Google Eats Its Own Dogfood: 7 Ways Its Using Video

Okay let’s just get this out. I’m a big Google fan, user, and customer. I’m also making non-trivial income from Google’s YouTube Partner program (through ad sharing on my Nalts videos seen 200 million gazillian times). So I really hesitate commending the company in a post headline. It looks I’m friggin’ shilling incognito and I hate that crap (see my parody on f’ing buzz marketing).

Instead I prefer to prank, complain and criticize the company to ensure my “checks and balances” are in place. It can border on “biting the hand that feeds you,” but I’ll call it tough love. You don’t own me, bitch (sorry I’ve got an authority issue).

Today’s post, however, is to observe that Google’s brain seems to be developing a frontal lobe (the rather useless part of the brain where insanity and marketing occurs). I’ll be damned if Google isn’t using video (even the YouTube player to keep Salar “Little Superstar” Kamangar happy) in increasingly effective ways. (The marketer rubs little puppy’s tummy and says good boy, as he naively thinks he’s more evolved than a wonderfully blissful animal).

Parenthetically I literally laugh outloud every time I refer to the head of YouTube as “Little Superstar” because I’m aware it appears so completely inappropriate and racist. But I’ll trust you WVFF loyalts will know that if I really felt that way I’d suppress it incredibly well. I stereotype into only two segments: people who make me happy and people who suck away my will to live. Anyway Salar isn’t even Indian he’s Persian or Iraq, and frankly I don’t know the difference or care. I just needed something to use to “downsize” him, since my ego is threatened by him having the coolest job in the world. It was the same thing with Chad, but Chad was a much easier victim since he generally looked stoned.

I wonder if Chad and Samar ever went to Dubai together and ate sushi off of woman’s stomaches.

Okay back to the news. Google using YouTube shouldn’t surprise us at first glance, but put aside Google’s products and branding (it’s hard to do), and ask yourself a question. Do you see Google as a great marketing organization? Or put more succinctly, how well does it tap the advertising medium that feeds it? Right your reaction because I’m coming back to read ’em.

Google historically has done almost no advertising for itself. It kept quiet, muted PR, and rarely showed evidence of advertising/marketing competencies from an external view. Sure, you might credit YouTube took out a Superbowl ad years ago (side note: good luck finding it on YouTube). But I’m convinced that was not for viewers, but simply to sneak access to “Superbowl Buyer’s Man/Boy Club” to pitch well-funded brands on the merits of diverting TV dollars to web.

But now I’m seeing real signs of life. Google print ads with direct-response offers? A discount on Google ads and to encourage app purchases? Really? It’s like watching my son Grant suddenly blossuming academically and reading voraciously. I know I had nothing to do with it, but I’m proud of the double G’s. Sidenote 2: Did I ever tell you I had a clubhouse in my house that I named Google in the late 1970s? Note to self: get time machine, go to 1995 and squat domain name for your childhood clubhouse.

So now the engineering anthill is using video to engage customers and promote? How charming! Let’s review recent and cumulative examples.

1) Branded Entertainment: Today we see a “Google Doodle” (typically an illustration of the logo marking an event) taking video form. The typically clean/sparse homepage features not a small custom image, but an embedded player with a nicely done Charlie Chaplin homage.

2) Satire/Entertainment: On April Fool’s Day Google pulled its annual prank by rolling out advanced “Gmail Motion” via video. The new solution featured a typical Google product director’s awkward monotone, complemented by a model (Steve Buscemi) demonstrating how physical movements (thumbs up, waves) can be interpreted it into text. One might expect a collective drone if he/she concedes that it was a clever prank, but I liked it. Why? It wasn’t too far fetched, it was executed fairly well, and I interpreted it as a subtle diss on Apple and its self aggrandizing swipes, pinches, and three finger whatevers.

Steve Buscemi in the Gmail Motion prank video

3) Product Launch: Google is increasingly using video to promote and teach out new products (see “advanced gmail” video). Sure Google has been criticized for a somewhat dated approach to product marketing (and some “areas for improvement” in its design/test/launch). But the sheer number of new innovations have me increasing my daily time-share significantly, and I want a Google GPS, Android simulator on my iPhone, and a Google-search brain implant for “just in time” information.

