Video Rules: Tips for Creating “Distributed” Content that Gets Attention

It’s no great surprise that life online is increasingly a quest for instant gratification when it comes to up-to-the-minute entertainment and information. And, according to Bridget Colling, director of content strategy for nonprofit strategist See3, today it’s all about “reaching people where they are, instead of expecting them to come to you.” As Colling notes, getting attention online is less about driving donors and supporters to your website than it is about having them take actions—signing up for a newsletter, volunteering etc.—directly from a social media site. And the best way to do that is through “distributed content”—especially video content—that is uploaded and available on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and all the rest.

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So how do you leverage social media site mania when it comes to dispersing the stellar videos your non-profit has worked so hard to compile, edit and tweak? It seems that it’s all about being smart about your efforts and being tactical about producing content that is responsive to the platform it will appear on. Here are three must-have rules that Colling swears by:

  • Facebook’s autoplay videos have gone a long way towards increasing the visibility of organizations and making the social media giant a lot more fun to peruse. But be sure to use “burned-in” captions to your video when posting to the site, as Colling notes that many of us don’t have our device’s volume turned up while scrolling through the news feed. By having captions, the aim of the video can still be understood by the viewer whether they enable the captions feature or not.
  • Go vertical when designing videos for Snapchat. “Video that’s intended to be viewed in landscape mode on your mobile device feels like a no-brainer … when your phone is oriented horizontally, there’s more room to watch the video on your screen, which leads to a better overall viewing experience,” says Colling. But with Snapchat, users are accustomed to holding their devices vertically, and most won’t turn said devices to view content in a different direction. So she recommends creating video content designed to be viewed vertically on mobile phones and other devices.
  • When crafting video content for YouTube, Colling suggests you keep it “real” and “authentic” and avoid being overly-promotional. “Fans love YouTubers because they portray themselves as honest and approachable in their videos,” she writes, “and most make a real effort to make their YouTube Channels feel like supportive communities.” And of course, fostering the idea of community is the best way to get people intimately involved in your cause or charity. So be direct and create videos that speak to your audience matter-of-factly and in the most personal way possible.

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