Guide to Digital Media & Practical AI
More than any other time in professional history, communications, content, and social media teams are expected to produce tons of multimedia content. This shift is largely due to the highly visual communication channels of the web and social media platforms, and the new need for these tools to help nonprofits demonstrate impact and reach their supporters. The creation of digital media content used to be the domain of a Digital Creative Director, a dedicated specialist with proprietary tools and training. Today, the demand for audio/visual content on the web has exploded beyond one role, and the value this content has in online storytelling is significant. This practical guide will help share the tools and tactics for efficiently building useful, creative digital media content for social impact organizations.
The right tool now includes a growing suite of AI (Artificial Intelligence) image and writing tools. Groups like OpenAI.com have created tools that are now becoming good enough to replicate the creative outputs of people. Scary: yes. Time-saving: also, yes. They are now becoming too good to ignore if you are in the creator space.
Whether it’s graphic assets, video content, or a podcast, this guide will share the best way to DIY the multimedia needed.
AI Generated Content
Recent advances in natural language processing AI projects have finally gotten good enough to create original writing and imagery that mimics human output with amazing accuracy. Learning to work with these tools to increase the quality and quantity of creative work is a must.
For fun, our CEO created an Open AI GPT3 version of himself and then interviewed it this is no longer sci-fi… It is also an exciting time because of the amount of creativity that is now possible with image generators like DALL-E2 and MidJourney.
Before launching a podcast, manage your team’s expectations! Podcasts have a much smaller audience reach—they require significant energy to create and skilled investment over time to maintain. But if your goal is to create deep engagement with a narrow, target group of listeners, this may be the right medium to try.
Podcasts are an intimate medium that allow for complex ideas to be told as stories, capitalizing on long-form narratives without relying on users to read a 3,000-word article. Mobile and in-home devices like Alexa and Google Home are making it easier than ever to listen while multitasking.
According to the Edison Research Podcast Consumer 2019 report, over 51% of Americans over 12 yrs-old have listened to a podcast, and 32% have listened to a podcast in the past month. The more important factor is that podcast consumption is increasing year-over-year. Since 2014, the total podcast audience has increased 144%, more than doubling and showing no signs of slowing down.
Creating a Podcast
Ready to get started? Do your research by reviewing our favorite podcasts in the social impact space (don’t forget Using the Whole Whale!), then dive in to our how-to guides for creating and measuring the success of your own podcast. Audacity is our preferred platform for podcast creation—learn more about it in our best nonprofit media training tools review.
“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an age-old adage, but it’s probably right, give or take a few sentences. The internet is an attention economy—people quickly scan web pages for quick info and takeaways. An image allows you to capture that fleeting attention more effectively, and strong visual design aids in our understanding of the content itself more quickly. Every social media platform has images baked into their architecture, and any content you create inevitably requires a photo. These resources will help you avoid common image mistakes and efficiently create great images to tell your story.
Graphic Design Tools
There are tons of image editing tools out there, but the best one for novice designers is Canva—they provide great tutorials for quick self-teaching, and their nonprofit program that makes advanced features free.
The following sites are also great for creating consistent imagery that adheres to the visual standards of the web. To maintain visual consistency within your brand, consider choosing just one of these styles and sticking to it, rather than mixing and matching platforms for different types of content. But first, decide which tool is right for you:
Great Design Goes With Everything
These tools and resources aren’t just for infographics—leverage your new design skills in your email templates, on your social media sites, and in your own logo! For deeper dives into design explore the guides below, and visit Whole Whale University to check out our webinar on Data Visualization for Non-Designers.
Photos are key to great design however finding the perfect photo can be difficult and expensive. Stock photos can be a fast-track to average-looking design. Our friends at Visceral have created a great list of free, diverse, and license-free photos for design work:
Video is the most compelling way to engage and educate an audience about the work your organization does. Creating dynamic videos has never been easier (or more in demand). Plus, YouTube is actually the #2 search engine, with nearly 2 billion monthly active users who watch more than 180 million hours of content daily, so your online video content may provide another key front door to your website. Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and others are also put increasing weight on quality video creation. If your organization measures attention and is interested in capturing more eyeballs, a strong video strategy must be a part of your digital diet.
The following is a quick summary easy-to-use, low-cost tools that will help you create good videos at scale.
Creating clear walkthroughs of a product or even a presentation deck can be a quick way to build content that tells your story. Make sure you have a good microphone for the voiceover if you are going to be adopting this video style. The following list provides a number of great options for strong screen recording:
- Screenr (Free, Chrome browser extension)
- Screencastify (Free, Chrome browser extension)
- Screen Recorder (Free, Chrome browser extension)
- Quicktime Screen recorder (on Macs only)
- Record iPhone/iPad screen (Native function for Apple phones and tablets)
- Record Android device screens (Third-party app that we trust. There a lots of them…)
- Adobe Captivate (Not free, $29/month)
Add Music for Production
Never underestimate the value of mood-setting music and the value it adds to your videos. Imagine watching intense scenes of Jaws without the audio, and the tension all but disappears. The tools and sites below all offer inexpensive music sourcing options:
- Music Archive
- Free Music Downloads at Pixabay
- YouTube Creator licenses free music, once the video is uploaded
Editing is always the most time-consuming part of creating a video. Some professionals use the 15:1 ratio of source footage to final output to estimate how much time it will take (meaning, 2 hours of footage may take up to 30 hours to edit down to 3 minutes). If you’re ready to bravely foray into your own video editing work, the most incredible resource on the web is the YouTube Creator Academy series (we weren’t paid to say this, it just is that good and free).
The Creator Academy will give you a great intro to editing, and the following platforms will give you the tools to do the work:
- WeVideo (A cloud-based video editor. $5 – $25/month but Whole Whale gives a 20% discount.)
- Vyond (Cloud-based editor for larger projects, $50/month and up)
- Adobe Spark (Adobe’s editing software. $10-$20/month, with a low-feature free option.)
- YouTube Editor (YouTube’s free editor. Once a video is uploaded, the platform allows for for small edits to footage, but with super limited options.)
If you are reading this, chances are you aren’t an animation designer. With a small investment, an organization can outsource the work to create an animation with a logo. This asset can then be used for the Intro/Outros of videos and reused for consistency. A quick search on Fiverr will match you with tons of designers that are willing to do logo animation. Look through the list of designers, choose someone with a history of work, and consider doing a small test project before contracting with them, to make it more robust off the platform.
These platforms that will also help you DIY animation:
- InVideo (Quick online video editing with great built-in animation assets. $10 per month).
- Wideo (Great for creating engaging animation narratives. $9-39/month.)
- Moovly (Great for creating explainer animations. Free – $24.95/month.)
- PowToon (Can make presentations and YouTube ads. Free-$99/month.)
- Vyond (Cloud-based editor for larger projects. $50/month and up.)
- Animoto.com (Focused on photo animation and marketing videos. $5 – $50/month.)
- Spriteapp ($9/month)