Understanding Online-Video Using SEM Analogies

A media buyer recently approached me to see if YouTube “stars” could beat .05 on a cost-per-view basis. It was such an odd question, and one that made me realize we’re still comparing apples to oranges. As I answered the question (yes, but…) I found myself drawing analogies to a more familiar digital medium: search engine marketing (SEM).

Let’s draw from our collective understanding of both Google advertising and “search engine optimization” (SEM), where content providers try to have their websites rank on the first pages of search engines. Then let’s explore how that can help us understand online-video marketing. Finally, let’s pay special attention to “the second click,” which I use to refer to the prospect who chooses not to visit your own content but remains important.

This post is not really about search-engine optimizing video content (see ReelSEO for a wealth on that). It’s about thinking about online-video in the same way we think about an SEM approach. Apologies to traditional advertisers since this post does depend on some basic understandings of digital marketing and search-engine marketing, although I’ve tried to reduce the jargon and assume SEO/SEM is not your sweet spot.

I. Getting “Natural” Views: To get a brand.com or campaign website high search-engine ranking (thus “free” visitors) we have a variety of tools and tricks, but four basic guidelines:

  1. First, we optimize the content to use words that are commonly searched (use customer lingo not our brand speak). We frame our content to answer common natural-language queries like “what’s the cheapest life insurance insurance in Arizona” rather than “Bob’s Inexpensive Term Insurance!!… oh and I serve the globe, but happen to be in Arizona.”
  2. Second, we design the website to ensure that search-engine spiders can find it (treat the spiders as important as customers, which means more text not flasherbation). Video can help us here, but not in lieu of carefully prioritized words. Little things matter: the picture should be tagged “mom with headache” not “lady with green sweater,” something few potential targets are searching unless you’re selling sweaters).
  3. Most importantly, we try to “link bait” in appropriate ways (no “link farms” please), by earning the right to have credible well-trafficked websites link to our website. It gives us credibility, thus higher rank on engines. It can make the difference from being on the cemetery of page 3 to the wild night club of page 1.
  4. Finally, we want that visit to be positive for the “user” since a quick bounce and return to search can suggest failure to search engines. If you trick me, I’ll leave and re-search… and your ranking will slip.
What this means for video:
  • We need to think about video in this same measured approach. Sure we need to focus on SEO-optimization of our valuable video content on brand sites. Of course we want to avoid churning through various short-term video campaign micro-sites that don’t help in the long run. Absolutely we need to ensure our content is also placed on YouTube and well tagged. But there’s more to it than that.
  • Ultimately our video has to make a promise it can keep. If the headline and thumbnail is a dupe, it won’t last or travel. If the goal is to entertain and draw curiosity, then the brand must take a back seat. If the goal is to explain the product, then that’s fine… but that content isn’t likely to go viral unless you’re launching the next Apple toy.
  • A promotional video serves a purpose, but it’s unlikely to be the next Old Spice or Evian babies video. However a video can travel to prospects if it’s valuable to them (funny, informative), and most brands don’t need 4 million teenagers… they’d rather 100 solid prospects. If we want “organic” or free views (not using paid media) then we’ve got to focus on serving a need and not selling our product.
  • YouTube has loads of ways to promote video content on YouTube, and it’s always cheap… but it’s easier to get people to watch a video on YouTube than dragging them to another website. Off YouTube, we can partner with smaller properties to get “paid views” (the .05 per view reference above), but recognize that “a view isn’t a view.” Once it’s paid, it’s often forced or auto-play, and that can be a data junkee’s “fool’s gold.”
II. Paid Ad Campaigns: On search engines, a good digital marketer will vary creative and try an abundance of headlines, copy and even URLs. More importantly, they’ll create “custom landing pages,” so a search pays off. You’d be a fool to create a search advertisement promising content that doesn’t exist on the landing page. Most SEM veterans will vary campaigns (A-B testing) and do experiments to determine the optimal keywords to purchase, the right creative, and the appropriate content to serve.
What this means to video:
  • Video serves different purposes in various locations. In video display or pre-roll advertising, its goal might be to drive awareness/recall/attitude/intent for the brand or product. Alternatively it may be designed to produce an action/engagement. In general it’s hard for advertising to do both well in the same campaign.  Since most display ads accept the sad reality that click-thru rates are going to stink (low single digits), it may be better to jam the brand name and a simple message into the display ad or preroll… hey at least they’ll get “exposed” to the message. Otherwise the video preroll or display is aimed at a direct response goal (“see our cool education/entertainment,” “we have a sale,” or “check out our new product line.”).
  • While video can augment either awareness or direct response, I see “yellow flags” when I hear media buyers or PR executives using paid media to get videos or microsites traffic. The root cause? Marketers or agencies have sadly invested precious dollars to produce “viral video,” then become frustrated that the videos didn’t… go… viral. So they’re desperately looking for inexpensive ways to get the videos seen by using paid video ads.
  • Now we have a “dangling media tactic,” which is often inconsistent from a brand strategy. There’s a covert mission to get the content views to “save face” for the lonely isolated micro-site or unviral videos.
  • Back to the SEO/video analogy: It’s okay to create written content for search engines in hopes that it will gain high ranking and “free” (organic) views. But we are usually realistic about the timeframe and sheer numbers. However when marketers create video content, they bank on a groundswell of free traffic spawned by YouTube viral and mega-sharing on Facebook. That’s happening less and less.
  • Solution? The video or video-laced microsite (campaign site) should be serving a specific goal on the awareness-to-loyalty continuum and not an isolated tactic that depends on “going viral” organically. If you’re creating video for “top of the funnel” awareness creation, then a) don’t spend a lot of money since the odds are against you, b) keep the brand/ad message on the down-lo because it will tank the natural views.

