April 30th, 2012
Guest article! Aiden Livingston is the Marketing and Communications Director for Call2Action, a company I’ve been helping out here and there for the past couple of years. Call2Action focuses on leveraging video for advocacy and list-building, so this topic is a natural. See also Laura Packard’s recent piece detailing how social media can grow your email list.
How to Use Online Video to Gain New Supporters
Online video is the most powerful tool out there for gaining new supporters, yet it is also the most under-utilized. Often busy campaign managers are reluctant to learn the nuances of video campaign strategy and end up avoiding the topic altogether. It’s like having a Ferrari in your garage but not driving it because you can’t be bothered to learn to use a stick shift.
Online video gives us the chance to show another side of the candidate. A good example is the video blog series created by Mitt Romney’s “body man”, Garrett Jackson. The cheaply produced videos he films on his iPad are managing to accomplish a nearly impossible task: to humanize Romney. He probably would have had an easier time humanizing the iPad itself, as it has more character by nature, and, unlike Romney, Republican voters actually like it. But despite all obstacles, the short video clips are giving online viewers a glimpse at the day-to-day Romney, showing that, contrary to popular belief, there is a real man in there with daily struggles and emotions.
The important thing to note is that these are not “great” videos. They are not filmed on an expensive camera. They are not edited. They are not even terribly interesting — I still blame the subject for that. But in these weaknesses actually lies the strength of these “snapshots”. They add a level of candor that is sorely missing from many campaigns that stick steadfastly to talking points.
This is crucial for gaining new supporters. People have become cynical to politics. Those who won’t vote blindly for their party, or more stubbornly may just abstain from voting altogether, need extra finessing to bring around. In short, swing voters have become immune to preconceived campaign messages. Highly authentic online video content is the cure.
Not only does online video offer campaigns the ability to show another and more candid side of a candidate, it also offers viewers an immediate chance to act. This is huge in terms of converting new supporters. If you are able to reach someone with a message that resonates with them in even the slightest way, you must get that person to act on that feeling before it dissipates.
The worst thing any campaign can do is to reach someone in a palpable way, and let that fruit die on the vine. Online video affords a level of immediacy traditional media could never achieve. To solidify the relationship with any new supporter, you need them to take some kind of action to show their support. Once they have committed to an action, even a small one, your cause becomes their own.
Nonprofits have known this for years — it’s not an accident that they are always collecting signatures for a petition. Studies have shown that once someone takes that first step towards supporting your organization, they feel compelled to reinforce their earlier decision by supporting you again in the future.
To be truly effective in gaining new supporters, political campaigns also need to take a lesson from businesses in how to be creative in combining their online content and online calls to action to achieve the maximum effect.
A good example is the Letters for Lyrics campaign, used by Chrysler to promote their new Ram trucks. Chrysler, having apparently done their market research, knew that the only thing potential Ram truck customers love more than the right to bear arms, is country music. So they partnered with the Zac Brown Band, which gave them plenty of cool candid video content of the band hanging out on the bus behind the scenes.
But rather than just posting this cool content online and calling it a day, they created a greater mission around the partnership. They were teaming up to help the troops. So they embedded their online videos in a Spark player by Call2Action, which allows you to add actionable tabs to online videos.
One of the calls to action was to write a letter to a soldier, and another was to share the video on social networks. So rather than just creating engaging online content, this innovative campaign had viewers take the first step towards making the campaign’s mission their mission.
Which sums up the real secret of using online video to gain new supporters: Use candid content to engage with them on a deeper, more meaningful level, and then get them to act immediately before they change their minds. If your campaign can accomplish this, you might finally know the joy of what it feels like to go full throttle in a Ferrari on the open road. Metaphorically speaking of course.
Thanks Aiden! – cpd