How to seed your video
You’ve created some great video content. Congratulations!
But now the hard work begins. You need to seed your video to make sure people see it, but how do you go about it without spending a fortune? You need help but it’s confusing which channel to use, how to promote your content and most importantly knowing whether you’re reaching your audience or just some spam-bot out in cyberspace.
Many people still believe that if they put their video out there and it’s good it will naturally attract a large viewership, but sadly this just isn’t the case. Back in 2012 we used to tell people that the chance of their video getting more than 10,000 views organically (that’s with no paid advertising) was about 10,000 to 1. That situation has got a lot worse for marketers. According to Youtube, over 100 hours of video is uploaded to their platform EVERY MINUTE. So that’s 6000 minutes of content uploaded every minute that ticks by. If you want to stand out from the crowd you need to promote your content and we’re going to show you how.
Don’t panic we’re here to help. Here are our top tips and tricks from years of experience.
1. Choose your platform(s)
There are several platforms for video, all with their advantages and disadvantages. Unless you have an infinite advertising budget you should consider which is best suited to your needs:
Youtube is the largest video platform on the web. It’s a social network in it’s own right with the ability for people to find your content through youtube.com. They can subscribe, share and comment all within the Youtube portal and perhaps most tellingly, Youtube is the second biggest search engine by volume after Google.com.
If you want your content to be shared, seen and viewed for free (organic) then Youtube is essential. It’s important that you set your channel up correctly including:
- Setting up the short name of your channel e.g. http://www.youtube.com/thecreativegrid
- Watermarking – an icon that appears over your content which users can click on to subscribe
- Adding <2 minute videos to Youtube’s advertising inventory. This acts as free advertising when Youtube runs low on paid inventory
- Adding your social networks
- Pre-roll – you can add a pre-roll to all your videos which can be useful for new campaigns.
- Embed your Youtube videos on your website. This will improve SEO for your website providing you’ve verified your site within Google Webmaster Tools.
There are some limitations to Youtube. Most notably you can’t add a link to a video that takes users away from the Youtube environment e.g. to your website. You can only link to other Youtube videos and encourage people to subscribe. Once they’ve subscriber however, depending on their settings they will receive an email when you publish a new email. This is free marketing.
There are some downsides to Youtube. The biggest is that you can’t easily replace a video with a new version. Let’s say you’ve had 40,000 views for your marketing video (paid or organic) and then your branding changes you have a stark choice. Start again with a new video or suck it up and leave the existing video on your playlist.
Vimeo is used by filmmakers primarily. We love it, but not for reasons that marketers will value. Vimeo is much “truer” to the colour correction work that we’ve put in on your video. Youtube’s codec can interfere and so the result can be different to what we see in our editing software. We can replace a video if there is an updated version and Vimeo has better branding options so that when you embed a video you can watermark it with your logo.
There is a thriving community on Vimeo, but it tends to be animators, filmmakers and creatives. If they are your target market then Vimeo is the place to be, otherwise it’s no where near as social as Youtube and does nothing for your SEO on Google.com
You might be slightly surprised to see Facebook on here. For years it’s been pretty poor at supporting video, but in January 2015 Facebook announced a new video advertising capability and a renewed focus on video.
You have to upload your videos natively to get the best from the social network. You will notice that your video will be seen by more people, that it will play natively in their newsfeed and that you can link to your website using the “Learn more” option. If you simply link to a Youtube or Vimeo video you won’t have these options so our advice for Facebook is to upload natively, order your videos into a neat little playlist and use all of the free options available to you.
Whilst the video advertising capability is new you will also get more views per $1 spent. As the platform matures the value of advertising will decrease so it’s worth trying Facebook out early.
Vine & Instagram
Vine (owned by Twitter) and Instagram (owned by Facebook) are shorter forms of video, six and fifteen seconds respectively. This can be great for promoting your film shoot or showing behind the scenes footage. You could also use both platforms to create shorter content to support your campaign.
