The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 24
How to Use Video to Engage Supporters, with Michael Hoffman
In this Episode:
The worlds of online and even traditional media are crowded with information and misinformation. Competition for attention is at an all-time high and trust, arguably, at all-time lows. Creating genuine connections and convincing people to support your cause only gets harder every day. One of the most effective mediums for conveying stories that drive empathy and action today, is video. Once reserved for big-budget galas, video is increasingly accessible. In fact, most of us carry powerful video cameras in our pockets all the time.
This week’s Nonprofit Hero Factory guest, Michael Hoffman, is on a mission to make capturing a nonprofit’s communities’ stories through video as easy as visiting a website or pulling out your phone. Michael joins Boris to talk about why video works, best practices, and how to get the most out of your nonprofit’s stories to create more heroes for your cause.
Read the Transcript
[00:00:18.750] – Intro Video
Welcome to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, a weekly live video broadcast, and podcast. Where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more heroes for their cause and a better word for all of us. Da-Ding!
[00:00:20.970] – Boris
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the Nonprofit Hero Factory. Today, we’re going to talk about something that I’ve been passionate about for many years, even before I ever got into the world of nonprofits. As many of you know, if you’ve been following the show or anything that I’ve done, I talk a lot about Hollywood and filmmaking. And while the Hollywood storytelling formula can really be applied to most any type of communication. Video, specifically, of course, Hollywood focuses on more than all.
[00:00:46.770] – Boris
And there’s some reason for that, of course. And today we have a guest that has done a lot of things in the world of nonprofit, nonprofit consulting and marketing. But he is now focusing on video specifically. So I brought him on to talk about why he’s focusing on video. What is it that’s best practice, if you will, for nonprofits to be thinking about at this point. Let me tell you a little bit about Michael Hoffman.
[00:01:12.660] – Boris
He is the CEO and co-founder of Gather Voices, which is a technology that automates the creation, management, and publishing of video content. He is also the founder of C3 Communications, a digital marketing strategy for nonprofits and the founder of the DoGooder Video Awards, which honors the best social cause videos each year. Michael teaches marketing at the University of Chicago and is an internationally sought after speaker and trainer who is a trusted advisor to nonprofit leaders on engagement strategy, which coincidentally is what we’re going to talk to him today about.
[00:01:46.710] – Boris
When I asked him his superpower, Michael says it’s enabling nonprofits to tell powerful stories that put donors at the center. And when nonprofits become the mentor to the donor hero, powerful things happen. Which I completely agree with. So with that said, let’s bring Michael on to the show.
[00:02:05.280] – Michael Hoffman
[00:02:06.330] – Boris
Hey, Michael, thanks for joining me today. How are you doing?
[00:02:09.180] – Michael Hoffman
Thanks for having me. I’m doing great. I’m doing great. I’m glad to be here.
[00:02:12.600] – Boris
So as I just read to everybody, your bio, but as I always like to say, can you tell us your story?
[00:02:19.070] – Michael Hoffman
Sure. Yeah. Well, I love that the show—thank you for having me on—and I love that the show is called the Nonprofit Hero Factory, because we need to put the other people in—constituents in—that role of hero. Right? And not the organization and that… and create lots of heroes for the cause. So I just love that because it absolutely corresponds to my world view and the things that I work on and teach and all of that.
[00:02:47.040] – Michael Hoffman
So and all of that just briefly started… I was a nonprofit fundraiser for years in Washington, D.C. I then spent about six years doing venture capital Internet companies. I took that experience to start a digital marketing agency just working with nonprofits, social causes. So, C3 is still around doing great work. And I’ve spent a lot of time with organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and Make a Wish and others helping them with everything from web, video, and strategy.
[00:03:19.590] – Michael Hoffman
And I’m doing what I’m doing now at Gather Voices because it became painfully obvious to me in the seat of a consultant that we just couldn’t scale video production the way that organizations really need in a world where video is so dominant. And so I and some other folks thought about what what could we do to help there? And we came up with technology instead of just services to be able to do that.
[00:03:49.380] – Boris
That’s awesome. I mean, I’m a huge advocate of technology and creating or implementing tools that already exist in order to augment an organization’s efforts so that they can create greater impact without utilizing relatively similar levels of resources that it would take if it was the hand-to-hand combat on the ground. So it’s great that you’re focused on this, but why video specifically?
[00:04:17.030] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, one of the things that I did when I started C3 Communications, which was 15 years ago, was really focus on video production for nonprofits. And that was because at the time broadband had just become something that wiped out dial up Internet. And the Internet really changed from a service that just connected people and had a lot of text and email and other things to a distribution platform for video. And we knew that that was not only coming, but that would really come to dominate.
[00:04:55.440] – Michael Hoffman
And so when when I built the agency, we built it with a strong video production and storytelling at the core. In fact, my co-founder of C3 Communications is a guy named Danny Alpert, who is a top social issue documentary filmmaker in the country, making really important films for television and around social issues. And so we really thought, well, this is what organizations need and will need, even more so in the future. So I’ve always had video as a centerpiece of what I’ve been interested in, and we’ve only seen that become more prevalent. Right?
[00:05:32.160] – Michael Hoffman
And it’s, you know, a lot of it’s driven by these devices that we have in our pockets that we still call phones, but they’re really supercomputers with professional video cameras in them. And we, you know, people are getting really comfortable making and watching videos on their devices. And the question is, well, how do we leverage that for our causes?
[00:05:56.180] – Boris
So how do we leverage that for our cause? Why—and video is great and I love video for so many different reasons—but the same story can be told many different ways. Right? And you could use different media to tell a story. The technology that we have today, you’re absolutely right. We have all of these tools that are so readily available to us and that we’re increasingly comfortable using. The Internet can, of course, facilitate all of the different media that has pretty much ever existed in one way or another.
[00:06:28.810] – Boris
Of course not… not the same as, for example, going to a museum or seeing a live show. But why do you think video is the best place to focus when collecting stories versus just, say, a text form or some kind of written content?
