how to:How to Create and Harness Online Videos for Social Change
Online video can be a great tool to engage existing supporters, to attract new ones, and to drive action on your site. This is especially true as it become easier and easier to shoot a short video and upload it to the web.
When shooting and uploading a video to the web, try to immediately spotlight the most gripping aspect of whatever it is that you are shooting. People have short attention spans, and if you want to get their attention you should skip to the point as soon as you can.
Schedule your time. When do you want to publish this video? Is there an anniversary of an event or some other marker that you want to peg it to? Start with the delivery date for the finished video, and then decide on a production schedule that will allow you to hit your goal.
Define your goal. If you are capturing an event, then the goal should be clear: you are telling the world about a human rights abuse, a protest, or some other noteworthy story. If that's not the case, then make sure to articulate why you are making a video in the first place and how you will know if it is successful?
Choose and set up your equipment. There’s a good chance that a Flip camera is all you need: Flip cams are as small as cell phones and are cheap compared to other cameras. If you do use a more expensive camera and you pla n on attaching a microphone to it, make sure it has a 3.5-mm plug at the end of the cable so that it can plug into the mic-in of your computer.
Make sure your sound quality is as good as possible. Put the microphone in place close to your subject or hold it in your hand so that when you ask questions you can turn it toward yourself to ensure that it records what you say clearly. When you are finished talking, make sure to point the mic back at the interview subject. Avoid bumping the mic or rubbing it on anything, as this noise will be picked up and recorded.
No sound from the microphone? Check: Is the mic’s on-off switch on? Is its battery dead? Is a “microphone audio input” selection on your video camera?
Decide if you will shoot in High Definition or not. While it may be cheaper to avoid it, more and more people are using HD, so choosing to avoid it may make your footage less useful for the future. With cameras like Flip HD it’s easier than ever to use HD, and YouTube now hosts original source content all the way up to 4k resolution, so almost anyone can easily post 720p/HD videos to the site.
Check your sound. Preview the loudest section of the source audio before you begin recording. Before continuing, play back a test recording to make sure that you’re getting clear, easy-to-understand sound.
When you’re recording the footage, get to the point right away rather than having a long introduction. Ensure that you are explicitly calling for an action within your video: How will your video encourage a viewer to get involved with your cause?
For a free, easy to use, open-source option for easy video editing, try Audacity.
The process of editing requires that you first know your source file—the file you will edit. Play the file once before making any cuts. Listen closely and decide ahead of time where each cut needs to be made. Before you make a cut, double check what you will be left with after you edit.
Whichever program you work with, you’ll need to make sure that you export your file in a widely recognized format, like MOV, MPEG4, WMV, FLV, or AVI.
Don’t skimp on size when uploading: most videos should be embedded at a minimum of 400 pixels wide. Make sure your video is compressed at a high bitrate (at least 750kpbs in most cases) and that its dimensions are sized appropriately (a ratio of 3:2 for standard-definition content; a ratio of 16:9 for widescreen or high-definition content). If you use a Flip camera then you don’t have to worry about this.
Archive the project so you don’t lose it. New tapeless formats are good in that you don't have to buy tapes and it's faster to ingest footage than digitize it. But then you don't have any tapes to go back to when your hard drive dies, so it's extra important to have everything backed up. Twice. And upload your content onto more than one video site: try YouTube + Vimeo.
YouTube allows you to download MP4s of your own videos in case this happens.
Use tags on YouTube related to the content of the video and your group. This will increase the likelihood that someone searching related keywords will find your video. The same goes for giving your video a title that is catchy and will attract viewers.
When shooting interviews, put some thought into your backdrop. A basic white and black background may be easier to work with in case you need to change locations or cameras or shoot new footage later on. A greenscreen allows you to create your own background, but it's more difficult to light and takes more time in post-production to pull the keys.
Do you have any B-roll or relevant stock footage to place between shots of your subject speaking?
You can upload straight to YouTube from your mobile phone. This is a great way to share the scene on the ground at a demonstration, rally, or event. You should already have an active YouTube account. Go to “My Account” and then “Mobile Setup.” This page should display the correct e-mail for sending videos to so that they automatically appear on the web. Save this e-mail in at least two different places, including your mobile phone.
Promotion: Most of the time, a video will “go viral” based on its quality more than distribution strategy. But there are certain things you can do to help make your video stand out.
- Promote your video across all of the social media tools you use. Include a link to the video in an announcement to your e-mail list, upload the video to your Facebook and MySpace pages, and link to the video on Twitter. Check out our guide to cross posting [link goes here].
- Reach out to your supporters and ask them to help publicize the video. Your reach will multiply if your supporters post the video to their own Facebook pages so their friends can see it. If you know any prominent bloggers who are interested in your group’s issue area, send them an e-mail describing the video and see if they would be interested in sharing it on their blog. Consider using your e-mail list for this [link to e-mail organizing guide goes here].
- Tag your video on YouTube with related keywords. As mentioned above, this will increase the likelihood that someone searching YouTube will come across your video if they are searching related keywords.
- Change your video’s title frequently!
- At the end of your video, include a pop-up that says, “Click here and subscribe to our video channel.” Subscribers will receive notifications each time you upload a new video.
- Track and monitor viewership. YouTube launched YouTube Insight in 2008. Like Google Analytics, it provides information about who is watching your video, where they are coming from, and when they are watching.
YouTube recently launched a Nonprofit Program aimed at organizations that don’t have the funds to launch an expensive online campaign. As of now, the program is only available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.