September 27, 2011

Techniques to add dazzle to your advocacy video

Matanya’s Hope tells stories of Kenyan schoolchildren through photos & video

Lauren MajorMultimedia storytelling can be an incredibly powerful tool for your organization to attract funders, motivate volunteers and demonstrate the power of your message.

Our friends at Matanya’s Hope asked us to create a visual story for their nonprofit by seamlessly blending photos and video footage that they have captured over the past several years with original interviews, music and graphics we developed.

Founded in 2005 by Illinois native Michelle Stark, Matanya’s Hope is a nonprofit dedicated to educating children in Kenya. Last summer I accompanied Michelle to Matanya Primary School and saw the destitution these children and their families face: severe poverty, hunger, lack of clothing. And I realized why Michelle is dedicating her life to this cause.

For nonprofits and other organizations looking to capture their stories through powerful imagery, here are some simple tips for creating professional-looking video:

  • Use “b-roll” (stills & video)
  • Incorporate stock music
  • Use narration or background sounds
How to incorporate b-roll

By using B-roll – still photographs and short video clips referencing what the interviewees are talking about – you can make the video much more interesting than by solely using “talking heads” (straight interviews of people talking without any additional footage). As we are hearing Michelle talking about the children with “no shoes and torn and tattered clothing,” the still photographs visually reinforce what the interviewee is saying. B-roll also allows us to edit the interviews without a noticeable cut (“jump-cut”) in the action or picture on screen.

Use background music to add texture

Background music was also selected to set the mood of the video. Royalty-free music can be purchased online from a number of stock music websites for a modest charge. One of my favorites is Triple Scoop Music. There are also a slew of free sites offering rights-cleared music, generally using Creative Commons — see Socialbrite’s Free Music Directory. Continue reading

June 15, 2011

Challenges to the environmental network

kiwanjaEarlier this month a group of environmental experts, activists and scientists gathered in Aspen, Colorado, for the 2011 Aspen Environment Forum. Solving – and communicating – the challenges facing the planet was top of the agenda, and I was invited to sit on a panel that focused on the use of social media.

There was increasing interest in social media given events this year in the Middle East. According to the forum website, “Recent social movements in North Africa and the Middle East have shown the power of social media and mobile devices to accelerate change at the grassroots level. What lessons does that experience hold for the environmental movement? Can Facebook and Twitter somehow catalyze an environmental revolution as well – and is it happening already?”

You can watch the one-hour discussion above. The panel was made up of:

Ken Banks, Founder of kiwanja.net/FrontlineSMS and a partner in Socialbrite

William Powers, prize-winning writer and author of the New York Times best-seller “Hamlets BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age”

Courtney Hight, Co-Director of Energy Action Coalition and Power Shift

Charles Porch, who heads up Facebook’s efforts to help non-profits use the platform

Ned Breslin, CEO of Water for the People

The 2011 Aspen Environment Forum is presented by the Aspen Institute in partnership with National Geographic and provides a critical framework for committed voices to address a significant milestone: a global population of 7 billion and how to reconcile Earth’s finite resources with its ability to sustain our expanding human needs. I hope you’ll pitch in your thoughts.

February 16, 2010

How to get supporters to retweet content

happy child shouting or singing with joy

John HaydonOne of the central benefits of social media is the ability to share content with just one or two mouse clicks. Your supporters are already sharing interesting content on Facebook. They’re retweeting it. They’re favoriting videos on YouTube as well.

All with one mouse click.

But even though sharing has gotten easier, actually getting people to share can feel like pulling teeth. And when when you see other non-profits getting thousands of views on YouTube with what seems like no effort, it’s downright frustrating.

So how do you get people to share your content?

5 tips on sharing

1. Accept that social media is not email

Having an email list of 80,000 people is a far cry from having an active, thriving community of fans. The same goes for the 5,000 fans you have on Facebook, especially if they fanned your Page only for a chance at winning a free iPod (yawn). It’s all about vitality. So stop thinking so much about accumulating numbers. Instead, start thinking about nurturing the 1% who are already raving fans. Continue reading

July 13, 2009

Building for mobile at the margins

kiwanjaFortunately for us, many of the day-to-day technologies that drive large chunks of our online lives quietly tick away in the background, only reminding us of our total dependence on them when something breaks or goes wrong. We take the complex ecosystem which drives much of this for granted.

A couple of months ago, I was invited to speak at a conference at Georgia Tech and give my perspective on building social mobile tools that work in the opposite, resource-challenged environments, a reality for the majority of people in the world today. My 10-minute talk is available above, courtesy of Georgia Tech, along with a PDF of the slides.

The motivation behind the Computing at the Margins Symposium grew out of a research agenda at the university aimed at “understanding the technology needs of under-served communities, both domestically and abroad, and driving the creation of innovative technology to serve and empower these communities.”

Figuring out how we build useful, appropriate mobile tools for grassroots NGOs is crucial if we’re not to create a digital divide within the digital divide. Additional posts and video on my thinking behind this “Social Mobile Long Tail” are available here.

June 29, 2009

NPtech + causes + open source + social media

JD LasicaAs part of our silo-busting effort at Socialbrite, we’ll be showcasing cool technologies that haven’t received enough attention in the nonprofit and social change worlds. So here’s a one-minute video, announcing the launch of Socialbrite, that I created last night on Animoto:

Introducing Socialbrite.org. Nonprofit tech + Causes + Open source + Social media.

We’re using it at the top of our Media Center.

Check out Animoto: They’re doing amazing things with a very small staff. You can try out a few remixes for free, and choose from music and images on their site; after that, it’s 3 bucks a video or $30 a year.

Continue reading