Big Fuel: First came story, now the online video strategy


online_video_small.jpgADOTAS — So we talked last week about the importance of content, and we showed you a few examples of online video that delivers with a strong story.

Now you have hit all the important points, element of surprise, thrown in a few laughs, some subtle sex appeal, and now you wait for the eyeballs to come to you. And…nothing. Outside of views from everybody in the office, and snickering rivals, you’re barely a blip in the forest that is YouTube.

Well, here comes a Big Fuel surprise, patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to online video.

Videos that generate millions of views overnight are few and far between. You must have patience as your video builds an audience and as the sharing builds over time. The true test of a great video is itsʼ longevity on the web, what we call “evergreen”.

According to Tim Street, creator of French Maid TV, in order to get your video to a higher plane, “It needs to interact with the viewer, and allow the viewer to interact with the characters or the creators. What if your video started sending you IMʼs or text messages?” Evolution of Dance, with almost 120MM views is the highest viewed video on Youtube. Itʼs seven minute length defies normal length guidance but itʼs storytelling aspect and travel through time keeps the viewers attention. “It moves way more than just two human emotions. Depending on how old you are, as the guy moves through different eras, with different music and dances, thereʼs nostalgia for the olden days… thereʼs comedy… multiple emotions… And, of course, itʼs a spectacle, because the guy dances like a fool for something like seven minutes.”

You also need to pimp your videos. Bloggers will gladly feature your video if itʼs really good. They have to share and feature things and they will feature you, if the content is good. We start new threads and embed our videos. Sometimes, this means starting the conversations by setting up multiple accounts on each forum and posting back and forth between a few different users.

Itʼs hard work that works. We try and make sure everyone we know watches the video and as much as possible we try to get them to email it out to their friends, or at least share it on Facebook. Each video has a shelf life of 48 hours before itʼs moved from the Daily Most Viewed list to the Weekly Most Viewed list, so itʼs important that this happens quickly.

Most social networks allow viewers to post YouTube videos right on the viewers pages. We also create events announcing the video launches and inviting friends, writing a note and tagging friends, or posting the video on Facebook Video with a link back to the original YouTube video.

We also believe in sending the video to an email list. Depending on the size of the list (and the recipientsʼ willingness to receive links to YouTube videos), this can be a very effective strategy.

Titles are an easy way to persuade someone to click on a video. Titles can be changed a limitless number of times. Some use phrases like “exclusive,” “behind the scenes,” and “leaked video.” A compelling video thumbnail is the single best strategy to maximize the number of clicks the video gets. YouTube provides three choices for a videoʼs thumbnail– one of which is grabbed from the exact middle of the video. The frame has to be clear, interesting and should have a person or a personʼs face in it. (Unless your video is about a goat.) You can also change the thumbnail every few hours which is a way to keep the video fresh.

Some of the most successful videos are those that are able to solicit comments and start discussions with their viewers. Comments are a great way to hear feedback and receive inspiration for future videos. We encourage our brand ambassadors to start these conversations on popular sharing sites and post genuinely about their favorite video moments, recommendations and any other comments. Not all viewers like to comment on videos and not all of them have accounts with the sharing sites, which prevents them from posting.

Comments may not always be positive, but they present the opportunity to connect with fans one-on-one. In most cases, we donʼt recommend deleting negative comments as long as they do not offend viewers. If a brand or company puts itself out there, the community will respond.

A general rule of thumb, donʼt engage in social media, if you are not willing to hear feedback and possibly criticism. If negative comments are posted, there are great ways to handle it: posting a response in the comments, creating a video response, soliciting positive feedback from the community to push the negative comment off the page, connecting with the user directly etc. Listening to and engaging with viewers is why we all create videos in the first place.

While there are some general strategies when tagging, it all depends on the goal of the campaign. In cases where audiences are already finding your videos, itʼs important to tag all of the videos with the same highly specific tags. This effort will then promote all of your videos in the “related videos” box and will avoid sending traffic to competitorʼs videos. However, if the goal is to get more views, then itʼs best to do some SEO research to determine which are the most searched words in the particular video category.

In the same way that linking drives traffic to your site, using the same tags as a video you like and want to be associated with will help drive traffic to your video. Donʼt forget, tags can be changed through the run of your video. So, if views are trailing off, play around with the tags to capitalize on the long tail views. This is a good strategy to reach a wider audience as well.

Total views are important, but understanding drop off rate, view time and pass-a-longs will give you concrete metrics that provide excellent learning about the audience and will help optimize for future campaigns. One of the leading partners in this is TubeMogul who has established many relationships with video sharing sites, many of which provide publishers with specific in-video details. Visibile Measures and their smaller company VidMetrix also provide great tracking in places where their tracking has been installed.

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