4) Humor: I’m not kidding. You have to look hard, but there’s humor lurking in the hallways. It’s probably like a secret society afraid to draw attention to itself among fellow engineers. But there’s the humanized personification of Google auto-complete (Hiring Autocompleters) that was funnier than its view count would suggest. (Last minute update- I was searching for more examples before hitting post and I remembered I was part of “Demo Slam” to promote additional tools/solutions to a broader audience… now you’re going to think this whole post was motivated by that, and you can kiss my ass because I nearly forgot I did it.

5) Public Relations: Remember all the drama about privacy invasion resulting from Google Earth (buttcrack) and Google Street View pictures? This video that shows “behind the scenes” of Google’s streetview camera vehicle. It replaces the images in my head of a creepy zit-faced MIT intern driving a black van, snapping photos, and wearing no pants.

6) Education & Community: Google uses videos to support community, health education, public service and economic summit Davos whatever… but that’s so damned boring I don’t feel like writing about it.

7) There is No Seven. I just don’t like posts with six items. Actually seven is “reader’s choice.” What’d I miss?

Non-Boring SXSW Video!

Okay we’ve had our fair share of SXSW footage, but this one is darned entertaining. And I’m not just saying that because my adult hero is David Meerman Scott. Tim Washer provides a brilliant foil to the self-deprecating and faux-pomposity of Scott.

Oh sorry… not familiar with SXSW (South By Southwest)? 1999 called and it wants to revoke your license to use the Internet. And if you have heard of South by Southwest but haven’t attended, click here to see AlexBlagg’s “SkankJenk” tips for noobs to become “sout by southbests“.

This clip (and the Blagg tips on secret barbecues of Austin, self promotion bumping, and the importance of not sleeping and eating) bring the annual love-fest of “cool nerds” to life. Scott chronicles the “off the beaten path” aspects in short, comedic montages. I challenge you… no I DARE you to find more interesting coverage. Bring it.

Now let me just make one thing perfectly clear about the “alleged” batts of Austin’s bridge. I went to Austin. I watched for them for hours one night. Then the next night. On the third night I discovered the bat rumor is a cruel Internet hoax. There are no bats.

Credits for above video: Directed and edited by John Knowles
Shot by John Birdsong. Brought to you by the Roger Smith Hotel

Follow these peeps or live in shame:
twitter.com/rshotel
twitter.com/dmscott
twitter.com/timwasher
twitter.com/pancity
www.rogersmithlife.com

20 Free Tips to Get Your Videos Seen on YouTube and Beyond

It’s been a while since I’ve summarized some of the most important factors to getting your videos seen. This post is based on my own YouTube creator experience, my work with big brands, and my book (Beyond Viral). I’ve also written a free eBook called “How to Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent (version 2).”

Here it is:

How To Get Popular on YouTube (free eBook, version 2)

I’m sure I missed some current best practices so please add your own thoughts below!

1. Hook viewer in first 10 seconds (teasing highlights)
2. Keep it short. A one-minute video will almost always trump a 3.
3. Encourage interactions- get people commenting and, like Facebook, your YouTube video will rise higher. Controversial questions to viewers can jolt views.
4. Personalize it. Look at camera as if it’s a friend’s eyes and don’t assume your viewer knows you.
5. Include real laughter. Laughter induces laughter like yawns influence yawns. Get a sidekick who has a contagious laugh.
6. At the end, provide something unexpected or bedbug. See how you didn’t expect the word “bedbug” there?
7. Include animals. We humans like animals more than humans. Babies are clinchers too. Giggling baby with an animal? Golden.
8. Take the “road less travelled.” Sure, boobies get views but if you base your video on something already seen, your video is less likely to break through clutter. Show us something we’ve not seen (or rare to see) and people will share.
9. Real trumps script. Almost all of my top videos are not scripted bits but real, candid moments.
10. Appeal to heavy video viewers. Teenagers drive significant views, and even adolescents and Tweens (Annoying Orange). Test your video on this audience and note when they laugh or get bored.
11. Post regularly. The most popular and most-viewed YouTubers post daily or on a predictable schedule. Fresh outsells good.
12. Flow with current events. Selectively parody topical news or “Memes” and you’ll be topical and more relevant.
13. Take the title, tags and description very seriously so your video can be found easily on search engines like Google (and don’t think YouTube isn’t a search engine). You can even transcribe the video and add the text. Important terms: “how to,” “why does,” “who is,” “when is…”
14. Watch top creators for new ideas. For instance, most top web stars are providing thumbnails of other videos at the end of their video. This keeps a viewer from wandering off to “related videos.”
15. Post at right time. Stay away from weekends and Friday afternoon (when there’s a lot of viewing but heavy competition). Mornings are good and Tuesday is a heavy consumption day.
16. Someone once said a new blogger focuses on their blog, but a seasoned blogger is roaming. Likewise you want to appear in videos by people getting more views. The kind plug by PrankvsPrank for my recent “Itchy Butt” prank drove more views that from my base of 250K subscribers.
17. Chill out on “subscribers,” which is as meaningless as “likes” on Facebook. 100 fans are more valuable than 10,000 subscribers that accidentally subscribed from the stupid “box for box” feature (where if you subscribe to one channel you can passively subscribe to their friends.
18. Jump start views on other social-media channels like Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and Reddit (watch out for being seen as just tooting your own horn though).
19. Listen and talk back to your audience. When a creator acknowledges a viewer comment a bond is formed that is the lifeblood of a recurring audience.
20. Go for quantity not obsessive quality. I could never have predicted which of my 1000 videos would get tens of millions of views, and there’s a lot of power to trial and error. There’s almost an inverse relationship between the time I spend on a video and the views it gets.

