Advocacy Lessons from YouTube ‘Shopping Haul’ Videos

NPR featured a great story yesterday about the “Shopping Haul” YouTube video trend: NPR Story Here.

The ‘shopping haul’ video below that was featured in the story has over 1 million views:

Shopping haulers use video to feature their recently purchased shopping items, usually to share discounts and ideas with their blog readers or YouTube Channel viewers. This NPR story focused on one hauler’s shopping trip to Old Navy and another’s recent new dress purchase. Of course our favorite quote was in the lead-in to Elaine Notarantonio, a professor of Marketing at Bryant University School of Business who says “there’s no doubt hauling can help companies generate buzz”. But I digress.

So, what does all this have to do with advocacy? Let’s take the shopping element out of the mix, and what we have here are consumers (AKA constituents in our world), sharing stories about an action they just took. It is simple, inexpensive and extremely powerful. Instead of revealing discounts about clothes, what if a constituent talked about how easy it was to send a letter to Congress, what they wrote in it, why the issue mattered to them, and what actions their friends can take to help the cause.

We spend so much time encouraging people to take an advocacy action, but we rarely ask people to express their sense of accomplishment or fulfillment after doing so. It doesn’t even have to be a video, why not instead of just a standard ’thank you’ confirmation page include a question asking people ‘how did taking action make you feel’, or ‘what would you say to others who are considering supporting this cause’. Their responses could be included on your action web site, shared on your social media pages, or used as constituent quotes for a range of offline media opportunities.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to provide recognition (such as featuring the constituent on your website) or offer a benefit to people who take the extra time to share these kind of thoughts. However, please be wary of offering anything that could be seen as a cash-value incentive or inducement (this will dilute the value of the response and may impact your organization’s reputation – a point raised in the NPR story).

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