YouTube is one of the largest media platforms in the world and offers many opportunities to nonprofits. But to get traction on YouTube, the platform needs to be treated differently than any other channel. With some intentionality, you can go from using YouTube as a video content library to an active and organic pathway to find and engage new people interested in your cause.
- Unique Content. What usually does not get attention on YouTube is television content, even if it is cut down or remixed. You need to create content that is made for the channel if you want to thrive. It is not just about being short, it has to be made for the YouTube audience.
- Define Your Channel. Your viewers should know what they can expect and why they should come back for more. Establish a clear theme, niche, or direction for the channel. Treat it as a unique expression of your organization. They go to Facebook for one thing, TV for another, Instagram for something else, and then YouTube for a specific reason.
- Fast Paced. Every video does not need to be an action adventure, but the pacing of shots, cuts, visuals, and segments needs to be faster than on television. Most videos are being consumed by users on a mobile phone surrounded by distractions with a list of other video options that YouTube thinks are more engaging than yours right under your video. If your pacing is too slow, they will opt for something else, and fast.
- Obvious Benefit. Viewers must see an obvious reason to keep watching your video, or else most will abandon it within seconds. There has to be something very interesting, engaging, shocking, informative, or life changing that they need to hold on for until the end. And they must clearly know that is in there, without watching the whole thing.
- Video Marketing. It is not enough to make a great video. You have to market that video to be appealing to the YouTube world. This includes very thoughtful and engaging thumbnail images, a title, descriptions, and tags. It is not uncommon to spend more time on the thumbnail than shooting the actual video.
- Build Community. While it does not initially appear to be, YouTube is a social network. Building community around a channel enables you to leverage the platform far beyond the impact of any one video. You need to talk to this audience, address their input, and build a loyal viewer base over time with consistent publishing.
- Be You. Authenticity rules the day, and it is the only thing that will motivate you to stick with this medium. Users want the real you, they want to feel connected to the real you. Find an angle and niche that works for your organization on YouTube, but make sure it is still a true expression of your heart.
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