III. That Second Click: It’s a mistake to obsess strictly about the search engine (we’re done! We’re on the first page organically and with an ad). Odds are that 80-90% of people will zoom right past them to the third-party choice (the credible blogger, the crowd-sourced rating website, or a publisher). That means we want to get our message and content on the highly trafficked websites our customers will visit after their search… the second click. That’s usually done via PR (desperate and failed pleas to bloggers for product mentions) or advertising (often ignored display advertising).
What this means to video:
  • Good news. Most video traffic is not to professional content or branded videos. Outside of music videos, the hidden “oil well” of reach includes mostly amateur webstars or “the new establishment” of web-video networks. These guys are surprisingly receptive to subtle brand messages, inexpensive sponsorships and (of course) adjacent ads that are their primary income.
  • While it’s unethical for a travel destination (hotel/resport) to spiff (pay off) a Conde Nast travel freelancer, it’s okay for them to invite Shaycarl (and Nalts) to visit and show the property to millions of their daily viewers. 🙂
  • It’s not okay to send a free tech product (like that new tablet or HD camer) to TechCrunch or Wired, but you’d be a fool not to deluge iJustine with your latest gadgets (and maybe toss her a check to show it love). It can be cost prohibitive for a marketer with a “recession” budget to hire Justin Bee-iber, but Rhett and Link reach millions and they’re taking a road trip this Friday that I’d sponsor it in a minute if I was a CPG brand (ensuring the comedy/singing duo received loads of free candy and beverages, as well as a decent check to ensure the products get some prominent placement). If I was selling guitars, I’d send a free one to Wheezywaiter and MikeLombardo in a second, and a $1-$10K to mention my website occasionally.
I’m finally beginning to accept why this last “no brainer” step (which I detail in my book, Beyond Viral) is not yet embraced by many brands. For a while I found it downright perplexing and unforgivable that Coke was handing out free product on the streets of NYC, but not sending swag to the top 500 most-viewed YouTube creators (which would provide Coke with more free impressions than it could ever imagine).
But there’s not an easy analog for this type of marketing. Sure Coke does product placement on American Idol, but it’s hard for marketers to translate that to some clown on YouTube even if he gets more views than American Idol. The TV folks are forced to understand product placement and integration because Fox is beating it into them. But it’s hard for a TV junkie to translate that to web video, and trust amateurs. Most importantly, the silo approach of most large brands makes it hard to determine who should run with this: is it PR? Advertising? A sponsorship/events group? Digital?
In truth this type of “second click” thinking applied to video requires people with an odd mix of understanding/experience of marketing, social media, consumer marketing and PR. But those folks are hard to find except in startups (who are less attractive to webstars than Big brands). When they do exist in larger companies, they often lack budget influence.
So this marketplace remains somewhat irrational (some “webstars” fetching obscenely high fees for non-targeted and awkward pitches). Conversely, many brands use PR teams to chase bloggers with smaller audiences and a fundamental reluctance to pitch (because “playing favorites” might erode their credibility as a mini-journalist). And those same brands are often missing some highly influential and valuable willing “spokespeople” with large fan bases and credibility… just because they have no idea that a medium-sized video webstar’s reach is often 100x that of the biggest category blogger.
As Arseneo Hall would say… things that make you go hmmmmm.

Getting Your Video to Top of Google Ranking (fart)

I met recently with Steve Rubel, who Business Week once called “the all-knowing thumper in a forrest of bambinos.” He’s dumped his Micropersuasion, but still posts on SteveRubel.com.

Steve asked me what I knew about video and SEO, and prompted this succinct 101-post on “how to use online-video to crawl your way to the top of Google rankings.” As I’ve reminded you before, YouTube is the second most important search engine, and YouTube videos get a strong advantage on Google. When you search a term, and see a video thumbnail someone’s done their homework.

Mark Robertson is the authoritative voice on video SEO, and his blog (ReelSEO) is a must-read. His post “SEO for Video” is essential reading.

I’m less savvy than Mark or other SEO/SEM experts, but I am a marketer who spends many waking hours trying to get my YouTube videos more views. Here’s ReelSEO’s Jeremy Scott’s piece about my previous “inside” scoops on YouTube and search (and his clever retort of my assertion that online-video will trump social media).

