Non profits

40k to 4 Million Views! Boost YOUR YouTube Video Views (Case Study)

Guest blogger Mark Horvath founded and leads Invisible People. Today he shares how to boost your YouTube views from meh to magnificent.  BTW, Mark’s video version of this post features bonus tips not found here! Here’s Mark…

I was thrilled with the performance of Invisible People’s YouTube channel for the last few years. With a focus on homelessness education, an average of 40,000 monthly views was fantastic, or so I thought.

That changed after we joined Patreon a few months back and I started to pay more attention to YouTube. The lightbulb went off when I typed “homeless” into the YouTube search bar. Invisible People undoubtedly has more videos from homeless people than any other content creator. All that came up was prank videos and other awful content that was so far from the truth about homelessness. None of our videos were showing in search with the keyword “homeless.” I knew I had to fix this, and here’s how:

Here’s what I know. For success on YouTube, you need to produce quality content that your audience actually wants to watch. This is above everything else. Then comes your video title and thumbnail – these are extremely important if you want your videos to get noticed. Next step, add a description and the proper tags to help YouTube’s algorithm feed your videos to the right folks.

Thanks to Roberto Blake, I also learned about TubeBuddy, a browser plugin for YouTube channels that I highly recommend. TubeBuddy has more features than I have time to figure out, but it’s suggested and explore tags feature will pay for itself!

Reaching Millions
Inspired and armed with TubeBuddy, I began implementing changes to my existing catalog of 876 YouTube videos. I updated 20 videos every morning while drinking my first cups of coffee. If I had a moment of time throughout the day, I would update more.

It took YouTube’s algorithm a few weeks to catch up to my changes, but the results have been dramatic. From 40,000 views every month to now more than 4 million views every month! And that isn’t even the most amazing part. Our average view duration is 2:41 – almost 3 minutes! That means more than four million people watch at least 3 minutes of our videos EVERY MONTH!

Our channel has generated high views before, but traffic was always just a temporary spike after a media hit. The biggest was on August 22, 2010. YouTube allowed Invisible People to curate the content for their homepage on that day. Approximately 1.6 million people had a positive interaction with homelessness that day, people who may never have rolled down their window at an exit ramp to ask a homeless person their story.

With the changes I implemented, we now reach millions of people every month instead of just once in a while.

Put in the Effort
The irony is the changes that influenced this dramatic growth are techniques I’ve been telling other nonprofits to do for years.

Nonprofits (and I am sure for-profits too) often upload a video and put zero effort into the title, thumbnail, description, and tags. Many will spend thousands of dollars on producing a video yet do little to make sure people find the video online.

In my defense, I always used descriptions and tags. However, my video title was the homeless person’s first name. Our very first website played off “Homelessness has a name,” and there was a flash element that brought attention to the first name. Even the current site uses the first name in the treatment. Although I preach to nonprofits about the importance of titles, Invisible People only had a first name.

Last year I was commissioned to produce videos for a large nonprofit. It was a very challenging project and a lot of work. The videos ended up being powerful testimonies of their work, but no one sees them.

I suggested to them several times the importance of writing an engaging title and description and using tags. I even provided the nonprofit with several versions of custom thumbnails to use. The nonprofit did not use a good title or description nor did they use the thumbnails I created. Each video has around 100 views after being online for almost a year!

The Secrets to YouTube Growth
There is a false belief that videos must be short to keep a viewer’s attention. On the contrary! These days, people will burst their bladder binge-watching video content. If you look at all the successful YouTubers, their content is between 10 and 30 minutes. This is important for two reasons:

1) Nonprofits need to produce content that engages people and guides them through a storyline. Forget about the length; create videos for the story.

2) Watch time: the amount of time a viewer spends on a video has the greatest influence in YouTube’s algorithm deciding whether it’s popular or not.

The secret to YouTube growth is no secret. You just have to put in a little effort. OK, a lot of effort, but it’s worth it!

Invisible People’s focus is education and awareness, so the added growth increases impact. However, online donations have also increased behind the scenes. In June, Invisible People received more funding from private donors than we have in the last five years combined!

A Final Note
In my research to improve, I ran across a few YouTubers who had a dramatic influence on me. Roberto Blake’s channel got me thinking differently about creativity, production, and distribution. Derral Eves’s channel started me thinking about the mechanics behind the YouTube algorithm. Sara Dietschy’s channel gave me the inspiration to start vlogging.

Vlogging has helped to bring people along with me as I travel working to end homelessness. I am still experimenting with a format, but I have come to believe the YouTube and vlogging is always a work in progress. You can see some of my recent vlogs here

Mark Horvath has more than 30 years of leadership and marketing experience and a vast knowledge of homelessness, including lived experience. As an award-winning television and multimedia producer, Mark’s original expertise was in response television. Today, Mark is known for his work in transmedia storytelling, social media, cause marketing and content marketing. Mark is the founder of Invisible People, a unique digital storytelling organization that uses video and social media to change the story of homelessness and gives a voice to those who are too often overlooked. He is an internationally recognized activist and ambassador for the millions of individuals and families who reside in shelters, motels, tents along the streets and under highway bridges across the country.

