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Charity videos: how to measure ROI

How do you measure the success of your YouTube channel? Should you set objectives for every video you make? The simple answer to the second question is yes. The answer to the first is a bit more complex.

I’ve had a lot of discussion with people working in NGOs, large and small, about how to measure the success or return on investment of their video production. I’m still amazed that people ask me this question without first understanding their own objectives for the video. I often get asked “What makes a successful video?”. This is impossible to answer without knowing what you are seeking to achieve and who the main audiences are?

Firstly, you need to establish the overall objectives for each video and how they sit with the organisations brand values. Whether we like it or not, there is often an internal conflict between departments within NGOs and therefore very different objectives at play. Here are a few generic objectives to consider before making them SMART (specific / measurable / achievable / realistic / timetabled).

– Increase brand awareness
– Promote awareness or educate on a specific issue
– Celebrate success
– Increase traffic to your website
– Increase social media followers
– Engage with stakeholders
– Attract donations
– Attract new volunteers
– Encourage signing a petition
– Promote an event

Depending on your objective(s) you might implement a number of the metrics below

– Number of views
– Number of likes / dislikes
– Comments – positive / negative
– Number of shares compared to views
– Estimated minutes watched
– Average view duration
– Subscribers gained / lost
– Annotation click through rate
– Click throughs on calls to action in the description
– Media coverage

It’s easier said than done, as staff are often working to tight deadlines on tight budgets. But without analysing the success of videos, organisations are potentially frittering away valuable funds which could be better utilised elsewhere. All of the above metrics should be compared against the cost of producing the video and benchmarked against previous videos as well as the videos of similar sized organisations in the same field. One metric I like to use is the cost per view compared to the average cost of a Google pay-per-click campaign. You also need to create shortened URLs to promote your video consistently through your other social media channels and measure these via a product such as Hootesuite.

Once you have this analysis you can also start to classify which category of storytelling works best for your organisation: informational, humorous, promotional, celebrity content, advocacy, arty, infographic etc. The method of storytelling will obviously depend on the content of the video. Although this process is relatively simple to implement, it is also incredibly time consuming. Other media such as direct response TV advertising (DRTV) and press releases are much easier to measure. Without evidence that your video and other social media channels are making a positive impact, these functions will always play second fiddle to fundraising and PR. This is disappointing as YouTube channels if managed strategically can be a powerful antidote to the often negative images portrayed by many DRTV campaigns.

Charity:Water have repeatedly been applauded for their video campaigns. Their content strategy is to inspire and present images of hope and positivity over sadness and guilt. Their strategy works! Read more about their metrics for success on YouTube’s official blog.

 

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