5 Key Steps to Taking Your Video Viral
Using video online is a great strategy that allows organizations to deliver messages to constituents through blogs, social networks and other online gathering areas.
In the session "Don't Let Your Online Video Just Sit There" presented at the 2009 Bridge Conference held just outside of Washington, D.C., in late July, Michael Hoffman, CEO of See3 Communications, and Eric Werner, interactive marketing consultant for Northridge Interactive, walked attendees through the process of coming up with an online video strategy, mapping online communities to publicize videos, and creating viral, engaging videos.
Hoffman went over the following steps to creating the ultimate engaging and viral nonprofit video:
1. Redefine viral
A lot of organizations are chasing viral, he said. But what does viral mean? Viral to whom? The average YouTube viewer is not necessarily the person you're trying to reach. Even if your video only reaches a few hundred or thousand people, if they were your target audience, then the video is a viral success.
Hoffman said there are three keys to a video going viral:
- Creative. What's the video about? Is it interesting?
- Cultural moment. How does your issue or what you're doing in the video resonate?
- Planning, discussed more below.
2. Think before making your video
Key planning questions to answer before launching into a video project are:
- What are our goals?
- Who are we trying to reach?
- What message do we want to send? The key here is to balance hooking people in with staying on message and mission.
- How will we reach our audience? Via what sites?
- What action do we want them to take? And what's the likelihood of being able to do that depending on where the video will be watched?
- How will we measure success?
Video in the past has been passive, but more and more there's the ability to embed interactive elements into videos. He shared the example of a video on thatsnotcool.com that includes a "choose your own adventure" that changes the video depending on how viewers answer a question.
3. Determine where to put the video
Do you need video hosting or video distribution? For example, Vimeo is a video-hosting service. Hoffman said the quality is very good, but Vimeo doesn't have the audience that YouTube has. YouTube can host video and distribute it to a large audience.
Hoffman said there are three key benefits to using YouTube:
- It's the biggest video-hosting site.
- It functions as a social network.
- It has increased capabilities, e.g., HD and annotations (a way to add interactive commentary to videos).
He also recommended using TubeMogul, a free service that can be used to upload a video to the top video-sharing sites all at once, and it also provides analytics on who views which videos and how.
But while YouTube is an asset, nonprofits should be sure to also host all of the videos they create on their own Web sites. Hoffman said doing your own video hosting offers the following benefits:
- More pleasant user experience, which equals more video views.
- Better search functionalities.
- Discussion within the community.
- CMS integration means staff and users can embed video more easily.
4. Get started
Hoffman suggested starting in the following five places:
- Create a YouTube channel.
- Distribute to existing networks (Web site, e-mail, social networks).
- Create relationships with bloggers and others in your niche.
- Reach out to partners.
- Make it easy to share.
Viral video organic seeding can be done via:
- E-mail — With a current list or renting a list.
- SEO — If you have good SEO, more people can find your video. And remember, whatever page on your Web site has the video gets more links and higher ranking in search.
- Provide content to relevant blogs.
- Facebook application and groups.
- Twitter — Track results of retweets.
Viral video paid seeding can be done through:
- YouTube — Paying to be the featured video.
- Adwords — Google search.
- Facebook ads.
- Video-seeding vendors.
5. Test and learn
And cultivate. Hoffman stressed that the more customized the cultivation is to the way prospects and donors came in the door (e.g., by viewing one of your videos), the more effective it will be.