name is inserted into the video.
  • Accompanied by his eleven best friends, Darius Weems, a fifteen-year-old living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), leaves home for the first time in his life. The rowdy crew sets a course for California where they hope to convince MTV to customize Darius's wheelchair on the hit show, Pimp My Ride. Watch this clip here: - In the end, good content will attract people. Tell your stories!
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