Storytelling 2.0

When I first moved to San Francisco 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to listen to one of YouTube’s co-founders tell the company’s story.  You may have heard of it…  Like many start-ups, YouTube was born out of makeshift office in someone’s garage by a few guys. The secret of their success? They found a way to make video sharing with friends easier.  Check out their first video upload titled, “Me at the zoo” here:

Simple and sweet, YouTube’s first video does what millions of videos that are shared everyday and that is of storytelling. Whether it’s a story about how silly cats and dogs can be or babies struggling to stay awake over a bowl of cereal, videos are an entertaining way of engaging with an audience.

So how does this translate into how public health organizations can tap into the power of storytelling via YouTube? Here are some tips on how to get started now inspired by Mansfield’s Social Media for Social Good: A How to Guide for Non-Profits:

  1. Assign a storyteller: Assign a person who will create, edit and upload videos. First choice would be your Social Media Manager, but it can also be someone who is creative and interested in telling your organization’s story. This person could also be your program manager or director, an intern from a local university, or a professional videographer.
  2. Reserve and create your YouTube Channel: Sign-up for a Google Account and then choose a name that is similar to your organization’s name and brand your new YouTube channel by uploading your non-profit’s avatar as your profile picture and design your channel to match the colors of your avatar. Keep the text description of your channel short. Remember, the attractive part of YouTube is that the focus is on videos and not text.
  3. Set content goals:  Set the goal of sharing at least 3 videos a year when you first start out, and then as you build capacity and content, change your goal to creating and sharing 1 video a week.
  4. Purchase an iPad and iMovie: If you decide to take the function of storytelling in-house, iPad and the iMovie app are great tools that you can start using today.  iPhones are also great for capturing video when you’re on the go, whether you’re at an event or meeting, or seeing something in the community that can help tell your story.
  5. Set priorities for what stories to develop content for: Events; Interviews with staff, supporters, or experts; Office or community tours; Success stories; Speeches/conferences; Fundraising campaigns; Call to Action.

A favorite tip of mine when trying to re-tell the same old story… Use celebrities when you can to revamp your message.  Check out these videos by the American Heart Association:


5 thoughts on “Storytelling 2.0

  1. I love this post! and really glad you posted the Ken Jeong CPR thing. I love it because he himself is a licensed physician (prior to being a comedian/actor!) and his popularity engages people to pay attention to a great PSA.

  2. Love your post, Jennifer! Nice to learn the story of how youtube started…must have been pretty cool to hear him speak. Love use nod to the American Heart Association too…so important to get that message out there.

  3. I really enjoyed your post. It was personal to your experience and told a story. Then you gave great examples of PSAs that used humor to convey the message.

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