viral video best practices

A secondary search engine to Google these days has been noted to be YouTube, the Internet’s most popular video hosting Web site. This speaks not only to the visual nature of the Internet, but the desire to share information across people and the rise of user-generated content.

While YouTube remains the most popular video hosting sites, there are other popular competitors. Sites like Vimeo, Viddler and also offer server space for users to upload their videos.

Videos hosted on sites such as these have an increased opportunity to “go viral.” Key to this not only lies in creating compelling content but also marketing the content properly through keywords and tags that use search engine optimization.

Video sharing sites are great opportunities for the story of your company — as an organization and on a more human level.

Company are encouraged to re-purpose their existing video packages and upload to viral video sites. However, companies are encouraged to create specific packages for these viral sites that are more in line with the content regularly posted. Rather than sharing slick packaged news, companies should consider special pieces that showcase the lifestyle and operations through compelling video and stories told through the words of your own personnel.

When creating videos for posting on video sharing sites, several things should be remembered:

  • Never use copyrighted materials, such as songs or photos, without proper credit and authorization from the artist. While the personal music video format is popular on YouTube, using songs to which you do not have copyright permission to is stealing and punishable by law. There are many artists and songs available (often listed on Creative Commons licensing music sharing portals) that are legal so make an effort to use those.
  • Identify your audience then make a video with the message for that audience and an appropriate message appeal. In some cases humor might be a good appeal, whereas in other cases emotion might be a good appeal.
  • Keep ethics in mind.
  • Consider creating a storyboard to plan out the video before shooting video or conducting interviews. Storyboards help ensure the purpose of the video remains the focus.
  • Determine the appropriate length keeping in mind that most YouTube videos are quite short and attention span of viewers is even shorter. You can use the InSights “hot spots” data discussed in the metrics section to determine at which point people typically turn of the video or rewind content to see something over. This data can help with making decisions for future videos and editing. For example, if interview pieces are too long and the hot spots graph always drops at that point then shorten the interview segment and add interest by playing b-roll over parts of it.
  • Put important information in the video, not just in the text description or tags that accompany the video. In the actual video, clearly and visually identify the company or any other take away you want the viewer to have. Remember that some videos end up being embedded in others’ Web sites and the video may not necessarily be viewed from the YouTube page where you’ve posted a nice description.
  • Promote the video sharing account for your company numerous ways, such as a link from the company Web site, Facebook page, Twitter account and e-mail signatures.
  • Allow your videos to be embedded in other’s Web sites. This will increase the reach of your content.
  • Remember that various segments of your audience both have the potential to view an online video. Don’t make something that you target to young people with a message that you would be embarrassed if more older and loyal publics saw it. You can target publics all you want, but when the content is public then you have to understand that all of your publics will see it.

When you come across a video that showcases the company or company issues, feel free to comment publicly on the video. Quality comments are not “great video,” but instead a more in-depth reaction or providing related information. Engagement on video sharing sites is just like engagement in a face-to-face conversation, saying something is really good and not discussing what is good about it or why is not engagement.

The company may opt to have a video competition where they invite people to post videos on a certain topic. Note, though, that a lot of organizations that have tried this before say this method doesn’t really work well.  So while most social media experts agree “video contests don’t work,” such evaluations are more from an ROI perspective. The time that it takes someone to think through a video, create it and then share it requires a mental and time investment on that video creator.

Create a list of keywords that describe your company and its issues. Do regular searches on YouTube and other video sharing sites to see what is being posted on these topics. In doing this, you may come across a video produced by an employee who produced an honest and quality video about a recent company event that you can ask to post on the company Web site. In other cases, it gives you an idea of what people are thinking about or saying your company issues which will help in future messaging.

Different video hosting sites offer different sets of metrics. The important thing is focus the metrics on more than just how many “hits” or views the video received. Afterall, it could be the same one person watching the video 500,000 times.
Quality metrics include:

  • Location of viewers – are viewers in your region or outside?
  • Gender make-up and age of viewers – are the videos being watched by the previously identified target?
  • YouTube InSight “hot spots” graph shows how viewers react to every second of a video, with the graph going down if people closed the video at a point or going up if people rewound the video to re-play a portion. This information can help with planning future videos in knowing what made previous videos successful (or where people lost interest).
  • Links to video and referrals – how many different people are linking to the video? What other social sites (Facebook, Twitter) is being used the most?
  • Keyword searches – examine which keywords people used to land at your video to help determine more successful search engine optimization (SEO) keyword writing for the next video

Note: Like “best of” post, this information comes from a variety of sources which I can’t even begin to credit even though I’ve tried. At this point all this information should be pretty standard best practices & I’ve just posted them here to bring it all into one place.

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