Sure, YouTube is dominated by lip-dubs, cat tricks and similarly inane videos. But it's also a hotbed of good deeds and social activism. There are many ways to use the site for nonprofits, social activism and fundraising. So many ways, in fact, that Google has published a Playbook for Good to help nonprofits increase engagement on the site. This article summarizes the best tips from that document, as well as other tidbits gained from my experience on the site.
Join the YouTube Nonprofit Partners Program
Registered nonprofit organizations with 501(c)3 status can apply to join YouTube's nonprofit partner program. Accepted partners receive many free benefits, including increased branding capabilities, the ability to receive donations through Google Checkout, and Call-to-Action overlays on videos.
If you're eligible, you should definitely take advantage of this free program. But even if you're not eligible, there's still lots you can do to promote causes and issues on YouTube.
Tell Your Story
Compelling stories will help your cause to resonate with viewers, and convince them to support your work. If you can tell the story of your nonprofit by using images and voices of the people you help, your volunteers and your donors, viewers will be more likely to connect with - and support - your cause.
Ask for Something
Don't forget your call-to-action!
What exactly is it that you want people to do after they watch your video - donate? volunteer? spread the word? subscribe? Whatever it is, be sure to ask outright. Do this verbally in the video, with annotations, in the description, and anywhere else you can fit it in!
If you're a YouTube Nonprofit partner, you can add a donate button on your channel, and use external links in your video annotations. If you're not a partner, you can add clickable links in the description, and use annotations as either visual cues or links to elsewhere on YouTube.
Brand Your Channel
Your YouTube channel is a great way to communicate important information about your cause. Feature a compelling video that will give new visitors a reason to care about your work, and fill in all of the information about your organization and your cause. This way you can tell visitors about what you do, and increase SEO so that interested people will find your cause.
Optimize Your Videos
Your videos should be optimized for search, as well. Put keywords related to your organization and your cause in the title, tags and description of every video you make. Optimizing not only helps your video show up higher in searches, it also makes it more likely to recommended and promoted to people watching similar topics.
Share Other People's Videos
Even if you don't make many videos, you can still give your audience great content by curating videos. Find videos that are related to your cause, instructional videos to educate audiences, and news reports about your organization or issue. All of these can be added to playlists and shared on your YouTube channel.
You should also stay active on YouTube by watching, liking, commenting and subscribing. These activities will all show up in your YouTube feed and increase your visibility on the site.
Use The YouTube Editor
Ask Your Supporters to Make Videos
One of the great things about YouTube is the community it can create. Why not utilize that by asking your supporters to make their own videos promoting your issue?
These can be published as video responses to something that you upload. Or, give people a specific tag to use when they upload, so you can find all contributions that way.
Participate In Big Events
Whether its Earth Day or Project for Awesome, there are lots of events and occasions for promoting environmental and social issues. If your organization makes videos and participates in these events, you can get more search traffic and you'll have a good chance of being highlighted on YouTube and other social media sites.
Other "tent-pole" events include holidays and special events. Tie your cause into videos about Christmas, the Oscars or the elections, and you'll have the potential to reach a much wider audience.