[00:06:45.250] – Michael Hoffman
Right. I mean, I think it’s really starts from just the impact. We see that video gets 1200% more shares than images or text on social media. And we see that 88% more time is spent on websites that have—web pages that have video on them than web pages that don’t have video on them. Right? And we know that you can get 2 to 3 times the click throughs in your emails when you put a video thumbnail in that email, because people are much more likely to want to click to watch that video than to some other link where what they don’t know what they’re going to see.
[00:07:21.700] – Michael Hoffman
So that’s really the big driver, is that we need to engage people around our causes. And video is the kind of content that’s engaging people more. So that’s the one level. I think another level is that we’ve really seen a bunch of trends come together, one of which is the lack of trust in institutions and media and government. And so we’re in a world where the brands aren’t trusted the way that they used to be. And really people trust people and peers.
[00:08:00.010] – Michael Hoffman
And so I think it’s another thing that’s happening is we have to step out in front of our brand voices with real people and those real people, and the stories from real people that are authentic, that feel like they’re not manufactured by a marketing team are the things that work better as well.
[00:08:20.980] – Michael Hoffman
So if you sort of take the video working well and you take the authentic stories, part of real people working well and you put those things together, you know, that’s what we’re focused on because that’s where we see the impact.
[00:08:36.490] – Boris
Absolutely. I’m so glad you shared all those numbers and statistics on how much more effective video usage is in terms of creating heroes, in terms of creating engagement and connection. You know, aside from a one-to-one conversation in person, a one to one conversation over the Internet with video is probably the second best way to actually make a connection with a person. And watching someone is very different than just reading their story, because if their story’s well written, you can convey all the emotions and the imagination gets stimulated and it can be really, really powerful.
[00:09:14.500] – Boris
But seeing someone who has experienced something and seeing their facial expressions, hearing their emotion in their voice is just always a much more immediate driver of empathy. Releases that oxytocin like nothing else so that you trust—and that’s a huge thing that you just mentioned. Social proof and trust building factors are critical these days with so many people claiming so many different things or vying for attention. That connection that you could make through a good story well told is going to make all the difference every time.
[00:09:52.360] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, and I think there’s another layer to it also, which is that everyone who’s affiliated with your organization or your cause filters that work through their own life experience and story. And so you sitting in a kind of a marketing fundraising communications seat, we are trying to think of what people might want to hear, what might move people. But when we simply give up on that and say, well, if we collect the stories from real people and let them tell their authentic journey that got them to care about this, that’s going to be unique for each person that we get that from.
[00:10:33.910] – Michael Hoffman
And that’s what’s going to resonate with different people. They’re going to say, I didn’t realize this was such a huge problem in the world and I didn’t realize I could do something about it. And then I found this organization and they helped me realize that I actually had a lot more power and influence and impact than I thought I could ever have. And that’s exactly that hero’s story which the Hero Factory is saying. I need you to look at yourself not as an ordinary person in the ordinary world, but someone who can actually do heroic things through the organization.
[00:11:14.980] – Michael Hoffman
And so the organization will help you reveal the power that you have, that you didn’t even realize you have. Right? And like getting the more people that can tell that story, the more proof points, the more trust that that has. And as you said with video, there’s a realness to it. People can feel whether that’s real or not, with video in a different way.
[00:11:40.270] – Michael Hoffman
And we’re so lucky as organizations today. We’re so lucky because when I started See3 years ago, everything had to be beautifully shot and expensively produced and all of that. We don’t have to do that. I mean, there’s good reasons to do that sometimes and to have a kind of pyramid where you have a few pieces of tentpole content during the year, let’s say. But you can do so much with the devices in your pocket, with the webcam that we’re both using, like that’s new and that’s really powerful.
[00:12:14.530] – Michael Hoffman
And that gives small organizations an edge. Because, you know, I always say this to organizations that I that I work with. You know, if Nike can tell a story that’s going to make you cry and they sell shoes and clothes, like think about what you can do with the real issues and real people and stuff that matters. You know, it’s it’s like we have such assets in this world of nonprofits in terms of storytelling, and we just have to let them out and be less worried and guarded about those real stories, because sometimes real stories are also a little bit messy.
[00:12:50.480] – Boris
Absolutely, there’s a few things that I’d love to touch on that you just spoke about. So one of the things that I teach organizations and help them figure out is their content source map, basically. So a lot of organizations have a small if even a dedicated marketing team. And they’re often overwhelmed trying to get all of the stories together, trying to create the stories, think of the stories, as you were just saying. And so I walk them through a process where I help them identify all the different types of people that they could possibly source stories from that are connected to their organization already, whether they’re donors or board members or volunteers or beneficiaries of their services and various points in between.
[00:13:35.330] – Boris
Those are all going to have, as you said, a different point of view. Right? In filmmaking, we have different angles and different POV shots. So everybody’s point of view is going to be slightly unique, at least slightly unique. And it’s going to have its own connection that people who are similar to them might resonate with. The other thing that you were talking about with the technology and whether we need professionally produced video… completely agree, again.
[00:14:03.420] – Boris
Yes, there’s that what you call tentpole content at maybe a gala. You want a professionally produced video that looks like you’re doing high-quality work. But oftentimes that level of production is counterproductive when it comes to a direct appeal. You want that raw kind of emotional energy, that unfiltered look, rather than something that’s smooth and polished because it’s harder to connect to something smooth and polished than it is to just a person talking on whatever device it is, not looking perfectly lit with a green screen like I’ve got in here. And it’s actually more effective for some campaigns.
[00:14:42.660] – Boris
So I want to touch on two things now that kind of spawned from that. The first is, we now have, I think, the opposite problem of what we had when you started to See3, like you were saying, where video was difficult to make and expensive to make. And everybody is now jumping on the video bandwagon and Facebook is flooded with video. They used to promote it more. I think they still do promote it more in the algorithm.
[00:15:09.810] – Boris
Instagram is all about the video. Obviously, TikTok is nothing but video. So now there is almost too much out there. How does an organization, first of all, prioritize which videos they put out and second of all, figure out where they could use those videos most effectively?
[00:15:30.930] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the right question. We think the world, we see a world totally awash in video. Right? And you kind of go, well, ah, we had sort of peak video? And the answer to that, I think is no, that we’re not even there yet. And I say that because when I go and see a speaker’s page at a conference. Right, all the different sessions, session listing, mostly it’s just a bunch of text. And I’m not hearing from those people who are speaking or when I get emails from nonprofits. I’m on many email lists, so I can see what everyone’s doing. How often is it just a big block of text? And “most often” is the answer to that. And so there’s so much room to put video in the places that we’re trying to engage people.
