So what do you think after watching this short YouTube video? Do you feel inspired? Do you feel motivated? Does this make you feel as though spending 30 minutes per day to walk (which is less than 2% of your entire day) is such an important investment to make which requires such a small sacrifice? This is how I felt after watching this cool video. I could also think of several people I wanted to share this video with (and I did). I understood exactly why this video went viral after reading about it in a Globe and Mail article called, “How a Canadian health video went viral – and how the creators hope to cure health care”. This is such an innovative way to present such a large volume of information in a succinct manner that is not only interesting but life-changing. Since this video was first uploaded on YouTube in December 2011, it has received over 4 million hits. This video is now also available in other languages including French, Spanish, Italian and Arabic and it’s been a hit every single time. I believe that this is a great way to educate the public in just over 9 minutes about how 30 minutes of walking a day can help you to prevent so many chronic diseases and reduce the risk of death. I’m sure for many of us, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the benefits of walking. But what makes this different is the way Dr. Mike Evans takes us on a journey, using clever whiteboard illustrations (created by Liisa Sorsa), to bring scientific findings to life in a way that many people can relate and connect with the text and the images. I thought this is a great example of how one can use multimedia tools to share public health mesages in an effective manner.
Dr. Evans, a Toronto-based, staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health, and a Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, has a website called Evans Health Lab where you can see his other whiteboard health videos and participate in discussions on the website blog. Dr. Evans has a YouTube channel called DocMikeEvans, where his video posted above “23 and a half hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?” can be found. Not surprisingly, Dr. Evans also has a Facebook page and a Twitter profile. Dr. Evans has made great progress in buildling a strong online presence by subscribing to the “Big Three”. In fact, Dr. Evans is “known worldwide for his work in innovative health messaging to the public”. More than 10 million people have seen his famous whiteboard YouTube videos and it’s evident that his success is linked to his ability to leverage the expertise he needs in order to create a unique online brand. Dr. Evans has built a media lab that brings together filmmakers, designers, patients, and social media mavens.
How Dr. Evans Uses Best Practices on his YouTube Channel
In her book “Social Media for Social Good”, Heather Mansfield outlines some of the best practices for creating a YouTube Channel for nonprofit organizations. A quick glance at Dr. Evans’ YouTube channel makes it clear that he has implemented some of these best practices.
Dr. Evans effectively used his whiteboard-style avatar as his profile picture which is very fitting, seeing that this is how he’s recognized in the online community and since his whiteboard health videos is what he’s best known for. Also he used the colours of his avatar to design his channel which is plain white and black with hints of red which is one of the colours that is used in his YouTube videos. He also limited the description of his channel to his mission statement in the “About” section and he did so in his usual conversational style (i.e. using his unique “voice”).
Channel and video comments have been enabled, yet another best practice, on the DocMikeEvans YouTube channel which has allowed people from all over the world to engage in online discussions with one another and with Dr. Evans himself in response to his YouTube videos.
Finally, under the “Channel” tab, you can see that Dr. Evans has subscribed to partners which demonstrates his support and interest in other public health, research and medical communities. This helps to highlight the interconnectedness between different key players in the public health arena.
On a side note, you may be interested in an online resource I came across that provides step-by-step instructions on How to Customize your Nonprofit’s YouTube Channel Design.
Pictures are Powerful Too
I signed up for a Pinterest account as I found that this is another popular multimedia sharing site in which the power of pictures is unleashed. Not only do the pictures themselves serve as a great source of information themselves but they also connect you to a broader online community. This demonstrates the phenomena of bridging and bonding capital in the social media community, a concept I learned about in Clay Shirky’s book “Here Comes Everybody”. Each image pinned to a board represents a connector; when you visit the source page for the images on a board, it exposes you to various other related topics of interest. For example, I found an image that features the benefits of walking but when I visited the page from which the image was sourced, I found a whole bunch of tips on healthy eating, a related topic of interest. In order to create my own board, I searched for pictures by typing in key words such as “30 minute exercises” and “walking” into the search bar of my Pinterest account. I discovered a great collection of infographics and images in which the visuals and small bits of text serve as inspirational and easy-to-follow instructions on how to increase your physical activity levels to 30 minutes a day. And not only the hows are explained in visual format, but also the whys. Take a look:
So you can see how I felt inspired after watching Dr. Evans’ whiteboard health YouTube video. It prompted me to create a board on Pinterest and add pins related to the health benefits of walking. I am feeling pretty convinced that videos and visuals have the power to change behaviour because they can disseminate information in an attention-grabbing way that makes the viewers feel connected and deeply interested. This technique sure worked on me! After all, 30 minutes is equivalent to only 2% of all the time we have in one day!