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?

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)

How to Be Popular on Facebook

Trying to become more popular on Facebook, or promote your Facebook channel, brand or page?

This short “how-to” instructional video contains everything you need to know about having a robust, quality base of friends on Facebook and other forms of social media. It was created by the accomplished author of “The Stupidest Article on Social Media Ever” so you know it’s advice worth following.

The trick here is to be totally transparent about your intent (to make loads of friends), yet not appear desperate. Appearing desperate in social media, my friends, is a turn-off. Hold your head up high, and people will be attracted to your charisma, leadership and wisdom.

Done watching? Get your ass over to Facebook and “like” this damned page, then send a friend request to Kevin “Nalts” Nalty because there’s a friggin’ cap at 5,000.

The Marketeter’s Cheat Sheet to Viral Video

cheatYou’re running a brand that is trying to “dip your toe” into social media and online video, and you’re facing some important questions:

  • Is my brand right for this?
  • How can I experiment without ending up as a “case study” failure?
  • Can I convince my company that we should do this?
  • What are my options for developing compelling content and distributing it widely?

Here’s a quick guide that encompasses a lot of topics we’ve covered on this blog. It’s the “least a marketer or agency needs to know” about online video, and will give you a roadmap for a good program.

  1. Step 1: Determine if your brand is right for online video. Is your brand compelling and simple, or complex and direct-response oriented? If you’re a consumer-product goods (CPG), it’s a no-brainer. If you’re in a complex, crowded, regulated and boring industry, it’s going to be more difficult.
  2. Step 2: Keep it quiet. The more senior management and attorneys you bring into a pilot, the more internal battling you’ll do before experimenting. Get some “air cover” from an executive sponsor, and avoid excessive internal scrutiny.
  3. Step 3: Let go. Your marketing message is critical to you, but if your content is driven by an advertising objective it’s at risk of being a flop. If you want to go viral, you’ve got to entertain first and promote subtly. There are countless case studies on this, and it’s an inarguable fact. If you buy media, your ads can be boring. But if you expect people to share your video, it better be entertaining, provocative, sexy, funny, outrageous or at least interesting.
  4. Step 4: Develop a creative brief. Don’t make it too narrow, but give it some focus. If you ask people to make a funny video that includes your brand, you’ll get a lot of stuff that may or may not support your objective. But if you require creators to insert a series of “unique selling propositions” then you’ll end up with ads instead of entertaining videos. With my smaller clients, I develop the brief. Larger clients often already have one, and simply need ideas or video content.
  5. Step 5: Engage creators. You have four options here.
    • Option one, you can hire your agency to create video content. This gives you control, but most agencies (advertising, online, and public relations) lack experience in social media and online video in particular. I’ve found this to be extremely expensive, and often the agencies lack the expertise to make the videos “not suck” and get the videos widely viewed and “seeded” in the right places.
    • Option two, you can hire individual amateurs. This gives you access to people that know the medium and have established audiences. Some smaller brands (and larger ones) contract directly with people like me, InvisibleEngine, Rhett & Link and Barely Political (just a few creators that are interested in building entertaining, promotional content). This keeps things safer, but requires some oversight since you’ll need to interact individually with these companies or people.
    • Option three, you can run a big, public contest. These are still quite common, but rather expensive. You’ll spend a lot on media to promote the contest (money I’d prefer to see brands use to promote the brand itself). You’ll also get a lot of lame content, but hopefully a few winners.
    • Finally, you can contract with a third party that can represent a variety of proven creators. For example, a few large brands have contracted with Xlntads to help reach a collection of experienced amateur creators (note: I consult with Xlntads, and run its creative ad board). There are probably similar brand/creator models that offer this service, but I’m less familiar with them. I see this as an evolving industry that can either contract directly to brands or via agencies. For instance, Daily Motion has brokered between certain major advertisers in France, and works from the agency’s creative brief to identify, engage, pay and leverage the presence of appropriate creators that produce content on the site.
  6. Step 6: Get the videos seen. If you want to buy media, you can run your videos as advertisements on a variety of sites. The second and third tier video sites are especially receptive to giving prominence to promotional content in fairly inexpensive media buys. If your content is good enough, you can hope it will travel “viral” style: people will share it with friends, post it on their blogs, feature it on their websites. There are three magic tricks that make this work:
    • First, your content has to be good.
    • Second, it really helps to leverage the distribution and audience of known creators. If an amateur has a popular blog or YouTube channel, this gives you a much better chance of wide distribution.
    • Thirdly, you can “seed” it yourself or have the creators, third parties or agencies do it. This “seeding” involves reaching out to appropriate online properties, channels, discussions, forums and blogs. If it’s good content and you reach out to people politely your chances increase. I’ve seen bad videos that get lots of attention, and good videos that die. So this third step is non trivial and often overlooked.
  7. Step 7: Evaluate. Did the videos get lots of views and positive feedback? What did the comments say? Did people take a measurable action after watching the video? Keep your expectations in check: few marketing videos break into the millions of views, and very few of those viewers will take an immediate action (visiting your site, and making a purchase). These videos will, however, help your rankings via Google and other search engines. So maybe the next time a prospect is searching for your brand on Google, they’ll find your brand-friendly videos instead of a competitor’s content or disgruntled customer. This is a powerful and often overlooked outcome of a good video pilot.
  8. Step 8: Scale as Appropriate. Most online-video marketing projects are simple experiments to help brands learn and “test the waters,” and few have scaled radically. However some brands have been so excited about results with online video that they return annually with programs that are hard to miss.

With a few exceptions, I haven’t yet seen many online-video pilots driving significant, immediate sales for a brand. But I have seen online-video initiatives that have increased the awareness of the brand, and changed the attributes and preference of target consumers (as measured by awareness trackers). Most of my clients have enjoyed an online presence they wouldn’t have gotten on their own and found it a good investment. A few have confided that more people watched my stupid video than visited their big, bloated agency-developed website (which contained a variety of expensive videos they produced). It’s much easier to reach people on the highway of YouTube than to hope they’ll stop at the little rest stop you create (which is usually a huge expense and a “throw away” at the end of the project).

Other suggestions? Bring ’em on. This is a blog, for crying out loud.