Sure you can buy text ads surrounding these Google searches, but they will burn through a budget fas. Furthermore, searchers usually jump to the “organic” or “natural” results that aren’t in yellow. Google eye-tracking charts have proven that, and undisclosed eye-charts of YouTube show that the primary navigation attracts eyes to that coveted search field. I’m not suggesting “either/or.” You want to appear for key searches anyway you can… even if you’re buying ads on searches that you already organically dominate. I have fought this logic, but the text ads for your brand name usually yield the highest-quality traffic (even if they MIGHT have found you without the ads).

Your thumbnail in the red area is worth more than text ads

Now some fresh tips and secrets for helping your video content rise on Google results, where you are exponentially more likely to be discovered by curious prospects.

1) Put Your Video in Places Easy for Search ‘Spiders” to Find. Your video content is either on YouTube or it’s hiding. Google’s automatic “spiders” dig routinely through your site, but don’t make them work too hard. If you have videos streaming on Quicktime on your website, then don’t expect them to get discovered easily (especially if they’re buried deep). Start posting on YouTube, then use TubeMogul to go more broadly (a free tool that distributes videos to dozens of existing online-video accounts, as long as you have accounts on them). I have asked TubeMogul’s CEO (Brett Wilson) to allow video publishers to vary keyword tags by site; currently you tag your video the same for all sites, which doesn’t allow you to experiment and hedge bets. That will increase odds of “Mother Google” blessing you with first-page result for niche terms. Again, if your video is on your brand site it might as well be in a file cabinet.
2) Oddly, Metadata Still Works. Metadata includes the title, description and keywords that search engines can use to find your content. Be selective, and go for targeted terms. Don’t try “digital camera,” but something more narrow like “how to buy cheap video cameras.” Then be consistent with your title, first words of your description, and the keywords. This can be challenging, because viewers like short irresistible titles… but spiders will index based on common search terms or phrases.
3) Engagement Matters. A well-viewed, top rated, commented, favorited video is going to work MUCH better than one you post solo. That’s why the YouTube stars (already popular amateurs or pros) have an edge on the rest. Their active fan following moves them to top of most-viewed videos, and makes them easy for a new audience to discover them. This is one of the reasons I urge marketers to tap into the credible platform of a weblebrity instead of posting their own videos. If I upload a video on my “Nalts” channel, it’s going to do better on SEO than the same exact video posted to a new account or your account. Many people attempt to replicate this by asking friends and family to “5 star, favorite, and comment.” But a few dozen people aren’t as powerful as the thousands of active fans that rate their favorite creators 5 stars even before watching the full video.

4) YouTube is Getting Smarter about weeding out videos boasting provocative thumbnails (the images that represent the video on YouTube or Google search results). So in time, pictures of neon graphics (a hot trend) and boobies (a timeless certainty) will not outrank relevancy. Ultimately I expect YouTube to rank videos based, in part, on “attention scores.” As a YouTube Partner I know which of my videos have high “attention scores,” which is a relative score based on videos that are of similar duration. I can’t tell precisely how many people stopped watching at a specific moment (or the average view duration) but I can see where most people dropped, and I try to manage that by “teasing” video that comes later. If a video for a particular term has a high “attention score,” then Google/YouTube can correctly assume it was relevant to the searcher. So I’d expect that to be as vital as transcribed text, and Google/YouTube already has the ability to connect these (and may well be using them).

5) While Waiting for Transcription. Don’t hold your breath for Google to transcribe videos, which will be the Holy Grail. Rubel observed that “Google Voice” is teaching Google to recognize various dialects, and that will come in handy when it’s time to transcribe and index video speech for word searches. In the meantime, you want your videos to be valuable/relevant and short (30-90 seconds), then compel action (like a visit to a website) with a meaningful promise. Remember it’s much easier to get a YouTube viewer to a channel page than to abandon YouTube. We’re still seeing click-thru rates (from YouTube to brand sites) in the low single digits. Some YouTube creators (like “CharlesTrippy” and “Shaycarl“) post daily videos as long as 10-12 minutes, which automatically propel them to the most popular page. This may give them an advantage, and I recently speculated that long videos may, counter intuitively, be a view driver. I’m now thinking that the frequency keeps them “top of mind” and forges a bond with their viewers, which is the real driver. Still, their fans will watch more of those videos than typical videos of that duration… and that certainly should help. While we wait for transcribed search, consider captioning your content (it’s time consuming but free on various sites) or adding a full or partial text transcript to your description.

