10 Reason Non-Profits Should Choose YouTube

How should your non-profit share video online? There’s no shortage of options. Brightcove, YouTube, Vimeo, Kewego, SeeToo, Akami, and so on.

Most media websites, like the NYTimes or TV channels, have their own custom video players. This is so they can earn ad revenue, or exclusively show their content in the context of their website. As a NGO, your goals look different. Whether you’re advocating, informing or motivating, the point of your non-profit video is for people to see it, not to make ad revenue. Here’s 10 reasons why I think your org should go with YouTube.

1. Get the most views
Hosting and embedding on YouTube practically guarantee the highest amount of views. YouTube has the best sharing rate and best embedding rate (probably because people are already familiar to the user experience). Additionally:

  • YouTube auto populates embeds links in twitter, Facebook, gmail, and heaps of other social sites.
  • YouTube allows viewers to subscribe to your video uploads, and pushes them notifications.
  • YouTube works on nearly all mobile phones, ipads, web browsers and other platforms.

Think back. When’s the last time someone sent you an email to check out a video that was buried in a site, and hosted on a 3rd party platform?

To be honest, the odds are already against your video “going viral”. If you don’t host via YouTube, your chances become almost laughable.

2. Technology
3d, 4k, HTML5, mobile-ready, social embedding… head spinning yet? You want to choose a video platform that is going to change as quickly as the web technology that delivers it. Brightcove is famously behind, Vimeo is quickly improving, but for implementing the latest technology, my money is on YouTube. And so is Google’s (Google purchased YouTube in 2004).

3. Search
YouTube is the second highest search engine. Not hosting your videos on YouTube is the SEO equivalent of not letting Google index your website. But it’s not just hosting. YouTube/Google give preference in search results to videos with higher view counts. In plain english: it’s not enough to just upload a copy of your video to YouTube and host via something else. You’ll want your video views to be “counted” for on YouTube, thus increasing your search result rankings, thus increasing your views via the worlds second highest search engine…. you get the picture.

4. Search (Part 2) or The United Airlines Effect
If you’re not the number one video result for your brand, someone else is. This is the number one result for United Airlines.

In the non-profit world, your top search result might be a homemade video from a donor. Chances are, it doesn’t pass branding control. Perhaps they’ve misinterpreted your message, or paternalised your recipients, or worse.

…It’s best for you to own your search results (or at least try).

5. In-video clickable giving
Interactive videos! As long as you’re a registered non-profit, you can add giving links, find our more links, and download our Annual Report links from within your videos. You can also link to other videos, like in these “choose your own adventure” style series. Brilliant!

6. Accessibility
To my knowledge, YouTube is the only video site actively pursing accessibility options. They’re working on auto-captioning, but until it’s perfect, CaptionTube syncs with YouTube to manually create subtitles. Plus, with such a large user base, many people are proactively adding their captions and translations. Online video has still has a way to go to establishing standards for accessibility–expect to see YouTube lead the way.

7. Community
The biggest difference between YouTube and other social video platforms (vimeo, metacafe) is the community. Like facebook and twitter, youtube has a community of users, celebrities and voices who are already popular. Recently, some NGO’s have begun tapping into these vloggers to spread the word about their work.

…If you’re an NGO not using YouTube, you probably won’t have much credibility with the “YouTubers”.

8. Video Quality
If you’re still under the impression that YouTube videos are all fuzzy and pixelated, you’re wrong. In 2009 YouTube announced support for full HD 1920×1080, blu-ray quality video. And in 2010, YouTube announced support for 4k resolution–best viewed on a 25 ft screen.

Think you’ll never need high resolution video? It’s an hour before your annual fundraising gala and you left the DVD at home… no problem if you have the video uploaded in high-def. Preload and stream it fullscreen… no need to tell the boss.

For registered non-profits YouTube has added optional “download” functionality. For free. Burning and shipping DVD copies will soon (hopefully) become a thing of the past.

10. Faster International Uploading
When uploading videos from rural Tanzania, it’s important to have fast uploads and resumeable uploads (if you lose your connection for a moment, you don’t have to restart the entire process). Plus, YouTube processes video quicker than any other host I’ve worked with, including the expensive platforms.

…And it’s Free
You’re a non-profit. Hosting and serving up videos is expensive. I’ve yet to hear a compelling argument to spend thousands of dollars on what YouTube provides, better, and for free.

What does all that look like in practise? Check out charity:water’s use of youtube embedding here: http://www.charitywater.org/whywater/

Agree? Disagree? Eager to hear your comments below.