[00:16:23.310] – Michael Hoffman
So I think on the one hand, don’t be scared away by the noise that there is. There is a lot of noise out there. And you also have to know who’s your audience. And and so you have to go where your audience is.
[00:16:38.490] – Michael Hoffman
You know, I’ve had so many organizations. I’m sure you’ve had this experience as well, where organizations like, you know, we want to be on TikTok. And you say, well, your average donor is a 70-year-old woman. Is this where you think you’re going to increase that market? And it’s like, “well, we want to have younger donors.” It’s like, great, let’s go for 50-year-old women this time. You know, I mean, you have to be strategic about these things and really say, well, who are we targeting and why and where do those people live online and what ways and what are the things that are going to connect to them.
[00:17:21.630] – Michael Hoffman
One of the things that we’re excited about in Gather Voices, where we have technology that can get lots of video from lots of people, is that, there’s no downside to getting as many people as possible to tell their story. Because a couple of things happen there. One is you get all this content. You don’t have to use all of it, but you get a lot of content regularly instead of chasing after content that you need in that moment.
[00:17:50.100] – Michael Hoffman
The other thing is simply asking someone to share their story strengthens the relationship that you have with that person. And I think this is a really important point. It’s like the content itself is useful because of how it could move others. But the asking for the content is powerful in saying you care about what these people’s experience are. You care about what they think, you care about who they are and you’re lifting that up. So I think the idea of building video collection into lots of touch points that you already have is a much better long-term strategy than let’s chase some people because we have this initiative coming up.
[00:18:34.230] – Michael Hoffman
And so when I say long term, I think of like, every donor… on a thank you page, it says click here to record a video and tell us why you care about this. You know why you care about this cause, like what brings you, right? Like just creating a culture of saying, we want to listen, we care what you think. You know, that can have real impact.
[00:18:55.470] – Boris
Absolutely. Though you have to be careful that when you say we care, we want to know what you think, that you can actually respond to that as well. There’s … the only thing worse, I think, than not asking people for their input and and helping them feel like a part of the movement, a part of the cause, a part of the community is to ask them and then ignore them.
[00:19:18.000] – Michael Hoffman
I totally agree with that. I totally agree. And I think, you know, that doesn’t mean that every video lands on your homepage. Right? There are lots of ways to make people feel and genuinely care of what they think. And the value of it is so powerful as well, just in terms of intelligence. Like to really understand what’s the intersection between these different people in their lives and in the organization that we care about.
[00:19:47.610] – Michael Hoffman
You know, I like what you were saying about thinking about all the different storytellers. It reminds me of work that I got to do with Make a Wish, where and the production quality issue, where you make a wish for many years had one story, which was this wish story where you have the wish kid getting their wish and everybody’s happy. And it’s like a really great story. But that was it. Like that’s all you ever saw about Make a Wish was like that big reveal moment of that which kept getting their story.
[00:20:18.390] – Michael Hoffman
And you know what the problem with that is? That resonates with some people. But mostly you look at that and you go, that’s great. You have it all figured out. What do you need us for? Right? Like, there’s no there’s no sense of need in there because the organization’s already done this thing that’s powerful and has impact. And I can watch from the sidelines and it’s fine. But it also doesn’t show my role. If I’m a volunteer or I’m a donor, what do I have to do with that?
[00:20:46.560] – Michael Hoffman
It doesn’t look like anything. It’s own contained thing. And so what we did with Make a Wish was really say to them, you have permission to tell other stories even though you want to be child centric, which was like, this weird child centric, kept them in that box because they’re like, oh, we can’t tell stories about anybody else. It’s like, no, that’s not what we mean by child centric. Child centric means it’s all on behalf of the kids.
[00:21:10.770] – Michael Hoffman
That doesn’t mean you can’t tell their stories. So a great example was once they once they really internalize this idea, they did the most incredible video and I will find it for the shownotes. It’s the most incredible video of a volunteer. Because Make a Wish, which is one of the few organizations where the real work gets done by volunteers, a lot of the real work gets done by volunteers. And so they had this volunteer and the guy at the beginning of video, he’s like, I get really weirded out by sick kids.
[00:21:40.230] – Michael Hoffman
Like, I don’t think I can be in a room with somebody who’s really sick, you know? And but then I went in and I met this kid, Noah and I, we fell in love. It was like the most incredible thing. And then he tells this whole story about how he did this, rebuilt this kid’s house so that the kid could get access to the outside with his wheelchair. Right? But they would have never thought that it was OK to have a volunteer go, “I don’t know about this being with the kids thing.” But what that ended up doing was giving voice to the same emotional journey that so many other people had, which is why “I don’t want to get involved, because I don’t think I can deal with it” and how he got through that and how he experienced it.
[00:22:28.000] – Michael Hoffman
And that led to more volunteers, right? That’s what they needed, volunteer recruitment. So you have to tell the stories of the people that you want to activate. Again, if you have a story and there’s no donor agency in that story, that doesn’t mean the whole story has to be about the donor. But if there’s no sense that it was the donor that made it possible. Then no donor is going to get activated by it, right? And if there’s no sense of the volunteer, the volunteers are going to activated by it. So I don’t know. Tell me if that’s in line with your experience.
[00:23:00.320] – Boris
Oh, that’s absolutely my experience. That’s absolutely what I teach day in, day out. You know, people will respond to other people who are more like them, who are in a similar position to them, who feel the way that they do. And you need to definitely empower them and make it seem like you can become a hero. And we are not the heroes.
[00:23:22.880] – Boris
The nonprofit is not the hero. And I think that’s how it was coming off on that Make a Wish video that you’re talking about before you guys came in. That the nonprofit is the hero. “Look at the great work we do and oh, you should help us.” Rather than, “our volunteers are heroes who make these wishes come true. And you can also be volunteer even if before you may have thought that, oh, it’s really difficult to be in a room with sick children.” You reminded me of that Sally Struthers campaign so many years ago that said, for the price of a cup of coffee a day, you could feed every child.
