A new study commissioned by IBM reports that, for the first time, people are spending more hours per week in front of their computer screens than watching TV.

A lot of these hours are spent increasingly on watching online video. According to comScore, 136 million folks watched over 9 billion video streams in June. 3 out of 4 U.S. internet users streamed video online in May, watching more than 2.5 hours of video online. The Pew Internet Project comes up with 57% of internet users (75% of broadband users) watching online video, with 57% sharing video links and 15% watching political videos (lots of user profile data here too).

Everything from full-length feature films to time-shifted TV shows to how-to-do-it videos to Obamagirl to your Uncle Ernie singing “I'm Popeye the Sailor Man” in full costume. According to the NY Times, niche online video networks are blossoming.

In terms of content, there's nothing inherently better about video watched online. As just noted, much of the material is simply re-purposed from traditional sources.

What is important, especially for nonprofits with a story to tell, and sell, is the affordable and unlimited reach of this medium.

Arguably, online video is the ultimate medium for delivering stories, making them readily available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. And stories are what engage people, motivate them and, of course, sell them.

Indeed, people are beginning to build online video collections, just as they previously collected books, National Geographics, records, CDs (and some, records again!). Seth Godin points to his personal collection of online business videos, and to a new service for organizing and sharing an online video collection. He argues that people who will never read a 200 page book will happily watch a three minute video on the same subject.

I submit the same is true of that newsletter your nonprofit is so proud of, and other static copy you produce … brochures, annual reports, etc.

The times — and media of choice — are a-changin' and your communications team and marketers need to master the video medium. You need to begin video recording and presenting your stories online. The two historical reasons for not producing video — “It's too expensive and there's no way to distribute it anyway” — have been blown out of the water.

Now it's simply a question of talent and strategic vision. If you don't have those on your team, better get some!


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