Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Videos Matter for Campaign2.0: Taaleem Foundation on YouTube

In the final group project, our group will create a social media campaign plan for Taaleem Foundation (TF), a Pakistani NGO promoting education equality in under privileged areas in the country, especially Balochistan.
We believe that our campaign plan should answer to the challenges TF faces right now, so we talked with Mr. Abdul Basit Khawaja, General Manager of the organization before drawing up the plan. According to him, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the major social media that TF works on at present. So I searched TF’s activities on YouTube. The findings are as followed:

TF joined YouTube quite late and is inactive on the site. The “TaaleemFoundation” account was established on September 10, 2011 and has only uploaded one video in March 2012. 
Video1  Balochistan Has Got Talent: Sab Akele Jayein Gey by Jan Mohammad, Mar. 21, 2012

According to its description, the video is the first episode of a series of “Balochistan Has Got Talent”. However, the account remains quiet after April 18, 2012.
In comparison, the account of one of the foundation’s schools contributes more on the website. Created on March 21, 2012, the “TaaleemFoundationSui” account has posted 16 videos before its latest activity in August. Most of the videos are about important events in the school and students' extracurricular activities. However, the contents do not have a clear theme and do not talk about the education problem in the area, which is the target of TF. The “TaaleemFoundationSui” account is also the first and the only YouTube account that the nine TF schools have.
Individual accounts have also uploaded many videos related to TF on YouTube. The problem of videos posted by both official and personal accounts is that most of them were made with personal camcorders and the quality is relatively poor.
Neither TF nor its branch schools have launched any video campaign on YouTube yet. The only formal campaign video, aiming to encourage public donations, was posted by TF’s working partner, Pedal for Peace, and was “liked” by the TF account. However, the influence of the video seems poor since it only got 698 views and no comments since uploaded on Dec. 22, 2011.
Video2 Education Revolution in Balochistan - Taaleem Foundation & Pedal for Peace, Dec. 22, 2011

One problem of TF’s current social media strategy is that different social media tools are disconnected with each other. For example, there are some videos only posted on YouTube and other can only be found on the Facebook page. The name of the foundation on YouTube is also confusing. There is also a video named “Taieem Foundation Nobel Job” on the site, talking about work of Taleem Foundation. In our campaign plan, we want to make the account of Taaleem Foundation more distinguished from others.
In social media campaign, videos matter in the following ways: first, they can more easily build emotional connections between viewers and the issues. People vote for the candidate who elicits the right feelings, not the one presenting the best argument. (Westen 2007:125) Compared with tweets and articles, the contents of videos are more emotional and visual. They can better influence and persuade the mass, which will benefit campaigns.
Second, videos can overcome the language barriers between different countries and peoples. In the TF case, one of their campaign goals is to promote foreign donations. Then the language becomes a major problem in terms of communication and advocacy. But the video can be self-evident. For example, the videos can show how children learn Pakistani songs in the schools and the image is strong enough to evoke the public awareness and sympathy, (though the English subtitles and descriptions are still needed).
Third, videos meet business interests, because people will stay longer on video sites and that will be the companies’ opportunities to send more advertisements.
Today, words are still dominant in social media strategy for many reasons. One is technical problems with videos. For instance, the download and upload of videos on YouTube are not as easy as dealing with tweets. Also, unlike articles, the internet speed may not allow people to watch videos quickly and grasp the basic idea by a few clicks. However, these problems can be solved as the information technology advance in the future.

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