Companies are increasingly using and creating online video content for marketing purposes. From start-ups to established industry leaders, social media platforms are a powerful tool to generate buzz, assert mission statements, and update consumers about the latest products and services in development or on the market. With more users watching videos and listening to podcasts on Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo than ever before, a new company, OneStory, is hoping to expand and capitalize on the growing popularity of video sharing with a focus on spreading information related to various human rights issues.
OneStory is a video sharing platform designed to crowd source video interviews to help tell the story of an organization, community or cause. OneStory.com started two years ago when Katrina German and Dale Zak embarked on a journey to help raise awareness about important causes that are often overlooked by conventional news media outlets. While working as a video producer and social media strategist, Katrina met Zak at a random conference that quickly led to a “partnership fueled by passion, talent and a lot of hard work.” It also didn’t hurt that Zak had an already well established reputation as a computer scientist known for developing technological solutions for disadvantaged groups.
Recently, I had a chance to discuss OneStory’s mission with co-founder Katrina German. We also talked about social media in general, and about the gains women have been making in the tech industry.
Speaking with Katrina, I wanted to know more about what OneStory meant to her and how OneStory can help millions of people struggling to gain rights and freedoms against oppressive governments and private conglomerates.
Katrina begins by stating the unique services OneStory has to offer: “It’s the ability of OneStory to ask questions and get video responses in return. The video responses are beautifully edited and sent back to the user. Users can submit their video through an app or their webcam and they all go to one place. It’s a beautiful way to crowd source through interviews.”
Tim Smart: What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started the company?
Katrina German: There are a couple challenges. First, we are a social entrepreneurship with the goal of changing the world and making a difference. We also have to make money for our investors. A lot of people said you can’t build a stable entrepreneurship, but here we are proving them wrong. We are also based in a place where we are not considered a tech center, so we travel to a lot of markets to meet with other mentors to better understand the conditions on the ground.
(The social effect of video challenges)
Tim Smart: By encouraging people around the world to record themselves taking on the ice bucket challenge, the ALS campaign not only helped raise awareness about Lou Gehrig’s Disease, it also helped prove the power of disseminating videos through social media. Many credit the campaign’s success to its ability to invite users to create their own personal videos. To what extent has OneStory addressed the need to personalize their own campaign videos?
Katrina German: I am very pleased for the success of th ALS campaign, and I love watching these communicative trends take off. No doubt we will see a lot of copy cats. OneStory would have been perfect for such a campaign, as our videos are branded so that a company can track where the videos are coming from and where they are going. For example, the OneStory app would have made tracking data easier for the ice bucket challenge.
Tim Smart: What exciting campaign is OneStory currently working on that you would like to share with us?
Katrina German: We are currently working with a women’s organization that is asking men in Albina to stand up for women’s rights by having men talk about how they support women as equals. Another one in San Diego is a fireman’s walk, where they do a charity for firemen each year. This involves traveling the same distance of stairs as did firemen during 9/11.
Tim Smart: In recent years, and thanks to social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter, there has been an increasing number of protests around the world concerning human rights, with the Middle East being the most popular. Arguably, the success of the ‘Arab Spring’ is due in part to the power of social media, especially among millennials who are adept at using social media to inspire change at the grass roots level. OneStory has clearly taken notice of the impact videos (and millennials) can have in changing the political landscape worldwide.
Katrina German: Videos are the future. When somebody is watching your story, it’s such a compelling way to share what is going on around the world. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but a video is worth one hundred and eighty thousand words.
Commentary: OneStory, Facebook, and Twitter can be vitally important tools in helping spread the word about important issues taking place around the world. Through the power of shared videos, the Arab Spring managed to effect significant changes in the Middle East. This is also happening in places like Ferguson, Missouri where videos played a seminal role in revealing police brutality against lawful protesters.
Tim Smart: Even Kickstarter recommends the inclusion of videos. They also point to data showing a fifty percent increase in success by campaigns that incorporate videos. What are some of the improvements that companies should be focused on addressing to help every day citizens become better at creating video content online?
Katrina German: The process of editing video can be difficult with plenty of challenges. In our case, we made the editing process completely automatic. Once you hit submit, the app uploads the video and puts it together like a mini documentary, cutting out the editing process. You will be seeing a lot more work addressing the challenges of video editing on our part.
Tim Smart: You are viewed by many as a leader when it comes to the importance of women in the tech industry, an industry where over fifty percent of females quit midway. Have there been situations when you felt like an outcast based on your gender?
Katrina German: There was a recent study conducted that shows only three percent of women are co-founders or CEOs of tech companies in America. These statistics are really shocking, and represent a ridiculously low number for such an influential industry. There are definitely challenges for women. Having to balance life, family, and travel are significant challenges women in the tech industry need help overcoming.
Tim Smart: What changes and improvements should schools and companies implement to attract a greater diversity of individuals in the tech industry?
Katrina German: Ultimately, offering virtual work environments would be very helpful so long as they come with specific goals and tasks. This way, women can balance what they need to do with family life. It’s also that technology is a merging industry, where women will become more involved in the future. School systems also have to be supportive and strongly encourage women to get into the field of computer coding.
Tim Smart: Does OneStory have plans to make their videos more accessible through other social media platforms?
Katrina German: Right now, if someone is watching your video, they can buy a ticket on the event page or donate to a cause through widgets. We are definitely working on a variety of ways to integrate into other systems online. For example, we are currently seeking to expand into other countries, which is very exciting.
Tim Smart: Are there certain causes OneStory is helping to highlight?
Katrina German: One interesting campaign we helped promote was focused on issues related to developing nations. We also did a campaign with a local school, where they asked the leaders of fifty nations to tell their inspirational stories. They are really incredible. In fact, there are plenty of stories that are not told in conventional ways. You can see how it mobilizes people to participate.
Tim Smart: Thank you Katrina for speaking with us about OneStory and the power videos have to change our lives for the better.
OneStory has the potential to become a leading company when it comes to championing human rights issues through video sharing. While the app itself will continue to inspire organizations and individuals to share their causes, OneStory’s ability to track information also stands to attract market research firms.
When a video goes viral, it’s often difficult to pinpoint the original users who helped generate, say, a million video responses. Advanced data tracking software is an essential tool companies are always looking to implement, and OneStory certainly has something unique to offer. It’s important to note that OneStory’s app is nowhere near as intrusive as the Facebook messaging app. If you are one of those users who is worried about downloading apps, then rest assured OneStory is for you.
With the ongoing popularity of the ‘Ice Bucket’ challenge, we can expect to see more video sharing campaigns like it.
Thanks to video sharing, the world is experiencing a revolution in the way we interact both online and face-to-face about important issues and events. Just remember, each time you upload and share a video, you are taking part in a social revolution that will be remembered for decades to come.