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January 20, 2022
Thinking Small Is Next Big Thing for Nonprofits
By Roberto Mighty

Roberto Mighty
Web video is projected to continue wild growth through 2010, and nonprofits need to stay on top the mobile Internet if they want to reach key constituencies that increasingly are accessing the web from practically everywhere.

The mobile Internet includes laptops, netbooks, PDAs (e.g., iPhones and Blackberries) and an explosion of wi-fi connectivity in planes, trains, and buses. For example:
  • The Nielsen Company's Three Screen Report (third quarter, 2009) noted: "Mobile video viewing continues to grow, with 15.7 million Americans viewing video on their mobile phones in Q309, an increase of 53% versus last year. As the penetration of smart phones increases and as more mobile video options become available over mobile web, expect this trend to continue its upward movement. Older mobile video users age 45#147;54 report viewing nearly 3 hours of video on their mobile phones each month."
  • Morgan Stanley's Mobile Internet Report (Dec 2009) concluded: "The mobile Internet is ramping faster than desktop Internet did, and we believe more users may connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within 5 years."
Nielsen also observed that social networks, such as Facebook, are becoming a popular source for online video. Time spent viewing video on social networking sites increased 98% from October 2008 to October 2009.

One sign of the increased maturity of the social media and video markets is that much of the growth in video consumption within social media is coming from older demographics, with the 35-49-year-old segment increasing their viewership time by 37% and that people 65 years and older are increasing their viewership 47% year over year."

The bottom line for 2010 is that thinking small is the next big thing, especially for nonprofits that need to reach more people on tight budgets.

Because video is such a compelling medium, it is more important than ever that nonprofits develop fundraising, outreach, and public information content specifically for small and tiny screens. To do that, nonprofits should bear the following in mind:

Strategy — Once your nonprofit decides to make a video or a video series, you should develop a pre-production mobile Internet strategy with your video production company or in-house video producer. Your goal is to protect your video investment by making sure your content can be used for desktop, DVD, and mobile Internet applications.

Production — Keep in mind that mobile devices, such as iPhones, iPods, and Blackberries, have tiny screens. Your video and still images should be large and uncomplicated. Think close-ups, not landscapes. Likewise, onscreen text should have as few words as possible.

Audio is also significant. Your Blackberry or iPhone viewer may not always wear headphones, so your videos need to get your message across even if they're not listening. Of paramount interest is to keep it BRIEF. The average YouTube video length is under three minutes. Can you get your nonprofit's message down to three minutes? You must. One approach I recommend is to create a series of short videos aimed at different aspects of your messaging.

While mobile Internet programming may be re-purposed from footage from your "main" videos, it must be adapted to fit the physical realities of the mobile units.

Distribution — Once your video is produced, you need to get it seen. Here's some good news. Distributing online video remains a great bargain. How about free? Yes—YouTube, Facebook and Yahoo (the market leaders)—still offer no-cost distribution of your nonprofits' video content. Again, having a strategy is critical when it comes to distribution. Your video producer will help you get the most out of this opportunity. There are even some new programs specifically designed to assist nonprofits. For example, YouTube, the market leader in terms of audience size, has a special promotion program for nonprofits. For more information, click here.

Tap into free Wi-Fi — The explosion in free connectivity to wireless local area networks, known as wi-fi, is also good news for nonprofits. The MBTA's Commuter Rail, Amtrak's Acela line, and Greyhound buses now all offer free Wi-Fi. Low cost or free per-incident use is available in chain coffee shops (Starbucks,) pastry/sandwich shops (Panera Bread), and other retail locations. This all adds up to more and more places for laptop, net book, and smart phone users to interact with your video messages. Of course, some higher end mobile units, like the Blackberry and iPhone, are capable of playing back video wherever they can get a cell phone signal.

Roberto Mighty is founder and senior producer at Celestial Media. Contact him at or call 617-965-7022.
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