Kick Your Content Up a Notch with Multimedia

Posted by Mr. Raheem Dawodu, Jr., Ms. Caitlin Holland, Jun 05, 2014 0 comments

Earlier in this blog salon, we discussed the ten ways you could improve the website you already have, as well as the ways you could  create engaging content for your website.

In both of those posts, we briefly highlighted the use of multimedia - graphics, video, animation, audio - as a way to make your content more interactive.

But, what is multimedia? And what is the best way to use it to tell your organization’s story?

Multimedia covers many types of content, but on our website, we use “multimedia” as the term to describe an experience beyond plain text - things like photo streams, embedded videos, infographics, social media feeds, audio blurbs, interactive maps. These elements spice up the look and feel of a website; they make it lively and fun, while also sharing information more effectively and efficiently than words alone.

While taking on our recent web redesign, we knew we wanted to use our multimedia content to “humanize” our information-rich website. So when we built the site, we decided to place our social media feeds, Instagram photos, and YouTube videos across many of our pages. Not only did it bring visibility to our various channels, but it also helped us “put a face” on our organization – it conveyed a sense of character and personality for our organization that encouraged people to engage with us further.

Great multimedia brings people inside your organization; it introduces them to your staff, other constituents, and experts in your field. It places them in the middle of your work, your events, and your initiatives - even if they are not physically present.

We’ll offer examples of the photo, video, social media, and other content that has helped make the new Americans for the Arts website a success – and hopefully you’ll come away with some new ideas for multimedia on your own site!

Photos: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and they’re right. Because Americans for the Arts is an arts organization, it was a no-brainer that we wanted our website to feature works of art. To this end, we used photos of public art that had been selected a part of our Public Art Network Year in Review as backgrounds for the pages on our website – we wanted art to be the foundation of everything we did.

We understand that not every organization will have a stockpile of tons of artistic photos, but all organizations should have a database, centralized folder, or better yet - an online photo archiving and sharing platform (like Flickr, Snapfish, etc.) where photos can be collected from various events by staff members and external photographers, and then streamed directly to your website or embedded as slideshows of photos you’ve grouped together (like the slideshow of the Flickr set we created for our Arts Policy Roundtable last year). Even a simple file sharing system like Dropbox or can help your organization compile large photos in one place.

Video/Audio: Video is one of those things that every organization should want to do, but it takes a lot of time and effort to do well. A strong video presence can help your constituents feel engaged with, impassioned by, and connected to your organization’s story and mission.

As video has grown from an archival resource to a primary engagement tool, Americans for the Arts will sometimes work with external vendors to create specific pieces, and sometimes we’ll create videos in-house.

Some videos, like “Fight for the Arts,” are designed to convince using specific information in a passionate and engaging way.



Other videos, like our “NAMPC in One Word” video, are designed to get our constituents excited and engaged with one of our many programs.

Videos from our events, like last year’s Nancy Hanks Lecture featuring Yo-Yo Ma, are used to raise visibility as well as connect constituents across the world with our organization and our work.

While the Nancy Hanks Lecture was livestreamed by a professional company, the “NAMPC in One Word” video was created in-house. Filming the interviews for the NAMPC video involved our web team using our own equipment (like a camera, microphone, lighting, and video editing software - Adobe Premiere Pro). And the “Fight for the Arts” didn’t involve any filming – just editing public-domain footage.

It was crucial as a non-profit organization to make strategic and cost-effective purchases, and we knew that decent video equipment would be an investment. So we started by creating inexpensive video in-house (using FlipCams instead of video cameras, iMovie instead of Premiere Pro, desk lamps as lighting, etc.) until we figured out what we needed – and doing it this way helped us determine our needs and commit to bigger purchases over time.

We often tie video into a larger multimedia strategy – for example, we create wrap-up pages for our events that are filled with PDF resources, slides from presentations via SlideShare, photo streams, and videos from the event – allowing both attendees and non-attendees to get a fuller virtual experience. Check out our 2014 Arts Advocacy Day wrap-up page  as an example.

Social Media Feeds: Your organization is probably already creating fantastic personalized and humanizing multimedia content on your social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) – and a great way to integrate that content into your website is by creating feeds. Instead of just using text or a button to link to each social media channel, feeds display this content dynamically and in real-time wherever you place it on your website.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds (which you can customize either to show all the most recent tweets from your organization, or to pull all tweets based on a specific hashtag) are great ways to personalize your website, encourage a deeper connection with your organization, and constantly offer updated content. You can give your followers a more casual, personal, and comedic look inside your organization. For example, a photo that garnered us many "likes" was one of our CEO, Bob Lynch, taking a "selfie" with his customary diet coke - which we tagged to be featured on the CEO's Corner of our website.

Bob Diet Coke selfie on strip

There are many forms multimedia can take on your website, and options vary in ease of incorporation and price. The important thing to remember is that the more exciting and engaging your content is, the stronger the message will be received. Check out these essential multimedia creating/editing/incorporating tools, and their free counterparts in this helpful list from Media Bistro.

Adding multimedia to your website doesn’t have to be expensive or incredibly time-consuming to look great and achieve your communication goals. Happy integrating!

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