More than 34 million people around the globe are living with HIV but only half of those eligible for life-saving treatment receive it. Today, on World AIDS Day, many organizations are using social media to convey the personal stories of those fighting to end the disease. We asked Jeff Davidoff, Chief Marketing Officer of One.org, about their new people-powered campaign, “my story. our fight.”

1. Why did you make video a core component if the "my story. our fight." campaign?

ONE is all about the power of voice. As we often say, "we're not asking for you money we're asking for you voice." And while it's true that your voice alone may struggle to be heard or make a difference, we have concrete proof that our voices together are impossible to ignore. Our over three million members around the world prove this time and again. The inspiration for this particular campaign was to get at why people are involved — the personal stories and experiences they have that changed their lives, and committed them to getting off the couch and doing some real good in the world. To us, video was the obvious solution to bring these unique stories to life in a way that people can experience them, share them, be inspired by them and make their own commitment to action because of them.

2. You empowered people to share their messages and experiences. How did you encourage them to promote the campaign's goals while still allowing the campaign to feel organic and authentic?

Great question. Authenticity is really at the heart of this idea. And the answer is simple: don't write scripts. Instead, just ask people to share their own stories, and really push them to open up and be personal. I remember asking Cleve Jones, "Do you have a particular experience or memory that got you started on the path of AIDS activism?" And he said, "Absolutely." I said, "Great why don't you sit at my computer and share it?" And as he shared his beautiful and very personal story right in front of me, I knew we were onto something.


3. What actions are you asking viewers to take and how are you measuring the success of these videos?

We're using the call to action: "Watch one. Share one. Join ONE." We want people to be inspired by the stories we've curated, share them with their friends and, most importantly, take action by signing our petition to protect funding for lifesaving AIDS programs. There's a lot of talk now in America about the "fiscal cliff." This can seem like a vague and distant idea. Let's put it in concrete terms: if an agreement is not reached, and cuts to life-saving programs goes into a effect, real lives will be lost. These aren't numbers, these are people. That's why we're in the fight, and that's why we're hoping more people will join us.




4. Did you promote the campaign videos outside of YouTube as well? How do you think about distribution and helping the videos find their audience?

We're aggressively promoting the campaign both inside and outside of YouTube, including to our over three million members around the world via email, Facebook and Twitter and asking them to share with their much larger social networks. We're also rolling out an aggressive PR strategy that matches storytellers to particular audiences — movie stars to entertainment, AIDS activists to the AIDS community, college students to other students, etc. It's less about trying to bring people to us, and more about trying to get our story embedded in already-scaled audiences.

5. What advice do you have for cause-based campaigns in how they approach using YouTube?

We've been through quite a learning curve with YouTube. In the beginning I think we had a very old-world approach by making our own videos and trying to use YouTube as a free broadcast medium. We're now much more focused on tapping into the power of existing YouTube creators, and getting them to naturally include our message in their stories to their pre-existing audiences. It's a much more authentic and contemporary use of the medium. And we're already thrilled with the results.

Special note: DANCE (RED), SAVE LIVES this weekend. Watch the livestream of TiĆ«sto and some of the biggest names in dance music from Stereosonic, Australia's biggest dance music festival. Live at youtube.com/joinred starting at 11pm ET on Friday, and looping all weekend long. 

Hunter Walk, director of product management, recently watched Are You Ready? Get Set, Let’s Go!