8 thoughts on “10 Reason Non-Profits Should Choose YouTube”

  1. Christ, the more we read this the more ridiculous it gets:

    1. Discoverability has nothing to do with which site your video is on. Using your methodology simply having your video on the internet would result in it “going viral”. Gmail isn’t a “social site” it’s an email platform and Google doesn’t auto embed anything. Also, it’s pretty obvious you’re a “numbers whore”, that is, somebody who sees nothing more than page views (which is what YouTube plays are). Compelling content is what counts, reaching a thousand people with an important message is far more important than getting 100,000 people to watch your content that couldn’t care less.

    2. “4K” Do you even know what you are talking about here? Pop quiz hotshot, go on Amazon and see how many 4K monitors you can buy for a home computer system. Html5 video huh, just take a look around at that particular mess with h264 vs WebM, vs Ogg theora vs Flash, vs Quicktime vs Safari, vs Firefox, vs Chrome, vs IE9 then lets get started with iOs vs Android vs WebOs, etc, etc

    3. “second highest search engine” That’s just gibberish.

    4. Again, gibberish

    5. Ooooh, links huh, because nothing makes people give money more than the tech that’s been around since the internet was born.

    6. Subtitles, probably the one and only thing that YouTube does that you’ve gotten right, but subs can be added to any video in a hour to any short video and in a much more readable format.

    7. YouTube’s community is full of inbred halfwits (see comments on most videos) and what the hell have celebrities got to do with anything? Also, “vlogger” nobody says that and who the hell needs the “respect” of a bunch of random people that upload videos to a video sharing website?

    8. HD web video isn’t HD at all and every video website out there has “faux” HD.

    9. Your grasp of how “non tech” people interact with video is risible. Download video huh? Take a wild guess as to how many people understand where a file is on their computer after they have downloaded it.

    10. Rural Tanzania, wtf?

    As for the “it’s free” comment. How long do you think Google can take flushing hundreds of millions down the pan on YouTube and not make the money back (including the initial 1.4Billion investment)? Nothing stays free for ever and the in video ads, pre-roll ads, etc are just the start.

    If you’re going to write things, know of what you speak.

    1. We agree on one thing: good content *is* the most important aspect.

      But the point of this post is how to best optimise and distribute content for the majority of your users. In your long response, which I’ll respond to below, you fail to propose an alternative.

      From your own website I’ll assume your strategy is to use quicktime player defaulted to “HD” and hope the user has the plugins and bandwith to stream it. Alternatively, you give the user an option to link away from your site to watch a selection of content on vimeo.

      I’d be interested to hear why you chose that approach, and why you think it’s a better option for most organizations.

      1. “Discoverability has nothing to do with which site your video is on.”
      Of course it does. If your assumption is that the way people will find your video is through your site (as opposed to searching http://video.google.com,YouTube or vimeo) you’ll miss out on heaps of potentially interested viewers. That’s the same reason tagging is important. The internet is bigger than your website.

      For example, the Old Spice ads. The ads were originally hosted on their website on a quicktime player. If they’d not posted them onto a video sharing site like youtube, and instead depended on people to navigate a few levels deep into their website, do you think people would have gone through the trouble to see them? If yes, what percentage?
      “reaching a thousand people with an important message is far more important than getting
      100,000 people to watch your content that couldn’t care less.”

      Please explain how embedding a video through YouTube makes a person not care?
      Two scenerios, your numbers.

      Organization A hosts video on their website through Quicktime. 1,000 visit the site and view the video. Organization B hosts video on their website through YouTube. 1,000 visit the site and view the video. Perhaps a few of those viewers embed the video on their own blog, facebook and twitter so the video’s message gets heard by more people. Plus “100,000 people who couldn’t care less” view the video on YouTube, and four of them actually care.

      Why is B worse?

      At the end of the day, its control issue. Do you want to allow users to be able to watch your content outside of your website? If you don’t, youtube is a poor choice. But if your organization uses video to create engagement with your brand, then you probably do want to allow viewers to share video outside your site.

      (And with the exception of on donation landing pages, I’ve never heard an organization that didn’t want supporters to share their videos. Have you?)

      2. Re: 4K. That’s a strike against YouTube? That they have support for 4k far before it’s become a consumer product?

      “Safari, vs Firefox, vs Chrome, vs IE9” Youtube works on all of them. Does the quicktime plug-in in come standard on Android browsers? Or IE?

      3. Second highest trafficked site with search engine capabilities. Also, the number one search engine for videos.

      4. The number 1, 2 and 3 video search results for your org’s name “Article19” are hosted on YouTube.

      5. When a video from YouTube is embedded on a site that’s not your own, these links are a chance for the viewer to find their way to your website. To my knowledge, no other video platform provides this option.

