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« Nonprofit Adoption of Social Media: Results of New Research Study | Main | Creative Commons Licensed Music for Your Videos »


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Mary Dombrowski

Many of our clients would like to achieve the "holy grail" of the viral video. However, the importance of the message and the integrity of the organization often trump the viral goal - which is the proper response in most instances. As is pointed out in the tips given, the qualities that make a video viral (ie, the menthos-diet coke video) are typically incongruent with the message the organization wants to impart. The question we ask is what is your goal and will a viral video help you achieve it. Views don't automatically equate to action. Two examples - one client's video received more views than all their previous videos combined, but very little action. Another client's video received what would be considered a modest number of views (under 50k), but resulted in their best list-building month. Start with the goal and the action you want from the video and you are more likely to receive the results you seek.

Nathan Ketsdever

Fantastic post!
I think Ron Paul's success suggests the use of music in video when possible. The campaign also made significant use of Stumbleupon video to spread the word and to add a viral element. (or for instance the videos that Compassion International has done with I assume the permission from the group Silver Chair from Austrailia have a ton more hits than their other videos. Free Hugs also used music which worked well) Ask a band or find creative commons licensed music.

Adapt to the community. Realize that the digital culture is slightly different that joe six-pack. Of course thats important in any campaign. Adapt your content, tactics, and strategy appropriately.
(This can be partially done by number 7 above "Target the “Most Viewed” Lists)

Make it a movement. I think the folks who frontpage videos at YouTube have a bias toward e-democracy. Dennis Fleetwood, who is doing YouTube work for the Kucinich campaign created this video ( along with the Free Hugs campaign certainly epidomize a movements based rhetoric and approach. (I think the Dove YouTube commercials both had a movement or awareness raising element to them--but in an entertaining way)

Make the re-mix easy. I think Chris Crocker accidently happened upon this. This is what new media is about.

Be funny. Funny seems to spread the best online. Although its not a prerequisite. Authenticity and humanity seems to work well too.

Don't be afraid to include an appropriate call to action to comment or spread the message. A call for speaking, participation, and collaboration.

Try not to be a talking head or appear like a talking head.

Beyond the YouTubes of the world--target the niche video sites of the world. There are at least a half a dozen that deal with non-profit issues and another half a dozen that deal with educational issues.

Beth Kanter

Nathan: These are great points and examples. Do you have a post about viral video that you'd like share?

My favorite cc music site is What's yours?


We were just approved for our non-profit YouTube account and we've had some encouraging early results. Here are some things that we've figured out that might be helpful to others:

- Post consistent content, even if it's short
- We had a fairly active channel prior to gaining non-profit status (30 videos posted and about 500 channel views) this allowed us quick ranking in 'most viewed' in the non-profit section
- The non-profit section is still quite small so it's relatively easy to be found and gain 'most viewed' status
- Responding quickly to comments and deleting spam is a good thing
- We have big "watch us on youtube" buttons on all of our blogs

A question I have:
- Has anyone used the option on the youtube non profit account to add google checkout for donations? If so how well does this work?
- So far our development folks don't want to have too many 'asks' out there, this seems like something that would need a comprehensive strategy


Hi Beth. Have you come across any non-profits testing the interactivity now available through the new YouTube Annotations feature?

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