10 Commandments For YouTube Cause Marketing

The Social Media for Nonprofits conference series kicks off in SF w/ @kanter, @GuyKawasaki & @jdlasica. bit.ly/lWLDQO #nonprofit #nptech


Perfect timing for what I’d planned this week… The 10 Commandments for YouTube/Viral Marketing for Causes and Non-Profits…

1. Though Shall Not Stop With Text. If you blog, also vlog. Use video to simplify your message, and to SEO optimize it. A good video travels farther than great words.

2. Honor Thy Description. Pack cause-related videos with dense descriptions and tags, and links to websites placed prominently where they can be seen in YouTube’s truncated description.

3. Useth Thy Stigmatized Words Too. In thy language, be true to the “right” way to speak about thy cause. BUT also use words people actually search. If you’re promoting equal rights, add politically incorrect terms too.

4. You Shall Not Carry Thy Message Alone. Find those with large YouTube audiences who share your non-profit’s mission. Ask them to carry your message in their own voice. Expect not your boring video to be found and go viral.

5. Be Not Boring. In Title and Thumbnail Especially. A non-profit need not be dull. If humor, dancing, song and shock aren’t appropriate… than use emotional videos to promote sharing. Use metaphors or images to reach the hearts of viewers. Be bold, controversial, kind and uplifting. Don’t paint a hopeless situation. Fire people up with how close we are to solving your challenge, and find an entertaining way to ask them to help you reach the nearby finish line.

6. Ask Not Just For Money. Social currency is as important as cash. Just like asking for a token amount ($10) ask viewers for small gestures. A “like,” comment or “favorite” on a video is a donation that will help many others find the video, and that may be worth more than the non-social currency you call cash.

7. Focus Not on The Viral Video Idea Alone. Don’t stop with video ideas that you think may fly. Focus instead on getting the video seen via as many social mediums as possible. Ask your Facebook friends to share them, and highlight other videos related to your non-profit (even the “competitor” counter intuitively). Rather than do one “big” video, do many, many that are customized to various audiences and stakeholders.

8. Get Input Before Campaign. Ask people who are immersed in the medium for ideas. Even if they have none, they’ll be more likely to share your final work because they have “buy in.” It’s harder to say “no” when asked to spread a message if you’ve already provided some ideas before the message was cooked up.

9. Use Thy Coalition To Reach Webstars. YouTubers are bombarded with direct pleas, and begin to ignore messages (especially those via YouTube mail). Ask your advocates to reach out to YouTube “stars” via Twitter and Facebook. What top Tuber can ignore dozens of pleas mentioning his/her ne and a cause or non-profit? We all search our names on Twitter at least daily.

10. Time Thy Campaign to Project4Awesome. This Fall program spawned by the Vlogbrothers is the annual cause-awareness initiative on YouTube and even the least-viewed videos are usually seen more than the best-produced cause videos.

Even My Boss Knew About This Video

It’s not often my boss mentions YouTube, and I usually try to avoid eye contact when he does. But at today’s staff meeting he mentioned that a friend from a former employer had a YouTube video called “Here Comes Another Bubble” by The Richter Scales. It’s a wonderful satire on the absurdity of web 2.0 which, indeed, begs for another bubble burst. It’s done to the music of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

No sooner had I forgotten about his Bubble video did I discover that it trumped me on the “highest rated video of the day on YouTube. And I had actually done a storyboard for my “iPod Angel & Devil” video, which involved makeup, script, and a wicked amount of editing time (parenthetically this iPod video was born out of my frustration about overlooking the free AT&T phone by signing up directly with AT&T instead of Mac, and a quote that popped out of my mouth in a meeting this week: “I just paid $400 to eliminate jealousy.”).