5) The basics of SEO apply when it comes to keywords. Spell hot ones wrong on purpose, focus on less competitive terms/phrases, and use desired ones first. Before Google stopped using metatags to rank, it always put exponential emphasis on the first word than the fifth. So consider carefully the first words you’ll use in sequence, and don’t try to fight for highly competitive terms. I used to automatically use “Nalts” as a keyword, but now I place that at the end of my list. Sometimes I’ll use a partial phrase like “how, to, become, popular, on, youtube,” and name the video similarly. Then my description will begin with “How to become popular on YouTube…”

6) I haven’t seen evidence that YouTube videos embedded on other sites have an advantage. Logically, an embedded video means bloggers and other websites find the content valuable… and YouTube videos used to show publicly (under video you’ll see “statistics and data” the sites that drove traffic to a video, but have inexplicably eliminated that somewhat recently). It was probably being abused by spammers. Google tends to focus on relevancy rather than monetization, but it’s hard to ignore a motivator YouTube has: the site can monetize videos on its own site easier than on other sites. So it’s in Google’s financial interest to reward video content that draws traffic to YouTube rather than embedded videos on sites that use its bandwidth without creating a premium for advertisers. We know that if hundreds of websites link to President George Bush using a hyperlink called “stupid,” then he’ll rise on search results for the word stupid. So perhaps my top ranking for the keyword “fart” was helped by any sites that linked to me with the tag, “fart video.”

But there’s a true relevancy factor at play. If you’re inclined to search “fart,” I’m guessing a video of a kid with a fart machine is one of the things you may be hoping to find. Or maybe you were seeking a nice medical definition or the origin of the word (Wikipedia, which now has trumped me, indicates “immediate roots are in the Middle English words ferten,feortan or farten; which is akin to the Old High German word ferzan. Cognates are found in old Norse, Slavic and also Greek and Sanskrit.”

7) Timing. Michael Buckley’s “What The Buck” show and Sxephil’s vlogs benefit greatly from their regular content about topics being searched. Their recent videos are often between 500K to a million, and they have some videos that are cash cows for certain subjects (garnering regular views that are in the multi-millions). As I write, they’re no doubt making a video about the Golden Globes, knowing that on Tuesday people will return to work, and be grazing for recaps. This timely content also serves as “link bait” to popular social-media sites that are looking for current videos about hot content. Topicality is important, and the best personal example I can provide is my 2009 Superbowl “best commercials”  video. It maintains a poor attention score (lots of early drops relative to most of my videos), but I launched it before last year’s Superbowl game… fetching it 3-4 million views in the days after last February’s game… and it’s up to 7 million now. The GoDaddy boob thumbnail doesn’t hurt either, but that’s not helping the attention score. If you want boobies, you’re turned off to see a dad and his kid talking about the best ads. If I did a daily vlog about the hot terms I found on Yahoo Buzz, I’m quite certain I could dramatically expand my daily views from 150K-200K to 500K. But alas I have neither the time nor interest. I’m guessing Buckley and Phil scour many sites to find out what content people are searching each day.

8) Untapped Secret: SEM on YouTube. I almost hate to give this away. But if you have an Adsense/Adwords account and you’re a YouTube partner, you can advertise your video based on keyword terms. This drives search-driven ads that display your video to a targeted audience, and is not expensive for most terms (a cost-per-click bid of a few pennies sometimes works). Even better, you’re then able to put your own simple “InVideo” ad over the video with a clickable hyperlink. See the example on my “Hair Transplant Fun,” which is more likely to drive viewers to my blog than a hyperlink in the description. And remember: get that hyperlink early in the description so it appears to viewers in a truncated description.

Now a few things that don’t work, or at least will die soon enough.

  • I’m finding lots of spam automatic blogs that are now embedding my videos and descriptions hoping to trick Google into indexing it. This annoying technique is also fooling Radian6 and other social-media monitoring tools, which report this old content as new. Last week I tried a “Nalts” search on Radian6 and was frustrated to see old video descriptions appearing as recent buzz about me. Maddening.
  • I’m also constantly finding my name packed with other YouTube usernames in videos by people who naively hope that works. Puh-leeze. Did that ever work? It’s a good technique if you’re mentioning a particular YouTuber, because we do tend to “ego surf” for content that tags our name. But as soon as I see 12 other names aside mine, I know it’s trolling.
  • Fake thumbnails might artificially drive views, but the video will be penalized when the attention scores show Google the video duped its users.

How to Find How-To Videos

One of the most profitable areas of online-video is and will remain “how to.” For most subjects, the content is “evergreen” (not requiring frequent updates), it’s highly sought after, and gives advertisers a way to target consumers by specific interest.

But how do you find the how-to video you need “just in time”? First, you can search Google and add “video” to your term.  Howcast is a site dedicated specifically to instructional videos that are standardized and simple. And here’s a list of how-to videos courtesy of the YouTube blog.