      6. “Subtitles: the one and only thing that YouTube does” Well, it’s a start huh?

      7. If you’d like to see examples, I put links in the post so you learn more about vloggers and recent campaigns where they’ve partnered with non-profts.

      8. “HD web video isn’t HD at all and every video website out there has “faux” HD.”I include this point for the many people who don’t know YouTube can stream at high quality and higher bit-rates.
      Also, on your website, when I play a video, there’s a giant HD graphic that swirls around…?

      9. “Download video huh? Take a wild guess as to how many people understand where a file is on their computer after they have downloaded it.”

      90%? Too high or too low?

      *Most* people won’t be downloading the video. But it’s a nice feature.

      10. Yep. Many non-profits have office throughout the world so it’s important that other offices can upload video as well. YouTube’s resumeable uploads make it much easier in situations where one might loose connectivity for moments.

      Again, I’m not sure of the value of this conversations without your suggestion of a better way forward.

      1. Your assertion about video discovery is nonsense. You suggest that finding a video on YouTube is somehow easier than finding a single video located anywhere on the internet when it’s not. The problem with YouTube and any other video sharing website is a lack of focus and signal noise. The massive amount of content on YouTube makes finding that video content no easier than if a video was located on a host website. All you’ve got here is, “well they might find it by accident”.

        4K will never be a consumer product, ever. All Google are doing is feature bloating their product to make it look like they’re innovating, it’s a sales technique because Google is an ad company.

        You mentioned HTML5 video support in your piece, hence the browser comparison, each browser supports a different video protocol.

        As for search results, you’ve got the wrong Article19 dude. Search “Contemporary Dance” which is what Article19 is about and we come up page one, not that it matters since most of our external referral traffic comes through Facebook.
         The video on Article19 is not HD it’s HD sourced, as explained in our feature piece on the subject.

        Look dude, your assertions are all over the place. You state that Youtube is the one and only place you can run video and get it “discovered” without mentioning the problems, the pitfalls, the advertising, the lack of control, etc, etc. Sharing video is good, but video can be shared and discovered from anywhere by anyone, no matter where it is hosted or what format it uses.

        Yeah Quicktime is a plugin, so is Flash, one that is considerably more processor and power intensive than QT (which is why we use it, it also makes sure the video runs on iPads and iPhones, maybe you’ve heard of those). Also the core m4v files are H264 which run under the tag in HTML5 spec so it’s almost future proof. H264 also runs on Android phones and WebOS, we know that because we tested it and those users can get our videos, on their devices, through the Podcast channel.

        You shouldn’t write pieces like this unless you know what you’re doing.

  2. Nice post .. as for the comments below, it seems that they are taken from just very different viewpoints and expectations on outcome. YouTube as a communication tool vs YouTube as tech-solution.

    Hey, you should write a post about how (not) to destroy your brand/name using ranting blog comments, and how to stay positive and sympathetic .-)

  3. Hey Kyle,

    Thought I’d put my two cents in as someone who has looked at both. Basically the answer is that whilst YouTube is great it probably isn’t enough especially if you have content where you need to protect the rights of it. Also you need to look at the purpose of the content, whether you want to manage ‘premium’ content and a range of other content uses.

    If you main aim is awareness, shareability, etc then definitely YouTube is the place to be, and we have first hand examples of that – Tim Costello Old Spice doesn’t appear on our website anywhere. But there is value in video content as part of a carefully designed pathway, and you don’t want to allow for exit points whether that be to youtube or anywhere else. 

    If you are measuring performance on achieving a particular outcome use  the platform that suits that. 

    Another point, which is particularly true outside the US, is that with YouTube you get what you are given. Don’t ask for anything special and don’t expect anything. They have come a long way but this comment from a YouTube representative in Australia generally holds true “basically there isn’t much we can adjust beyond what we currently offer for the YouTube API service (as it is a free product) and there is no paid service for custom functionality.”

    If you are going to make significant investments in production, you probably need to understand how you are going to distribute it. For me YouTube has its place but it doesn’t solve every problem. For that another solution is necessary, but not everyone has that problem and definitely not every non-profit. YouTube is a better solution now than it was two years ago but there are still some other areas where a premium platform is a more appropriate solution.

    Also agree with @czed, there’s are better way to comment than that.

  4. Article19… Lol 4k is never happening, eh? In 2015, Kyle looks more right and you look more wrong hahah 🙂

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