In this video, representatives of Thrive DC tell how they’re using Google for Nonprofits to make an impact in the community.
Post by Jennifer Marr
Most nonprofits have a long history of relying on traditional media when they want to get the word out about a new initiative. While television, print publications and mailers remain a big part of the marketing game plan, nonprofits are realizing that their social media accounts are becoming increasingly important.
But it’s not all about just Facebook and Twitter.
Do you know what the second largest search engine after Google is? It’s not Bing or Duckduckgo or even Yahoo. It’s Google-owned YouTube. Nonprofits need to be on YouTube to reach your target audiences and move them to take action. In this article, you’ll find out how to get ahead of the pack.
Google and YouTube partner programs
As a nonprofit, you’re in some luck when it comes to creating a YouTube channel. Alphabet, the parent company to both YouTube and Google, offers special nonprofit programs to help you achieve your goals.
These programs include Google for Nonprofits and the YouTube Nonprofit Program. They’ll help guide you through the process with the goal of building a long-term, stable subscriber base. Be warned, though, some of these programs are available based on region, so if you’re outside the U.S. they might not be available.
On channel and on video optimization
When putting together videos and your channel, you need to remember some basic optimization techniques. These are pretty simple, so let’s run down a quick list:
- Have titles that people will search for; especially questions
- Use appropriate tags and add a lot of tags
- Mention the main question or questions and keywords as part of your video — the algorithm can convert audio to text
- Have a simple-to-understand and appropriate thumbnail image
- Write a good, detailed description, including these terms
charity: water, part of the YouTube for Nonprofits program, created this video as part of its campaign around World Water Day in 2018.
Quick tips to getting more subscribers
The golden rules for building a following on YouTube are time, quality and most importantly consistency. Gaining subscribers and increasing engagement is not a given, but if you remember these three things plus the tips below, you can be successful. Here are some great tips on how you can gain subscribers:
- Make your videos more personal. You’re a nonprofit, which means you’re part of a movement or cause. This can sometimes seem distant and unemotional to the user. Don’t let it be so. Engage on a personal level with your viewers. Make them feel valued. You’re not posting infomercials or television ads.
- Host it yourself. Rather than using a professional voiceover artist, have someone from within the organization, preferably your executive director, president or marketing chief, hosting the videos themselves. This allows viewers to connect on a personal level with your brand and your cause.
- Capitalize on trends and current events. As a nonprofit, you have to stay on topic and on brand, and you can’t get sidetracked by insignificant trends of the day or celebrity-driven news. But take a look at things like the trending topics on Twitter and stay on top of current events to see where you can hook into a topic that is top of mind for people.
- Get feedback and improve. Creating YouTube videos is an ongoing, evolving process. Engage with your subscribers and commenters (the polite ones) and take constructive criticism to heart. Nobody is perfect out of the gate.
- Post consistently. Grassroots activist Tim Pool, best known for livestreaming the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011, posts three to five videos daily across three channels. As a result, he consistently gets a lot of views and high visibility in YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. Now, you probably don’t have the ability to go that far, but where possible post in a consistent manner, including at least once a week. The ideal would be every other day, or three times a week. Post at the same time as well so people know when to expect your content.
- Consider live-streaming. Live-streaming is becoming increasingly popular, especially among younger people, so if you’re doing a live event that would generate interest by the public, it wouldn’t hurt to announce it on your channels in advance and to set up a YouTube Live account.
- Let your viewers know they can subscribe. The YouTube community is actually divided on this one. Some will tell you to “like, comment and subscribe,” all of which help boost a video and a channel. Others grown on the practice. At the very least, it’s a good idea to have a visual reminder of a call to action at the end of the video or midway through.
Connecting viewers to your site and cause
The above list focuses on things you can do on your YouTube channel and in your videos to get more subscribers. However, you also have to think about your channel as part of a wider effort to increase engagement and participation. Think of it as part of a network. This can be divided into three areas: on channel, on site and in social media.
On channel: Include links to your website and other social media in the description but also do so again in the comments, especially if you have a fundraising campaign you want people to contribute to.
On site: Write quality blogs of more than 600 words, preferably double or triple that (yes, longer is better). A good post answers a question related to the topic of your video. Then embed the video into the blog post. You can easily embed YouTube videos in a blog, just hit the “share” symbol and you’ll find an embed option, copy the code and paste it into the html area (called “Text” in WordPress) of your blog service.
In social media: Focus on the new video immediately upon its release by sharing it across your social media. Some social media platforms, like Instagram, will require you to re-format your videos, but it’s well worth the work to reach a wider audience. Re-share the video over the next few days. If it’s an evergreen topic, then you can re-share regularly in the future.
Share the love to build a wider community
YouTube is much like other parts of social media in that pure self-promotion does not go down well. Creators are part of a community, so be aware of YouTube viewers’ expectations. It’s good to get personal (see above) and to be part of the community and not turn your channel into a beg-athon. Champion other nonprofits, tag them on social media, give shoutouts, comment on their videos as your channel, and build the love.
Do the same with individual creators as well, even those you might disagree with. It builds goodwill and engagement, plus in the future the influencer may be more willing to help you out pro bono.
Now you have some tips on how to use YouTube as a nonprofit. It’s a great resource and should be part of your promotional arsenal and communications strategy.
One last piece of advice: Just get started, get on with it, learn as you go and keep making content. Let us know how you’re doing in the comments below. Good luck!Jennifer Marr, a freelance writer with many years of experience in the marketing sector, is looking to expand her experience with the nonprofit sector and to help them grow.