How to print your own T-shirt: http://bit.ly/159Hpi
How to speed read: http://bit.ly/2FRRi
How to look like @ladygagahttp://bit.ly/Rb9pv
How to tie a tie: http://bit.ly/JXHZo
How to make fresh pasta: http://bit.ly/TeKAS
How to make fire without matches or a lighter: http://bit.ly/pSyZw
How to open a beer with a pen: http://bit.ly/2usCi1
How to knithttp://bit.ly/16oQBg
How to cut your own bangs: http://bit.ly/Ib3pq
How to make ice cream in a bag (preschool edition): http://bit.ly/X8s65
How to do a banana kick: http://bit.ly/1JJT0f
How to count to 20 in Japanese: http://bit.ly/4gCv3q
How to peel a melon: http://bit.ly/BmXlB
How to get better mileage: http://bit.ly/2zdzm
How to create perfect red lips: http://bit.ly/15sezH
How to escape from handcuffs: http://bit.ly/jHQPr
How to flirt like a pro: http://bit.ly/2Rv5Zm
How to surf: http://bit.ly/Ga8Dk
How to train your dog to stay: http://bit.ly/xJWUb
How to make a bacon-infused cocktail: http://bit.ly/mameg
How to build your self confidence: http://bit.ly/dwZpZ
How to beat writer’s block: http://bit.ly/3x5kek
How to be funny on a first date: http://bit.ly/m8Dvx
How to be a DJ: http://bit.ly/cfEj4
How to make mac & cheese, mmm: http://bit.ly/Ov8tC
How to use gel liner: http://bit.ly/TrMRD
How to give a presentation: http://bit.ly/12ny4U
How to make a how to video: http://bit.ly/6SKe8
How to do the Windmill: http://bit.ly/RdWO9
How to get watermelon nails: http://bit.ly/czp8n
How to shoot penalty kicks: http://bit.ly/5qREA
How to wrap a gift professionally: http://bit.ly/LhEpU
How to make your own bicycle crank: http://bit.ly/10fe45
How to make chicken biryani: http://bit.ly/4hqV9R
How to make wine: http://bit.ly/tdafs
How to draw a “realistic” manga face: http://bit.ly/108hUx
How to understand integrals: http://bit.ly/Bzc6B
How to look sharp for a job interview: http://bit.ly/hksI0
How to play violin – lesson one: http://bit.ly/2DnJDh
How to properly chop vegetables: http://bit.ly/1dq9I4
How to make a camisole in one minute: http://bit.ly/rLNCx
How to grow strawberries indoors: http://bit.ly/Mo5bz
How to shave: http://bit.ly/3kv7IE
How to crack a coconut: http://bit.ly/3XTfvw
How to buy a house: http://bit.ly/RSVng
How to make Rigatoni Carbonara: http://bit.ly/MsK57
How to make a BristleBot: http://bit.ly/unPlZ
How to do makeup for small eyes: http://bit.ly/1McfOw
How to make a custom beer pong table: http://bit.ly/1D5n2i
How to fuse plastic grocery bags into a reusable shopping bag: http://bit.ly/1eS6zf
How to fold a fitted sheet: http://bit.ly/4kxbJI
How to save money: http://bit.ly/3sd0u6
How to improve your memory: http://bit.ly/eCILa
How to sew a dress: http://bit.ly/13xkKx
How to backflip: http://bit.ly/1Awqto
How to curl hair: http://bit.ly/WpwdS
How to recycle beer bottles with limes: http://bit.ly/1z8yM8
How to hem pants: http://bit.ly/k7sW3
How to make a green screen: http://bit.ly/pPtJW
How to polish shoes: http://bit.ly/45dXNu
How to repair a bicycle puncture: http://bit.ly/ocqzX
How to make kimchi: http://bit.ly/3kFvLs
How to recycle used computers http://bit.ly/3SkN6a
How to make veggie sushi: http://bit.ly/oE6tZ
How to record better webcam videos: http://bit.ly/2rbn5E
How to speak French – meeting and greeting: http://bit.ly/OTfiU
How to make a “Where the Wild Things Are” Halloween costume: http://bit.ly/28qjv1
How to do yoga: http://bit.ly/1cGeeW
How to cook Cola BBQ pork chops: http://bit.ly/3eWonX
How to deliver a baby in an emergency: http://bit.ly/469fc5
How to melt away pounds: http://bit.ly/2BW8BE
How to wear different types of scarves: http://bit.ly/2sGH8s
How to Casper: http://bit.ly/1WwYHI
How to fold origami: http://bit.ly/1Q9T84
How to do self-defense when confronted with a gun: http://bit.ly/2l47Fz
How to make a camisole in one minute: http://bit.ly/rLNCx
How to make ramen noodles: http://bit.ly/16JKhC
How to care for a pet shark: http://bit.ly/1is544
How to apply fake eyelashes: http://bit.ly/2AvRV3
How to make a card: http://bit.ly/2M8YaO
How to make simple, delicious compound butters: http://bit.ly/Q2USo
How to dye your clothes: http://bit.ly/4nkbEZ
How to transform a boring school uniform: http://bit.ly/49P2I5
How to plant a vegetable garden in 30 minutes: http://bit.ly/1qdPEn
How to solder copper pipe: http://bit.ly/3Fsit2
How to make an upholstered headboard: http://bit.ly/iCh9a
How to dress appropriately (according to Tim Gunn): http://bit.ly/2Jjiux
How to make sage risotto (as taught by a kid): http://bit.ly/27jyEd

Top 5 Secrets to Profit Via Online Video

Yesterday I outlined the 5 magical secrets to making money via online video. I made it up while driving to NYC from my rural PA home, and used a forced “NALTS” acronym. It was the only way I’d remember it on stage at the Digital Content NewFront, and I still had to check my hat lid, where I had written them down as an emergency.

