Social video is essentially the spread of any video via social media. Brands are realizing there is more power in customers who share videos with their friends than in simple video views, which can be manipulated more easily and don’t demonstrate the same level of affinity and engagement. But brands aren’t alone in tapping social media to spread a video message. In fact, cause marketing is one of the fastest growing trends in social video. And with today’s technology, individuals are as likely to see their cause go viral as brands or nonprofits.

New Personal Cause Marketing Video Goes Viral

In last Friday’s video round up article, I highlighted one of my favorite videos of the week from a New York City bicyclist named Casey. After getting a ticket for riding his bike outside of the bike lane, Casey took his frustration–and a healthy sense of humor—and set out to spread the word regarding how difficult life is becoming for cyclists in the city. And now, just a few days later, another New York City resident is using social video to spread his own personal cause marketing message regarding the safety (or lack thereof) of city intersections.

The video is from Vimeo user, ronconcocacola, and is shot from above a major intersection by several stories. The man then used post-production techniques to add highlights to the piece to underscore his point, using different colors and shapes to help the viewer spot the many near-accidents that occur.

From the video’s description, it’s clear that this is much more than a casual/fun video project for him:

“By summer 2010, the expansion of bike lanes in NYC exposed a clash of long-standing bad habits — such as pedestrians jaywalking, cyclists running red lights, and motorists plowing through crosswalks.

By focusing on one intersection as a case study, my video aims to show our interconnection and shared role in improving the safety and usability of our streets.”

Check out the video here:

That clip is only 10 days old and already has 1.6 million views.

Social Video Spreads Messages, Regardless Of Where They Originate

When videos go social, so do the messages behind them. And while brands and nonprofits are turning more to online video for marketing success, we’re also seeing a rise in individualized personal-cause marketing (a phrase I’m coining) via online video.

Remember United Breaks Guitars? In case you don’t, you can refresh your memory:

That was one of the early examples of personal cause marketing. One man’s incident with an airline reached the eyes and ears of millions because they connected to his video in some way. Maybe they were wronged themselves by an airline. Or maybe they thought the song was catchy. Or maybe he just struck a nerve by tapping into that darn-the-man mentality a lot of Americans possess.

And we’re seeing more and more examples of this phenomenon lately, like the soldiers last week who got shafted by Delta for baggage charges (that video, strangely enough, has been removed by the uploader).

Or Casey Neistat’s hilarious bike-lane video, mentioned above:

It’s important to note that each of these personal cause marketers made a video that ultimately entertained as much as it informed. We can’t expect cause marketing to take off for individuals and amateurs if all we do is flip on a webcam and rant for a bit about the things that bother us. The audience must be engaged and pulled in if you hope to get them on the side of your cause.

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but videos can go viral regardless of who made them. All it takes is a compelling piece of content that gives viewers an emotional reaction. Which should make this the golden age for nonprofit marketing, if you think about it. Nonprofits are historically short-staffed and low on cash. But today’s cause marketing doesn’t have to come from an ad agency. It can come from a passionate individual who believes in their cause and wants to spread the word—and last I checked, many nonprofits already have one or two such people on staff.