Guest Post: Facebook Video Tips from Non-Profit Marketers | Beth's Blog

Guest Post: Facebook Video Tips from Non-Profit Marketers

Digital Strategy, Strategy, Tools and Tactics

Note from Beth:  Is Facebook Live or posting videos part of your nonprofit’s strategy for 2018?  It should be. Using a tool like Animoto can make it easy for your nonprofit to create DYI videos, but to be successful you need to develop a strategy and use compelling storytelling.  This article shares insights from nonprofit marketers. 

Facebook Video Tips from Non-Profit Marketers – Guest Post by Rebecca Brooks, Animoto

Mark Zuckerberg’s recently announced that Facebook’s News Feed will be veering away from branded content to prioritize content posted by personal accounts. In the wake of that proclamation, many non-profits are understandably bewildered, wondering what this will mean for their Facebook marketing strategy.

To get perspective on how to handle the changes to Facebook, I consulted with some of the non-profits who use Animoto, asking them how they’re adapting to the new Facebook landscape and how it’ll inform their 2018 social video marketing strategy.

Jane Goodall Institute: Storytelling on Facebook and beyond with square videos

Ashley Sullivan, Community Engagement Specialist for The Jane Goodall Institute, underscores that storytelling is key to getting seen on Facebook. “As a non-profit founded by one of the world’s greatest storytellers, Dr. Jane Goodall, telling our story is essential and the best way to present ourselves as the holistic conservation organization we are, on social media and other platforms. Video is a medium uniquely suited to do just that.”

However, storytelling isn’t enough. Videos have to be formatted to stand out on mobile. Over 80% of Facebook’s users are checking out the app on mobile. 16:9 ratios require that the viewer tilts their phone and watches it in a non-vertical orientation. Square videos take up 78% more real estate on a screen than landscape videos plus it’s more user friendly.

In March 2017, The Jane Goodall Institute put a $50 ad spend against two variations of a video created in Animoto. Both versions were identical except for one key difference—aspect ratio. One was in a 16:9 landscape ratio, and the other was in a 1:1 square ratio. The non-profit saw a huge difference in results, with the square video receiving 2x more views and 3x more shares than the landscape version, largely due to mobile traffic.

But The Jane Goodall Institute is also combating Facebook’s changes another way: by diversifying where they share. Even prior to Facebook’s recent announcement,  the non-profit had decided to expand the number of platforms on which they share video, while still focusing their videos on storytelling to engage their audience. In mid-December 2017, the organization posted an Animoto video on Instagram about a chimp named Wounda. This video showcased the progress this chimp made thanks to The Jane Goodall Institute. Clocking in at less than 60 seconds, the square video was heartwarming and incredibly shareworthy. So shareworthy, in fact, that it racked up 500,000+ views—more than double the number of Instagram followers they had at that point. The reason? The non-profit’s followers tagged friends in the comments section to share Wounda’s story.

“Telling the story of Wounda through video allowed us to use the essence of how social media “moments” happen (as it did initially with footage of their embrace), while also tapping into the exceptional connection people have with her and Dr. Goodall. The video tells more of the story in a complete, but consumable and share-able, way. It helps us share the great and vital work JGI’s Tchimpounga Sanctuary does through her individual story, and makes people feel how their own story connects to Wounda’s story and other chimps.”

The lesson? You can showcase the impact a non-profit has by following the story of one person (or in this case, a chimpanzee) who is positively affected by your non-profit’s mission and work, by doing it in a video format that is suited for that platform. For Facebook and Instagram, square is a great option.”

ShelterBox USA: Sharing real-time updates on Facebook with video

ShelterBox USA had a very busy year, due to the sheer number of natural disasters that struck in 2017. The organization’s mission is to bring shelter to families who have quite literally lost everything. They kept their followers informed on a per-disaster-basis through video shared on Facebook.

“We have a great partnership with Rotary International and also have so many passionate individual supporters. Providing concise, informative and timely videos empower our supporters to help spread our mission of providing emergency shelter and drive donations on our behalf,” said Sarah Robinson, Director of Fundraising and Strategic Partnerships at ShelterBox USA. “With the recent changes Facebook is making to the algorithm, this makes our videos all the more important since we have our most passionate supporters in mind when creating them. We rely on our supporters to share these videos on their personal feed to help spread our message,” Sarah added.