Categories: Non profits

Fertile Follow Up: To whom and when?

Follow up. It’s vital but so tough to do right.

Either we don’t know what to say, fear “bugging” the very folks we want something from, or both. So we don’t follow up enough or well, which undermines engagement and results—no matter how compelling our campaigns may be!

Follow up shows we care
It also signals realism and camaraderie; conveying our understanding that (just like us) our folks get asked for a lot of things by a lot of people; are busy and need reminders; and that changing habits or behavior is hard. When we follow up consistently, with thought and evident effort, we’re building the ongoing relationships likely to foster long, loyal relationships with our people. Priceless.

I’m sure your organization thanks donors post-contribution.  Consider the huge potential of broader follow up. It’s huge.

Whom to follow up with (first)
As always, focus your efforts on people who are either 1) most likely to respond with the action you want, or; 2) pose the greatest risk if they don’t respond. Those who post a risk are current and recent donors, program participants, volunteers at risk of disengaging if they’re not nourished by your organization in some way a.s.a.p.

Within this group, focus on folks who have most recently put their toes in your organization’s water for the first time or who are up against a deadline of sorts—maybe a recent donor who hasn’t given in a year or the parent such as haven’t donated in a year or a volunteer coming up to that six-months-of-service point at which you’ve seen so many volunteers drop out.

Take Risha, a one-time volunteer who helped with your animal shelter’s event last week. Risha stepped up because her friend Amy was chairing the event; not because she’s passionate about your cause. But she saw that powerful video you premiered, was actively engaged in the event, and may share interests with Amy.

Now’s the time to reach out to Risha and invite her to do more with your shelter. Better yet, ask Amy to reach out to Risha. The right messenger makes all the difference.

When to follow up
Reach out with your first follow up a.s.a.p. Imagine if Amy had asked Risha to volunteer with her as they were riding home together after the event. No time like the present! Get back in touch with your people in three or fewer days after your last interaction.

Then continue following up regularly—until it’s not worth your time and effort or you’re asked to stop. You’ll have to experiment with what “regularly” means for you. The schedule is likely to vary among campaigns and segments. You may follow up bi-weekly with the first-time volunteers who worked the recent event, and slow that down to monthly outreach for the next two or three months.

When to stop following up
Identify your benchmarks based on your goal for each campaign. What positive response looks like will vary campaign to campaign, segment to segment, ranging from opening your email, clicking through to your volunteer site, or registering for an info meeting. 

You’ll know when to stop (or redesign your approach) when you’re not getting any results, or your contact asks you to stop. Listen closely, in whatever way you can, to be sensitive to the responses you get or don’t get, and adapt your approach accordingly. It’s as important to know when to slow down or stop following up, as it is to start. 

What do I say? What’s the best way to say it?
I’ll be back soon with these answers. Meanwhile, prioritize one-to-three top follow up campaigns to start with, then figure out the best time for the initial follow up and how frequently to continue.

Fertile follow up—It makes all the difference in the world.

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Categories: Non profits

7 Steps to Passionate Volunteer Messengers

You face an uphill battle to recruit volunteers and retain them at ever higher and more effective levels of engagement. For those of you with small or all-volunteer organizations, there’s absolutely nothing more important. And, as time and budgets get tighter, and reliance on volunteers increases, it’s harder than ever.

There’s a proven yet seldom-used method to boost success in both dimensions AND extend your organization’s reach and impact without adding budget or hires: Building your team of passionate volunteer messengers.

The value of launching your volunteer messengers is huge; a real win-win doable with limited time and expense. Take these seven steps to launch your team of passionate volunteer messengers. I’ll follow up with posts on each step, starting with the most productive pilot program I know:

1) Assess potential barriers to success

What’s likely to be in your volunteers’ way? ASK if you don’t know

  • Lack of confidence or skill
  • Don’t see it as part of their role
  • No or limited access to target audiences
  • Not interested.

2) Get success factors in place

  • Staff trust and respect for volunteers
  • Internal support for program
  • Active, visible volunteer modelers

3) Recruit your first team of messengers (Pilot)

  • ASK for help; don’t assume!
  • ID best opportunities: Specific campaign works best, with a clear goal and deadline. Ideal to select a campaign that is related to your messengers’ volunteer work.
  • Select a small team most likely to act or have the greatest influence: Evaluate volunteers’ roles, networks, talents, communications skills, personality, and passion level.
  • Get to know your messengers: What motivates them? What do their days look like?

4) Develop the right systems & tools

  • Design policies and guidelines: Best practices, do’s, don’ts for conversations and social media.
  • Develop tools and templates to increase your volunteer messengers’ ease, participation, and confidence.

5) Provide training & ongoing support

  • Provide practice-based training: Reinforce value and rewards; introduce scenarios; review messages, policies, templates, and tools; getting help. Practice and more practice.
  • Support messengers: How can you boost success via ongoing supports—coaches, FAQs, private Facebook group, training the trainers? How will messengers get immediate help?

6) Launch, thank, & reward

  • Thank your volunteer messengers with verbal appreciation and recognition.

