Youtube (and other video sites)

It wasn’t that long ago that you needed expensive equipment and software to have a hope of making an impact online with video.

Today, most of us can make video quickly, easily and cheaply.

Chances are you or someone you know already has a video camera:

  • If you have a digital camera, it probably has a setting that lets it shoot video.
  • Your cell phone may well have a video camera.
  • The computer you’re using may have a webcam that can capture video clips.

And even if you don’t have a video camera, you can still make effective videos, combining photos with text, voice and music to tell your story. (Here’s what the American Federation for the Blind did with just a few images and some text to tell a compelling story about what it’s like for visually impaired people to try logging into a social network.)

A few things about videos that work:

  • Brief is usually better (to a point!). The most viewed videos on YouTube are generally between about 30 seconds and two and a half minutes. Generally, the more complex or substantive your story, the more time you’ll need; the lighter you’re trying to be, the shorter.
  • Think visual. Think of what people will see, not just what they’ll hear. Even with a straight-to-the-camera rant video, you’ll make a big difference with good lighting, an attractive backdrop and plenty of eye contact. If you’re interviewing someone, get in close enough that you won’t have a lot of distractions surrounding the subject.
  • Did we mention the lighting? Good.
  • Think audio. Before you click the red “Record” button, listen to the background noise. Will your subject’s voice be drowned out? Are you close enough to them to record their voice clearly? (Yes, you can boost the sound using your video software… but that can distort the sound and increase noise.) Before you record for real, get a short clip and replay it to make sure it sounds all right. (Headphones can help you get a good idea of what it sounds like.)

How can you make your video count?

Embarrass yourself for a good cause. Set a goal: an amount of money you want to raise, for instance, or a certain number of people attending an awareness-raising event. Then think of something harmlessly embarrassing you can do on video – restaging SpiderMan’s fire-escape kiss with Mary Jane Watson, for example, or having your community members dress as their favourite superheroes.

Now get the word out – on YouTube, through posters, by email, on your Super Community page, via Twitter, on Facebook, and every other channel you can think of – that if you reach your target by a certain deadline, you’ll post the embarrassing video to YouTube. You can even put up a “teaser” video on YouTube – either describing what you’ll do, or even showing an excerpt from the finished product if you’ve prepared it in advance.

Then, once you reach your goal, don’t just quietly post your video and hope nobody notices! Let the world know you’ve done it on the same channels you used earlier… ask them to check it out and, if they enjoy it, to make another contribution or take an awareness-raising action. And be sure to include the URL of your Super Community page in the video description field on YouTube!

(Want some inspiration? Holly Ross raised $10,000 for scholarships to the Non-profit Technology Conference… by promising to remake Beyonce’s “Put a Ring On It” video. And she did.)

Tell your story – straight. Just look straight in the camera and tell us why you support the BC Children’s Hospital – why it’s important to you, why you’re part of a Super Community and how people can help. Then post that video to YouTube… Facebook… and of course, your Super Community page.

Tell your story – differently. There are many ways to tell a story: a dance video, a music cover, a puppet show, animation, a collage of images to music or even a how-to video. A distinctive and original storytelling technique can get a lot of attention.

Get journalistic. Take your handy portable video camera around to your friends, colleagues, family members or classmates, and ask them what BC Children’s Hospital has meant to them. Were they treated there? Did we help a sister or brother, son or daughter, cousin or friend? (Be sure to respect the privacy of the people they talk about – no names unless you have that person’s permission.) Once you view the videos, decide whether they work best on their own or edited together.

Start something. You’ve heard of memes: those concepts that flash from person to person across the Internet. Get your team members to agree to do something fun in a YouTube video, something that you can tempt other people to join in on. (One meme had people take a ball from the left side of the screen and hand it to the right, so when the videos were spliced together, it looked like the same ball was being handed around the world via the web.)

Maybe you’ll have people wearing superhero capes. Or holding a big paper arrow pointing to a part of their body that BC Children’s Hospital helped to heal, and telling the story. (Be sure to build in a pointer to your Super Community page or to BCCHF.ca!)

Whatever it is, send your video to as many friends as you can (and have your community members do the same), and encourage them to join the fun (and to include that pointer). And let us know – we’ll be happy to spread the word.

Now, here’s the disclaimer part: Most attempts at creating memes fall flat on their face; for every Where the Hell is Matt?, there are a thousand folks whose efforts don’t go anywhere. So if you’re going to try it, choose something fun enough that it’s worth doing no matter what the results are!

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