Why Video-Sharing Apps Matter for Your Nonprofit

Although Instagram boasts over 130 million users, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing service identified a threat in the rapidly-growing Vine app by Twitter. Vine, which enables users to create and share 6-second looping videos, has exploded since its release in January, garnering over 13 million users to date.

Obviously, Facebook had to respond. Last week, they announced the addition of video to Instagram. The new feature enables up to 15 seconds of video recording, and unlike Vine, the ability to edit video and (of course) apply filters. Additionally, the video only plays once through, unlike Vine’s looping feature.

Just 24 hours after launching the video-sharing feature, Facebook announced that Instagram users had already uploaded 5 million videos to the platform.  Although it remains to be seen whether Instagram or Vine will emerge dominant in this space, it is clear that the rise of mobile video means there are opportunities for companies and nonprofits to engage with consumers in new, innovative ways.



The recently-released report “Into Focus: A Benchmark Guide to Effective Nonprofit Video” describes video’s potential for unparalleled success in raising awareness and reaching new audiences. Take, for example, the Rainforest Alliance’s video Follow the Frog, which has over a million views. Although the Rainforest Alliance cannot track the impact of the video on donors, the numbers alone show that the nonprofit has reached a much wider audience than they could have anticipated. Go Red For Women’s Just a Little Heart Attack, starring and directed by actress Elizabeth Banks,  effectively increased awareness about the signs and dangers of heart attacks, achieving over 3 million views.

However, these are traditional videos, over a minute in length with the capacity for a full narrative. How can companies and nonprofits take advantage of mobile videos to leverage their brand and achieve similar impact?



Unlike Youtube, Instagram and Vine post directly to a specific feed made for their apps, with the additional ability to share on Facebook or Twitter. The platforms are geared to enable maximum reach for a temporary period of time. While this may seem like a negative, in the Instagram and Vine worlds this reach and the style of newsfeed promotes engagement and enables users to easily create response videos in order to further promote awareness.

Brands have already begun taking advantage of Vine, from USA Today, which stirs up conversation via tweeting the hashtag #vineyourview to @USATOpinion, to General Electric’s #6secondscience campaign meant to engage kids with science while simultaneously promoting their brand.

One major benefit of mobile video is that it eliminates many barriers that nonprofits or smaller organizations face when attempting to produce videos – they’re expensive and not easy to produce.  A poorly-made organizational video does more harm than good, damaging the reliability of the brand. With mobile video, however, everybody is on the same playing field.

In addition, mobile video-sharing platforms give nonprofits and brands the opportunity to invite fans and supporters to create their own content around specific campaigns. When users have the opportunity to create original videos, they become more engaged with the brand as a whole. Jordan Crook of TechCrunch wrote, “People like consuming video, sure, but it’s almost shocking how much people love making videos, too. Especially when given the right tools.”



No way. At the end of the day, you can never replace traditional video’s ability to tell a full story with a 6-15 second clip. While Vine and Instagram videos serve their purpose, traditional video is vital for nonprofits that want to communicate impact and paint a full picture of the organization. Personal, impact-focused stories are often the most engaging aspects of a campaign that drive donors to continue sponsoring the program.

In addition, the presence of video on Facebook could be on the rise. Currently, Facebook’s algorithm promotes image posts over any other content. Will they alter it to increase the prominence of video content if their app (Instagram) is the one posting? This could not only have a great impact on mobile video, but also on traditional video content, potentially making video a critical type of post in the constant struggle to make it to the top of the newsfeed.



And think outside of the box. Engage Vine and Instagram users to come up with their own videos. Tell a story as quickly as possible. Share something about yourself. Tie in something from a full video into your mobile video feed. Make a how-to (one of the most successful types of Vine clips). The possibilities for mobile video are incredible, but you don’t want to be noise in the clutter. Now is primetime – the best opportunity to capitalize on a growing market before it plateaus. So start getting creative.