Why cats on Roombas are not a good video strategy

Have you experienced this situation at work before? You’re knocking out tasks and minding your own business, when someone stops by your desk and starts talking about an idea for an amazing new video for your org. It’s going to be the next Ice Bucket Challenge! Or maybe it’s a parody of a really popular music video (I challenge someone to remake Despacito about their nonprofit). Maybe it’s just getting the executive director to talk at a camera for 15 long, boring minutes.

No matter what the idea is, or how it relates to your nonprofit’s current projects, this person wants to see your team make the video NOW. Budgets, timelines and staff capacity be damned, this video is going to put your org on the map.

At See3, we call this impetus to create a video ASAP regardless of organizational priorities, “Make me a meme and make it go viral.” Sure, there are an insane amount of viral videos out there that have millions of views. But for every cat dressed as a shark on a Roomba, there’s a thousand videos that have come and gone completely unnoticed. Chances are, without a strong strategy your organization’s videos are going to be the latter. No shark cats for you.

Cat Dressed as Shark on a Roomba

So, what makes viral videos like cats on Roombas different from nonprofit videos? The answer is purpose: a cat on a Roomba is nothing more than a cat on a Roomba. That cat isn’t asking you to donate, advocate or volunteer. It’s not asking you to relate to its plight on the Roomba. It’s not asking you to make the world a better place for other cats on Roombas.

It’s just a cat, on a cleaning device, being ridiculous.

Nonprofit videos, on the other hand, must start with purpose. What do you want this video to achieve, exactly? Cats on Roombas are indeed hilarious, but all they do is make people laugh (and create their own memes). Nonprofit videos need to do so much more, like inspire people to donate.

And that requires a digital strategy. Making a video for the sake of making a video doesn’t work. It’s time-consuming, stressful, and often doesn’t recoup its investment. Having a digital strategy in place before you even think about picking up a camera ensures you’re creating content that your audiences actually want to watch, is within your organization’s budget, and is going to achieve its purpose.

So next time someone stops by your desk with a case of “make me a meme and make it go viral,” it’s ok to tell them no! Take a step back, review your organization's goals and audiences, and then start talking about what videos your team can create that will not only entertain, but propel your organization and its mission forward.

Ready to stop chasing memes and start creating great videos? Join See3 and the Direct Marketing Association of Washington on September 13 for our free webinar, How to create a reliable, impactful video strategy. Learn how to create an effective video strategy that allows your organization to consistently create content that inspires audiences to donate, advocate and volunteer. We'll share lessons and case studies from a wide range of nonprofits that will help you chart your strategy and achieve some quick wins. Register now.

Author: Briana Kerensky
  • Video
  • Donations
  • Strategy
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