10 Commandments For YouTube Cause Marketing

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Busted: “Hacking Times Square With iPhone” Is Deceptive Film Promotion

Take it from the author of “Beyond Viral,” dear reader. Viral video is like fire. It can create a toasty fire or get people burned. Today we learned out the Times Square billboard hack video was part of the campaign for the film, Limitless.

The deception was the brainchild of the viral-video maker “ThinkModo,” according to the New York Times, who “outed” the stunt.

“We’re pushing the engagement of an idea which leads you then to the product,” ThinkModo’s James Perceley told the New York Times in his defense. “It just is a whole new mind-set where you don’t have to wrap everything up in a bow and if you don’t, people are going to be a lot more interested in you and what you’re selling and what your message is.”

We think otherwise. Calling it “engagement pushing” is simply misdirection. It’s unethical marketing that is deceptively disguised. The lack of transparency (of the film’s financial support of what appears to be a user-generated video) is reminiscent of the 1950 subliminal advertising, which sends “buying signals” to our subconscious without our executive-brain’s consent. This despicable tactic shows the seedy, desperate nature of marketers who don’t mind duping journalists, technical blogs, audiences and potential ticket buyers… all in the name of “engaging” audiences in immoral promotion of a film.

Techcrunch’s Michael Arrington is calling the campaign “a sad, desperate state of sensational adverting,” and apologized Sunday to TechCrunch readers. Arrington reports:

“We believed the video’s creators had indeed hacked Times Square’s billboards, and that it was a newsworthy event that would interest technical enthusiasts. Had we known that we were being duped into free advertising by ‘covert agents’ of the film’s promoters, we would not have run the article so prominently. TechCrunch urges its readers to boycot Limitless, and promises to apply more rigor in our future journalism”

The campaign for the “Limitless” film, staring Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper, includes other a misleading and deceptive practices including a Web commercial for NZT, a drug featured in the film. Apparently the term “Limitless” refers to the film’s marketing practices, and the complete “lack of limits” in scruples of desperate marketers.

While I do many sponsored videos, I always disclaim the brand or company that supports my videos. Can’t we expect the same from others?

Still reading?… Is this blog post and its facts and opinions actually real? No. But suppose after feeling outraged by this post (either in support or defiance of my point) you later found out that this faux WillVideoForFood post was simply a paid promotion for a new book called “Business Ethics: Decision Making for Personal Integrity & Social Responsibility” by Laura Hartman and Joseph DeJardins. In this hypothetical experiment, I’m asking you to pretend you later learned that my faux written tirade was, in fact, a ruse that omitted transparency about my financial compensation from McGraw Hill. Suspend belief momentarily, and imagine I didn’t “come clean,” but was “outed” by another blogger who reported that my post was simply a compensated, masqueraded promo for the book. Would you trust my reporting if you learned this post was a promotional gimmick? (It’s not).

Would you feel duped, or would you say, “hey that Nalts is pushing the engagement idea to cool new limits.” I’m just curious.

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

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

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

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

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

YouTube Marketing: Not Just for Greedy Corporate Peeps

Thanks to Think Media TV and Life in Student Ministry for reviewing my book, Beyond Viral, and how the tips can help non-profits, charities and ministries not just corporate promotions. It’s nice to hear how Sean and Tim (their YouTube accounts linked by name) are using my book for good not evil. 🙂

Click below image to hear what parts of the books they found useful for non-profits and faith-based education. I’m really excited to think about the book helping such worthy causes as the spiritual development of kids.

Thanks also to Buddha Charlie for documenting his purchase of the book!

Ministries use youtube promotion to help charities and non-profits

FREE “Cliff’s Notes” of My YouTube-Marketing Book

Beyond Viral: All the benefits of Ambien without side effects

So you’re too busy to buy a copy of my book (Beyond Viral), but maybe want a quick scan of the topics? Here are some of the key points addressed in each of the 18 chapters… these digital documents also identify the many experts who contributed to the book.

The cheat guide to Beyond Viral

From Daisy Whitney (This Week in Media), Mark Robertson (ReelSEO) and Ben Relles (Barely Political/Next New Netowkrs)… to  “YouTube Stars” like CharlesTrippy, VenetianPrincess, RhettandLink, ShayCarl, Mediocrefilms, and Daneboe/Annoying Orange. Thanks to all of you!

