Guest post by Glenn Vander Laan
Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, educators, activists, general public.
The idea for Crowdshout hit my business partners and me back in November 2011, a few months following the Arab Spring and during the Occupy Wall Street protests. We realized that despite all of the tools and technology out there to support advocacy, something was missing. The advent of social media and the smartphone was helping to change the world right in front of us, but it was clear to us that all of the puzzle pieces were yet to fall into place to fully enable and empower groups of people.
Social media is providing real-time visibility to the social, political and consumer issues that affect us as individuals and as a society. The rapid dissemination of information has changed the game for governments and corporations in both positive and negative ways.
While social media has been embraced as a large part of an overall communication strategy, it can also be used as a powerful weapon by people in reaction to unpopular plans and policies. Institutions must now consider how to react to public opinion — from a Change.org petition, Facebook campaign or a viral video on YouTube. In addition to this, the portability and capability provided by smartphones to access social media have allowed groups of individuals to communicate and organize very quickly and effectively in support of causes. Continue reading →
If you think about your own behavior, you’ll realize that you use social media in at least four different ways:
Connect – Facebook is a friend network. The reason you visit your Facebook news feed is to see what’s happening with your friends. Updates from brands, including nonprofits, are mostly interruptions.
Discover – Twitter is where you discover interesting pictures, videos, and blog posts. You’ll also make new friends who might eventually become Facebook friends. YouTube is where you discover awesome videos, either by searching or browsing categories and trending videos.
Before the digital revolution, videos — like still photographs — were actually shot on film. Editing them involved cutting out individual frames and splicing the filmstrip back together, a tedious and expensive process that resulted in lots of little plastic squares on the cutting room floor. You also had to move through all previous footage to reach the scenes you wanted to edit, more or less requiring you to edit the film in the order in which you shot it.
Today, software makes editing digital footage faster, easier and much more affordable, and puts it within reach of anyone with a personal computer. Even better, digital video editing is “nonlinear,” which means you can access the scenes you want to edit directly. This helps speed up the process, especially for a short, Internet-ready video for which you just need to trim off the ends and add a title screen or two. Continue reading →
When I first started working at WITNESS almost exactly nine years ago, Web video was still in its infancy. YouTube was still a dream and two years from launching and “user-generated content” was three years away from being declared Time magazine’s coveted “Person of the Year” (with the emphasis on the person being “you”).
WITNESS was founded on the belief that powerful personal stories about human rights abuses shared via video could inspire change. We partnered with human rights organizations around the world, provided cameras, trained them in the basics of filming, how to conduct interviews and gather B-roll, and eventually, produce videos. The videos became part of their campaigns and messages directed at decision-makers in government, business, communities and courts to advocate for specific and lasting change, for justice and accountability.
WITNESS provided 25 cameras like these SonyHandycam Hi8 to its first partners in 1993.
I share this background to how we operate in the world because, as any reader of Socialbrite will know, the last few years have brought tremendous and fast-paced change in video technology, how it’s used and who it’s used by. And that last point is perhaps what is changing what we do at WITNESS the most. Continue reading →
How to convey a powerful message with videos & photos
Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, cause organizations, Web publishers, small businesses.
As regular readers know, I’ve been a longtime proponent of visual storytelling to advance the missions of nonprofits, cause organizations and businesses. (Heck, I co-founded Ourmedia.org before there was a YouTube.) People take action on behalf of a cause only when they feel an emotional connection, and yet nonprofits in particular are famously bad at telling their own stories.
What we tell people in our Socialbrite bootcamps and in our consulting work is this: Every nonprofit is now a media organization (the same goes for social enterprises and businesses). Never before have the tools of visual storytelling been so inexpensive, easy to use and accessible to the masses.
So why aren’t you taking advantage of visual storytelling yet? (Or are you? Tell us in the comments!)
There are dozens of ways to convey your story, and we’ve laid out lots of ways to get started — see the links at the bottom of this article.
Today we’d like to highlight a few best-of-breed examples of visual storytelling so that you can think about how to take a similar approach for your organization. At least one of the examples cited below should trigger an insight — an idea that resonates or an approach that you might consider using with your team or with a production partner.
Find people who encapsulate what your core objective is all about — and convey their stories with power, genuineness, passion and humility
Remember, it’s not about the tools or the technology. It’s about finding people who encapsulate what your core objective is all about — and conveying their stories with power, genuineness, passion and humility. Some can be elaborate productions, with narration, titling and musical score all working together. Others can be as simple as holding up a video-capable smartphone to capture a moment.
One you have a visual story, or several, that you can draw upon, you’ll be able to begin using it in your public outreach: on your website or blog, on your Facebook page, in your annual report, in your email newsletters. And don’t forget to enter contests like the DoGooder Awards, TechSoup Storytelling Challenge or CurrentTV’s just-ended The Current Cause, where $15,000 in prizes will be awarded.
Here are seven great examples of nonprofit storytelling:
And here were the 2010 winners. Observe how other organizations are telling their stories — which style did you like: earnest, funny, polished, grassroots?
2/ Digital stories using photos & narration
“Mountaintop Library Expands Horizons,” by Room to Read
digital storiesI’ve been involved in the digital storytelling movement since 2004. A vastly underutilized medium, digital storytelling uses photos, video, film or found materials, combined with voice-over narration, to convey powerful, evocative stories with a rich emotional dimension.
The first place winner, Mountaintop Library Expands Horizons, by Room to Read (embedded above), took advantage of visually stunning photos taken in Nepal and weaved together a simple 60-second story about the San Francisco nonprofit’s global literacy mission. Nicely done — with no video at all. This is something your organization can do on its own, no? Continue reading →