How UNICEF uses video to increase awareness

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When a new social media platform debuts—and it seems like there’s a new one every week—it can be tempting to drop everything and frantically look for ways
your brand can use it.

Though excitement is good, it’s important to approach each new platform with a strategy—especially if your time and resources are limited.

That’s what UNICEF, the nonprofit organization that seeks to provide protection and care to children around
the world, did when Vine and Instagram Video burst onto the social media scene this year.

The nonprofit was looking for ways to spread awareness of its work and, as Nicholas Ledner, UNICEF’s social media trends, research and outreach
coordinator, says, “We found it a very dynamic channel for real-time engagement.”

That real-time engagement is essential when your organization reports from struggling nations worldwide.

UNICEF is just beginning to build its presence on Vine and Instagram Video, but its work so far provides a helpful guide for organizations looking to give
these video channels a try.

Make sure the platform fits your audience…

UNICEF has been around since 1946, but many young people may not know much about its story and mission.

“We want to tell the UNICEF story to a new audience,” Ledner says. That audience, those ages 16 to 30, are on Vine and Instagram. For an organization that
operates in remote areas, sharing visual content on a popular social media channel is an ideal strategy.

“We understand that this audience doesn’t necessarily want a press release,” Ledner continues. “They want a story to be told to them natively via the
channel that they’re already scrolling through.”

Have a content strategy.

UNICEF has posted several videos, and they range from upbeat and playful to serious and educational. The most popular videos have been on Vine. One video
promotes awareness of World Malaria Day; another thanks fans for helping the organization reach 2 million followers on Twitter. A popular Instagram video shows how health care workers in Pakistan vaccinate children against polio.

“We have key events and key days that we definitely want to raise awareness on,” Ledner says, referencing events like World Malaria Day. He also says
UNICEF hopes to use the video platforms to let people around the world know about crisis situations as they happen.

“What we really hope to do is to get somebody to shoot something,” Ledner explains, “but not just shoot something to show footage, but to tell a story
through the lens and eyes of somebody who is affected.”

Get staff involved.

Who actually creates UNICEF’s videos?

“It’s mostly communication officers within different country offices who are savvy enough to utilize digital social media,” Ledner explains. For UNICEF,
it’s important for the people who are on location to create the videos themselves, and not have to wait for a professional camera crew.

“We really want to be telling stories in real time, and we want the story to be told, when possible, via smartphones, especially if the situation is
critical or an emergency,” says Ledner.

Many organizations may agree with this. The best stories often come from employees themselves-not necessarily the executive suite.

After UNICEF officers create the videos, they send them to UNICEF headquarters to post to the global UNICEF Twitter page. Most country offices do not have their own Twitter profiles yet.

Provide training.

If you want to empower staff members to contribute, you have to show them how to do so, and help when things go wrong. UNICEF knows this.

“We’re there to kind of hold their hands throughout the entire process, but also the learning process,” Ledner explains.

[RELATED:
Learn the art of the visual story at this November video summit.]

UNICEF sometimes holds regional training sessions in which employees from the organization’s headquarters go to field offices to show those employees how
to use the technology. UNICEF also conducts training via WebEx, and it distributes documents with step-by-step
instructions on how to create videos. Additionally, it suggests ideas and possible storylines for future videos.

Have a measurement plan.

UNICEF uses Statigram and other social media tools to track engagement.

“We’re growing really steadily within the channels,” Ledner says. “I think our fans appreciate where we are and what we’re doing, and we’re just going to
continue to keep trying new things right alongside them.” 

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