7) Assess, analyze & revise or expand

  • Assess pilot program impact via anecdotes and messenger feedback
  • Analyze impact vs. what it takes to deliver the program and ROI of other approaches
  • Revise program as indicated and/or
  • Build out your program by adding volunteers to your messenger team or launching a team for another goal.

Keep posted for my recommendation on what to launch with and case studies that show you how it’s done!

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Categories: Non profits

Bring Yourself to Work? James Porter Does

Do you bring yourself—with your passions, personal history, and personality—to work, or do you check “the real you” at the front door?

Here’s hoping you bring “all of you” to work. It’s the only way to feel fully at ease in your job, to nurture the relationships you need for success and satisfaction (for you and your organization), and to bring the greatest value to your role and responsibilities.

Take James Porter, director of communications at The End Fund. James recently asked me (via email from his personal address) to donate to the END Fund in support of his participation in a marathon this June. He describes the race, and the cause, then links his passion for his work (and participation in the race) with his experience of being marginalized as a gay boy growing up. His story is moving, memorable, and forges a quick and strong connection with readers. For James, the personal is professional:

Hi Nancy,

When thinking through who to ask to support me, some of my fellow rockstar runners came to mind, including you!   My training is well underway for the Race to See the END! Running a marathon in Africa has been on my bucket list since I started running, and what better way to cross that off than running the June 18 Race to See the END marathon in Victoria Falls (Zambia & Zimbabwe) while raising funds and awareness for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which affect over 1.5 billion people worldwide.   My fundraising page has some of my story, but I wanted to share a bit more with you as standing up for those affected by NTDs is something that’s close to my heart. Throughout my career, I have always worked on behalf of marginalized communities  – immigrants, refugees, and most recently people affected by NTDs. Giving a voice to the voiceless enables me to help lift people up even in a small way as they feel other forces trying to bring them down.   Please support me with $10/mile, or $260  for the full marathon, which can provide treatment for 520 people. You can also sponsor me at the half marathon level for $130 (260 people treated) or a 10k at $60 (120 people treated) – or however much you can.    As someone who was bullied, teased, and made fun of growing up for being different and not fitting in with the other boys, I understand what it feels like to be marginalized. Even today, as a confident adult gay male living in a liberal city like New York, I am reminded every day that nothing comes easily and we must continue fighting as people in power attempt to take away our rights and make us invisible.   But what about those who are not fortunate like me and don’t have the means or support to rise above obstacles? Well, that’s why I will do everything I can to help remove as many obstacles as possible – including NTDs. Will you join me in this fight?   Thanks for the encouragement along the way!   With gratitude,
James   Use this inspiring model as motivation to bring one more aspect of yourself to work today. It’ll be good for you and good for your organization. The personal IS professional!   P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your inbox!
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Categories: Non profits

3 Ways to Stay Safe from Cyber Attack

Yes, this has to matter to you. Maybe you dodged the bullet of the most recent global cyber attack.  But the next one or the ones after that could wreck your communications impact and a lot more. If or when your organization gets hacked, it’ll bring all activity—including communications and fundraising—to an absolute standstill. Even worse, it will require an enormous investment of time and budget to repair and get back up and going; even with that, critical donor data, program stats, and email lists may be lost or corrupted.

So do something about it, even if your ED or IT staff or consultant is standing still.
My husband, Sean M. Bailey, happens to be an expert on cybersecurity and the recent author of Hack-Proof Your Life Now. What’s great about Sean’s advice is that it’s efficient and doable. He advises you take three steps asap to protect yourself and your organization:

1) Update all your software, especially any Microsoft Windows programs.
Microsoft has event made emergency updates available Windows XP and other programs it had previously stopped supporting.

2) Backup ALL of your files.
Take advantage of the free cloud backup services such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and iCloud, among many others. These are easy to use and can save you a lot of money if you get his with a ransomware attack. I back up all my work and personal files to the cloud. It’s fantastic because you have access to them from any place or device.

3) Don’t open attachments or click on links that seem even the slightest bit fishy or unusual.
Follow the 10-Second EMAIL Rule if you want to confirm that an email is dangerous: EMAIL stands for “examine message and inspect links:” 

  • Triple check the from line to unmask the email’s actual sender
  • Question the validity of the subject line, whether it’s trying to hijack your emotions with fear (i.e. “Your Account Will Be Closed”) or entice you through curiosity (any subject line about payments, invoices, or some topic that grabs your attention)
  • Look for questionable greetings in the email with spelling, grammar, or awkward salutations
  • Look for the same in the body of the email and the signature
  • Hover your mouse over every link in the email to see its real destination, which you’ll see is not the place the email says it will be.

If in doubt, it’s safest just to delete any suspicious email. Anyone with serious business to conduct with you will persist to get in touch via social, phone, or snail mail. Just do it, now!

Learn more about staying safe from cyber attacks in this recent interview with Sean, published in The Huffington Post.

Sean M. Bailey is the co-creator of the Savvy Cybersecurity training program, an interactive workshop to teach people to boost their online security. He is the co-author, along with Devin Kropp, of Hack- Proof Your Life Now!: The New Cybersecurity Rules.

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Categories: Non profits