Kudos to the Bubble video, which will be one of the seminal viral creations. If I’m going to be beat I’m delighted to see something this entertaining (versus musical montages of funny cat photos). This was cleverly written, jampacked imagery, and self depricating (it depicts a blog post with “another lame web 2.0 music video”)


Verizon and Revver “Sittin’ in a Tree”

log.jpgMicki from Revver announced in Revver’s blog that Verizon and Revver have deepened their relationship. Later this year, subscribers to FIOS TV (which is limited to certain regions) will be able to watch Revver videos from the comfort of their couch. They’ll be free to viewers, and Revver and the creator will evenly split an undisclosed percentage of the total ad revenue generated through this channel.

Typically Revver provides the distribution platform with 20% of the advertising revenue, leaving Revver and the creator 40% each. I would venture to guess that this deal offers a larger percentage to Verizon even if Revver is staying true to the 50/50 share with creators. For instance, if Verizon sells the ad space then it could expect Revver and the creator’s cut to be smaller.

This opens up a powerful new distribution channel for Revver, who has a generous business offering but very little traffic to Revver.com. Without these upstream/downstream partnerships, the creator must generate his or her own traffic. I’ve told Revver before that I’d happily settle for a smaller percentage of the revenue if they could drive the total advertising revenue higher via new distribution channels. They’ve been trying to broker these deals, but I suppose they’re not easy ones.

I truly hope that the larger media companies will syndicate consumer-generated content from Revver and similar entities. From my perspective as a content creator, it makes life much, much easier. I don’t have time to upload my videos to 12 sites. And from the “big media” perspective (be it Verizon, Sony, Comcast, Disney, networks) it provides fast and painfree access to gobs of user-generated content, and saves them the peril of pissing money away dissintermediating online players.

Thumbs up to Verizon for sticking to its core competencies. The Revvers, blip.tv, Veohs, Brightcoves and Metacafes are there to help.

P.S. Hey Verizon… You stinkers sent me a note saying I could get FIOS TV, and then retracted it a week later. Get in my neighborhood. I wanna watch Revver from my couch. My butt hurts.

Top 10 Online-Video Predictions for 2007

sit.jpgI pulled out my crystal ball this morning, and I’m predicting the most significant online-video highlights of 2007.

I’ll be citing these selectively at the end of 2007 (only those in which I was right).

Okay I didn’t use a crystal ball. This video tells a better story about the process I used to arrive at these today.

