Read Time: 5 minutes

A few weeks ago I found myself crying at my desk watching this video about the #Fight4Her Campaign from Population Connection. The video shares the intimate stories of two women in the Congo—15-year-old Brigithe and 40-year-old Furaha. Both have been denied basic reproductive healthcare, and watching their faces explain how that has impacted their lives is incredibly powerful.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, so go watch it. I’ll wait!

But do you need globe-sized budget to do the same for your org?

Some say yes, some say no. Either way, we know that Facebook’s algorithm heavily favors video posts, Twitter and Instagram are increasingly video-friendly platforms, and the media industry is “pivoting to video” (🙄). Video is here, and it’s here to stay.

For sure, DIY, lo-fi video has a powerful place in this eyeball-driven world where making and sharing videos has never been easier. Raw, first-person iPhone videos or Facebook Lives filmed at a big rally, moments after a crucial vote, or face-to-face with a spokesperson or personal storyteller can sometimes capture the public’s attention and tell a story even better than a shiny, professionally produced video.

So yeah. You don’t have to be a pro to create powerful content to share with your supporters. What you might need to know is this: when is using a video appropriate, and when does it make sense to do it yourself…or not?

Should I make a video?

FB Live, Twitter video, Instagram stories, and Snapchat all make it seem like video is always the answer. But it’s not! As with any content you create, be strategic and think about whether a video will help you meet your goals.

These are the questions we ask when thinking about video:

  • What’s the goal? Eyeballs? Press coverage? Issue awareness? Fundraising? Video could potentially help you meet each of these goals, but is it the best way? And are these goals peripheral or integral to your overall campaign strategy? Start with your big picture strategy and work your way down to the actual process, time, and budget.
  • Is video the best way to generate action? For example, if you’re trying to raise money, will a video make your supporters more likely to give? Is it the best way to make supporters feel your issue? And can you include a clear call to action? Then go for it. (Maybe!)
  • Who is the audience and how will they find your fancy video? Uhh, will people even watch this? And will they be able to find it to watch it? If you don’t have much of an existing presence and audience already, or have trouble getting your supporters to engage with you on social, launching a big, expensive video is probably not gonna get you the biggest bang for your buck. However, warming up with a few lower budget videos might help drive more activity and engagement – and let you take your storytelling chops for a spin.
  • Do you have a compelling “star”? They don’t have to be a celebrity! This could be anyone who lends authority to the topic you want to talk about, and will make your viewers care—your organization’s leadership, a staff expert, or a supporter with a powerful personal story.
  • Will video help extend the story? A video almost never lives on its own—it usually relies on other channels to help tell the story and spread this one – media, email, social etc.

So now you’ve decided, Why Yes I Shall Make A Video!

Now what?

Making a video doesn’t have to be a big, expensive, time-consuming project. But in certain cases it really does make more sense to hire a professional to tell the story you need to tell. Usually, promo videos for gala dinners or high concepts (like our rad 2014 Benchmarks trailer) require a professional. A Kickstarter or other crowdfunding video is also worth investing in a pro.

But a quick, authentic, timely lo-fi video can be perfect for simple posting on social channels. Like:

All of these videos were produced in-house with limited budgets, and they didn’t just achieve their respective goals; they told the story in a format that suited the context. They felt immediate, unpolished, and honest—sometimes these are the most impactful traits a story can have.

Follow our flowchart to determine if DIYing or hiring out a pro is the right route for you:

Make a video you’re particularly proud of? @ us on social—we’d love to see ‘em!