Here’s the Beyond Viral (www.beyondviral.com) on Scribd and Slideshare.

It’s called a “sneak preview,” but I hope you’ll read it and consider picking up the actual book. There was no way I could have summarized it in 5-20 pages because the book has loads of examples and details.

A Blog Post About Online Video & Biz… So Good I Should Plagiarize It

It’s been a very long time since I’ve discovered an article about online video that made me shout “Amen.” Courtesy of ReelSEO, here’s “Three Types of Online Video for Business.” I especially like this visual below (the chart not the head shot, mkay). It helps simplify the relationship between the location of a video and its intent  — whether it’s on a brand’s website to drive trial or increase purchase, or whether designed to drive awareness, trial or website visits.

daniel_sevitt sevitt sevvitOnly after I was done reading did I realize it was written by Daniel Sevitt — a WVFF reader/commenter who “discovered” me when he oversaw content at Metacafe, long before I had more than 100 YouTube subscribers. He liked my hippo and “annoy my son” videos there.

Sevitt is now with EyeView (check the blog) discovering that there was more to life than “unmanageable UGC, unimpressive CPM and unaccountable ROI.” Zoing!

I think when I plagiarize his article for my book I’ll turn this image into a funnel, where the “viral” content’s goal is to get someone to a website, and the video on the website is designed to convert them to a measurable action. Of course now that I’ve joked about this, Daniel, I’m going to have to spend five hours getting permission from you to satisfy Wiley requirements. 🙂

Online Video for Business: three types (Daniel Sevitt)Simply put, you want a lot of content on YouTube and other video-sharing sites to hedge your bets on search. Then ideally you’ve got a user path…

  1. We captivate them with a funny or engaging video (or via a known weblebrity).
  2. We invite them to take an action (usually a site visit unless the ad is dynamic). Maybe 1-5 percent will do so.
  3. We convert some portion from grazers to customers (on website or with some lead-generation CRM tool).
  4. I’m not sure I’d invest much into loyalty, but I’m a jaded product director who found that (despite conventional wisdom) it’s sometimes easier to find new customers than bend the loyalty curve of the tiny base of customers that would be prone to loyalty-inducing video content. We could debate this over a beer or five.

I’d provide two additional thoughts I don’t think Daniel would dispute.

  1. I might even suggest that many sales can be consummated without dragging someone to a bloated product.com website. How many products are in your house? Good- have you been to any of the products’ websites?
  2. Although it’s ideal for businesses to create custom video content for various audiences and locations (online-video websites, blogs, product.com, or internal use), it’s a bigger crime to NOT post anything on YouTube or other popular sites.

It makes me crazy that brands have loads of engaging, informative, persuasive content… sitting in file cabinets or agency eRooms. Meh.

While you’re trying to find a way to engage audiences in entertaining ways, at least post your promotional or educational content on YouTube (provided it’s not archaic or horrible). If for no other reason this helps your search-engine performance (yeah, um, don’t sit on your ass hoping Google spiders will find some Quicktime video buried on your website).

Ideally your video is related to the search terms (which will tell you if a customer is exploring a category or ready to buy) or customized to a site’s context. But better something decent than nothing at all. Chances are your video won’t get a lot of “viral” views, but you want your message served upon Google and YouTube search results… not your competitors or a sour customer.

Why YouTube Beats Twitter and Facebook for Marketing

I’m so tired of the hype around Twitter and Facebook for marketing, and I recently wrote a satire of the whole social-media racket. Here’s why I like YouTube better for marketers and advertisers, and I’ll end with an example.

  • It’s the second largest search engine
  • You get an assload of data on the video’s performance (see “more” below).
  • People notice ads because they’re in a passive viewing state, rather than a dialogue with friends
  • The messages are more visceral in video (versus text)
  • You’ve got a chance at being seen- organically and via paid media
  • You can control your message

Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter are quite popular, but where does a brand play? Do people really want to “friend” a brand? Maybe if it’s one they already love, but that’s not a good customer acquisition play… just a retention complement.

Twitter is good for content providers, stars, and bloggers… but there’s not a good advertising play. The spam I get saying “earn 87.00 per tweet” is nonsense. I’d unfollow someone that was whoring regularly,  and 140 characters is too limited for most brand messaging. More importantly, your “tweet” has a shelf life of about 10 minutes, and there’s nobody that can tell you how many people even SAW your tweet. Then it’s virtually gone. YouTube videos have a residual value because people can continue to find them, and the view counter speaks for itself.

