Special Olympics Arizona Facebook video reaches 1.7 Million views!

Have you seen this video?  More than 1.7 million Facebook members have in the past 4 days!

On January 11th, Special Olympics Arizona posted video of the 2012 Sports Illustrated Sports Kid of the Year (video below).  The video told the inspiring and passionate story of a 9 year old boy and his younger brother with Cerebral Palsy and Autism.  As a parent and as a nonprofit marketer, there are no words that can describe the emotional impact of a video that will bring tears to the eyes of the most unemotional among us, and would lead more than than 135,000 people to share the video across Facebook.

But now it’s time to throw on the nonprofit marketing cap…

There is no doubt, that as a nonprofit marketer, this is the type of video that we dream of… 125,000 shares with a reach well above 1.5 million people…25,000 likes…5,000 comments.  For an statewide organization, the engagement numbers on this video are beyond what is considered viral and are off the charts. It is the type of video that few small and mid-sized nonprofits will ever experience the level of virality that SO Arizona has.

So…the question I pose to you is…

Did SO Arizona miss an opportunity?

Would you have done things differently?

Here’s my thoughts…

Despite high levels of engagement, one the most disappointing metrics I’ve seen is the relatively little growth in the number of followers for SO Arizona.  Despite more than 135,000 shares, the page still has fewer than 6,000 fans.  So the question I would ask is what was the purpose of the video?  Was it purely for awareness?  Were there hopes of generating donations?  Was the aim to drive traffic to their website?  Or was there no consideration of the potential impact of the video?  All of these are questions that determine whether the video has a successful long-term impact and all are questions that are typically asked as part of a digital marketing strategy.

Every organization must determine what their best approach to digital marketing is based upon staff, budget, programing and time.  However, you don’t have to be a national organization with a multimillion dollar marketing budget, to develop a comprehensive, integrated digital marketing strategy.  In fact, many organizations have experienced phenomenal success in social media and digital marketing, with the smallest of investments.   A digital marketing strategy is not about how to spend marketing dollars, but rather how you can utilize the power of the internet to help grow your organization.

In the case of this video, I would have done things differently.  At the least, I would have rolled the video out through the organization’s YouTube Channel.  Facebook has a nice video platform, but in terms of SEO impact and long-term marketing potential, it does not compete with YouTube.  YouTube offers the benefit of millions of users searching for video content on a daily basis, while Facebook video tends to be short-lived.  In addition, utilizing YouTube would have cross-channel benefits, reaching diverse audiences across multiple social media platforms.  With that in mind, the level of Facebook engagement might have slightly dropped, but this would have been offset by the viral nature of YouTube (which would have been likely to feature the video).

Additionally, if time permitted, the very nature of the video lends itself to an online fundraising appeal.  I would have harnessed the power of the organization’s email marketing and website traffic to drive a call-to-action.  If the organization had a nonprofit YouTube Channel, I would have used the call-to-action feature and channel’s donate now feature to potentially drive further donations.

In the end…

…SO Arizona may not have recognized the potential virality of the video, but they did teach each of us, as marketing professionals, one thing:  Video, like photography, drives social media engagement and we need to find creative ways to tell our stories through high-quality, well-thought-out productions. In addition, they also reminded us that the most compelling content we can create is that which reflects the true nature of our mission.

What would you have done differently?


Jarid Brown is the owner of HCM Brown, a digital marketing firm, and the Director of Online Interactions for The Hope Institute in Springfield, IL. Connect with Jarid Brown on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.

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