Pound Your Adversary Through Video Activism

Anyone can share their opinion regarding important issues in their content – but when it’s time to stand up and make a real difference, you want to think carefully about how to present the cause you so deeply care about.

Whether you advocate for consumers, the environment, or studies, there are effective ways to express yourself and provoke action.

The hallmark of online activism revolves around social media campaigns, where anyone wanting to engage in activism can do so with a breeze, regardless of their skill level. But as the platform gets cluttered with activists fighting to be heard, your message can turn into a cacophony of content that’s deafening to the audience.

So the question for you is: How far are you willing to go to rise above the noise? Because today, you need to do more than just post an emotional image (unless your Matt Damon or Gray White) to make a significant impact in online space and get people committed to your campaign.

That’s where an online video could prove to be your secret weapon.

Well-presented videos go further on social media and the web than any other form of content. Online Publishers Association reported that 80 percent of internet users recall watching a video on a website they visited in the past 30 days. Of those 80 percent, 40 percent took some action after viewing the content. 26 percent looked for more information about the video’s subject. That’s the kind of reaction activists want from their audience.

If you’re new to the idea of using videos for web activism, get inspired by these 3 campaigns that sparked a spirited, emotional response:


Kony was a short film created and published by Invisible Children on YouTube to start the “Stop Kony” movement. The intention was to spread awareness about Joesph Kony (Ugandan military fugitive and leader) and get him arrested by December 2012. Kony had been accused of sexual abuse, mass murder and kidnapping. Many questioned if the video was sufficient to make Kony a household name and how people would take action.

Although Kony wasn’t captured, the video received 100 million views in 6 days. Influencers such as Oprah tweeted about the video and the hashtag #StopKony was trending on Twitter for several days.

What can you learn from the video? It targeted a specific group of people. It didn’t ask viewers to deliver the message to every other person, but said “go to the people who can really make a difference”. A call-to-action was also there in the form of making a statement before the deadline.

Death to the death penalty

This video stated that 139 countries have removed the death penalty and only 58 are left. The content includes an electric chair, a lynch mob made of wax and a firing squad melting away. It was visually stunning and brought Amnesty International’s message about the death penalty into the spotlight on social networks and beyond.

The video received almost 30,000 views in less than 2 weeks. In all scenarios, the wax figures melted before crumpling, illustrating the strap line of the campaign “Death to the Death Penalty”.

Then followed the Amnesty candle logo, which explains to viewers that the organization is seeking their support to put an end on the death penalty, and that the flame is meant to burn down executioners. The content was in line with the main aim of the organization, and appealed to viewers with the same aim as a result of relevancy.

Follow the Frog

This video reassured viewers that they can all play a part in preserving the resources that are essential to promoting a healthy environment from the comfort of their homes by supporting the Rainforest Alliance Certified Products – and this gesture was sufficient to bring a significant change.

Aaron Weber and Max Joseph spruced up the content with a cautionary tale for those who want to take matters into their own hands.

The content strongly displays the moral of the story, that the audience don’t need to go far to save the rainforest; there’s plenty they can do at home such as carpooling, recycling and buying Rainforest Alliance Certified for things that can’t be bought locally. The video has received over 5,000,000 views, a reach made possible by the human and voice element of the video.

These are just a few examples of the many ways activists and organizations are using online videos to spread their message about global issues. It is proving to be the fastest way to reach thousands, or even millions, of viewers.

To effectively use a video to spread your message, remember to take these considerations into account:

  • Match the video type with the needs of your audience (Aiming to inspire action? Film the consequence of not taking action)
  • Shorter-to-mid length is the key (research shows people pay less attention to longer videos)
  • Insert these 4 elements: The issue, the solution, how the viewers can get started, and the call-to-action (what to do immediately)
  • A creative story and a strong voice are the most critical elements of videos made for a social cause campaign.

What are your thoughts on the clips above? Do you think using an online video is the most powerful tool in the media kit of a web activist? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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