[00:23:58.970] – Boris
And it was very effective, I’m sure. But at the same time, it turned a lot of people off. When that commercial would come on, it was so sad and so manipulative that people would change the channel. And that’s not necessary. You don’t have to just, in that case, it really was exploit the beneficiaries, exploit the people who are having the problem in order to say there is a problem and you can help.
[00:24:25.640] – Michael Hoffman
The other piece about that. I think that doesn’t work is that the ask has to be commensurate with the challenge. If I say to you, millions of kids are dying in Africa of hunger and you can give me the price of a cup of coffee, there’s a mismatch there. It’s like, yeah, I don’t think I’m going to really have a big impact on that problem, you know? And so I think that’s another piece of it. But I love what you just said about about Make a Wish and that because that was actually the first thing that we did with them was their mission statement said, Make a Wish, grants the wishes of children.
[00:24:59.960] – Michael Hoffman
And we were like, no, make a wish, doesn’t it? Thousands, tens of thousands of volunteers and donors grant the wishes of children. That’s who does it. It’s Make a Wish that makes it possible. But it’s the heroes are not it’s not the organization, because then you put your donor as the sidekick and nobody wants to be a sidekick. Nobody wants to be Robin, sorry.
[00:25:21.560] – Boris
That’s true. That’s true. Although I was just randomly reading an article that Matt Damon did want to be Robin and kept auditioning and they kept turning him down. And in the end, it’s really a good thing because the guys who did play Robin never actually went too far in their careers. Sorry, total side note. Let’s come back to…
[00:25:43.570] – Boris
All right, video is powerful. Appeals from and in stories from people on all different levels within the organization are vital and can be used super effectively. What makes a good video story? What are the elements that a story on video specifically? And I mean, I could talk for days about this stuff… from your perspective and what’s been working for you guys, what’s necessary in there for it to be effective?
[00:26:11.810] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a couple of levels of that. I would say. Let me just start with production side of things. You know, people we don’t need fancy produced video, but we need good sound. So I would say if you’re going to focus on anything, you know, it’s sound and light and sound, especially. That people will watch bad video with good sound. They will not watch good video, bad sounds, it’s too frustrating.
[00:26:35.570] – Michael Hoffman
So just simply having quiet places, an external microphone, that’s very inexpensive, other ways to get good sound. So I would say that just as a production note. Go ahead.
[00:26:47.540] – Boris
Let me pause you right there, because absolutely. And I learned this in Hollywood so many years ago that’s number one thing. Do you advise organizations to send out external microphones for things because not everybody has one?
[00:26:59.480] – Michael Hoffman
Not necessarily. I mean, I think it depends on the circumstance. So I think if you’re recording at an event, you better have a setup that will deal with the surrounding noise and things like that. One of the things we’ve done in our software actually is we have when you when we get people to record themselves using their own phones, we have a frame of their face in the middle. And people are like, oh, so that they put their face there.
[00:27:25.610] – Michael Hoffman
And I was like, yeah, but really. So that they size it right, so it’s close enough to get the good sound. And so I think, I think there’s ways to get good sound, but it’s definitely something to make people aware of. And if you can, you know, the other thing we’ve built into the software is also a warning that says it seems loud in there. Maybe you want to move to a quiet place.
[00:27:46.670] – Michael Hoffman
So I think again. Depending on the use of the of the things, it sometimes makes sense to send equipment out to people not always necessary if you give them the right framework to do it.
[00:27:58.570] – Boris
OK, so we’ve got sound. We need great sound. Absolutely. What else?
[00:28:02.470] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah. I mean, the other thing is just a compelling personal story with no fluff. I think there’s a there’s a tendency in people who fancy themselves video makers to have like intros, and things that take some time to get into it. And that’s nice if you’re sitting down to watch Game of Thrones or something. But in our world, online mostly get right to it, like jump right in to whatever that piece is, and cut your story so that, you know, that you that you grab people in the first few seconds because you can lose people so fast online.
[00:28:40.440] – Michael Hoffman
You know that’s that’s an example. So, so that’s really I mean those are the big things I would say. I think when you let people tell their own authentic stories, you get a mix of things. But that’s 99% of the time better than the story you’re going to try to manipulate or craft.
[00:28:58.810] – Boris
Interesting. I worked with an organization here in the New York metro area where we were trying to find videos and video stories, basically soliciting stories. And what I found helpful in that case, and I don’t know if you guys do this… Before they ever actually turned on the camera, we had them write out answers to certain questions that would trigger a storytelling formula. First of all, a beginning, middle and end, if you will, with that conflict or not conflict, but challenges, whatever they might be, and also get them really thinking about those elements before they start.
[00:29:35.540] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, I love that idea. I think that’s a great idea. And another way to do that is also and that creates some ease’s is more in the social proof vein, which is showing other people’s stories. And so people go, oh, that person did a video, I can do a video. That person tell a story. I see how they told the story about how long it is. So, again, modeling that behavior that you want from them.
[00:29:57.760] – Boris
That’s an awesome idea. I actually hadn’t thought of that. I use templates and other things, but why not give somebody a model to say, hey, here’s a sample video of the kind of testimonial that we’re looking for, the kind of story that we’re looking for right now. It’s about the right length. Here are some questions that you can think about, and now go.
[00:30:15.400] – Michael Hoffman
What’s your version of this? Because I think that’s what holds people back. A lot is going in their minds, “I’m not sure what Boris wants from me.”
[00:30:24.250] – Boris
A blank canvas.
[00:30:25.720] – Michael Hoffman
And so the more you can make people feel at ease with that, the better.
[00:30:30.510] – Boris
Really cool. So if organizations haven’t started doing this and right now, as we all know, the pandemic is surging again, so it’s difficult to get out and go video record somebody. And there are plenty of tools like Gather Voices being one of the best ones that I’ve seen personally. I enjoyed playing with your platform. Where should they get started? How should an organization get started in collecting these stories?