  1. Online video and television collide then converge. We’ve seen small steps toward this, but they’re trivial relative to what will happen in 2007. We’re first going to see some territorializing between online-video players and larger networks and media distributors. Then we’ll start to see great partnerships between major networks and online video sites, as well as deals with Verizon, Comcast and TiVo that give online video creators much broader exposure.
  2. Consolidation of online video sites will increase exponentially. Eventually there will be only a small hand-full of sites (GooTube, AOL, Yahoo) where people upload videos, because those sites will gain critical mass and cut exclusive deals upstream. Almost every industry starts with hundreds of players, consolidates to a dozen, and finally matures with 2-3 major entities. Small sites will get acquired or fade. There will still be niche sites like Break.com and special-interest sites.
  3. amanda.jpgViral video creators will “cross over” to television. We saw Amandon Congdon make the leap from Rocketboom to ABC recently. People with talent, like ZeFrank, will land a short segment on The Daily Show or some other television show. Ultimately this will make ZeFrank’s bloated ego explode — something we hope occurs live on Good Morning America. A few name-brand stars will decide they can move online without the hassle of networks. I don’t see any of these succeeding initially, but as the audience for “online video” surpasses (in some areas) television viewers, it will be hard for them to resist.
  4. Many television shows will develop online manifestations. This will include “behind the scenes” shots, extended storylines, and interactions with the show. Some shows will invite submissions by amateurs and even cast amateurs to participate.
  5. Consortiums will form for economies of scale. Viacom/Fox/NBC/CBS are already toying with an anti-YouTube play. This is as impossible to resist as it is to achieve airlift. Other consortiums will succeed. I see groups of independent online video amateurs forming copperatives to market their content to networks, or networks organizing the coops. Shows like RabbitBites will have higher odds of moving to mainstream when connected with similar content.
  6. Select amateur video creators will begin to make a full-time living without “crossing over” to television. Metacafe‘s CEO Arik Czerniak recently told me he anticipates his top amatuer creators will make six-figure incomes in 2007. I think he’s right. I’d also watch for people earning high revenue via Revver if the company rapidly expands its viewer base through affiliate/syndicate partnerships.
  7. crystal_ball_juggling.jpgA major news story will break via live (or close to live) footage by “citizen journalists” holding cameras. Remember the impact of the Rodney King footage? Consider how more of these we’ll see now that so many of us are equipped with cell phones that record video. And eventually we’ll see live footage from a cell phone in a major news story — a robbery, hostage situation or natural disaster. If the reporters can address the nation live via satellite, why can’t the amateur videographer via a video-enabled cell phone? It will look like garbage, but it will be horrifically real.
  8. Marketers will get smarter about how they gain consumer mindshare through online video. The self-created viral videos will give way to more creative partnerships between brands and top video creators. These deals will be efficient for marketers, and highly profitable for video creators with low budgets. We’ll see increasingly fewer $250K viral video series created by agencies, and more low-budget, fun videos that were inspired by amateurs but get the media support of advertising budgets.
  9. lonelygirl15.jpgReal vs. fake will be a major 2007 theme. People don’t understand that some videos are designed to be “story telling,” and others are real footage. LonelyGirl15 was an example of a deliberate ruse, but many other “are they real or not” videos are endlessly dissected by comments. This will catch media’s attention, since they’ll enjoy raising viewer concerns about the integrity and validity of this threatening medium.
  10. The “big boy” sites are going to start sharing advertising revenue with select creators like some smaller sites (Revver, Metacafe, Blip, Brightcove, Lulu). That means Google, YouTube, Yahoo and AOL will finally realize that good content means eyeballs. And eyeballs means more revenue.

Comparing and Rating Video Search Engines

videosearchsites.jpgWhile Google/YouTube may change the dynamic of video search, it’s still hopelessly frustrating to find a video online. Wall Street Journal writer Jessica Vascellaro wrote a nice article on video search today. I liked it not just because it was the first time I’ve been mentioned in the Wall Street Journal. The article shows that companies have made significant efforts to address search. Ironically I can’t find the article online. But it’s titled “Finding Tom Cruise (Not Cruise Missiles). Have a go.

Inspired by the piece, I did my own comparisons of the online video search websites she referenced (and one she didn’t- Videoronk.com). My methodology was simple. I searched on my username (Nalts) which I also use to tag every video I upload to any video site. If nothing showed up, I can assume that the engine is crawling neither the username nor the tags, which means it’s not effective. If that failed, I tried a few of the unique titles I have for my videos.

In general all of the sites were poor at finding my videos. Results were incomplete, and they are based purely on the metadata (titles, tags, etc.) which I provide when I upload them. Eventually sites will convert speech to text and that will help. But it will be a long while before these operate with the success of search engines looking for text.

The ratings are in the image above. The winner by a mile is Videoronk. While it only indexes a small portion of my videos (and other people that have tried it), it’s still outperforming the other search tools). Purevideo was in second place because it also has links to each online-video site’s top videos. Pixsy was marginal, and Blinkx.com has actually gotten worse since the last time I used it.

Honorable mentions go to AOL Video and Yahoo Video — both video sites index videos beyond those on their site. Ironically, Yahoo Video ranked my Blip.tv videos higher than those that I uploaded on Yahoo Video. Revver seemed to be the online-video site that was most searchable by these engines. All but Blinkx.com found my Revver videos (which is ironic because Blinkx.com established a partnership with Revver earlier this year).

I didn’t include Metacafe in this test because it’s a destination site, but it’s planning some advanced search features like language translation in search. We can only hope that Google will start to do a better job of indexing YouTube videos and videos on other sites.