Hopefully the audience remembers these tips more than my pratfall, fart machine, and spinning beer caps.

You can also check out my free eBook (“How to Become Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent“).

  • Nickle: Keep it cheap. The “one man band” will always do better than a crew. I couldn’t have quit my day job if I had to share my YouTube revenue with a writer, editor, producer, agent and actors. Just me, a camera, and unpaid “actors.”
  • Amplify: There’s no online-video “prime time.” A homepage video on YouTube won’t guarantee an audience. You need to promote, collaborate, get involved with the community (the eBook gives you tips).
  • Listen: It’s not distribution it’s dialogue. Listen, react, talk back. Don’t “Oprahize” YouTube and use online-video for trailers. Get on camera and interact with the audience. Do collaborations with other famous peeps.
  • Theater: Go where the crowds are: Be in Regal not a tiny cinema. Fish where the fish are. YouTube. Use TubeMogul to post more broadly, but no f’ing microsites. As a marketer, I want my ad on the highway, not on some rest stop.
  • Sponsor: Bring your own sponsor. The money on CPM buys isn’t as interesting. Build content that’s entertaining but targeted to a niche that advertisers want to reach (moms, cooks, fisherman, financial, whatever). You can’t get a sponsor easily unless you have an audience, and if you’d rather let someone else hunt for the sponsor than check out Hitviews (disclaimer: I am its chief strategical officer).

There. Now go get rich. But as a reminder, if you’re focused on making money I would advise writing blogs about mortgage or investing. It’s very hard still to profit via online video, whether you’re talented or not.

I’m clearly motivated by sources other than money. I’ll have to ask a therapist what those motivations are.

15 Tips for Giving A Killer Powerpoint Presentation

You’re days away from an important presentation on a subject. Like most people, public speaking makes you anxious. But you’re an expert on your subject — whether it’s social media, advertising, online video, consumer-generated media, new media, marketing, or some specific trend within. So if you believe in yourself, the audience will too. Trick yourself into believing your audience worships you (visually imaging success), and your confidence  — but not arrogance — will radiate your words and non-verbal behavior. If you’re not having fun, your audience will make grocery lists in their mind.

Maybe you’re a fellow procrastinator — our problem is that we have high expectations, so we delay because we want it to be perfect. In high school, we bought Cliff Notes the night before the final. That’s okay. This doesn’t have to take long (trust me, I’ve prepared many presentations using these tips in 30 minutes, and made it look like I spent days preparing).

You’re going to turn your presentation into THEATER. It will be the most memorable presentation your audience has seen, and will intrigue, inform, and persuades your audience. Getting some doubt about that? Don’t fight it, just set it aside for a moment. And no need to thank Uncle Nalts. He’s got your back. If you don’t look good, I don’t look good. I take pride in you. That’s a shampoo joke there, friends.

Note: Powerpoint is a useful and common tool for sharing ideas in person (and sometimes, but often poorly, electronically). But please don’t use it if you can avoid it. I’ve snoozed through many vendor capability presentations, but my brain goes technicolor if we’re discussing an idea that interests me. I like answering the “what keeps you up at night” question even if it’s a tired question. But I also loathe the “rapport building” script many follow. If you’ve followed these tips, however, then your computer can crash and you can still blow ’em away!

