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

http://socialmedia4nonprofits.org/

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.

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?

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?

Online Video Media Buying Best Practices

Looking for best-practices and tips for buying online-video advertising?

ScanScout’s Jason Krebs provides tips and tricks for verifying your online-video advertising spend in Daisy Whitney’s New Media Minute.

He tells us how to buy by “cost per engagement” and to ensuring that we receive accurate reporting on our spend.

A Blog Post That Doesn’t Mention iPad (Video SEO)

Via Larry Kless, here’s Mark Robertson, the King of Video SEO, sharing some tips about video codecs, encoding, and other things we don’t quite understand… but know are important.

Until you or your agency are doing all these things as prescribed by Dr. Robertson, we recommend getting all of your content on YouTube. Turns out Google indexes YouTube videos, um, pretty darned well.

What You Don’t Know About Videos & Search Engines Can…

… be hurting you. Why do keep writing about video search-engine optimization?

  • Your viewers or customers are increasingly using specific terms in their search, and including the word “video” into searches more than the word “sex.” In the past 5 years the term “how to” has grown steadily as a search phrase (Google analytics).
  • Eye charts show that when a thumbnail image (representing a video) appears among a search-page results it gets an early glance before people read.
  • Approximately a third of the views of a video are driven by search. It may surprise you that search engines overtook social media as a driver to videos back in early 2008 (Hitwise, 2009 via ReelSEO).
  • Google, by far the leading search engine, incorporates many forms of media in its results. Since it currently indexes far more text than video, you have a distinct advantage with video content.

There are two solutions: the hard way and the easy way. The hard way: you can ensure you or your agency is current on video SEO techniques. The second is that you post content on YouTube (which Google crawls quite well) and ensure that your title, description and keywords are aligned and words are ranked by priority. Don’t try to optimize against impossible phrases with lots of competition. Be specific and add words people are increasingly adding to search queries (video, how to, etc).

Larry Kless did  a nice summary of the Online Video Platform Summit (sounds saucy, huh), and quotes SEO Video Guru Mark Robertson. Nico McLane discussed her article from StreamingMedia that is subtitled “The secret’s in the sauce, but nobody’s sharing their recipes.”

Robertson puts it simply, “video SEO is purely an extension of SEO.” The more I research it, the more I realize it’s true. The tips for optimizing video content, with some exceptions, are typical of a good search-engine optimization plan.

Can The Mutant-Child of Cable & Web Video Survive? Seven Magic Tricks.

shark that wants to eat daisy whitney's poodle violet

Television networks have had no more luck spawning, popularizing, or learning from online-video content than newspapers have had increasing circulation in recent years. But Fox 15 Gig has caught some online-video gurus’ attention, and UncleNalts has 7 magic tricks for you television and cable mavens who dare enter the shark-infested viral online-video watery… thing.

The people have chosen. We are magnetically polarized to opposite ends of the content-duration spectrum: short-form content by amateur solo-acts or a lucky few over-produced television series. The mutated child of this man-beast marriage is not socializing well at school. But I’m here to help.

Seems Daisy Whitney (in this week’s New Media Minute) thinks Fox’s 15 Gigs (which launched quietly in the summer) has a fighting chance. Watch her video to find out why. Or trust me for a summary. Or just shut-up and watch last week’s episode because she had a totally hawt guest).

Daisy Whitney's Killer French Poodle

  1. She digs Black20, the creators of “Easter Bunny Hates You” (which I shamelessly plagiarized in my Mad Turkey, but resisted rerunning this season).
  2. She believes 15 Gigs is “learning from the mistakes” and has an advantage of not being a first-mover like ABC and HBO’s failed attempts.
  3. Most importantly, she likes the concept of testing low-cost production online (sometimes less expensive than a script) before investing in television.
  4. She loves violet her French poodle Violet and is uncomfortable with its photo so close to that shark.

