Turning Heads and Changing Minds: Two Strategic YouTube Campaigns from Nonprofits

by Carol Buckheit on August 23, 2011

I’m stumped.

As I hopscotch around  Connecticut training nonprofit organizations in social media strategies, I’m amazed that so few have delved into my favorite social media tool: YouTube. Granted, nearly all my clients are small to medium organizations with tiny staffs, but, hey, YouTube is the number two search engine in the world, free, and amazingly effective in creating messages with an emotional punch. And who doesn’t need a little spice in their public education efforts to rise above the media noise?

I’m convinced that no matter what one’s budget, any organization can use video to advance their cause. Here are two:

The Human Right’s Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, produced a series of videos–New Yorkers for Marriage Equality–in the throes of the contentious months of legislative wrangling at the New York State Capitol leading to passage of historic legislation this year allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The videos were part of a multi-pronged public education campaign by HRC, and were notable for one key element: the video messengers were “unlikely suspects” –they appealed to key constituencies that advocates were desperate to swing to the “support” column.

I’ll bet these folks wouldn’t have topped your list of marriage equality cheerleaders , but there they were on camera speaking out for same-sex couples:   New York Giants Defensive End Michael Strahan,  Barbara Bush (the younger), Sean Avery of the New York Rangers hockey team, World War II Veteran Edward Hinz, and many more.

Surprised? And the media took notice, giving the message even more legs.

And they won.

Example # 2:  The National Association of Social Workers (Connecticut chapter) is a tiny professional organization that does super advocacy work in the state,  with a tiny budget. (Have I mentioned tiny yet?)

A high priority for them is to debunk the myths about social workers’ roles in society, and raise awareness on the breadth of life-altering services and support that social workers provide to individuals across the human spectrum. I worked with them on a video campaign that featured social workers talking about their own profession–what inspires them, their successes, and why they chose this career path.

A press release heralded the launch of the campaign, as well as email  blasts to their membership and allies and twice-weekly Facebook posts with the featured videos (36 of them). Here’s one:

Effective? I think so. Views on their YouTube channel have topped 5,000, and several social workers were featured in news stories and/or employee newsletters as a result of this campaign. The video stories were a source of pride for the social workers, who used their own social media networks to highlight the campaign. The videos are now even being used to educate young people considering social work as a profession.


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