[00:30:57.810] – Michael Hoffman
I mean, I think the first piece is just a leadership, an organization-wide belief that it’s important to do it. So number one is like a commitment. We’re going to do it like that’s gotta—that’s where it starts. And then there’s no excuse whether you have technology or not. There’s no excuse because everybody has these devices, the shoot powerful stories. So the idea of asking people, starting with your closest circle, starting with your board members, starting with your long-term donors, starting with your, you know, the staff. It’s like just start where it’s easiest to start and work your way out from there.
[00:31:38.080] – Boris
Awesome. So I ask everybody if there are any tools that they recommend nonprofits check out, is there anything that you think would help them in this vein?
[00:31:50.470] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, I mean, I think one, I will just say we give a lot of free content away at Gather Voice on these subjects. So there’s just a ton of content on our blog and things like that and on LinkedIn and other places where we publish, really just trying to take what’s working that we see working and sharing that. So I think that’s one piece. And then I think that there’s a bigger—so that’s around video. I think in just in terms of organizational development and growth mindset, I’m really at this moment, I’m really into this book called Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.
[00:32:30.700] – Michael Hoffman
It’s really a management book, but it’s really all about just being organized and how you think about growth. And I think so many nonprofits have a scarcity mindset. And if they really take some pieces of what quick growing businesses do, they can think differently about it. And that puts some of these tactics like getting more video from people at the forefront, because you really have to start thinking about how do we get our story out there more aggressively? How do we grow? What does that mean? You know, what are we trying to accomplish and what’s the path to get there and being more organized about it? So, yeah, there’s there’s there’s a lot of great tools out there.
[00:33:16.120] – Boris
Awesome. We’ll make sure to link to all of those in the show notes, as well as the video that you said you were going to send us that you guys helped create for Make a Wish. When folks are done watching this, besides, of course, subscribing to my newsletter and leaving a great review for this podcast, what should they do to follow up with you?
[00:33:34.240] – Michael Hoffman
Yeah, so I’d love to hear what you all think and what you’re doing. I mean, I think you see this also Boris, we learn as much from the practitioners out there as we do doing the work that we do. So follow me on or connect with me on LinkedIn—so you can just look up Michael Hoffman and Gather Voices there. Also, you know, that’s really the best way. And I’m just firstname.lastname@example.org, and so send me an email.
[00:34:03.460] – Boris
And if people want to check out Gather Voices, do you guys do some sort of a trial or how do you do that?
[00:34:10.060] – Michael Hoffman
We have a ton of content on our website that shows how it works, how other people are using it, what what it all is. And then you can get a demo really easily. So you can do that right from the website. It’s gathervoices.co
[00:34:24.430] – Boris
Cool. Thanks so much, Michael, and thank you all for joining us today for the Nonprofit Hero Factory. I hope you got some great tips and things to think about when it comes to gathering your stories on video or however you prefer to get them all together. They’re crucial to activating more heroes for your cause. Thank you, everybody. We’ll see you next week on the Nonprofit Hero Factory.
[00:35:04.640] – Outro Video
Thank you all for watching and listening to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, we hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating more heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show on YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.
Concepts and Takeaways:
- People are increasingly comfortable with video, whether watching or appearing on camera. The question is, how do we leverage that for your organization’s cause? (5:43)
- Video gets 1200% more shares, 88% more engagement and 2-3x the click-throughs. (6:46)
- Video is better at sharing an authentic journey, building empathy and trust than most other types of content online. (9:02)
- Your goal is to inspire more people to believe they can be heroes by sharing the stories of how your organization has helped others become heroes. (10:45)
- If Nike commercials can make you cry, imagine what real stories about real issues can do. (12:14)
- Although it might feel like there’s a lot of video today, there are still a lot more opportunities to incorporate video into communications, as long as you know your audience. (15:18)
- Simply asking someone to share their story strengthens your relationship with that person. (17:50)
- The Make-A-Wish Problem: Touching stories are not enough. Narratives have to empower the would-be supporter. (23:22)
- In video, sound quality is more important than video quality. Audiences prefer to watch a poor quality video with good sound, over a great-looking video with poor sound. (26:11)
- Fancy video techniques are no substitute for compelling personal stories—and sometimes distract from them. (28:02)
- Give people an idea of what to say in your video with examples and templates to follow. (29:35)
Action Steps: What Now?
About this week’s guest
Michael HoffmanCEO, Gather Voices
Michael Hoffman is the co-founder and CEO of Gather Voices, a technology company that automates the creation, management and publishing of video content. He is also the founder of See3 Communications, a digital marketing agency for nonprofits and founder of the DoGooder Video Awards which honors the best social cause video each year. Hoffman teaches marketing at the University of Chicago and is an internationally sought-after speaker and trainer who is a trusted advisor to nonprofit leaders on engagement strategy.
The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 2
How Nonprofits Can Use Video to Build Community with Russ Johns
In this Episode:
Boris and guest Russ Johns talk about how nonprofits can use video to engage and grow their communities on—and generate content for—social media. Russ’s superpower is building communities through video, something he’s been doing for nearly 20 years. Today, as the host of the daily #PirateBroadcast, Russ knows a thing or two about showing up, talking and really listening to his audience. Learn about the tools and strategies that you can apply to your nonprofit’s engagement strategy on LinkedIn, Youtube and other social media channels.
Read the Transcript
Boris Kievsky 0:15
Hi Everybody and Welcome to Episode Two of the nonprofit Hero Factory. It’s actually my very first live show. I recorded episode one earlier last week, and you guys are welcome to go and check it out. If you want to learn more about me and about this podcast and video series, what we’re all about what we’re going to be doing and delivering over the course of next week’s, month. Hopefully years. As long as you guys are interested, we’ll be here to provide the content.
Boris Kievsky 0:42
Today’s episode is going to be with a good friend of mine and an expert in the field of building communities and using video to do just that. His name is Russ Johns before I bring him on I just want to apologize in advance. As I said, this is our very first live streaming episode it is also the age of Coronavirus. So at the moment, there are a few kids in the house and a new dog in the house. So you might hear any of the above, making some noise in the background or even my kids yelling at the dog in the background. It’s just the world we live in and life goes on. Right. Without any further ado, I would love to bring on Mr. Russ Johns. Russ, can we get you in? There he is. Hey, Russ.
Russ Johns 1:28
Hey Boris. How you doing?