Should you advertise on Facebook? I guess, but I don’t know of many brands getting a great engagement rate on Facebook ads… maybe a bit more targeted, but ads are as ignored as most banners on websites. And what brand or company has valuable information it can dole out via Facebook messages intravenously?

The bottom line is that Facebook and Twitter are conversations between people, and advertising is an interruption. YouTube is somewhere you go regularly to graze, and a visceral ad will catch your attention if the video is boring. Promotion within a video (sponsorship) are much better because they’re contextually relevant, entertaining and there’s an implied endorsement. And, as you’ll see if you hit “more” below, there’s a wealth of data on its performance.

Let’s “bring this home” with an example. On a per-impression basis, these two promotions probably cost the advertiser about the same…

  1. First we have a random ad I discovered on one of my infrequent visits to Facebook.
  2. Next we have my most-recent sponsored video on YouTube (it’s at about 50,000 views and is one of the most popular videos of the day). It’s a sponsored promotion for Fox Broadcasting’s “Glee,” that I did via Hitviews. Click “more” below to see the data associated with it.

Which one would compel you?

Boring Facebook Ad
Boring Facebook Ad

Continue reading “Why YouTube Beats Twitter and Facebook for Marketing”

Amateur YouTuber Does Integrated Promotion for Take180. Too Bad Site Flounders Technically.

Another popular YouTube artist has been tapped for a comprehensive promotion that involves a sponsored video, significant promotion on the client’s website, and even online-media ads promoting the YouTuber. Kelly, the shoe-loving persona of Liam Kyle Sullivan, posted a recent video interviewing her Aunt Sarah (another Sullivan persona). The video mentions Take180, a website where viewers interact with serial web shows and compete in challenges to develop plots.

As a raving fan of Kelly, I was stopped right in my tracks. When I later saw a display ad for Take180 (featuring Kelly), I was quick to visit, register and even TRY entering a contest (more on that in a minute).

This is a great use of a known Internet icon to promote an unknown website. The promotion wasn’t just a YouTube video promoting a sponsor, but a full partnership that’s the web’s equivalent of William Shatner and Priceline. Kelly fit the persona of Take180, and they’ve embraced her on their site and in digital promotions. This is a win-win since many of us wouldn’t have looked at Take180 without her endorsement, and Kelly’s getting some exposure to people that may not know her yet.

I would expect Liam took a modest stock grant as well as a decent paycheck for his participation. We can’t have Kelly pimping any old website and becoming the Internet’s version of Ed McMahon, can we?

Now the bad news (see clarification post 24 hours later). The site is a technical disaster. It didn’t know I had confirmed my e-mail address until I logged out and in again. It logged me off without explanation. The interface was graphic heavy and non-intuitive. Worse of all, when I tried to upload a video (I had shot, edited, titled and scored… it rejected each format). Will I be back again? Not likely.

It’s usually the other way around. Great technology with lousy marketing. In this case, it may be time Kelly took those technical Betches outside and showed their ass the back of her heel.

Readers Digest Saved Me from Video Drought

Readers Digest and I have had a long history together…

  • We’ve spent many hours together (often on the loo, but that may be TMI).
  • I used to explain that I subscribed to the mini magazine because I wanted to monitor the pharmaceutical advertising (it’s my day job… I gotta know who’s advertising). The truth is I like the jokes and cartoons. Forbes and Managed Care magazine don’t exactly wake me up.
  • One year my mother-in-law got me a subscription! That’s love.
  • When my grandmother was alive, I sent her a large-print subscription. Years later after she died, Reader’s Digest sent a letter with the following on the direct-mail solicitation: “Granny Hanemann… we miss you.” My mom thought it was cute, because she missed her mom too. Decades later I still have it.
  • I attended a meeting at my day job a few months ago, and met one of the smartest direct-mail data analysts I’ve seen. He was from Reader’s Digest, but resigned a couple weeks ago and went to a competitor. Bummer.
  • I once sent a “life in a day” kinda story to the editors about my wife meeting Harry Connick, Jr. You see, Jo was a big fan, and when I saw Harry (a classmate of mine at Jesuit) outside a New Orleans diner, I asked if he’d pose in a picture with Jo as a surprise. He politely refused, and Jo overheard that and was indignant. “I can’t believe that man wouldn’t take our picture,” she said. I told her to look more closely at the guy, and explained that I was trying to take her picture with Harry Connick, Jr. Anyway, the Reader’s Digest editors called me and verified the story, but never ran it as far as I know… I could’ve used the cash too.