Sarah’s strategy won’t be changing too much, though, since their real-time updates during disasters prompt an outpouring of engagement she believes will connect with ShelterBox USA’s audience. For example, when Hurricane Harvey hit, ShelterBox USA was swift to put out a video letting their audience know that they had people on the ground assessing how they would be able to help. They put around $200 to advertise their video to maximize its reach, given Hurricane Harvey’s prevalence on social media.

They used text in this video, which makes it easier for connect with people on mobile, who usually prefer sound-off viewing. This video (and more that followed) did indeed empower their most impassioned supporters to raise money for them. Some supporters even created fundraisers on Facebook and shared ShelterBox USA’s videos to encourage friends and family to donate. Others shared the videos on their feed and endorsed ShelterBox USA’s history of expertise and care, noting their ability to create a safe haven for families in distress.

Despite its success, the ShelterBox USA video had just two photos from Harvey in their video and one satellite shot of the hurricane. To fill in the gaps, they used other assets from previous disaster work to show and tell how they’d be responding to Harvey, but ultimately the video was able to tell their story in just 7 photos. ShelterBox USA regularly creates videos with minimal photos and video clips shot on a mobile device, and they’re still successfully able to illustrate how they are having an impact.

Berkshire Humane Society: Frequent, quality video posts with engagement in mind

Berkshire Humane Society is a community-supported, open-admissions shelter that serves Berkshire County, Massachusetts. They hired marketing consultant Mary McGurn to oversee their social media and online marketing.

Mary now creates a weekly video (in square format) for Berkshire’s Facebook page featuring an animal in need of a home. These videos get shared about 100 times on average and drive thousands of views. Given the changes to Facebook’s recent algorithm, Mary has these recommendations for non-profit marketers:

Don’t back off of producing original video content for your page. It is still the most preferred medium to deliver status updates on Facebook. Just start or keep telling compelling, personal stories that speak to your mission.”

That’s how she handled an emergency fundraising drive last year, when the Berkshire Humane Society’s water heater broke. The $21,000 repair was necessary in order to make the shelter habitable for the many animals awaiting forever homes. Mary quickly created a video sharing the story of the shelter residents who were waiting for a new water heater and asking for assistance. She then took to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising on Facebook, which made it easy for supporters to fundraise on behalf of the shelter.

“It makes sharing your favorite causes on social very easy and quick to do. It’s like sitting over coffee with friends and asking them to pitch in,’ Mary said. She had used this tactic before to raise $5000 for Berkshire Humane Society, but needed to ensure this time around that she would raise four times more than she had last time. “We used video to amplify this campaign. The video spoke to people and showed them how their donation would save the shelter and its four-footed residents.”

But before starting a Peer-to-Peer fundraising campaign, Mary suggests non-profits get fans ready to receive their message. Organizations can remind fans to customize their News Feed, setting a non-profit as a “See First” page and asking fans to check off what notifications they want to receive.

“Note that Facebook caps the number of See Firsts to 30 pages. On [your non-profit’s] Timeline posts, consider using Preferred Audience to tell Facebook what subset of your fan base should see this post. Preferred Audience does not exclude your entire base, but it tells the algorithm to favor some over others. This works best if your base is reasonably large— – over 1,000 and up,” Mary adds.

Key Takeaways:

  • Use square video to grab the attention of your mobile audience
  • Storytelling is key for shares
  • Hone in on the story of one individual, town, or animal when storytelling
  • Share on more than one platform to expand your reach
  • Timely video updates with ad spend help amplify a non-profit’s response to what’s trending in the news
  • Use text in your video to ensure it makes sense in a sound-off environment
  • You don’t need many assets to create a video, and mobile photos and video clips can add a sense of authenticity to your marketing
  • Utilize Peer-to-Peer Fundraising combined with video to empower supporters to fundraise for you

Animoto recently partnered with Mari Smith to offer a free webinar on how to create compelling video content – you can listen to the recording and download resources here.


Rebecca Brooks is the Director, Communications at Animoto

Leave a Reply