Tips for Creating a Successful Video Program
A “viral” video has the ability to launch a brand from obscurity into a household name overnight. Yet with so much competition in the marketplace for consumers’ eyeballs — 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute — it's unlikely that one of your company's videos will ever go viral. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
In a presentation yesterday at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, Steven Leeds, senior vice president of marketing at Systemax, a B-to-B retailer of consumer electronics and computer-related accessories, discussed how video can be used to create brand awareness, acquire customers and drive sales.
Leeds spoke from personal experience. He previously worked as a writer for the comedy video website Funny or Die, and helped create a video for TigerDirect (formerly a Systemax brand) that went viral, with 30 million views to date. (See the video below.) Looking to create awareness of the TigerDirect brand, Leeds took a week's worth of budget allocated to newspaper advertising and funneled it to a video project. He hired Rhett & Link, an internet comedy duo, to star in and produce the video.
The results of the video surpassed Leeds’ wildest expectations. The video, which cost $50,000 to produce, generated 800,000 visits to a special landing page that TigerDirect created for the campaign. The video has now been viewed over 30 million times, generating a CPM of $1.46.
YouTube is Where You Want to Be
There are multiple platforms that brands can post their videos to — e.g., Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook — but according to Leeds, there's only where you really need to be: YouTube. YouTube's search capabilities differentiate it from other video hosting platforms, he said. In fact, it's now the second largest search engine, with 3 million searches per month.
With that in mind, Leeds offered four tips to the audience on how they can improve their search rankings on YouTube:
- It's OK to get carried away with video titles. Hyperbole is your best friend here, Leeds said. Was TigerDirect's viral video really an “Epic Rap Battle,” Leeds asked the audience. No, it was more like a really good rap battle, but the over-the-top title helped gain consumers’ attention.
- Drive up views through a variety of promotional efforts. Promote your video on your homepage and social channels, and ask your partners to promote it as well (e.g., suppliers whose products are featured in the video). Leeds noted that Rhett & Link already had a built-in audience of 1 million followers when it produced the Epic Rap Battle video for TigerDirect.
- Create a video description that summarizes the video and contains keywords that will be searched on. Consider the descriptions to be like meta tags for your videos, much in the same way you have meta tags for your web pages.
- Include a call to action at the end of your videos. You want viewers to respond and give feedback on your videos, said Leeds. At the end of each of your videos, ask viewers to like, comment or subscribe to your channel.
Why People Share
To have a video go viral, people need to share it with their friends and families, who in turn share it with their friends and families, and the cycle continues. Leeds listed four reasons why people might share a video: innovation; inspiration; incentive; and emotion. He cited Lexus’ hoverboard video as a prime example of innovation; WestJet's Christmas Miracle videos for inspiration; Doritos’ Create Your Own Super Bowl video contest for incentive (the winner received a $1 million prize); and Dollar Shave Club's “Our Blades Are F***ing Great” video for emotion.
Video Creation, Takeaway Tips
There are three primary ways that retailers are creating videos: in-house, user-generated from customers and influencer-generated (like what TigerDirect did with Rhett & Link). As for distribution of video content, Leeds cited three companies to consider: Maker Studios, Machinima, CDS.
Leeds wrapped up his presentation with a couple tips for the audience as they look to get started with video or improve upon what they're already doing:
- Don't bother with pre-roll. It doesn't work, Leeds stated. He said it analogous to being invited to someone's house for dinner and then being sold something when you arrive.
- The shorter the video the better. Your goal should be to keep videos to a minute or less, Leeds advised. Videos should not go over three minutes, he added.
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Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.