The 7 Types of Video to Leverage Social Change

This post is written by special contributor Greg Roth, the founder of Percy Group Communications, who co-presented at last month's NetSquared talk on "Leveraging Video for Social Change" at Affinity Lab in Washington, D.C. He breaks down the various forms of video that nonprofits, NGOs and small businesses use to advance their mission and accomplish their goals. You can read a detailed re-cap of the session here. This post was originally published on the Percy Group Communications blog.

After some research, I decided that there are seven types of video in which people appear. What follows is an attempt to describe each. (Technically, one could say there are eight kinds if you want to include b-roll, or passive shots of scenes from an observational viewpoint that may or may not include people).

LEVEL ONE Simple and direct, level one videos could be shot with expensive equipment or with an iPhone and uploaded to the web almost immediately. 

One-Person Shot Boiled down to its simplest form, this type of video is straightforward: one person on camera. This can be a speech, a testimonial, basic videoblogging as found on new sites Tout and Klip, or an interview if the interviewer does not appear in the video.

Interaction Similar to the One-Person Shot, Interaction refers to a video where more than one person appears onscreen and there is an exchange between them. This could be a interview where the interviewer IS on camera, and therefore there is verbal and nonverbal communications happening between them as well as to the camera, or it can be an embed, where a camera is following a person through a crowd, as seen in documentaries or it can be a crowd shot.

Livefeed Not the most dynamic of shots, but still purposeful, the Livefeed is typically used to simulcast or web stream an event or happening out to an audience that would otherwise not be witness to that event. These are popular at conventions, conferences, or a series like TEDx. With the rise of online channels like UStream and Justin, groups like Occupy have been able to reach a wider audience.

LEVEL TWO At level two, editing, pacing, and narrative come into play. These forms use level one as building blocks in order to create a more complicated (and hopefully compelling) video.

Slideshow Even if your organization doesn’t have any video clips, you can still make a video. By pairing still images, graphics and screenshots with audio (music or voice over or both), you can create a video that illustrates a problem, tells a story and articulates a strategy, solution or action.

Focus NonProfits Slideshow from Robert Stern on Vimeo.

Highlights Much the same as a slideshow, except that the foundation is video clips instead of still photographs. Obviously some form of hybrid with video and stills is possible, sometimes even preferred. This differs from a mission video in that it typically is cut from footage shot without a script. It can be a recap of an event or a collection of interviews with some b-roll incorporated.

LEVEL THREE Combining elements of levels one and two, level three is usually equated with “production”. Editing, pacing narrative, and subject suites combine to make mission videos for nonprofits, pitch videos of product sellers, and documentaries for storytellers.

Mission For most organizations, this is a way to communicate value, brand, and mission. Therefore, I dub it the mission video, because among those three considerations, the mission is really the most important. (argue if you will, you could make a case for any of the three, I imagine). These videos are usually scripted out beforehand and are used for either awareness (PSAs, campaigns) or for fundraising. Or, of course, both. As such it is critical that “putting a face to the cause” is typically an integral part of these videos. It is the best choice show achieving AIDA, since an organization’s mission eventually references a call to action.

Documentary The ultimate in long-form storytelling, documentaries pull from all six preceding types to present history, context, progress, barriers, heroes and villains, and the future related to a central topics.

Again, audience dropoff rates are considerable for watching video online, so getting to the point immediately and in a compelling way is of paramount importance. Understanding the forms of the craft can help you decide exactly how to get your message out and how to build a multifaceted portfolio of content.

View Greg Roth's full presentation: