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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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Top 20 International Development Videos

I blogged about my Top 10 International Development videos a few months back. At the time I wondered whether to do my Top 20 or Top 10. There are too many videos not to give you the full list……

1. WaterAid – 1 in 3 women

This chilling video is so effective and talks directly to a western audience. Many people have no idea that millions and millions of people do not have access to sanitary facilities. This video makes that point very clearly. I’m surprised it has only around 5,000 views.

2. Invisible Children – Kony 2012

I’m not a huge fan of this video, but no one can doubt it’s phenomenal success as a “vital video”. It’s been debated to death so I won’t comment here – see my earlier blog if you are interested in a critique. If for some reason you haven’t watched it – please be patient and watch all 29 minutes. Apart from the oversimplification of the storytelling, my other big criticism is that they have turned off the comments.

3. Mismanagers Folliers – Development Boy

Very professionally executed and so catchy. A great parody. I haven’t been able to get the song out of my head for the last 2 weeks, which is why it gets such a high position in my “chart”.

4. Oxfam – Pregnant women dancing in London

A staged flashmob to highlight the dangers of pregnancy and birth around the world. I also love breakdancing. Not personally, just as a spectator. Are they pregnant or aren’t they?

5. SAIH Norway – Africa for Norway

A simple but clever idea with brilliant production values. Not only has this video had over 2million views it also received international media coverage within a couple of days of its release. Read more about the seeding of the video in one of my past blogs.

 6. Greenpeace – Barbie, It’s Over


I must have watched this video 20 times and it still makes me laugh. Brilliant scripting and production. Most importantly it succeeded in its goal. Love it!

7. Price Tag Lip Dub by 500 Ugandan Women.

This is superb! Really made me smile. It’s fun, well produced, well rehearsed, educational and has a simple message. “We Africans Want the Same Things You Want. Survival is Not Enough.” Excellent!

8. Rainforest Alliance – Follow the Frog

I really can’t say why I like this video so much, it just makes me smile. I’m not sure if it will increase ethical purchasing much though.

9. Mama Hope – African Men. Hollywood Stereotypes

Another interesting video in a similar vain to Africa for Norway. It seems that there is a new paradigm of development communication emerging.

10. Comic Relief – Ricky Gervais

A great sketch for Comic Relief with a few surprisingly funny cameos. See my blog on the Huffington Post about irony in development communications.

11.International Aid Worker Meets African Villager

A tongue in cheek look at development workers in ‘Africa’. Note the negative comments in the YouTube comments.

12. Greenpeace – KitKat

Don’t watch this if you are squeamish! Very effective video, which resulted in Nestle re-sourcing its palm oil.

13. Mama Hope – Call Me Hope

Clever with great sound track from Simon and Garfunkel. I love the split screen.

14. Save the Children – I Know You Care

http://youtu.be/tI1GR78A6yg

Chilling imagery and powerful use of celebrity endorsement with Ellie Goulding.

15. Water Aid – Pump Up the Volume

Silly. But it’s my era and I love dancing and ghetto blasters.

16. School of International Development, UEA – What is International Development?

I had to include this film somewhere as I helped produce it for the School of International Development. I hope you like it.

17. First World Problems Anthem

I don’t love this video, but you can’t deny its success.

18. British Red Cross – I am a Crisis

Dark and effective.

19. Action Against Hunger – The Share Experiment

I have young children. This gives me goosebumbs. If only life was this simple.

20. Thai Health Promotion Board – Smoking Kid

Says it all.

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UNICEF, Social Media and Tom Hiddleston

I recently met with Laila Takeh who is Head of Digital Engagement at UNICEF in the UK. UNICEF is a  ‘digital first’ organisation and topped the 2012 Social Charity 100 Rankings. I have been extremely impressed in the way UNICEF has adopted digital media as a tool for advocacy, fundraising and information dissemination so was pleased that Laila agreed to a meeting.

Laila and I had a long discussion about UNICEF’s use of social media. We talked about compassion fatigue and indeed social media fatigue, and ways of iterative re-packaging strategies to overcome this. We also discussed the much debated anti ‘slacktivism’ campaign by UNICEF Sweden ‘Likes don’t save lives’, but one of the first things I wanted to know about was UNICEF’s use of celebrity, which is an area that fascinates me. UNICEF have a large number of celebrity ambassadors or “high profile supporters” including Ewan McGregor, David Beckham, Eddie Izzard, Emma Bunton, Cat Deeley, Robbie Williams and many more. They have a long history of working with celebrities, in fact their first celebrity supporter was Danny Kaye in 1954.

Just before our meeting I had been looking at UNICEF’s YouTube channel to see what videos were most popular. 12 out of the 15 most popular videos are celebrity videos. The 6th most popular video was from someone called Tom Hiddleston, who I’d never heard of even though his filmography is very impressive. If you are interested in social media and celebrity, which I am, then Tom Hiddleston is a great case study. Tom is very active on twitter and has 573,633 followers. I just had a look at Tom’s twitter feed and 5 out of his last 7 tweets mention UNICEF. Those 5 tweets have had a total of 919 retweets. Just think of the reach of those 5 messages.

tom-hiddleston-twitter

One of his tweets about the #IF campaign was retweeted 417 times and favourited 486 times. Tom’s fans are digitally engaged and on cause. According to Laila, just one of his #IF tweets generated several thousand pounds on their fundraising platform. Tom’s fans (Hiddlestoners) also raised over £30k as part of a Hiddlestoners Have Heart campaign, they even set up their own twitter account for the campaign.

Tom visited New Guinea for 5 days to write a series of blogs. It was UNICEF UK’s first ever ‘digital trip’. He traveled with two members of staff from the UK office, plus his photographer and met up with one member of staff from the country office. The digital team back in the UK regularly updated Tom on daily activity and feedback from the various social media sites. They also asked followers what they would like to see Tom do whilst he is in New Guinea.

Tom’s post are beautifully written, with emotion and great detail. They help to build a picture of the work that UNICEF carry out in New Guinea. They discuss development problems such as water, nutrition, sanitation, vaccination and education, but they also tackle more sensitive issues such as female genital mutilation. I was particularly interested in Tom’s blog on Day 3 where he discusses participatory communication after visiting a rural community radio station and meeting a ‘traditional communicator’.

Kapoor (2013) believes that celebrity humanitarianism is an ideological phenomenon which often tackles the symptoms rather than the causes. He suggests that celebrities bring their ‘star power’ to raise public awareness about development issues, but there is often a tendency to individualise and isolate problems and that broader issues of politics and cultural imperialism are often glossed over.

It is probably fair to say that Tom’s blog posts do deal with the symptoms rather than the causes, but he does touch on politics and history within education. He also talks about development projects needing to be self-educating and self-sustaining. His posts are interesting and engaging with many comments from readers. I think that the  ”Tom Hiddleston’s Guinea Field Diary’ was a roaring success and I’m sure there will be many digital trips to follow.

UNICEF have a long history of working with celebrity ambassadors. Unlike some other development/humanitarian organisations they have quickly adopted digital media strategies and learned how to engage with their supporters and their ambassadors’ supporters though social media.

Reference
Kapoor, I (2013) Celebrity Humanitarianism – The ideology of global charity

 

 

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