Boris Kievsky 1:32
I’m doing all right. I’m both excited. And as you well know, nervous about this as we’re starting a whole new thing. it’s a new chapter, right? I titled Episode One of this series, our story begins and this is that was really the prologue. As I’ll keep referring to storytelling throughout this whole series, that was the prologue and this is the beginning of chapter one. I don’t know yet where the story is going to take us. So it’s exciting to discover it and I’m really glad that you are my first victim or guest or however you want to see yourself today because I know you’re a pro at doing this. You’re the one who has gotten me into doing this in the first place. Russ, let me give you the floor for a minute go ahead and introduce yourself to everybody out here on the nonprofit Hero Factory. What do you all about? Yeah, what do you hope to share with us today?
Russ Johns 2:23
Yeah. First and foremost Boris I just have two hats off to you applaud the fact that you’re taking steps to help more people I know, the passion and the focus you have on the nonprofit space in general, and your kind heart and I know that you’re going to share some amazing stories and amazing information in value to your community. I just really appreciate the fact that you’re doing this and not because I’m biased and I’m your friend. However, I think right now more than any other time in history is an opportunity where we can actually work together to share good information to help more people. I think that’s what I’m passionate about. I really like the idea that you bringing on guests and having conversations around your storytelling and how important it is for the community, I think that’s going to be so incredibly valuable right now. I just want to take a moment to applaud you for for your efforts. Thank you so much for being here.
Boris Kievsky 3:32
Thanks, brother. I really appreciate that and appreciate you. So yeah, tell me I mean, I know a lot. tell our audience a little bit about what you’ve been doing over the past few years now that I’ve known you. You’ve been building communities I know, through LinkedIn, and through streaming, specifically, live streaming now. You’ve been creating tons of really great content that people really respond to over the years. So tell me a little bit about that. What drives you? What gets you going?
Russ Johns 4:02
Well, I’m super excited. I actually grew up in the advertising industry and as far back as 85. I’ve seen this whole process evolve. I was really excited A number of years ago when I was in Houston, and the opportunity, and I got involved in podcasting. Podcasting was the first arena that I got to play in and I actually started building out this organization that helped broadcast High School varsity games, using streaming media. We get individuals who are passionate about sports, which I know very little about, send them out to these games, and they would broadcast these games, and then we’d streaming back to the radio station. I was managing radio stations at the time. Then we would play these local varsity games on the radio station in Texas. As you can guess, is very passionate about their high school sports in their, and their kids and everything else. It was this is kind of like an open door to see what the possibilities could evolve into. I started an organization and started training people is called the future media Association. The whole premise was that you are the media, you have the opportunity to tell your story and share your gifts with the rest of the world. By using some technology and how it’s evolved is is the opportunity for us to share the stories. I think especially in the nonprofit space, it’s really important for people to understand what you do, how you help, and where you can take people and assist in their mission in your organization. With that, I’ve built a number of communities. I have a good community with broadcast on LinkedIn, and YouTube, I’m continuing to grow on my YouTube channel and Twitter and all the social media. It’s amazing to watch how you can actually communicate and engage your audience. I think when you have an opportunity to have a conversation, you can just share so much and deliver so much value.
Boris Kievsky 6:23
Yeah. That sounds a lot, as you know, very much in line with the types of things that I teach nonprofits and talk to nonprofits about being the master of your own media, about being your own Broadcasting Company, if you will. There are very few barriers these days. Of course, the nonprofit’s biggest barriers are resources, time, and money. Technology has really made it cheaper and cheaper, reducing those barriers to entry. So that the difference between any organization and ABC these days is very small, despite all the Disney money behind ABC. It’s absolutely critical that they get out there and they connect with their communities and tell their stories in the best ways possible. Oftentimes, like I said, nonprofits will struggle with the resources of it, though, whether they just feel like it’s too much to take on or a feeling like they can’t afford to do it. What should they be doing? What are you seeing out there, that’s working? What are you advising people to do just to even get started without spending a ton of money and just start building that kind of community?
Russ Johns 7:42
That’s a great question. I think the word that pops into my head right now is activation. The reason I’m so passionate about video is because it quickly allows an organization to either In US using a smartphone, they can actually take and record something about something that’s taking place, or communication that needs to be shared, or something that is available to the community to activate others around the community. Say, for instance, I’ll give you a perfect example is that I’m working with an organization that builds prosthetics for people that are in rural areas in third world countries, and they use technology to scan limbs so they can quickly process prosthetics. As a result of their video, they’ve been able to tell their story to more people. All of a sudden there’s an awareness in that video can actually be shared and you can see the lights In the eyes of these children, and you can see the parents and the opportunities that they have. The people that are involved and engaged are so motivated and emotional and passionate about what they’re doing. That’s not impossible to transfer to a written word or an image. However, the beauty of the video is that then the nonprofit can take that and share it again and again until the end well until they close the internet. It’ll be there. I think that’s the value is you can do it once and share multiple times. I think there’s a transfer of energy there that takes place.
Boris Kievsky 9:44
Yeah, video is definitely one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful tool today that we have. Arguably, video feeds into some even more powerful tools perhaps like VR and AR. The closer we get to that one to one experience Right. In terms of media, the closer we get to that one to one experience of being able to put ourselves in someone else’s world, really, and we can’t help it, right, we have these neuroreceptors and transmitters, and we release these chemicals in our brains like dopamine and oxytocin and what is the, there’s four that I normally talk about. That really creates empathy and connection to someone else. As soon as you do that, we’re genetically programmed to respond to it, and help it we start to trust we start to want to help someone who is in need. Absolutely video and that first-person storytelling as often as possible, right that’ll get you there the closest. The thing though, is I feel like what happens oftentimes, nonprofits and really not just nonprofits, most people in Organizations, they put out a video and they might even have it super produced and great shiny video. They’ll put it out and they’ll sort of wait for things to happen. You and I were talking earlier and I asked you what your superpower is. You said your superpower is building community. How do we use video? Not to just broadcast our message and be ABC, right, which has historically been one-directional, right? It one too many great for them. But one-directional, how do we and they’re still wrestling with this to create a two-way conversation so that it’s really building a community because the community is not, listening to someone speak and saying, Okay, sure. Community is dialogue.