Finally don’t judge success by total views alone. Whether you’re a marketer or entertainer, not all views are created equally. Focus on engagement, comments, view duration, and getting to the right audience. A niche show meeting an unmet need is going to work more effectively than trying to please broad audiences.

What did I miss? Obviously the most popular videos are those involving dancing, music, comedy, satire, politics, sex, babies and animals. Don’t underestimate the power of the thumbnail (image representing the video) too. But any general tips I missed?

What’s the Best YouTube Prank Channel?

Where are the best pranks on YouTube? I’m partial to amateurs, so I’d say my favorite YouTube Partner pranksters are Edbassmaster (just look at this) and Jack Vale. I also spent much of the weekend binging on the epic battle between girlfriend and boyfriend on PrankvsPrank (the modern Spy vs. Spy). Prank vs Prank’s “Wet T-Shirt Prank Gone Wrong” is my favorite, and it makes me squeal with laughter.

If you like more commercially produced content, however, here’s one you might not have discovered. JustForLaughsTV are short and mostly physical-comedy pranks (read: international potential). The apparently French Canadian show has been posting a few new pranks each morning lately, and its YouTube channel is at under 70K subscribers… I’d predict that to be at 300K plus in months. A nice player on the hahaha.com website displays many of the micro pranks.

They’re far from subtle, mind you. They each feature dangerously campy music, a laugh track and almost insulting pantomime explanation of the prank to viewers (which to me steals some thunder). But the tight editing and great tight shots of the “victims” is rewarding. And even if you don’t like the old goatee man’s “theater like” acting, you’ll dig the brunette who pops up occasionally wearing yellow.

What the channel reminds me is the criticality of explaining a prank (like we did in “Farting in Public” but failed to do in “Itchy Butt Prank“). I like to plunge people into an awkward scene, but the viewers generally want to be “in” on the prank… and what might seem obvious to the creator is not to the viewer.

Laughing is a cue that works even if it’s a laugh track. The off-camera muffled giggles in “Farting” make an audience feel more like a participant than a distant viewer (this was quite an accidental discovery and I’m reluctant to “force” it). You’ll notice EdBassmaster has a giggler in the car for his “Just Look At It Prank,” and her laughter makes it genuinely funnier. The best part of “Prank vs Prank” is the maniacal laugh of the couple when they’ve powned the other. Watch this “Girlfriend Wears Mario Pube Prank” and listen at 1:28 to Jesse and 1:46. The breathless spasms of laughter contrasted with his girlfriend’s scream is hysterical.

Prankster be warned, however… a forced laugh is very detectible and toxic.

Pranks follow predictable format and require no language skills (or brain)

Help Best Buy Claim “Worst Company in America”

It’s against some difficult competition this year (BP, Toyota), but I’m rooting for Best Buy to win the coveted Consumerist.com “Worst Company in America” (see brackets). Just scan the Consumerist archives for Best Buy and Geek Squad to see all the proof you’ll need.

