Getting Results With Video: Bryan Weaver for Ward One

Posted on August 5, 2010 Under Video

About this series: I’m looking for videos that had clear goals and knocked them out of the park. We hope these examples help EDF staff refine our sense of what it takes to make wildly effective videos.

Context: Produced as part of a campaign for DC City Council. Bryan Weaver is a challenger taking on a well-funded incumbent.

Goal(s): According to the candidate, “We wanted to to talk about my candidacy and issues that surround the Ward in a ‘unique’ way that for a first introduction would not be too preachy or too heavy handed. We wanted it to be fun, but wanted to make some serious points. Something memorable that would get people more interested. Send more people to the campaign website.”

Results: More love from local blogs and media than anyone could have asked for. The local NBC affliliate blog is a great indicator of the notice it got among local political commentators, and it got superlative mentions on DCist and Wonkette. In less than a week, it had 8,000 views, who were presumably mostly among its target audience of local voters.

Weaver said, “The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive and truthfully it’s gotten more hits than I think we anticipated. Only time will tell if it spurs the ultimate actions we want—votes on election day—but it has met our goal of generating a buzz (overwhelmingly positive) about my campaign.”

And that was before it got picked up on and went international, racking up tens of thousands more views.

Why it works: Some viewers will recognize the concept from an early Paul Wellstone ad. (Weaver worked for Wellstone and credits him with inspiring his politics as well as this ad.)

This format let Weaver tell a simple but comprehensive  story about his ties to and aspirations for the community. All the local scenes kept people who live here engaged in game of, “I know that place!”  But it never got too obscure to lose meaning for those who didn’t get every reference — it’s a solid balance of accessibility and insider-ness.

Thanks, Lauren Guite,  for sending me the link!

Getting Results With Video: Courage Campaign

Posted on August 5, 2010 Under Video

About this series: I’m looking for videos that had clear goals and knocked them out of the park. We hope these examples help EDF staff refine our sense of what it takes to make wildly effective videos.

Context: Produced during Proposition 8 fight in California, asking voters in the state, “Don’t divorce us!”

Goal(s): From the metrics reported on the campaign page, it looks like they were going for both visibility for their position and signatures on the letter. Presumably they wanted to leverage both into a victory on Election Day.

Results: A million views is great, 371K signatures from that is nothing short of stunning. In fact, it’s so stunning that my money says they sought signatures through other channels, too. But even so, word on the street is that the video was a powerful source of recruits to the cause.

The ballot measure, however, did not turn out as they wanted.

Why it works: It evokes powerful emotions and channels them directly into the action you can take. It’s not often that you have such a concrete, direct narrative of  “Ouch this hurts, make it stop! Ah, this will help.” There’s no super-fancy technical stuff here, just an idea framed to expose the heart of the issue, and the hearts of viewers.

That said, there would have been lots of bad ways to make this video, too, and what we see here is the result of smart choices. I love how it starts with couples, then moves outward to people talking about their friends and family members.  Good choice of music, too. I wish we could track “tears per viewer” on videos like this.

Many thanks to Jessica Bosanko of M+R for pointing me towards this video.

I’d love to hear more from anyone who worked on it!

Link: Great Advice on Video Strategy

Posted on August 3, 2010 Under Links, Video

Farra Trompeter over at Big Duck has a nice overview of a video strategy session that I’m glad I came across.

It featured Michael Hoffman of See3 Communications (whose advice I’ve shared before) and Sara Fusco of Refugees International. Farra’s notes emphasize the importance of what a video accomplishes for your mission, rather than how many views it gets.

Thanks for sharing, Farra!

Beyond YouTube Views: How Do You Measure Success?

A year or two ago, the online team at EDF focused on getting people comfortable with the idea of using video. We urged staff to consider the option and answered basic questions. Now, we have 175 videos on our YouTube channel, created by staff from La Paz, Mexico, to Boston. And we’re picking up steam — we have four more in the queue this week.

With all this video to work with, we’re increasingly looking at how to gauge whether videos are successful. In a conversation about another organization’s nicely done video series, a colleague commented:

…when you go to their YouTube channel, you’ll see that hardly any of their videos have more than a couple of hundred views. So, they are putting a lot of effort into something that doesn’t have a great promotion plan in place.

That’s an astute observation, but hidden in it is the thought that views are what define a video’s success. Is that really the best or only option?

I’ve been asking around, and consensus is that people are still figuring it out — and that it’s important to figure out. A counterpart at another large environmental organization suspects the lack of goals for video contributes to their lackluster results. It’s hard for them to get staff time to work on videos, and the videos they do produce tend to be fueled by enthusiasm rather than a clear communications purpose.

I also got suggestions for specific metrics, like this one from Jordan Gantz:

While we still haven’t figured out an effective way to know across the board if the videos are achieving the expected goals, one thing that has been interesting is looking into how long people are spending watching each video and at what point they leave.

When I asked Wendy Harman how the Red Cross, which produces huge amounts of video, grapples with this, she mentioned a time they knew what the metric was but that still didn’t help. They got great attention to a video they made right after the Haiti earthquake — so much attention, in fact, that the tracking mechanisms didn’t hold up to the traffic, so they couldn’t be sure exactly how much money it helped them raise.

Michael Hoffman from best said the view that I’ve been coming around to:

Generally, we think video should be measured in similar ways that you measure other content investments and to connect the ROI of video to broader organizational goals. Views are fine, just as website visitors are fine, but it only gets you a sense of the total amount of engagement.  (If, for example, you make a video designed to influence a small  group of elites (lawmakers, corporate decision makers, etc.) then views doesn’t seem so important at all. The metrics should reflect the purpose, like in any communications effort.)

He’s absolutely right — we don’t measure all our blog posts or web pages or actions by the same standards, so it follows that the same should be true of videos.

I’m looking forward to the challenge of figuring out the best ways to convert goals into metrics, so that for each video, we can answer the tough questions about what worked and what didn’t.

Have anything to add about how you do or don’t measure video? Please leave a comment!