How nonprofits use video on social media

Insights from 778 nonprofits

Last week I wrote about The Hear Her Voice Project. Their recent work “Life in Lockdown” was an eyeopener for me. A unique project giving 25 girls in five countries a platform to report on their experiences of life in lockdown – in their own voice – via digital diaries.

The first thing you would notice that the stories are narrated without any filters. The production quality is zero because they have been executed with smartphones. But it still makes an impact and does the job.

During the times of an ongoing pandemic and social distancing, even creative agencies have no choice but to go back to the basics.

Nonprofits who have always worried about the production and execution costs associated with videos have some good news. “Every nonprofit video maker dreams about what they could do with more resources. Fortunately, creating engaging social media videos doesn’t depend on production value,” writes Doug Scott is the founder of Tectonic Video, a leading video agency for nonprofits. 

“The majority of the Top 100 Most Engaging Nonprofit Video Posts per Social Media Channel were made with “prosumer” cameras (smartphone cameras much of the time), no lighting or audio equipment, and minimal graphics. It turns out engagement isn’t about how flashy your video is. It’s about the story you tell.”

The above finding is part of the study that Tectonic Video conducted with 778 nonprofit organizations across the social sector to create the Nonprofit Video Index™, a landmark study to establish benchmarks, identify trends, and uncover insights to help nonprofits create better videos.

“We captured video post data from each nonprofit’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account from January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2019, to create our data set, and then analyzed thousands of data points to identify actionable insights to help your nonprofit create better videos for social media.”

Now that you are aware that a high-end video has nothing to do with engagement. So what drives video engagement on social media. “Length, content-type and Post Frequency,” writes Doug.

Facebook and Instagram leading platforms

Facebook and its family of apps drive the most engagement on social media. And it isn’t surprising because of the sheer size. With TikTok being banned in India and the US working on similar grounds. Facebook has no strong competitor and the platform has been positioned as a video and live video destination.

Facebook is driving engagement. The video index highlights: “If a nonprofit posts an engaging video on Facebook, it has the opportunity to reach tens of thousands of prospective fans, volunteers, and donors. However, competition is fierce and people’s news feeds are overflowing with content. For your content to rise to the top, it must generate engagement.”

Instagram is the fastest-growing channel for nonprofit video. Additionally, it also has the highest average engagement per video post. “We speculate this is due to a combination of factors including Instagram’s focus on photos and videos, its streamlined user experience, and limited video length (60 seconds max).”

With TikTok having an uncertain future, Instagram is working hard to occupy the short-form video space. Instagram Reels is the latest answer from Facebook. Additionally, with an ongoing pandemic, Instagram has made product enhancements to support online giving.

But one-third of nonprofits have no Instagram and/or Twitter account or no video posts, says the study. 

Is that a concern? Being actively present on social media isn’t an option. However, don’t open accounts in every social media network and then let ghosts mate in there. Be present on social networks that you can justify and invest. Facebook or Instagram will give your videos a wider reach when you invest money in ads. Since there is no organic reach.

Should I post short videos or long videos?

The answer is with the social network. The study says that: 

“Videos with the highest engagement are short (often less than 1 minute).”

The study further elaborates that there were a few exceptions, but 54% of videos on the Facebook list, 100% of videos on the Instagram list (because length is limited to 60 seconds), and 70% of videos on the Twitter list were less than a minute. In fact, 33% of the Top 100 on Twitter were shorter than 30 seconds.

The majority of social network platforms are going crazy towards the short-form videos. But before you focus on the length and medium, work on the objective of the content and then create a mix of the short and slightly long-form videos, when required.

Finally, don’t be a ghost

You will get results when you are active. Creating one video in a month won’t make you the viral video platform. The study also says that:

“Nonprofits who produce more videos with higher video engagement quality have larger audiences.”

Even though the production quality is not a big concern but you won’t want a shabby work uploaded on social media. A video shot from a smartphone takes time, there will be investments and you will have editing. Additionally, you will have to create videos on a regular basis and you can’t create one video and upload it on every social network. The formats and experiences are different.

Think and brainstorm before you jump into the video content creation game.

Because the consumer is super ready. Indians spend an average of 67 minutes every day watching videos online, with 73% of the total viewership in the country coming from 15-34-year-olds and 37% of users located in rural geographies.