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Using video on your website – A case study

By Simon Fairway, Juvi Media

Appropriate use of video can be of great benefit to an organisation with a strong focus on advocacy, such as WORLDwrite. Used properly, video can bring an issue alive, stimulating debate and catalyzing change.

WORLDwrite, an education charity makes extensive use of the Internet for the distribution of their video content, both through their website and online ‘video sharing’ communities.

WORLDwrite is an unusual charity in the sense that it has no paid staff, and relies on the work of volunteers, of which there are 18 ‘key’ members and many others. They have carried out projects in Brazil, India, and most recently, Ghana

Video distribution

Within the WORLDwrite website, video is distributed in two ways: 

Traditional download

The first is the traditional ‘download’ method, in which the video file is held on their website, and linked to. This example is ‘embedded’ in the page, rather than held on a separate page in itself. They have chosen to make their video available in Windows Media format. Three transfer options are given, corresponding to the potentially different bandwidths of viewers, therefore catering for dial-up and broadband users. As you would expect, the higher the transfer rate the better quality the video.

Video sharing sites

The second use of video within their own website as an embedded You Tube video.  By creating an account within You Tube and uploading a video to the site, they have been provided with a piece of HTML code to include in their website.  When the viewer looks at the web page, a portion of the screen is effectively pointing to the video hosted on the You Tube website.

WORLDwrite also uses the You Tube website as a means of distribution in itself. Members can search for videos using key words, rate videos and recommend them to friends. This is the same video as the one above, displayed on the You Tube site.

The aim of WORLDwrite is to disseminate their message as far and wide as possible, so they use a host of other ‘video sharing’ websites including Google Video, Fourdocs, and One World TV. They are also considering a specialist company to look at further Internet distribution and the possibility of generating revenue.

Video strategy

Worldwrite’s Viv Regan explains more about their video strategy:

Why You Tube?

We decided to use You Tube because it is the most popular video sharing website, and we want to reach as many people as possible.  Its system encourages comment and debate, which in turn encourages collaboration and creates interest in developmental issues. We also used it to attract volunteers, and educate them before placements. It has also been great for driving people to our website and onto our database.

The ability to embed video in our own website is a real bonus and something that it is really easy to use for a non-technical person like myself. You upload the video, copy the code that they give you, and add it to your website.

What has been your experience of other video sharing sites?

Google Video is very similar, but we have found that our videos have not been seen by anywhere near as many people and they attract few comments. Fourdocs was a real nightmare in terms of uploading the video, we had all sorts of technical problems. They also retain much stricter editorial control over the videos that they host, which can be a problem for more controversial issues. We like the ‘freedom of speech’ attitude of You Tube.

How do you think that video enhances your message?

Fundamentally. WORLDwrite has always used video to report uncomfortable truths and stimulate debate. It is an incredibly rich medium that can be effective in itself, or in complementing other means of communication. In the past our primary way of getting our videos seen was through school visits, now it is through the thousands of hits we receive on our website.

We are really keen to make more use of video in the future. We have plans for our own video channel that will include our documentaries, reaction, and views on current affairs. We are also planning to make content available as a video podcast.

We have got to a stage where anyone can produce video content of a good quality. This has exciting implications for some of the communities that we work with in developing countries.

What sort of response have you received?

An overwhelming response. Our last film has been watched by around 3,500 people on You Tube alone. We have received hundreds of comments, some through the website and some as emails. We have sold quite a few hundred DVD’s of the full film as a result.  Some of the feedback is very positive and some less so, but our mission is to stimulate debate, and we have certainly succeeded in doing that.

What content considerations are there for distributing video over the Internet?

We had to think about length, hence the reason for the four-minute versions of our latest series of half hour documentaries. The medium is different, you are broadcasting to people sitting at their desk at a computer so you need to keep it short. Also a short film is less likely to suffer from technical problems.

We have tried to draw people’s attention to the video content through an email campaign. We also follow each video with a call to action, be that an opportunity to leave feedback, or a link to a Just Giving fundraising page. We have raised a few thousand pounds as a result

Simon says …

On the whole, I believe that WORLDwrite’s video strategy is a good one. They have made intelligent use of the free methods of video distribution available to them and succeeded in incorporating video in a meaningful way.

In most cases, I would advise organisations to embed a Google video into their website, rather than a You Tube video, due to the fact that it is lighter on branding and therefore looks more subtle. In this case however, the choice of a You Tube video is an intelligent one, as WORLDwrite encourages the feedback and debate that the You Tube system allows.

I would recommend that WORLDwrite moves towards a more consistent approach. The use of downloadable Windows Media videos and embedded You Tube videos has the potential to confuse some viewers, who may have taken time to become comfortable with one approach and are then put off by another.

In this case I would encourage to WORLDwrite to go exclusively for embedded You Tube videos. Whilst a popular medium, only 83% of viewers will be able to access Windows Media files, compared to approximately 98% for the Flash format that You Tube uses. They will also benefit from the fact that the videos are hosted externally, and will not contribute towards web space or file transfer limits, important if the videos become very popular. Embedded videos tend to play more smoothly and give the viewer a more pleasurable viewing experience than a Windows Media download. Compare the You Tube video on the Bullying Online website to the Windows Media video on the Practical Action website, and see what you think.

If WORLDwrite were to continue with hosting their own videos, I would encourage them to make them available in Flash format instead. It is a more accessible medium, and the quality tends to be higher for an equivalent file size. A good example can be found at the International Development through Sport website.

For a more professional approach, they could pay an external company to host and stream the video for them, an approach favoured by Water Aid. Charity branding can be added, and the video will be encoded in a way that is optimised for their particular audience. Prices for this sort of service are not completely out of reach for smaller organisations, with a basic package from around £20 per month.

And finally…

New technology has brought us to the point in which even the smallest charities on the tightest budgets can now include video as part of their web offering. The question is no longer ‘can I include video on my website?’, but ‘how do I make the most of my video content and the power of the web to better engage my supporters?’. Getting a promotional video on your website, providing links to video content on email fundraising campaigns, and developing a supporter base within You Tube, are simple, effective, and affordable ways of generating new support for your organisation.

Using video effectively on your organisation’s website? Why not let us know by adding a comment to this article.

 


About the author

Simon Fairway, Juvi Media
Juvi Media is a sustainable, not-for-profit company that provides photographic, filmmaking, and new media services for organisations with a social dimension.

Glossary

Broadband, Channel, Database, DVD, Flash, Hosting, HTML, Internet, Podcast, Web Page, Website

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Published: 13th March 2021

Copyright © 2021 Simon Fairway, Juvi Media

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simonallchorn
23rd March 2021Good article Simon. Thanks for pointing out the hosted solution for WaterAid, that's one of ours (StreamCity) along with similar solutions we provide for Oxfam and Cancer Research UK. Readers from the Third Sector may be interested in the free video hosting solution that we've now launched aimed specifically at charities and non profits ... details are at http://www.streamcity.co.uk/third_sector.asp or you can read the press release at http://www.prlog.org/10198846-online-video-specialist-offers-free-video-hosting-to-uks-third-sector.html