Vine is useful because it plays natively in a user’s Twitter feed whereas Instagram will appear as a URL which a user will need to click on (typically they don’t which is why this is valuable).
Instagram has 300 million users (as of Jan 2015) and is growing fast. It’s a great visual social network which may lend itself to your brand.
The point of both platforms is that they’re based on a mobile app which makes it easier to create content quickly, if not as professionally.
We’ve used Vine as a dedicated platform to engage fans of Liverpool Football Club and Carlsberg. You can read more about that project here.
Of course there’s nothing to stop you putting your content on more than one platform, but our advice is to pick one or two and measure the results. See which one works for you better than the others and understand why.
You may think “yeah, yeah” but most brands don’t measure the impact of their campaigns. They’ll use a subjective “how I feel as the marketing guy” approach which is unfortunate because all of these platforms tell you how you’re performing if they are configured in the right way.
- If you’re using Google Analytics set up a goal that relates to someone watching your video and then converting to clicking through to your website
- Set up alerts and reports so that you know week-by-week how many people have watched your video
- Which videos do users seem to prefer?
- Where is the traffic coming from to the video?
- How long are they watching your video before they click off? On average people will drop off somewhere between a minute and 90 seconds.
- How many subscribers have you added this week? What steps can you take to increase this?
If you measure how your videos are performing it makes it easier to assess where and when you should put some paid advertising behind your high performing videos.
3. Annotate & Cross Promote
Each platform has it’s own peculiarities when it comes to annotating your videos. Youtube is the most advanced and it allows you to add pop up boxes and links to other videos (within Youtube) during the video. You can also add subtitles and a watermark which allows people to subscribe. The only downside is that you can’t direct traffic off Youtube.
With all channels though, it’s about using the full range of social media networks to your best advantage. If you’re publishing a 15 second video on Instagram you can auto-tweet from within the app. Use hashtags that other people will discover and that might help a few more people find your channel.
Embedding your content on your website also increases the views and whilst we agree that engagement is about finding the right viewers, not any viewer, there is no doubt that your potential customers look at the number of views a video has before deciding to click “play”.
Digital PR, blogging and email distribution fit within this section. They’re all useful ways of getting your content out there, but be realistic. Sending an email to 1000 people might result in 200 of them opening your email and just 20 clicking on the link to view the video. It’s worth doing, but in reality none of these methods will sky-rocket your video into the stratosphere on Youtube.
At the end of your video you can also link to other videos on your channel. You need to tell your video editor that you want to do this and decide on a clear call to action. Here’s a great example from a video we worked on for Pepsi Max.
4. Paid promotion
The most important thing you can do for your videos is to give them a boost. If we told you that some of the brand videos we’ve worked on that have millions of views probably paid for over 90% of their views on Youtube you might be surprised. Advertising online is not a dirty word, but marketers need to realise that without a little cash injection their videos will not be seen.
For the majority this is where the real video seeding will take place so here are some tips:
- Set a realistic budget. Even $100 per video can make a big difference
- Make sure you’ve run through our checklists above to get the most out of organic promotion
- Pick the videos that will make a big difference
- Is your call to action clear? Have you exhausted every opportunity to get a viewer to subscribe to your channel?
- Who is your audience? Views does not equal subscribers or people who will act and buy your product or subscribe to your service. Most ad platforms have a tool for assessing how far your ad spend will reach that you can configure. Youtube has a great tool for working out who to show the ad to, based on their demographic, where they live and even their interests. Facebook has this too.
- How much are you spending per day and over what period of time? Don’t leave it too late to think about this, because buying ALL of the views you want on one day is expensive and in some cases not feasible. You want to capture people as subscribers when they are in the mood for your product or service. That means your targeting should be precise, but be patient about how long you can wait to target the right people.
In future blog posts we’ll delve into some examples of video seeding for our own videos, but if you have more questions about this or any other topic on our blog please ask us using the comments section below.