Russ Johns 11:46
Boris Kievsky 11:47
What are you doing to really facilitate dialogue out there?
Russ Johns 11:52
That’s an excellent question. I’m glad you brought it up because a lot of people, We’ve had many discussions around this point, Boris is a lot of people think that social media is going to solve their problems. What I like to do is make sure that people understand that social media is just a tool for communication. The ability and the opportunity that we have is with social media is the opportunity to actually have a conversation with somebody and one of the tools that I shared with you, that I absolutely love right now. It’s not required. You can do this in many different ways. But dubb.com is one of the tools that I use to actually create one to one communications, conversations with individuals, say a nonprofit. They have a list of donors, they have a list of people that have participated as volunteers. They have a list of people that are involved in the organization in some way, shape, or form. One of the things that I love to use on LinkedIn to engage in a direct message.
Russ Johns 13:08
LinkedIn allows you from your phone to leave a voicemail, it allows you to leave a video without any other additional software at all. It allows you to leave a text message. If you’re connected to these individuals, I encourage you to think about how you can quickly and simply just reach out and check in on people and open the dialogue that takes place and stay active in that process and make it part of your daily routine. To reach out to a few people set aside 10 15 minutes a day to actually engage in your community and allow them the opportunity to introduce you to new people that are in need of your nonprofit or actually can help Hope you’re nonprofit because people are inherently, in my history and my experience, inherently want to help people, if you’re asking for help, people are good to help if they know how they can help. Just communicating quick video on a LinkedIn phone or even in a messenger on Facebook, there’s, it’s very simple to produce. It’s very quick and easy to engage. It actually creates a lot of responses. I think that over time, that’s how I built up communities, multiple communities over time.
Boris Kievsky 14:40
Do you have a LinkedIn right now, Russ?
Russ Johns 14:43
I do have a LinkedIn. How many connections do you have there? I have, I don’t know. It’s almost 22,000 or so. connections.
Boris Kievsky 14:56
If you’re working is that a lot of people actually feel like they aren’t connected to you because you do do that you reach out to people you talk to people directly. It’s not just oh, I click the button. Yeah sure. Now I’m connected to somebody, you actually establish connections. Yeah, Dubb is a great tool for that. Dubb can also if you like, and there’s also another I don’t remember what it’s called right now, something video by type form. Also the video responses, a few tools now coming out to do that, which I think are awesome. One because it helps communicate in two directions, but also to help, for example, collect social proof, right, a video testimonial. I’m fascinated by behavior and behavioral change.
Boris Kievsky 15:41
One of the formulas that have really stuck in my head from a couple of different books that I’ve been reading lately is behavior equals motivation, plus ability Plus trigger or maybe it’s times ability to trigger and you talked about that trigger. if they see the video and if you ask for something right that’s the triggered ability these days technology like Dubb like type forms new tool and even just playing conversation Facebook Messenger will allow you to do this right? It makes it super fast and super easy to just open up your phone or open up your webcam and record a quick video and shoot it back. Now you’ve got this A: bidirectionality so you’re actually being social rather than preaching and B: your the motivation is in the is partly in the ask the trigger is right there, the call to action. The ability is super simple. You’ve now got a behavior change formula that is super simple to use.
Russ Johns 16:46
Yeah. To take the next step for us is with Dubb. I actually have been able to within Dubb, I can create a Dubb video and say, Boris, I really thank you for being on my show. I want to be able to explain to people your experience and kind of if you could share something, and then you can actually reply in the video. What that does is it allows the opportunity to be involved and engaged. If you could do that with your community in the nonprofit space, that is huge, because when you can offer ownership and it’s like, all of a sudden, that connection is like, Hey, I’m part of a bigger thing here. I’m part of a movement that’s helping individuals or helping animals or save the park or whatever it happens to be. There are so many opportunities that what happens is you collect and you acquire, and you start working on a mutual goal that everybody understands what they’re they’re part of the equation is, and there’s a lot of ways you can do this. I love Dubb, because of what it’s been able to do for me and the conversations that have started, and the conversations that I continue to have with that tool. Inherently it’s the ability and the opportunity to actually share this video and start a conversation. Because, starting the conversation, and continuing to stay engaged is is the key benefit here.
Boris Kievsky 18:33
I just want to reiterate that there are a few tools out there. I just looked it up, it’s Video Ask by type form, right? Dubb is great but it’s not the only thing out there. It’s what one of the things I’m constantly for lack of better word preaching is the best tool is the one that you have and can use right now. Whatever is most easily accessible I think is great. You also when we return Talking mentioned Stream Yard, which we’re actually using right now. Tell me, how do you think nonprofits should be using Stream Yard or similar live streaming tools like this?
Russ Johns 19:10
Well, the big platform that a lot of people have heard a lot about, I’ve been using the stay at home movement with pandemic going on is Zoom. It’s a video conferencing. I want to make sure that I explain this in a way that is easy for people to understand is that Zoom is based on and you can record Zoom sessions, but Zoom is based on multiple people getting into a room looks like imagine a conference room, it’s a virtual conference room, and you can come in and have a conversation and make comments and things like that.
Russ Johns 19:52
Whereas Stream Yard is actually a platform that allows you to stream to multiple locations, At the same time, and we can have guests in the room, and we can have multiple people in different looks and feels. It’s focused on streaming live video. We can actually take that moment, this conversation right now. Then we can take that and develop future content with it as part of the conversation, and we can repurpose that like I said until they close the Internet, and we’ll have this available, and then you can use it. Then we’ll take this audio file and create a podcast for you. Then we’ll go recreate some images, and then you can share it out again. Its Multi-Purpose benefit is that it? It’s shared multiple places by just doing it once.
Boris Kievsky 20:49
That’s exactly what we’re doing with this show. Right?
