So you’ve decided to make a video. Congratulations! Video is an awesome communications tool and a perfect medium for engaging audiences with your cause. And because your video is purpose-driven (a phrase we use at Fenton to mean “a video that helps you meet and exceed your goals”), you may be thinking you need your video to “go viral.”
Challenge: List all the purpose-driven videos you can think of that have “gone viral” (spread like a virus, trended on Twitter, got millions of views in a matter of days). Short list, right? In fact, I can only think of one cause-related video that genuinely went viral this year: Kony 2012 (side note: for an interesting read on the communications plan behind Kony 2012, check out this piece).
The truth is, no one can guarantee a video will go viral. But there is a way to create a successful video, one that helps you accomplish your goals and further your mission whether it goes viral or not.
Below are four steps to creating a successful video, followed by a real-life video campaign that shows the steps in action.
THE FOUR STEPS TO MAKING A SUCCESSFUL VIDEO
1) Identify your target audience.
Who is it exactly that you need to reach with this video? It may be as simple as identifying key stakeholders attending an upcoming meeting who you’re hoping to reach with a particular message. Or, you may need to set up brainstorms with thought leaders, organize focus groups, and conduct research to determine your target audience.
2) Clarify your message.
Now that you’ve identified your audience, you need to direct your message to them specifically. You want them to know exactly what to do the moment the video ends. Are you asking them to open their wallets and donate? Join a march? Sign a petition? Call their senator? Change their vote? Whatever it is, make the call to action clear and accessible.
3) Tell a great story.
You know who your audience is. You know what you want them to do. Now, it’s time to develop the creative approach that will connect your audience with your message. Whether it’s a personal story shared direct-to-camera or animated graphics of mind-changing data, your video’s content has to be emotionally compelling so that it captivates your audience and motivates them to take action.
4) Deploy a strategic communications campaign.
No matter how good your video is, it’s a wasted effort if you don’t get it in front of your target audience. It’s crucial to create a comprehensive strategic communications plan that will guide you in distributing the video and continuing the engagement with your audience once they’ve taken action.
THE FOUR STEPS IN ACTION: BREAKTHROUGH’S BELL BAJAO SERIES
Take a moment to watch “Ring, Ring”, a video from the Ring the Bell (Bell Bajao) series. Launched by the global human rights organization Breakthrough, the Bell Bajao campaign calls upon men and boys to take a stand against domestic violence.
Mallika Dutt, Breakthrough’s President and CEO, shared some insights with me about the Bell Bajao campaign, which launched in India and is now being worked across the globe. Here’s how Breakthrough used the four steps to create a series of successful videos:
1. Audience: Identified!
Many efforts have been made to reduce domestic violence, but until the Bell Bajao campaign, men and boys had rarely been seen as part of the solution. Breakthrough realized they needed to involve males or the cycle of violence against women would only continue. Once they knew who they wanted to reach, Breakthrough was able to look more deeply at the issue and develop an effective message for this audience.
2. Message: Clear!
Breakthrough’s research told them that while most males don’t approve of violence against women, they typically do not feel comfortable intervening in a domestic dispute. Providing them with a simple, non-confrontational action to take that would help them “interrupt” a dispute could empower them to change the dynamic. The action Breakthrough came up with: Ring The Bell.
3. Story: Compelling!
There are multiple videos in the Ring The Bell campaign. In each one, a “hero” interrupts an escalating domestic dispute; each time, he uses a different excuse for having rung the doorbell (example: “Can I borrow your phone?”). It’s fun to watch them unfold and I won’t ruin it for you, but the idea of the campaign is that even the lamest excuse will do the job.
4. Strategy: Ready, Set, Go (and go, and go)!
The Bell Bajao campaign, which is now four years old, began with three PSA videos that aired on India’s Star Network in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Development. They were followed by three more videos that were based on true stories, and which have been broadcast and shared at film festivals and at thousands of events around the world.
The videos in this campaign have not gone “viral” like Kony 2012. But they have been enormously successful at reaching the target audience. Dutt explains: “More than 130,000 people have seen our ads in India alone; more than 75,000 change agents have been empowered to lead in their communities through our human rights trainings… Countries from China to Canada have created their own version of the ads.”
The Ring the Bell videos are helping turn domestic violence from culturally inevitable to culturally objectionable. Breakthrough conducted baseline, midline, and endline reports, and the results show a 40% increase in both the ability to identify domestic violence and the belief that violence is wrong. That’s what I’d call a successful video campaign.
Kittty Overton is Fenton’s Producer of Strategic Content.
To see some of the successful videos we’ve created as part of strategic communications campaigns for our clients at Fenton, visit us at www.fenton.com/studios or call us at 212.584.5000.