Adam Right of TubeFilter.tv has some additional positive thoughts on 15 Giga (the studio was named, perhaps, with either homage or dis to the phrase “15 minutes of fame”). 15 Giga is spawned from Fox’s cable production arm, Fox Television Studios, which is best known for The Shield and Burn Notice (which I purchased in its entirety on iTunes). Adam Right, like Whitney and her poodle, sees this as a “different approach to creating a new media branch with 15 Gigs.” The difference, says Adam, is:

  • going edgier than television (see puppets using cocaine and smoking)
  • giving producers room
  • looking at ways to leverage interactivity of web
  • focusing on moving web series to television (which seems somewhat in conflict to point one)
  • keeping production costs down ($5-$20K per series)

Thank you, Daisy and Adam. You’ve tasted the Kool-aid and I’ll watch to see if you die before I have a sip. Now it’s UncleNalts’ turn… Web series aren’t working yet. Maybe 15 Gigs will crack the code, but it’s a dry market, girlfriend. Do you mind if I call you that? It doesn’t sound gay does it?

monkey and manAs I’ve said: In something that’s perhaps counter intuitive, people magnetically shift to opposite ends of the content-duration spectrum. The hybrid mutation is neither as satisfying as a 30-60 minute show or as personalized as a virtual-BFF (best friend forever) on YouTube. (Man I should get paid to blog… this is poetry). I loved The Guild but I forget about it during gaps… and for reasons I can’t explain I haven’t caught up. I watch maybe 6-12 shows television shows weekly and countless online-videos… but almost no web series. You can’t argue that they’re not part of our media-consumption habit yet (but in the tips below, I’ll tell you when that will change… so stay alert despite the snow falling over my words).

So here’s some free advice — step right up and taste the magic potion — for those cable/network peeps brave enough to dare to tap into serialized web shows. These magical seven tips will help you with your mutant content or your money back the next time I pass through Passamaquati.

  1. Speed up your editing cadence to border-line mania. Those music-laden dramatic television transitions and rack focuses of NYC cabs are begging the audience to ditch when they’re “leaning forward” watching web content. Think Fawlty Towers, Basil-like speed. Take a 10 minute script and force it into 5 minutes. Then the pregnant pauses will have ball-busting impact. The first 10 seconds must grab them, and suck them in. Hold onto their attention like they’re an over-caffeinated Chihuahua with ADHD. Because we, I mean “they,” are.
  2. Hedge your bets and hyper-niche. Go for volume… lots of shows so many can fail. Fail, fail, fail. I’ve done it 800 times. A few stuck. More importantly, instead of marketing them widely appeal to audiences, focus on really niche audiences who will share them. For instance, a well-produced show about a restaurant staff will probably travel among those who are working (or have worked) at a restaurant… Go super narrow. You’ll need a rabid inner circle of fans to survive the next tip.
  3. BFF the ardent fans. Web series simply lack the personal interaction that is felt when someone watches a favorite vlogger talk to them, pull a stunt or even do a skit. The characters in web series often talk at each other, and forget me. Hey- I’m watching… are you an actor or a real person? So please add some interactivity via technology, but more importantly break the wall down between the actors and the hardcore fans. No I’m not talking about a f’ing scripted character Twitter profile. I’m not talking about interactive “chose your own adventure.” I’m talking about the actual actors (sorry- not the writers) engaging with the fans directly in comments. I promise you this: one personal touch between a creator/actor and a single audience member and you’ve got a loyal fan who will tell 21.2-52.7 people about the show. I promise.
  4. snake oil naltsSuffer through Routinely Popular Online-Video Personalities or YouTube Partners. I know it makes you insane to see amateurs gain huge audiences for videos that are significantly worse than yours. But endure it and learn from it. Watch the most popular people and daily videos and rather than groan, ask “what is this clown doing that we can replicate.” Be selective about what you mimic, of course, because most of my crap has no business on television. But a lot can be learned from watching what’s gathering a crowd today. Don’t get distracted by one-hit wonders… watch the people that keep an active fan base over time.
  5. Collaborate. Get the characters of a web series into other popular shows (and give prominent web personalities cameos). That’s how YouTube stars are discovered, and it’s how many classic television shows were spawned. iChannel did this with me, and The Retarded Policeman exploded when it started giving cameos to the most-subscribed talent on YouTube. I want to see someone from Glee show up in The Office… I’ll get chills.
  6. Drink Your Prune Juice. You’ve got to be regular. I’ve fallen recently on YouTube because I’m not posting videos as frequently. People gravitate toward content that has daily uploads… they build it into their day. If you can be predictable as posting at a specific hour, it’s even better. Remember when we’d all wait for ZeFrank to post? Yeah neither do I. Sorry but a week is simply too long for web series… daily is ideal and not more than 2 days.
  7. Persist. This is going to get a whole lot easier when we can conveniently stream web content from our televisions, and that’s happening as we speak. I believe this transition will remove the biggest barrier to serialized web content — because we have fundamentally different expectations of storytelling in various mediums. Soon our nightly ritual might be trading 30 minutes of television-viewing for 5 niche mini-shows. And if the people and stories of each episode cross over into another show… that’s drama, friends.

