Researching and refining your message
When making videos about social issues, it’s key to do research first. This helps build credibility and establish your point of view. Ensure your audience understands what you’re talking about with a clear message and give them an action to take.
Doing your research
It’s important to research all angles of a topic when making videos where you present a specific point of view. While it’s important for you to have an opinion, thorough research ensures you’re credible and can have an informed conversation on the topic because you understand what others are saying on all sides of the debate (especially if someone disagrees with you.) Don’t forget to draw from your own personal experiences too. Are there topics or moments in your life that can inform your research?
Research can help you articulate why you (and your audience) should care. It can also help you accurately communicate your stance (and avoid spreading misinformation.) Being well-informed can kickstart your creative process, and will also ultimately help your audience understand what they can do to get involved.
There are many ways to find out about issues and gather facts. You could:
- search on multiple sites to see if there is more than one report. In general, be critical of what you see online before you take it as fact.
- speak to experts or someone with experience and listen to their story.
- connect with local resources, like a non-profit or collaborator with a similar vision or message.
- analyze the news, social media trends, current events, or debates that people may feel strongly about--determine how these contribute to the conversation. Some ways you can discern credible from non-credible sources are to look at the date of the article, and consider the source or website--is it popularly known to have an opinion or a side?
- If you already have a position, put yourself on the other side of an issue to understand why they might feel that way A lot of times there are real reasons why people think and feel differently than you. (Sometimes, there may not be an opposing side.)
Above all, it’s critical to be knowledgeable on the social issues you’re taking a stand on. Be accountable for the words you use and understand the issue from various points of view.
Dive in with questions:
- What’s the issue or problem?
- How did this issue become prevalent?
- What’s the source of the issue?
- Who does it affect?
- When does it happen?
- Where does it occur?
See it in action
Consult an expertTaylor Behnke, from ItsRadishTime, interviews activist Jess Morales Rocketto on how to organize for social change.
Finding your audience
Once you’ve done your research, the next step is defining who you are trying to reach with your message. It’s key to keep them in mind during all stages of content development.
Try to find your niche! While going viral may sound great, it’s not the only way to have an impact. Some successful narratives target very specific audiences or platforms and may naturally have a smaller audience, yet still have a profound impact.
If you already have an established audience, you may not need to look any further. Consider asking your subscribers what they would think if you switched gears and tried a new style of video on your channel.
Consider your target audience’s
See it in action
Target audiences can be wide or narrowTazzy Phe has a niche audience of young people of Muslim-American descent.
Country-specific content can be of interest to a global audienceZukar is a Syrian creator living in Berlin, Germany. His channel features skits about German politics and topics he’s personally had experience with. His target audience is likely anyone with an interest in German politics and the refugee experience.
Defining your message in 4 steps
Next, you’ll want to decide exactly what you want to communicate. When discussing any topic, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a broad spectrum of narratives that can be utilised. There isn’t one way of doing things, so here are some things to consider to find your own voice.
- What’s your point of view? What do you want your audience to walk away with? Note: while it’s critical to express your opinion, be careful if you’re producing a video that is intended to undermine or prove wrong the other side. Often what’s more effective than undermining others is providing an alternative narrative, a proactive position that states what you are for rather than what you are against.
- Why do you care? Whether it’s a personal story belonging to you or someone else, communicating the reason behind your interest in an issue can be effective.
- What action do you want your audience to take? Consider giving your audience a positive action to take after they watch your video. Do you want them to spread awareness? Discuss the issue with their friends? Go out and vote? The sky's the limit, but you’ll want to be as specific as possible.
- How do you want this content to be consumed? Is your goal to spread awareness? To have your videos used in a classroom? Or request action? Your intention and method of distribution can guide key decisions about content.
- Know what the issue is called. Understand nuances between words you might use. For example, xenophobia and Islamophobia are related but different concepts.
- Try to avoid ‘counter narratives’ that simply put down the views of the ‘other’ side. Try to lead with a positive message instead.