Use Video to Make Social Change

Today it is more important than ever for social change organizations share content that moves beyond the headlines.

With people being so distracted, how can you get your message out there and share information that goes more than skin deep?  Will your efforts reach your audience?  What if you want to reach an audience that seemingly disagrees with you?

Bringing about a shared understanding of the problems facing our world seems like an insurmountable task.  The rift in the world seems to be growing.

But change is possible. 

We’ve seen it happen over and over, from the environmental movement in the 1970s that brought about the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to the global movements that brought down the Berlin Wall and ended Apartheid.

What is common among those movements - a belief that change is possible.  That belief spurred people to ban together, to protest on the streets and with their everyday actions, to call their governments, and spread their stories.

Every movement starts with an idea.

But in order to make a movement happen, ideas need to be shared.  Right now, video is one of the best ways to share your big, seemingly impossible ideas.

Here are three reasons why video is effective:

  1. It creates a personal connection between the audience and your cause.  Though the use of images and stories you can bring your ideas to life in a way that numbers and statistics can’t.
  2. You can quickly share complicated messages in a way that inspires change.  In addition to bringing facts and statistics to life, video lets you show people they are not alone.
  3. You can increase your reach significantly, bringing your message to new audiences, whether they be a small group of influential policy makers or large diverse members of the general public.

If you belong to an organization trying to make change in the world, I’m sure you’ve seen how video can help your cause.

But maybe you are not quite sure how it can work for your organization.  

Or you have tried video, and been disappointed by the results.

Steps to sharing your ideas:

Before starting on your next (or first) video campaign, take time to acknowledge the challenges.  These are the areas that organizations often overlook when planning their video strategy.

1. Creating a message for impact.

Video makes the biggest impact when there is only one message or one core idea that you communicate. 

For social change organizations, this can be difficult.  These organizations want to explain all of their findings, to justify their position, to argue with their detractors, to provide ample proof that they are right.

Bold messages create impact.

While you want to be accurate and aware of the opposing points of view, to have a strong video you need to be bold and firm about where you stand.  But rather than make demands, you can be firm and deliver your message through story, rather than through demands.

Statistics and research findings are not the story.  They can help tell the story but the story needs to be about your vision for a better world.  A vision brings hope to an audience and hope can lead to action.

So as a leader, your question shouldn’t be what information to distribute but rather, what vision do you want to share?

2. Connecting with your audience through story.

Once you have your vision, you are set to develop your story.

It is the story that helps your audience to understand and share your vision. Through story you can bridge gaps in knowledge.  You can illustrate a situation that needs to be changed and share a vision for something different.  Stories help make the impossible seem possible and the unimaginable become imagined. 

You build these stories through use of testimonials, illustrations, and personal narratives.  Each video takes your audience on a journey of understanding.  Your story provides a bridge from what your audience understands today, to what you want them to understand when they finish watching your video.

Bring your audience on a journey of understanding.

Case Study:

For people to understand your vision they need to understand the problem.  In the case of the #CutMethane campaign, much of the video actually did focus on the problem.  We told the story of residents who live close to oil and gas developments who were experiencing problems.  We put these individual stories in context by sharing statistics of the amount of oil and gas development in the area and the number of people being impacted.  The vision statement only came at the end of the video once people were made aware of the extent of the problem which has been mostly invisible to the general public.

To plan out your video, do you know where your audience is today and where you want to take them?

3. Getting your video in front of your audience.

Although you have more ways to share video than ever before, there is more chance that your video will get lost, buried or simply ignored.   The challenge of getting people to watch your video includes both helping them find your video as well as getting them to click and watch once they do find it.

For your video to get seen, you need to consider both your initial point of connection, your thumbnail and text that accompanies the video, and distribution, the ways in which you get your video out to your audience and beyond.

Dedicate resources to getting your video seen.

This part of the video campaign process is often forgotten.  Resources, both staff and budget, go into video creation but the distribution tends to be an afterthought.

Yet this is where your hard work pays off.  The more people you reach, the more views you have, the more chance your video has to make the impact you desire. 

Your outreach needs to be coordinated and include more than just a link in your newsletter, embed on your website and mention in social media.  

Your outreach strategy doesn't need to be complicated.

Several of my Tips for Urban Biking video went viral because of one influential blogger who shared my video.  Today, almost a half million people have seen my videos and it has been shared in classrooms and film screenings.

There are numerous ways to increase your reach.  Each video will use different strategies, depending on the content and objective.  What is important from an organizational perspective is to dedicate time, either at the beginning of the process or once the video is created, to launch the video with strategies in place to help maximize your reach to your target audience.

4. Leverage your video across platforms.

If you plan your strategy ahead of time, thinking through the various ways your audience gets their information, you may decide to create multiple versions of your video for different purposes.  Some of your audience will only find your content through your emails while others follow you on social media.  Each platform has a different way of consuming content and that includes video content.  On some platforms, like blogs and news outlets, a longer more in-depth story will get more traction while for others, like Facebook, you might want to create a shorter 60-90 second piece.  For a platform like Twitter you might want to create a teaser and link out to your full video on a different platform.

A well-designed campaign to share your video will maximize the number of people who will see it and help build momentum for your cause.

Free Video Starter Kit:

Change is Possible - Creating video for social change

In this free Video Starter Kit, I outline the keys for creating and launching a successful video campaign that will help you get your message out to more people and get them to take action.  I’ll give you concrete steps to identify your message, develop your story, and launch your video.

I also provide ways to hone your message for video and develop strategies to reach your audience.  This training is not about finding the best technology or video creation tips.  I focus on helping you tell the stories that can contribute to the change you want to see in the world.

The strategies in these trainings will help you save time, money and heart-ache when you embark on your next video campaign:

1.     The Five Videos that Inspire Change

2.     How to Create Stories People Watch, Love, Share

3.     Three Keys to Reaching Bigger Audiences

4.     Common Mistakes Made by Issue-Based Organizations and How to Avoid Them

5.     How to Maximize Your Investment


Organizational Assessment:  Review these seven sets of questions to help you plan your next steps.

Story Roadmaps:  Need help find the best way to tell your story.  These roadmaps based on proven strategies will give you ideas for your next video project.

Join me to learn how to leverage video for your next campaign. 



Want to work with me one-on-one?   LEARN MORE HERE