For now the easiest way to find a video is to start with YouTube, and then hit Videoronk if you don’t find it. 

Why Google and YouTube is Moronic

google-youtube-video.jpgI resisted the temptation to read everything and organize my thoughts. Just woke up, poured coffee, scribled some notes, turned on the camera and ranted. Here’s the resulting “video rant” about yesterday’s news that Google is buying YouTube for $1.65 billion dollars. Here’s the same video posted on YouTube.

Top 10 reasons this Google acquisition of YouTube is just plain moronic.

As I waited to compress and upload this, I see people are falling into three groups:

  1. Excited for the kids at YouTube. It’s everyone’s dream, and some get jealous and others live vicariously. I hate the latter, which tells you where I sit.
  2. Afraid their community will die. Get over it guys. Your landlord needs you more than ever. Expect him to start paying your rent, though.
  3. The media evangalists that say this is “promising.” You can get an MBA through the McDonalds drive-through to know this is overvalued and ridiculous. Good for Chad and  Steve (the self-proclaimed kings of new media), but bad for everyone else.

Web 2.0 isn’t supposed to be about drunk driving like we’re in the first bubble. Some people see this as validation of online video, but I fear it is the ultimate over hype of the medium that we’ll pay for eventually.

He “Wrote the Book” on Viral Video

hemmingway.jpgI’ve decided to write a book on viral video — aimed primarily at marketers and advertisers since amateur videographers and film makers don’t have enough money to buy books. Naturally I haven’t written a book before, but I sometimes read them. So I figure I’m pretty qualified.

The working title is: “The Profit (Prophet) of Viral Video,” and it comes with access to an extranet that hosts updates and links to case-study videos.

To you, dear readers, I pose the following question:

  1. Can I write a book despite having a full-time job that occupies no less than 12 hours a day? And without compromising my wife and kids? I’m willing to sleep less.
  2. Any better ideas on the title? It’s a double entendre.
  3. How do I find a publisher? Of the 1,000 of you that read this I have to believe someone knows a friggin’ publisher that focuses in mainstream marketing books. I don’t feel like self publishing. How about forwarding this post to your buddy at a publishing company and help him discover his next New York Times best seller?
  4. I want to follow the lead of Hemingway (pictured here), but I will be using shorter sentences and not killing myself when I’m done.

Here’s the synopsis of “The Profit (Prophet) of Viral Video”:

virus.gifThe online video market is exploding, with incredible surges of consumer-generated online video, and dramatic jumps in the videos viewed on such sites as YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video, AOL Video, Revver and Metacafe. Online video has surpassed cable television as a medium and will soon merge with traditional television viewing in ways we can hardly anticipate.

It’s the end of the 60-second spot. Marketers can no longer rely on creative advertisements that are thrust on consumers “interruption style.” Advertisements have to do more than hold attention, they must create a viral effect in which the video is so good the viewer will share it with friends. As we consumers take control our viewing habits through online video and time-shifted viewing (TiVo), the only videos we’ll elect to watch (when we have an option) are those that inform and entertain us.

buttcrack.jpg(Here’s the part where I toot my own horn): Viral video creator Kevin Nalty has shared more than 200 short videos online that have been viewed my millions online and featured on prominent sites like Yahoo and Google. His videos have appeared on ABC Nightline, Good Morning America, CBS News, CNN and BBC. Nalty shares his learning from creating videos and maintaining the most popular blog on the subject of online video profiting. His background in television and marketing – including participation in some of the most viral video campaigns – gives him unique insight into what works and doesn’t in the new age of short-form, demand driven video. He also makes a side income by producing videos for Revver and Metacafe, which share their advertising revenue with creators.