Well you can imagine how excited I was last month when I heard they wanted a Nalts video. Great timing since I’m on video 700, and “running shy of ideas” (hah). Readers Digest online is packed full of stories that make for good parody. We shot a few extras that didn’t make this cut, but they were a bit corny and made the video drag. I dig when a client sees value in brevity.

So here’s the video. I’m glad we got it launched while Sarah Palin and her lipstick pitbull gags are still topical. Ultimately it seems people were less interested in me riding a child’s bike, being terrified by a turtle, and trying to put makeup on the neigbors’ pit bull… and more interested with my wife and her freakishly perfect teeth. 🙂

A big thanks to those of you who have already made “Out of Video Ideas” the top #6 rated comedy of the day and #39th of the week on YouTube! That really helps assure advertisers that they can brand and still create fun content! I tried something new by launching it at night (I usually post in the morning), and it’s encouraging to see 7,000 people watched it as I slept).

Online-Video Ad Spend: Optimistic But Still “Sculpting Fog”

Don’t get depressed about the economy folks. Even wrecklessly stupid brands are squeezing old-media spending in favor of paid search, targeted interactive advertising, and … yes… even online video.

Marketing and advertising spend on online video has a good future. Even though it’s a small sliver of online spending and difficult to measure (slicing fog), Uncle Nalts has some ideas for the industry that can help. I’ve even numbered them below, but let’s look at the problem first.

Today’s eMarketer reports that LiveRail (LiveRail is a video ad server, so take this with a grain of salt) estimates 2010 at $1.4 billion, up from a 2008 spend of about $619 million. eMarketer is a bit more conservative (and recently downgraded its forecast), but may not be counting special programs… for instance, it’s hard to measure sponsorships that are unique to a creator or a website. Nonetheless, most agree that online-video represents just 2% of online spending, which is asburdly low. It reminds me of how slow media buyers were to capitalize on paid search in the early 2000s. I need to say that again. It reminds me of how slow media buyers were to capitalize on paid search in the early 2000s.

Daisy Whitney wrote a nice article summarizing the issues with measuring the online-video advertising. Uncle Nalts spoke to Whitney, but she had tossed her phone in the bathtub before he got his points across… Whitney reports that IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau – see its blog) likes its methodolgy for capturing spending.  IAB measures “digital video commercials” or “TV-like advertisements” that appear before, during or after a variety of content, but not brand integration. “We believe we are capturing the biggest part of a growing market,” said David Doty, senior VP, thought leadership and marketing, at IAB.

Clients for whom Nalts has done promotional videos, or consultingI couldn’t disagree more. By IAB’s definition, I make zero income on online-video advertising. That’s because my YouTube Partner revenue is based on “InVideo” ads that presumably don’t meet IAB’s definition. And certainly the low income CPM-based “display creative” around my videos is not captured in that spend. But as grateful as I am about YouTube sharing advertising revenue, I make far more money through custom videos (aka sponsored videos).

What are sponsored videos? See this page for examples of entertaining videos that have subtle brand messages. My fellow creators do more subtle “product placement” for money, but I haven’t messed with that yet because I fear backlash if I’m not transparent. And I don’t want someone thinking I’m getting paid by Coke if I take a swig in a video. Even though I totally would if my friend Mike at Coke Interactive would throw be a friggin’ bone.

So what do we need to spur further uptake in online-video advertising?

  1. Measure it more precisely to help brands understand how to allocate their spend, and increase online-video advertising from 2% to something closer to 10%.
  2. Conduct more studies that show video advertising works — even if it’s surrounding (gasp) amateur or consumer-generated content.
  3. Encourage experimental marketers who are not only open to new channels, but pressure agencies to identify creative options so they’re not lost in the clutter.
  4. Reward agencies for exploring new vehicles to reach target consumers when they’re engaged in their experience (and not brain dead on the couch). The inventory is there, folks, but we’re not going to solve the problem by hiring stupid CPM media buyers that are recently graduated, hungover and trying to find a new boyfriend.