Now go print this out on your Ink Jet, and Scotch tape it to your wall or someone else’s. Because we both know that everything that happens to you in the next 6 months will make you forget this list.

How Much is that Viral Video in the Window?

(This is a guest column by Erik Bratt, director of marketing communications for ProQuo. ProQuo helps consumers eliminate junk mail, and recently hired xlntads.com.

(a new-media promotion firm with whom I work occasionally) to solicit quality video entries that help ProQuo describe its value proposition in unique and entertaining ways.

Can you really buy a viral video?

by Erik Bratt, ProQuot
Conventional wisdom says no. By its very definition, a viral video is something that can’t be bought or made, forced or manipulated. A viral video – a viral anything – just ‘happens,’ striking some type of cultural nerve that prompts people to send it around.

Levi’s ad, levi ads doing model flips featuring male models doing back-flips (literally) into their jeans. The video, which racked nearly 4 million views on YouTube alone last time I checked, never mentions Levi by name, but it wasn’t hard to guess the driving force (Male models? Jeans?). I offer a more modest case in point: Our own video contest. Eager to spread the word about our service for stopping junk mail and managing catalogs (plug: www.proquo.com), we decided to launch a viral video contest earlier this spring in hopes of creating momentum for our free offering.

To get this done, we partnered with XLNTAds.com, a Philadelphia-based company that facilitates a community of 5,000 eager and talented semi-professional videographers. This was our first good decision. XLNTAds.com knows how to run a contest, and their members are fired up about creating great content. We were also fortune to have great subject matter – who can’t work with junk mail as topic? The contest rules were simple: keep it clean, make it funny, and focus on junk mail, not ProQuo. Because we are not as big of a brand as Levi, we also asked that they at least include our URL somewhere in their video.

The carrot? $1,500 for each of the top 10 videos. The contest “assignment” was posted on April 1. One month later we had more than 160 entries. Deciding on the top 10 videos was not easy, requiring several viewing sessions and at least one company viewing party (with blind voting). We finally picked our 10 winners and created a special page for visitors to interact with them: www.proquo.com/videocontest.

So, we had our funny videos, but what about the viral part? Instead of scrambling to post these videos ourselves, or buying space on different networks, we worked with XLNTAds.com to provide incentives to the winning creators to ‘viral-ize’ the videos on their own. We offered a tiered award structure for the creators who had the most number of views across multiple video platforms.

For the money, this was our second good decision.

We’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of places our videos have popped up – on dozens of different video platforms, in blogs, and on web sites. At last count, we had more than 160K views on just those 10 videos (many of the runner-ups also got posted). We never could have achieved that many views on our own without paying for placements

So did we succeed in creating or buying a viral video? Not really.

We didn’t get on the front of YouTube (which requires at least 50K views) or any other video platform. We didn’t pop up in tens of thousands of emails within the span of few days saying, ‘dude, check this video out!”

What we did accomplish was to generate a large number of video views, as well as traffic and registrations to our site (made trackable from URLs placed high up in some of the video descriptions). We also provided entertaining content for our site visitors and registered users, whom we encouraged to help rate the videos

Another bonus was our engagement with the videographers themselves. We were touched by the effort that so many people and their friends put into the videos. In the end, that type of engagement and goodwill may be worth more than any viral video.

Editorial note (back to Nalts): This is a good case study, and shows a few key points: 

  • ProQuo could have tried doing this itself, but it would have been far more expensive and out of its core competency.
  • The value to ProQuo is being assessed comprehensively- as opposed to the views and clicks.
  • By leveraging xlntads creators with built audiences, Proquo had a way to reach far more potential consumers than they could have ever reached on its own.
  • Finally- with time, someone searching Proquo will find these creative executions instead of a video blog by someone who wasn’t keen on the offering. So for search engines alone, it might be justified.

Thanks, Erik, for sharing your story!