As video content booms on social media, now’s the time to step back to observe that not all video is created equal. Well-crafted video storytelling can capture your organization’s purpose and create a loyal community of supporters who care about what you do.
Video has exploded on social media in the past year, putting video at the top of the agenda for many social change organizations. Facebook users posted 75 percent more video on the platform in 2015 than the year before, and they are now watching 8 billion videos a day. The video-messaging app Snapchat has seen even more growth, watching its daily video views climb from 2 billion last June to 10 billion as of this April. Instagram has responded to this rapid trend by increasing the limit on video from 15 seconds to one minute. Given this video frenzy, some predict video will make up 74 percent of all internet traffic by next year.
In this video-rich environment, it is more important than ever to assess your video strategy and choose your content wisely. Video that tells your story by portraying the issues that keep you going and empowering the voices of people you serve can be a key option for social change organizations. Video storytelling speaks to the heart as well as the mind, and it can grow and strengthen your online community by uniting supporters around a common purpose.
Here are three ways that powerful video storytelling can strengthen your online community:
1. Visualize Your Impact
Social change organizations across the spectrum of nonprofits to purpose-driven brands can tell the story of how their work has accomplished good in the community they serve. And these stories are not just reserved for organization milestones. Don’t hesitate to tell the story of the benefits you realize every day through your organization’s programs, services or products.
The Boys & Girls Club of South Boston recently employed a series of three short videos that captured the impact of the club across its 75 years in a successful campaign to renovate the center. The videos tell the story of how the club had changed the lives of alumni and describe a day in the life of a club kid now, and these stories helped to raise more than $11 million. The ‘everyday’ video relies on striking visuals and descriptive text overlay to tell the story of the participants’ experience in under a minute. Given that 85 percent of video on Facebook is watched without sound, it would be wise to similarly consider video content that tells your story without words.
2. Narrate How You Are Working With Communities to Move Forward
Many social change organizations work in communities in which the points of success are not always clear—communities that are tackling major challenges and struggling to rebuild. The restorative narrative genre of storytelling has emerged to describe these experiences and unite communities around the fight for resilience. These stories can illustrate how your organization is building community strengths despite obstacles.
The media organization Ivoh looks at restorative narrative closely as a way to create connections around hard truths and efforts toward progress. It importantly underlines that these stories should focus on raising up community strengths rather than sensationalizing need. Ivoh highlights the Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times video about Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman, telling his story of determination to move forward.
3. Empower Your Community to Tell Their Stories
Empower the people you serve to tell their stories in order to put value to community member’s voices and illustrate your organization’s purpose for good. You can work with community members to build their digital skills, guide them through the video-making process and provide the online venue to curate their finished stories.
South Side Stories, for instance, empowers African American youth living in chronically underserved areas of Chicago to tell their stories through video. Youth participants go through digital storytelling workshops to guide the process, and the final products serve a double purpose to empower youth and inform the programs the organization and its educators provide to youth. Check out the stories and the organization’s YouTube channel to get a sense for the spectrum of voices that might be untapped in your community.
For more on how to start telling your stories through video in order to strengthen your community and work, the Story Center’s public workshops serve as great resources to help purpose-driven organizations enter the world of digital storytelling.
Have you told your social change organization’s story through video? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below.