We honored the consumer-electronic megafirm with the dubious WillVideoForFood 2010 “Greatest Corporate Social-Media Collapse” award, and were pleased to turn down a request to promote the company’s highly criticized “buy back” program you’ve perhaps seen so whimsically advertised on television (3D and 4D dad gets called “silly head”).

With apologies to the Geek Squad members that are competent and have social skills, the service division of Best Buy has done great things to secure Best Buy’s rise in its “worst company” bracket. And hey- it needs only beat Radio Shack initially. How hard can that be?

In the spirit of social-media transparency, my support of Best Buy in this race is motivated by this episode. More importantly, Best Buy’s decision to completely ignore my communication… and allow me to pay a ticket/fine for smiling and handing a Geek Squad driver my business card to explain why I videotaped him (which he reported to the police as a threat).

I’ll let you know when it’s time to vote!

Intravenous Twitter Drip of Online-Video Enthusiasts

Without bookmarks, RSS or e-mails, there are a few sites I remember and visit randomly.  It’s usually because I’m bored or curious (but don’t know what I’m curious about). For instance, TechCrunch, Cheapskate, TheOnion, Google News, Yahoo Buzz. What are yours?

On TechCrunch I found an article about Blekko, a search engine that avoids spam by only indexing sites identified by people (like 2100 university sites). You use slashes to refine your search, so I tried Nalts and /date. That awakened me to a SocialTimes piece Megan O’Neill (Tel Aviv) curated a bunch of people and websites worth following on Twitter if you’re an online-video enthusiast. It’s quite handy, but I’m biased because I made the cut. 🙂

The Twitter accounts include ReelSEO’s Mark Robertson, GigaOM’s Ryan Lawler, Shape Shifting Zadi Diaz, as well as a bunch of people I consider “Friends” by a broad definition (meaning I have met them in person, I like them, and we share interests). Author Steve Garfield, Revisiond3’s Jim Louderback, Michael Buckley (WhatTheBuck), iJustine, Charles Trippy, Kassemg (the guy I know least among these). By a pure definition they’re not exactly friends, though. But isn’t the term “friend” changing because of Facebook’s use of the term?

Hey on that note, what’s a close friend? I’d consider a “close friend” someone you’ve known for a year or more, you’ve exchange meaningful information, and you know well and vice versa (meaning you each know your family/friends/significant others). For me, a friend isn’t competitive, they listen, and they share values. They can differ in many ways, but enjoy each other’s conversation and company. Most importantly, they forgive lapses in communication (something important to me because I’m spread thin and often vanish). I can think of dozens of people who are too frustrated by my intermittent communication to consider me a friend, and others who I can call after a long lapse and it’s like no time has passed.

Photo by Jim Davidson (Bucknick)

Anyway, Megan also assembled a nice collection of online-video stats and news websites (these are her words below). I’d suggest adding a few sites sites like ViralBlog, ReelSEOUrgo6667‘s stat site called Social Blade, and Renetto’s MyU2b).

  • Unleash Video Unleash Video is a video entertainment sharing website.  On their Twitter account they tweet about videos and news from their website, but they also tweet about general news in the online video space and they always have something interesting to share.
  • Web Series Today – If you enjoy web series then Web Series Today is definitely a must-follow.  Web Series Today tweets about the web’s top video series and is the best source for unfiltered web series information online.
  • Viral Video Chart – If you love being the first of your friends to know about the latest viral video hits then Viral Video Chart is the Tweeter to follow.  Viral Video Chart tweets about all the latest and most popular viral videos on the web.
  • Viral Viral Videos – Viral Viral Videos is also a great source, tweeting about viral videos as they go viral.
  • Web Video News – Finally, Web Video News is a great source for online and web video news, research and trends, compiling news from a variety of different sources across the web.

My list of linked sites is somewhat arbitrary and antiquated, but I hope to revise it. Please let me know what else you read for news about online video, and I’ll try to refresh the list with these and others!

Best Agency Holiday Card Celebrates Viral Memes

Well we did a recap on the worst corporate egreeting cards, so it’s only fair to share the winner of the 2010 WillVideoForFood Best Agency Holiday Greeting Video Award. I just made that award up, but it does come with a trophy and a piece of cheese.

