More than two years ago, I published this post about YouTube annotations with an example of how some companies were putting the tool to use for creative storytelling. In short, annotations provide video producers with the ability to create “choose your own adventure” style videos that increase viewer engagement.

This past weekend, Mashable featured a post outlining some more recent examples of interactive YouTube videos. Being involved in the nonprofit marketing space, I’ve always found it interesting that more nonprofits haven’t latched onto annotations as an excellent storytelling tactic.

In my research, I stumbled across this post from Dan Portnoy on the topic. Dan posted a good example of how the use of annotations has helped the Union Rescue Mission with their Winter Shelters program. The team did a great job of using the annotations tool to provide a simple call-to-action at the end of the video that allows a viewer to continue to learn more while also providing a quick option for donations.

In another example, the Mashable post features the “Choose a Different Ending” video series below produced by London’s Metropolitan Police to create awareness among young people about the danger of carrying weapons.

The first person point of view and storyline help to put a user in the driver’s seat for role playing. It’s a fantastic idea and shows a thorough understanding of their target audience, using an interactive format (vs. plain PSA) to engage and educate on a channel kids are already visiting online. In addition, the simple, shareable format of the video makes it a fantastic education tool that teachers anywhere could use in their classrooms.

Annotations open up a host of storytelling ideas to convey your organization’s mission or position messaging into a creative format for a campaign. What ideas come to mind for how you might put annotations to use?

Note:  This post also appears on the Weber Shandwick Seattle blog.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Interesting topic and useful for our videos actually.

    Maybe an added service we can provide.


    Custom Web Video Templates


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Nonprofits, Video, YouTube


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