I was fortunate enough to spend the last few days at WPP's annual Stream Conference - which brings together some of the brightest minds from around the network in an unconference format to discuss the what's next in digital and technology communications.
Some of the best sessions I attended were the ones organized around lists - be it potential "truths" presented for discussion, or co-created outputs. One such session was The Myth of the Viral presented by YouTube.
“Viral success happens, but it doesn’t just ‘happen’”.
Myth 1: I don’t have to promote it
The most successful videos are rooted in smart creative and promotion. Videos need a robust syndication and promotion plan that incorporates elements such as video ads, brand integration on .coms, influencer outreach, and social networking plays.
I think this is the most frequently overlooked aspect of video - today YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the US, so the Field of Dreams approach to posting your content is definitely not enough. Any time you want scale in social (and who doesn't?!), a promotion plan - often rooted in paid media - is a must.
Myth 2: I can just put a video on YouTube and users will find it
Naming, tagging, and engaging content people spend time with all help you index on YouTube. To stand out you have to understand search terms that people use, and search optimize against those words.
Search is IT - for video and anything a brand puts on the web - 80% of web sessions start at a search engine, and 91% of Internet users search daily. Search intent modeling is now essential to everything from SEM/SEO to messaging to consumer behavior research to tagging.
Myth 3: Consumers don’t like branded content
Branding is ok if it’s tasteful and appropriate to the content – stripping the brand out, or having all UGC content is not necessary. Examples: Samsung Omnia i900 Unboxing, riffing on the unboxing video trend (3MM views), or my favorite Smirnoff Raw Tea Partay (5MM views).
Consumers are accustomed to contextually appropriate branding - as long as your adding value (humor, knowledge, exclusivity...) you can "get away" with branding that delivers on your messaging in a subtle way.
Myth 4: It’s not just about one video
Come up with ideas that people can replicate easily, so that viewers feel empowered to create additional content in response to the original piece. If you’re smart, you can build an ecosystem around your content.
This was a really smart point - think of things like the Cadbury Gorilla, which spawned so many spinoffs that Cadbury at one point set up a shadow site to house them. Imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Myth 5: Being in control is a good thing
Take advantage of your accidental spokespeople who are creating content without the brands “permissions." For example, McDonald’s has leveraged a UGC McNuggets rap in advertising, and UK’s Cillit took advantage of a popular UGC techno remix of one of their commercials. Another common YouTube fear is the inane comments that are often left on videos, the discussion group felt that brands need to have tolerance for the YouTube community and the good/bad comments – and be confident that silly or unnecessarily disparaging remarks are often shouted down.
Ahhhh, control! The age old question. One of the best arguments against leaving your head in the sand is that, in many cases, consumers are *already* appropriating your brand in some way. Listening to the conversation gives you more control and a platform to start a dialogue that could be leveraged proactively or reactively in the future. One of the best examples of nimbly reacting to video content was how Chris Brown and Sony responded to the JK Wedding Dance video, in which a couple danced down the aisle to Brown's "Forever." Instead of wigging out, Sony Music used ContentID to claim the audio content and opted to put music purchase buttons next to the video and use YouTube insights to examine a new demographic and "come up with new distribution, sales and marketing ideas." Sales of the song jumped from 3,000 to 50,000 in one week in July.