  1. Take 5 to write three things down: the target audience, the purpose of your presentation, and what the target will do or think when you’ve done your magic. If you have a broad audience (executives, marketers, eBusiness people, technologists) then specify the one that matters most or you risk being irrelevant to all of them.
  2. Create e a killer headline. “How x will impact our company” is  a start, but something like “experts agree a giant, razor-clawed bioengineered crabs pose no threat” is much better. Don’t be too outrageous or provocative, but I beg you not to bee too broad, abstract or boring. “An update on new media” is a loser. Put your name on it, but be sure to credit stakeholders so you don’t look like the presentation is about you. It’s not.
  3. Your introduction is best if it’s a story or anecdote that proceeds our intro slide, and then tell them the three things you’re going to discuss. No more.
  4. Vital one here… Avoid more than 20 words per slide, and no smaller than 20-40 point type. Seriously. This requires restraint, but you’ll simplify your message and dazzle your guests when they see you don’t need to read 4 bullets with subbullets. It’s okay if the deck makes no sense without your talking points, and if you can’t present without looking at your slide (reading bullets) you’re doooooomed. The BEST presentations I’ve seen from the masters (Covey, Blanchard, Peters) have a sentence, a picture, and a story. The worst have McKinsey slides, complex graphics, spreadsheets and look like a word document squished onto a screen.
  5. If you mention terms like “consumer-generated video” or “viral video,” don’t assume your audience knows what they mean. They won’t. Define words succinctly and use wikipedia for proper wording. Don’t say “Web 2.0” to senior executives without adding a simple definition like “technology that helps our customers and employees share and interact.” 
  6. Source each data point with small (14 point) text boxes, and not in the body copy. Don’t use a date that’s more than 2 years old if you’re talking about new technology. If it’s important, but dated… leave off the date or find a more recent source.
  7. If you’re citing more than 3 trends, then you’ll overwhelm them. Nothing bores and audience than 5-10 slides about the changing market. They need to see impact to their lives immediately, otherwise you’re academic. Trends set a foundation but can quickly bore or confuse.
  8. Analogies help people. If you’re talking about the evolution of online video, then provide an example… how radio and television progressed. People believe your predictions if you can liken them to realities they’ve seen and know.
  9. An eMarketer chart (free) will help show you’ve done your research but don’t let it live without a simple “so what” statement. If you have time, rebuild the chart in your own template. Don’t go nuts on these because they’re not as persuasive to your audience as you think. 
  10. Your hidden jewel is Slideshare. Some brilliant presentations are available for guidance and even download. Source them, so you reward this generous sharing. Slideshare is a wonderful example of social media’s power to accelerate ideas, and I plan to post more of my decks there. Once you find a good slide presentation, you’ll find related decks automatically (like Amazon’s “you may also like this product.”) Don’t get overwhelmed- just find a few important points, and avoid any cheesy clip art that screams amateur. You can also try searching Google and adding .ppt to your search (or .pdf). Be very, very specific with terms and you might find what you’re after. You could even add slideshare.com to your search. Remember- don’t get stuck here or download 10 decks. You’ll get overwhelmed.
  11. Pictures sell. Especially if they’re PEOPLE not company logos. Social media is about people not websites. You need visual examples that matter to your audience, and they’ll bring to life your data from eMarketer and other places. Don’t you dare “print screen” and import images into your deck (these make your file size huge). Grab images (or videos) with Snagit (which is a great tool for grabbing website images to support your case). I promise this software won’t overwhelm you if you can use basic Powerpoint, and it reduces file-size bloating. Google Images is a great resource, and if it’s a public presentation you can “go professional” with Getty One. If you register you can trial images for free (lower resolution), but you’ll want to buy/license them if the deck will be shared or used for commercial gain.
  12. Please don’t use any Powerpoint effects (moving objects or transition effects). They scream amateur, unless the movement has a purpose. If you’re considering clip art, then stop reading this post immediately. You cannot be saved.
  13. If you want to show a video clip, make it 30 seconds or less. I’ve made the mistake of playing a 2-3 minute video in a crowd, and it’s horrible (unless it’s customized for the audience and precedes your presentation).
  14. Have some “call to action” at the end, and list some simple baby steps. To help people appreciate social media, for example, I like to encourage audiences to find a topic they love (a hobby) and pursue it by searching blogs and videos on that subject. If they’re brave enough, I tell them to engage or create content around this hobby (even if anonymously). Otherwise you’re describing colors to a blind person.
  15. Close with a final statement or story. Use a dramatic pause before you share it (as if you’re searching spontaneously for it), and walk into your audience’s space. Don’t give them the “thanks for your attention” garbage. The best endings are those that point back to your introduction in a profound way. If you opened with a story of a problem or customer, then talk about how your solution will change that story (or did). Emotion here helps.

Good luck. I know you don’t like to comment, but please tell me how these tips work for you. And if you have some of your own ideas, please share!

Give Your Video a Film Look (How-To Video)

beach bypass and film look on videoWhat’s the difference between a CharlesTrippy and MrSafety video and the rest of us? They use good lighting, and adjust the video for that film look. Both are very willing to share their tips, so I’ll post them soon. In the meantime, YouTube is a treasure trove for “how to” (DIY) videos on using advanced effects. I use Mac’s iMovie, which is extremely limited but I’m too lazy to learn something more complex. For several years, I’ve had Final Cut Express (a simpler version of the Final Cut Pro that professionals use) but rarely use it except green screen or split screen.

Today I experimented with applying a “beach bypass” look that gives your video that tinsel look of film. Here’s a beach bypass “how to” video for Final Cut Express. Here’s another for Final Cut Pro for those of you that are rich or steal software. These may work for other PC-based editing as well, since it’s simply overlaying two layers — one with low saturation and the other with high contrast.

As the medium matures, more of the top creators (CollegeHumor) are stepping up their cinematography. I won’t soon be posting 2-minute short films, but I am trying to make my crappy web videos a bit more like TV/film. As the audience grows past us “early adopters,” the mainstreamers and laggards will seek out content that looks more like what they’re accustomed to watching.

Simple Tip to Increase Your YouTube Subscribers

Here’s a simple way to increase your subscribers on YouTube I just discovered (see my free eBook called “How to Become Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent” for more). I can’t prove this works, but it’s fairly obvious it should. It requires that you have at least one video that continues to get a lot of views for reasons you can’t quite explain. I have a few of these.