Courtesy of CNN I give you the Klick! “SHOUT” holiday video greeting. What makes it special is that it celebrates memes new and old. I was thrilled to see the return of the Melbourn sunglasses guy (Cory Worthington).

Klick’s website. Beware of sound effects by a European unladen swallow.

Klick's Suit Guys

Best Video Bloggers (Vloggers) on YouTube

Who are the best daily video bloggers (vloggers) on YouTube? Where can you find the most interesting video creators? I have no idea, but check these folks out.
  • The only daily vlogger who hunts GHOSTS
  • Someone who is making multiple sclerosis “her bitch
  • A dude who apparently drinks a lot of Red Bull and says he can kick Shaycarl and CharlesTrippy’s asses
  • Cooks, book reviews, psychology, philosophy, dogs, mystics, mind-reading midgets (okay the last one was a stretch)
  • Someone who glues paper to his head
  • Even a few of these people may be weirder than me
For context, last week I posted a video on my “UncleNalts” account, inviting daily vloggers to send a clip to promote their channel. Below is the collage/collection, and you can subscribe to them through links below.

What is The YouTube Orbit?
It’s just a name we made up to refer to daily vlogs – an attempt to do videos each day for one Earth rotation around the sun. I’ve been somewhat consistent but not perfect. Urgo6667 helped popularize the name, and even set up a channel for the YouTube Orbit (click to see).
How Can I Join the YouTube Orbit?
Ping! You’re a member. It’s not exclusive. If you tag your video YTO or “YouTube Orbit” Urgo will feature it on the YT Orbit page. I’ve got a list of some of the daily vloggers on my Unclenalts subscription page, but I’m not sure it’s up to date. Hope it goes without saying you can be a daily vlogger without using the name YouTube Orbit, it’s just something some of us are using…. to refer to a group, a mission, a rotation, a thing.
I Wanted to Be In This, and Missed It! Now What?
No worries. I’ll do another montage. Just send a 15-second clip to the e-mail address on this video, and please title your video using your youtube channel name… please please please. If I don’t post a new one within a month, tell Urgo to kick my ass.
What? You’ve written a book? Where can I get it?
Well I’m glad you asked. To learn about YouTube marketing to promote yourself, company or vlog… get “Beyond Viral” at your local Barnes & Noble or Barnes. Or order on Amazon: http://www.beyondviral.com.
The channels, by order of their appearance:
http://www.youtube.com/nalts
http://www.youtube.com/unclenalts
http://www.youtube.com/theYTOrbit
http://www.youtube.com/urgo6667
http://www.youtube.com/theSweetestVegan
http://www.youtube.com/NewAgeVideos (ghost dude)
http://www.youtube.com/NicolovsVideo
http://www.youtube.com/aikitherese
http://www.youtube.com/H3ADY1313 (making MS her bitch)
http://www.youtube.com/katinatreesee (say it 3 times fast)
http://www.youtube.com/urgo6667 (don’t sub twice)
http://www.youtube.com/olinselot (olinsalot, olinsellot)
http://www.youtube.com/vLieu24
http://www.youtube.com/ the mystery dude
http://www.youtube.com/CreativeSoulTV (spinning camera)
http://www.youtube.com/theHappyNarwhals
http://www.youtube.com/journeyoflivevlogs (shaved head)
http://www.youtube.com/BlueSpectacles
http://www.youtube.com/Tyboze (pwns Trippy and Shay)
http://www.youtube.com/buddhacharlie (MIA)

Thanks for the Book Plug, Rhett & Link, Shaycarl and Others

While I’m blogging about people who read my Beyond Viral book, I’d like to thank Rhett & Link for the product placement. Aren’t they cute? They called it an “insightful tome,” and not just because they’re in this fancy hardback book. They also mentioned Daisy Whitney’s “Mockingbirds.”

Rhett and Link With "Beyond Viral," by Kevin Nalts Nalty

So did the SweetestVegan (see video on Dailymotion). And Shaycarl showed himself purchasing the book at Barnes & Noble, although I can’t find the video. Oh and here’s one by Kiddsock. And BuddhaCharlie. Oh and here’s one of me with a cheesy mustache.

I made a YouTube playlist for all books discussing Beyond Viral… even negative reviews are welcome! 🙂