Russ Johns 20:51
Boris Kievsky 20:51
We’re doing it live. Right now. I think we’re just on Facebook and
Russ Johns 20:55
Boris Kievsky 20:56
On YouTube already and Periscope and then hopefully soon, we’ll get LinkedIn as well. People can interact. Also, that’s the other thing. Zoom, you can stream live, I think to Facebook and possibly even to YouTube, I don’t remember. The interactive portion Stream Yard is great at bringing in if anybody makes comments, they flow into the stream yard window as well. Then you can keep it up there, but you can also repurpose it right so we’re gonna take this and we’re going to set it up as opposed to the podcast, which people can hopefully subscribe to and download on whatever their favorite podcasting platform is. By the way, for those of you listening, watching all of these tools, whatever we mentioned in shows, we’re making it a point to put into the show notes for easy access. So if you go to npherofactory.com or specifically for this one, it would be npherofactory.com/eptwo Episode Two, it will redirect you to the full show notes page. Where we’ll have links to all this stuff as well as more info on Russ and everything that we’re trying to do. As you know, I love this concept of taking content and sort of some people call it downsampling.
Russ Johns 22:14
I’m glad I kept my fax machine, right.
Boris Kievsky 22:15
It’s really down streaming it in several ways where you start with the big picture, I don’t even know where my hand is, at the moment, you start with the biggest object, which is the most the one that’s going to be most easy to repurpose for all sorts of other functions, which in this case, is a conversation with my friend, Russ Johns. Then you can repurpose it into all kinds of other media and other places on the web. Until the internet dies, which I don’t think it ever will. It’s gonna keep evolving. In a generation, it’ll probably look very different than it does today as all things do. The content will still be there. We don’t have to worry about going back now and Converting our old analog VHS and cassette, audio cassettes to digital.
Boris Kievsky 23:09
I just had a new internet service installed, I had files installed, and the guy tells me, Yeah, and if you have a fax machine, there’s jack right on the back is that I’m sorry. What? The first fax machine I remember was in 1987, I think and I thought it was exciting new technology. Today, if somebody says fax, I tune out. I can’t and I understand some people are still comfortable with that technology and good for them that it exists. We’ve moved past the analog age and now that we’re in the digital era, there’s no going back. Any content that’s currently created, can and will outlive all of us in so many different ways. The trick though, I think, and as you said, it’ll live on forever. You can keep using it. I think the trick is to keep repurposing it and reinfusing it with substance, right.
Boris Kievsky 24:08
So in a few years, maybe live streaming won’t be as important as it is right now. But parts of this conversation are still going to be relevant and can still be used, even just for archival purposes, but also the concepts that we’re talking about of communication of bi-directional communication, right? Those are going to even outlive the media. I think there are many ways, I think one term that I used to use for this upcycling, right, so we’re going to downsample this content, but we’re also going to upcycle it in the future, because we might be able to compile a series of things like I might ask a specific question throughout all of these and then have a bunch of people answering it right now it’s content around one specific subject, even though we talked about 15 different things during this episode.
Russ Johns 24:57
Yeah. Well Here’s the thing that the thread that pulls it all together Boris, This is what I know that you’re passionate about is helping nonprofits have a clear, concise story that everybody understands is key to their evolution, because whether you’re sharing it today, a year from now, or 10 years from now, as long as the story and the message are clear and concise, people will always understand and appreciate what you’re looking to accomplish. That’s what you bring to the table. That’s what I admire you for it, I’m all over the map, and I can ramble all day. However, you’ve always been a one that can relate back in and saying, Okay, how does that support the story? How does that and that’s the principles that you share with so many nonprofits right now is the ability and opportunity to help them craft that story. So whether it’s a year from now or 10 years from now That story is still relevant.
Boris Kievsky 26:03
The only thing I’m going to add to that recipe, thank you for that, but clear, concise. I’m going to add a third C just because we’re in C’s, and compelling, right?
Russ Johns 26:14
Boris Kievsky 26:16
It has to draw you in it has to call you to action, right? I love the hero’s journey, apparently, for these things in the Hollywood interpretation of the hero’s journey, if you will. So yeah, clear, concise, and compelling. It’s possible that your story will evolve over time. It should nothing should stay the same forever at any given point in time,
Russ Johns 26:38
People that have a guide to help them with those stories, too.
Boris Kievsky 26:42
Russ Johns 26:44
You’ve helped me many times. I really appreciate what you do and the talent that you have what
Boris Kievsky 26:50
I think I can attribute that partly to my own OCD, where if something doesn’t fully make sense in my brain, I will obsess over it until it does. Which is a great treat in some respects and very frustrating for some people in my life.
Russ Johns 27:04
We’re kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s like, hey, just make it happen. Everything works out.
Boris Kievsky 27:11
Yeah, yeah. Both are totally valid and that’s why I need someone like you in my life to help me kind of balanced that so I appreciate your buddy.
Russ Johns 27:21
Well, thank you so much for having me on the show. Boris, I know this adventure is going to be challenging at times. Amazing, and others. Regardless of where it ends up and how far it takes you. I know that you’ll have success and you’ll help many people in your future because that’s who you are. That’s what you do.
Boris Kievsky 27:46
Russ, I feel like you just made a toast at my bar mitzvah. Today, you’re a man, a streaming man.
Russ Johns 27:53
You’re a streaming man! You will stream forever!
Boris Kievsky 27:59
Thank you, brother. I appreciate you. I hope everyone will go and check out. RussJohns.com. The link to that is also, of course, going to be in the episode, show notes so that people can get to know more about what you’re doing, including helping people like me, get our own word out, and of course helping nonprofits get their word out. Thank you for being my very first guinea pig on the show, and I look forward to sharing so much more with you and with all the nonprofits out there that are listening.
Russ Johns 28:29
Love you brother. You take care!
Concepts and Takeaways:
- Using Video for Communication is the way that we all need to look into
- Podcasts and Live Broadcasts are going to become more popular in the future
- Video will be around as long as the internet exists
- Non-Profits can reach more donors and communicate with people they wouldn’t normally talk to through, Video-Podcasting, Live Broadcasting, and other social media platforms.
Action Steps: What Now?
About this week’s guest
Russ JohnsHost of #PirateBroadcast
Be SEEN | Be HEARD | Be TALKED ABOUT
EVERYONE HAS A GIFT, A MISSION, and VALUE…
I’m passionate about connecting and developing relationships and want to help others that are passionate about doing the same thing.
I believe we all have gifts worth sharing.
Not everyone is ready to share the message benefiting those around us. I Believe YOU GOT THIS!