November 07, 2013

Using Super-Short Social-Media Videos to Spread Your Message

As video smartphone apps like Vine and Instagram gain momentum, Forbes is predicting the format will become one of 2014’s strongest social-media marketing trends.

Both apps allow users to shoot and share video clips that are only seconds long.

Some nonprofits are already experimenting with using the apps to raise awareness about their causes with young, tech-savvy audiences. The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s current Six-Second Appeal Challenge, a contest inviting nonprofits to use Vine videos to promote their cause, has already seen some creative entries.

For other nonprofits interested in submitting an entry, we’ve assembled a few tips from two of our contest judges: Aaron Bramley, executive director of Lights. Camera. Help., an organization that helps nonprofits tell stories through video, and Matt Willis, founder of the graphic-design firm Yell Design and a popular Vine user.

Experiment With the Technology

To make your Vine interesting, consider using the app's stop-motion capability rather than shooting a few seconds at a time, says Mr. Bramley.

When shooting with Vine, you’ll notice that it will record only when your finger touches the screen, allowing it to record very short bits at a time. This technology makes Vine perfect for creating stop motion­—like the appearance of movement of an inanimate object by taking multiple shots as you gradually change its position.

Plan Your Video

As with any video about a cause, you have to consider your goals and think about the storyline, says Mr. Bramley.

The Caregiver Space, a New York-based organization that provides support for caregivers, used a simple but effective storyline to tell viewers about its mission. And as is often the case in social media, cute animals are a crowd pleaser.

Engage Your Audience

While nonprofits have been using Vine to thank donors, to talk about their cause, and to show their everyday office activities, they should also consider campaigns that engage supporters and others by asking them to submit their own content, says Mr. Willis. One example he likes is #hugformandela, a campaign that invited Vine users to publish their well wishes for the ailing South African leader Nelson Mandela earlier this summer.

Build a Network

Follow and revine—or re-post—others’ work, use hashtags to make it easier for others to find your posts, and look at what’s trending—it’s an opportunity to join in on a conversation, says Mr. Bramley.

“Vine has a great community of creative and talented artists, so engage them and offer to promote their efforts if they help you,” says Mr. Willis.

Send an e-mail to Idit Knaan.