  • dog.jpgIn “The Profit (Prophet) of Viral Videos,” Nalty provides the tips you’ll need to:
  • Understand the impact of online video to advertisers, marketers and brands
  • Create appealing viral videos that get forwarded and shared
  • Market your promotional and entertainment videos through prominent online video channels
  • Develop ways to measure the views and impact of your videos
  • Profit from vehicles that that share advertising revenue with video creators (like Revver and Metacafe)
  • Build your own video site without any technical expertise
  • Stay on top of the rapidly changing online-video landscape

Target Audiences:

  1. Advertisers looking for ways to create viral videos for their clients
  2. Marketers wanting to understand how to play in the new world where the consumer can be your best marketing channel
  3. Amateur video creators looking to make a side income doing what they love
  4. Filmmakers who are not sure how to approach the online space

P.S. Don’t steal the idea please. I’m trusting you. I’ve already got about 10 chapters outlined with sub bullets, but I thought I’d better not give the whole thing away or you won’t buy the book.

P.P.S. Post comments or contact me via the e-mails listed in the “about me” section of this blog.

Seven Deadly Sins of Advertising Via Viral Video

sins.jpgShow me a marketer without “viral” on her marketing plan and I’ll show you an online video site that’s profitable. Advertising offline is getting harder with time-shifted television and declining viewership, and online advertising is getting more complex with paid-search prices rising and banner click-thru’s dropping. Given the low variable cost of viral, it’s natural that advertisers would want to experiment with it. “I want a piece of Web 2.0,” they say.
Advertisers beware. Getting people to promote your product by forwarding a viral video is not as easy as it appears. Save you and your clients some money and consider the “7 Deadly Sins of Advertising Via Viral Video.”

1. Make a white and brown cow. Seth Godin has a term called “Purple Cow,” which refers to marketing that is “remarkable” and worth paying attention to and talking about. Your viral video better be Technicolor Purple if you actually expect it to break through an increasingly crowded space. What is remarkable? Take a look at the Volkswagen “Fast” series featuring Jim Meskimen. (Jim is a comedian and impersonator, and you’ve heard him as the voice of Messing With Sasquatch” series. Would you view this content more than once, and show it to a co-worker or forward it to a friend? I would, and have.
2. Pretend you’re not advertising. Nothing quite irrates a consumer like being secretly persuaded. “Al Gore’s Penguin Army” is a classic example of a “funny video” that was exposed as having a PR agenda. Transparency is a ticket in the viral video door, friends. No ticket, no ride.

3. Spend a fortune on production. It pains me to see companies throw around huge production budgets on online video. I’ve seen it payoff only once. Here’s Smirnoff’s Ice Tea Partay (which was featured yesterday as one of YouTube’s top 3 on Good Morning America). Clearly this cost north of $300K to produce. But even if you pay that much, you might be better off giving it a “rough around the edges” look. Improv acting, sloppy camera moves and poor production can actually give your video that “consumer generated video” feel. There’s going to be a huge market for individual directors that can shoot viral videos for around $20-$50K, and it makes it much easier to get an ROI on viral video when you’re not having to recoup a big fixed-cost investment in production. When Yahoo featured on its homepage my “Lay Me Off” video (which I’ve temporarily pulled down at the request of some of the actors), I got a number of e-mails from people asking how much I’d charge for a viral video for their clients. Since I have a day job and I do videos as a hobby, I declined. But they’ll find someone who is quite happy to take a low fee for a video that’s powerful. Of course an advertising agency will probably mark up the director’s fees by 500%.
4. Tell consumers instead of engage them. Don’t think of your viral video as an adaptation of a 60-second spot. Obviously it’s got to be irreverent, weird, funny and different. But more importantly, the web has the ability to make the viral event a dialogue. Contests are a good example. There have been plenty of online video contests, but Mentos Geyser Contest is already shaping to be one of the most successful. Check out all of the consumers creating buzz around a candy that was a 7-11 relic 6 months ago. Seventy to date! Production costs for Mentos on those videos? Zero. (By the way, vote this Mentos Jet Pack one 5 stars and I’ll send you some cheese). BarterBee’s contest created buzzz for a CD and DVD exchange. The CEO wore a bee suit to promote it. Brave.

