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Conservation in motion: The importance of video clips

A creative depiction of a coral reef (still from Hans's video for the Conservation Optimism Summit)

An old idiom goes “one picture is worth 1000 words”, and it took the ingenuity of a mad analyst, Dr. James McQuivey from Forrester Research, to calculate that a “one minute video is worth 1.8 million words”.

As a conservation activist working in rural African communities, I gravitate towards videos over written posts. This is because after working in a youth conservation education project in my country Tanzania, I observed the response of youth after I used a book to present my idea and after using a video. The response after using a video was more engaging and I received a lot of questions compared to a book lecture.

Let’s be logical here, if I gave you a 6-page story and a three-minute video of the same story, what would you go for? Ooh! It’s not obvious BTW some might say, “c’mon Hans six pages only? I can read 10 pages in three minutes, and be happy to watch the clip too.” Well okay, but there is a catch. During the American campaigns, when you first heard that there was a viral statement from one of the presidential candidates, did you wait until the newspaper article was available in stores to read about it, or did you take your smartphone and tap the YouTube app? “Well,” some will say, “there is a newspaper app in my phone, but don’t they still link you to the video?” YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors each month, making it the second-largest search engine in the world and guess what, Google owns it.

Meanwhile, in conservation! I want to believe we conservationists are trying to sell our ideas and findings to the world. We are on a daily struggle to make the public understand that Mother Nature needs our attention as brands sell their products, but what do we do? We share our exciting research findings in articulate newsletters, bulletins and articles, that end up on the screens of our precious few donors and a couple of close friends and colleagues. Let’s not forget all the meetings you will have to repeat and explain over and over what you do, never mind how quickly that’s forgotten. Silicon Valley Business Journal highlights that video marketing provides viewers with a positive memory of your products, it encourages sharing of the story/brand and it is likely to go viral compared to a text ad, it has also being estimate by 78% of senior marketers that in 2017 video is on rise and your team needs to be fluent in visual communication. And that’s the missing link.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not raining on writers’ parades. Even videos require written scripts, and there can be no substitute for clearly analyzed and presented research findings to guide conservationists in achieving their goals. My point is, videos relay the message in a simplified format and the visual aspect creates a long-lasting impression and familiarity. I think at a time where video accessibility is flexible and at a time in our world that people are busier than ever, juggling between ever-elapsing deadlines, conservationists should embrace the advancements in technology to communicate effectively and efficiently. Videos in this case will do the trick.

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