This technique n is based on the fact that new “grazers” of YouTube don’t really understand that they can “subscribe” to content like they can record a TV show on TiVo or a DVR. So we need to remind them within the content (since they’re already trained to ignore messages outside the content). 

1) Find your most popular video.

2) View the “insights” on YouTube to find the moment that most people drop. If there are two cliffs, you may want to pick the second cliff. 

3) Edit you video’s “annotations.” Place a subtle text annotation at the spot that precedes the cliff. Invite the viewer to subscribe to more videos like this one.

If your popular video is not consistant with your channel’s content, than you may get quantity of subscribers but not good quality. As an example, they may like my farting and “scary mask” video, but not care for my regular family videos. I debated this, but determined that higher subscriber numbers (even if they’re not all quality) results in higher visibility. That increases my odds of finding an appropriate audience even if I will pick up (and lose) some inappropriate subscribers in the interim. 

Obviously it helps to request people to subscribe at the beginning and end of every video, and many popular YouTubers do this. I just haven’t gotten there yet. It seems desperate, although it’s becoming so common that maybe it’s time I get over my concern.

Had a “please subscribe” slate appeared at the beginning of these popular videos, I’m quite certain that would be worth thousands of new subscribers. 

Close Captioning Experiment (Sea Monkey War)

This is one of few scripted videos I’ve done, and it’s kinda a social commentary on war… with a twist.

We were actually reading our lines, which were taped behind the Sea Monkey container. The observant viewer will notice that the Sea Monkey container was devoid of brine shrimp. I had to shoot some b-roll of brine shrimp from a friend’s ecological glass dome (which unfortunately looked nothing like the inside of the Sea Monkey container.

‘ve been interested in close-captioning as a way to make my video accessible to those who can’t hear or those that don’t speak English. It will also be a major driver of search engines in the future.

Here’s my attempt of using Overstream to generate close-captioning, and now I’ll see if I can export them to YouTube –which supports a simple subtitle format that is compatible with the formats known as SubViewer (*.SUB) and SubRip (*.SRT).

It took about 20 minutes to generate these, and I would highly recommend viewing the brief tutorial on Overstream before you try it.

Thanks to Bill Creswell’s blog, I’ve also found TubeCaption.

Wow- I exported the .sub file from Overstream and uploaded the file to YouTube (in the “edit video” section). Instantly I have close captioning on YouTube! That was incredibly easy. Here’s the final result, but you have to activate CC on the bottom right corner. Keep in mind that only the video publisher can do this at YouTube (so you generous close caption volunteers will have to send the creator a .sub file… but I’m sure most YouTubers would be delighted to receive and post them).

Wonder Why How-To Videos Boom Despite Economy?

how-to video siteWhen PR Pro Laura Hart (Beck Media & Marketing) contacted me in early August about how-to video site “Wonder How To,” she suggested a WVFF blog post on top video sites, and told me her client’s website had 145,000 videos. I was impressed with her pitch (she had bothered to read the blog), and promised to write about the category again and WonderHowTo. When I preditably forgot, and she reminded me gently a month later — only she had to update her stats. The site now has more than 200,000 videos.

It’s no surprise that how-to websites are booming and video makers are creating more instructional (do it yourself- DIY) videos. In a tough economy, we’ll be outsourcing less and relying on our own lack of competency. Just as we’ve grown accustomed to Googling answers, we’re now surfing video to learn new tricks, software tools, and hobbies. Or maybe we just want to learn how to smash a bottom of a beer bottle.

Most importantly, DIY is mostly evergreen content. Years from now we’ll still want to build a hover board from scratch (see “hot” section for more like it). There are a number of how-to sites, and much of WonderHowTo’s content is right from YouTube or Metacafe. But it’s well indexed around an important application for video, and it’s frankly hard to find DIY video via YouTube and even Google.

Other how-to websites include HowCast, Graspr and Life 123 and 5 minutes. I haven’t reviewed them all because I haven’t decided to plunge into the maybe-more-profitable-but-less-exciting DIY space. But if I were to start these, here’s what I’d do:

  1. Hedge your bets, and post everywhere. Use TubeMogul and be sure to market your content via sites (like WonderHowTo) that may not require you to host it there, but would list your video.
  2. Keep it short. Nobody has ever said “that instructional video went too quickly.” Chapter it if necessary, and provide places for people to pause.
  3. For the love of God keep it simple. No expensive production necessary.
  4. Focus on topics that are unique- the space is already crowded with obvious things like home repairs and software… find something in which you’re uniquely qualified to teach.
  5. Want to really set yourself apart? Entertain! It has worked for most popular chefs.
  6. Don’t stop by posting on these sites. Find blogs around your topic area and let them know the videos exist. Preferably lead them to sites that share revenue.
  7. Sell yourself. Have a simple website that credentializes you as an expert- and even better have a book even if it’s a self-published short one.

P.S. Here’s a recently featured how-to video: How to get into any pub by pretending you’re a disk jockey.