By Becky Brooks, Director of Communications at Animoto, an online video maker that makes it easy to create marketing videos for social media and beyond.

Facebook has, for a couple years now, committed to making their platforms “video first.” Unsurprisingly, other networks followed suit. From Twitter to Pinterest to Instagram to LinkedIn, social networks are becoming environments where video content not only thrives, but is expected.

Every year, Animoto surveys over 1,000 consumers to understand how evolving trends on social media are impacting purchase decisions. Consumers ranked video as their favorite form of content from brands. How are marketers at resource-strapped non-profits to keep up with social media’s appetite for video content on social media?

In an effort to maximize non-profits’ marketing efforts, Animoto has compiled best practices and inspiration for video marketing on social. Thousands of non-profits have used Animoto, an online video maker, to market themselves. Animoto even offers special pricing and Storyboard templates for non-profits.

Here are some of the ways you can leverage video for your non-profit.

Videos with Mobile In Mind

Since the vast majority of social media consumption is done on mobile devices, mobile-friendly video formats like square and vertical are a must. Square videos provide 78% more space in social feeds than landscape and they don’t require that the user tilt their phone to view it in full-screen.

To see the effect format can have on your video, check out the results of an A/B test run by The Jane Goodall Institute. They created a square version and landscape version of the same video using Animoto. Then they placed the same ad spend against both. The square one received 2 times the likes and 3 times the shares when compared to the landscape video.

Another consideration is that around 80% of videos in social feeds are watched with the sound off. Facebook recommends that you “design for sound-off, delight for sound-on.” Adding legible, large text that is viewable on a small, mobile screen lets you get your ideas across, even if your audience isn’t listening.

Save the Best for First

You really only have a few seconds to grab attention. Make sure you are using the best imagery you have in the beginning of your video. Most people on social don’t watch a video until the end. Get their attention with a “hook” (i.e. something that grabs the viewer’s attention) and then get to the point. For example, Project Chimps made a square video with Animoto that included thumb-stopping imagery at the jump, and then promptly lets the viewer know the organization needs their help.

Don’t wait for a big reveal at the end. Look at the assets you have to work with, choose the ones that stand out the most, and place them at the beginning. Next, think of short, punchy text that entices and adds context for sound-off viewing.

Timeliness Is Everything

Conversations on social media are very much tied to what is going on globally and in the news. If something is happening in the world that is relevant to your non-profit, a quick video that asks for donations right away is better than the perfect video that misses the moment.

When Hurricane Harvey hit last year, ShelterBox USA wanted to act fast. They provide disaster relief and shelter to families that have been devastated by natural disasters. As Hurricane Harvey hit last year, they created a video quickly with just an image of the doppler image of the hurricane, one photo from the devastation in Texas and then a couple photos from other natural disasters where they provided relief in a similar way.

They were able to get a video up that received way more shares, views and engagement than their average videos due to it being very relevant to what people were talking about on social as Hurricane Harvey hit. Another video they posted after the landslides in Peru drove $3,200 in donations, which used video clips shot on a mobile device by staff on the field responding to disaster. Now is better than better when it comes to social video.

If it’s the end of the year, make a video showing what you have done that year for your donors. If there are milestones or hashtag holidays you can participate in, putting the right video out at the right time can increase your impact.

Tell One Story at a Time

You might want to jam-pack everything your organization does into one video. However, since the appetite for video on social is huge, it’s actually advantageous to tell one story per video. Sticking to just one story also helps keep the video shorter for distracted attention spans. It also helps people get emotionally invested in the mission of the non-profit.

After The Jane Goodall Institute realized that square videos worked well on Facebook, they started creating videos for Instagram as well. Shortly after they began posting profiles of some of the animals the non-profit had helped. They were very pleased to see over 800k views on a video about a chimp named George. With 550k Instagram followers, it was obvious that many of the views they were receiving were from people who didn’t follow them yet on Instagram.


View this post on Instagram


This is the story of a very special chimpanzee named George. Unfortunately, like thousands of other #chimpanzees, George was stolen from his forest home and family for the illegal pet trade. Luckily, he has found a new home with other rescued chimps at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga sanctuary. Learn more about George and become a Chimp Guardian today to help care for chimps just like him. Link in bio. | #janegoodall #jane #drjanegoodall #drgoodall #chimps #animalrescue #animalsanctuary #animalwelfare #wildliferescue #chimprescue #chimpsanctuary #tchimpounga #tchimpoungasanctuary #savechimps #cuteanimals #babyanimals #chimpsofinstagram #cutechimps #endillegalpettrade

A post shared by Dr. Jane Goodall (@janegoodallinst) on

The Jane Goodall Institute’s followers tagged friends and loved ones, letting George’s story touch the hearts of even more people. Unpacking the story of just one person (or chimp) who your organization has helped can get people emotionally invested in your organization.


Video is a must for non-profits. Having just a homepage video or creating a couple event recap videos for social won’t cut it anymore. Consumers expect brands of all kinds to create video content on social. Non-profits can use affordable solutions like Animoto and these tips in order to maximize their social media marketing efforts without spending a lot of money or time.

To recap: Create videos regularly with mobile in mind. Grab the viewer’s attention at the jump. Tell just one story at a time. And respond quickly to relevant events going on in the world.

Video Marketing on Social Media: Best Practices & Inspiration for Nonprofits