5. Do a video contest because everyone else is. This online-video “contest fad” will continue, and it will become more difficult to activate consumers to promote your product. Do a search for “video contest” on Google and you’ll see four or five different ads for contests. The David Chappelle video contest is a good example of a nice idea with some executional flaws. First, it didn’t initially promote the contest on its own website because it wanted to focus people on buying the DVD. Second, it petered out. Contest winners weren’t announced and insufficient media budget promoted the contest. To give you an idea of how abused contests are getting, there was a summer promotion for a mayonnaise manufacturer looking for videos about may recipes.

6. Set unrealstic conversion metrics. After someone watches your video, what do you think they’ll do? Will 30% come to your site? Will 10% buy your brand in two months? Give me a break. Viral video is one of the most difficult-to-measure parts of your marketing mix. Sure you can count views. But none of the online video sites are yet able to track the viewers so you can conduct your DynamicLogic unaided recall and awareness study. And very f people will take an immediate and measurable action. Sorry to sober you.

7. Throw in the towel and decide to just advertise around viral videos. Please don’t give up and decide that it’s easier to simply advertise around videos. There are certainly products and services that can do well through this, but it’s the lazy way to approach online video. The online video sites are mostly new, and there is an unlimited possibility for creative partnerships. Even YouTube (which has been slow to embrace commercial interests) has a homepage advertising feature for advertisers. As I write, it’s a trailer for Beerfest. Yesterday it was Paris Hilton. Revver has run a few contests, and has married EepyBird to Mentos in probably the best case study for viral video marketing yet. For best results, don’t think you have to decide between getting your videos seen on sites for free OR advertising on them. Do both in partnership.

What Will YouTube Do When Paris Hilton Doesn’t Save Them?

paris-on-youtube.jpgTechCrunch’s Marshall Kirpatrick reports that YouTube tomorrow will unveil a number of branded commercial channels– including a Paris Hilton channel being featured on the homepage. This is a surprising and encouraging move from a video site that hasn’t shown any other interesting way to profit from its incredible appeal. Fox has paid an undisclosed sum to advertise on YouTube and build custom channels, and it appears other media players (like NBC) are starting to take YouTube seriously.

So what’s next?

First, YouTube will have to figure out how to keep viewers at YouTube.com. The networks, despite what they’re telling YouTube right now, will constantly fight to dissintermediate YouTube. That way they can evolve past promoting their own shows… and start selling advertising space around their online content. Can you imagine how hard it will be for Fox to split ad revenue with YouTube when the ads surround Fox content? Sooner or later Fox will say- “why do I need you, tube?”

Second, we’ll probably see some fee-base channels evolve. I don’t see a sustainable pay-for-view model with YouTube alone, but if it partners well it could move that direction. Then Paris can charge for her nude videos… oh, wait… too late.

Third (and most importantly) what does it mean to us amateur video folks? Like Google Video, YouTube is focusing on large advertising deals with major content providers. Our viral stuff isn’t where the real action is yet. But here’s the good news (this is still me talking, but I’m drop quoting for emphasis):

YouTube needs to maintain “consumer generated content” to keep people returning to the site and avoid being dissintermediated by large content owners (Disney, Fox, Time Warner). Beyond some cool functionality and traffic (which is fickle), the amateur video content is the only edge YouTube has over Big Media.

So I would suspect YouTube is going to start sharing ad revenue with select creators that have Director accounts. The content will have more rigorous screening process (to ensure people don’t make ad revenue from video clips they ripped from the Daily Show), and will be vetted to ensure the content won’t embarass an advertiser. YouTube can start with me. I’m seeing WireFly ads on my little user page. How about a little CPC sharing?

Stay tuned. It’s getting more interesting by the day.