Here at Seedwell we search for ways to cultivate a better understanding of viral media (“what is viral?”, “isn’t it all luck?”, “isn’t it just 13 year old boys?”, “why should brands care?”). Last night we co-hosted a conference with our friends at Portal-A in San Francisco featuring a panel of some accomplished industry professionals with a goal of talking it out (Maggie Finch, CEO King of Web; Chris Schrieber, Director of Marketing Sharethrough; Blake Cahill, President Banyan Branch; George Strompolos, CEO Fullscreen; David Prager Co-Founder Revision3). With the help of an engaging audience, we had a lively evening of discussion, drinks, and of course videos, exploring the evolution of viral video since keyboard cat and discussing brands can leverage the under-used medium. Enough talk, here are some concrete tips that came out of the evening.
Tip #1: The 48 Hour Rule
It’s important to drive as much traffic as possible to your video during the first 48 hours after it’s been released. For example, if you can get ~50,000 views in the first two days on YouTube, you will almost ensure placement on one of the “Most Popular” lists within YouTube, a strategy that can boost the video’s natural search traffic.
Tip #2: YouTube Stars For Talent & Distro
One of the most sure-fire strategies for reaching a wide audience on YouTube is to release the video on a channel with a large amount of subscribers. By casting a “YouTube Star” (i.e. a YouTube content partner with more than 100k subscribers who frequently pots videos to the site), you can ensure a baseline audience of their subscribers. One caveat here is making sure that the demographic you are trying to reach matches up with the audience of the YouTube star you have chosen.
Tip #3: Optimize Your YouTube Metadata
Remember that YouTube users are often perusing thousands of videos looking for the one they want to watch. Here are some ways to catch their attention:
-Use a thumbnail that is visually interesting and/or provocative.
-Create a title that promises action, or fits into a current meme. When in doubt, use superlatives.
-Tage your video with popular search terms and current memes related to you content.
Tip #4: Serialize and Annotate
If you can come up with an idea thats funny and attention-grabbing, consider creating a series of related clips rather than a single video. By giving your viewers the option to watch more than one of your videos in a sitting, you have the opportunity to increase your view counts across all of them and thus your reach on YouTube. You can also use annotation links to drive traffic between videos in a series.
Tip #5: Target A Niche
There are many reasons that people share videos with their friends, but one of them is that the content re-affirms, their bond with a niche community – San Francisco Giants Fans, Tech geeks, food snobs. Think about your audience and what niche they inhabit. What inside jokes do they share? What type of content do they typically enjoy? Where do they congregate online? The answer to these questions will help form both your content production and your distribution strategy.