A little video of a wedding entrance made a huge splash a couple weeks ago. You probably saw it. If not, you almost definitely heard about it. For their entrance, the wedding party eschewed the more traditional entrance and scampered down the church aisle in various hip hop dance styles to a Chris Brown song named "Forever.” They were all pretty good dancers, too, except for one or two poor souls in the group.
The crowd loved it—you could tell they didn't know it was coming. America loved it even more. As of August 6th, 2009, the video has been viewed 17,180,873 times.
Now, from an SEO and online marketing perspective, there are a host of lessons to be learned from the story of this video:
Content Owners CAN make money with YouTube's ad system.
Google was the first to point out how well Christ Brown (or, better yet, his label) capitalized on the video's success. They're fantastic self-promoters.
YouTube actually has a pretty good system in place that alerts rights-holders whenever a video pops up that uses their copyrighted material. Typically, this results in a request to take the offending video down and YouTube removes it. In this case, some wise sage in Chris Brown's camp saw an opportunity, and decided not to have the video removed. Instead, they placed ads on it that gave viewers a chance to purchase the MP3 of the song from iTunes or Amazon.
Clever. And hugely successful. The song, originally released in April of 2008, climbed to #4 on the iTunes singles chart.
The lesson is that there's money to be made using YouTube's "Click-to-Buy" advertising system… lots of it. I tire of reading articles about how much money Google's losing on YouTube. Look, they either don't care, or they have plans they just haven't shared with us yet (I'm voting on the latter). This is a clear example of how their ad system might start turning a profit for them.
Also, you don't go spending $100 Million on video compression companies if you're not intending for your video arm to start bringing bacon, but I'll have to speak to that more in another post.
Average Joe Citizen does basic SEO without even knowing it
A simple search on YouTube for "JK Wedding" returns nearly 800 results, most of which were uploaded after the original video's success. There's even a JK Divorce Entrance spoof that went up mere days after the original video's success.
I tell clients all the time that "SEO is really just about common sense. Sure, there may be some coding and technical knowledge involved, but the root concept is just regular old common sense.” I may never have had as great case study to illustrate that point as this. People hoping to capitalize on the original video's success are naturally including some core keywords and phrases in their titles, tags, and descriptions—most of them not even aware that there's an entire industry called SEO. They're just doing what comes naturally. They say to themselves, "Well, I want some of the people searching for and enjoying that video to see mine too, so I'll use similar wording on my title and description.”
I have this recurring conversation with my mother. It's a bit of an Abbot & Costello routine that goes something like this:
Mother: What exactly is SEO anyway?
Me: Well, let's say you started a new website, and you wanted people to be able to find it on Google. Wouldn't it make sense to use words on your website that you think people on Google will search for?
Mother: Yes. That makes sense.
Me: That's SEO.
Mother: Don't people know to do that anyway?
Me: You'd be surprised.
Mother: And you get paid for this? Even a 5th-grader would know to do that.
Me: I love you too, Mom.
Okay, so I'm oversimplifying SEO when I explain it to her, but you get the idea. Regular old non-SEO people grasp the basics of SEO long before they even know it exists—well, except for my mother.
Honestly, it's a wonder we still have to spend so much time educating clients before we sell them our services.
National morning news magazine shows are cutthroat jerks
So Good Morning America wanted to feature Jill and Kevin, and flew them out to New York and put them up in a swanky hotel… until they learned that Jill and Kevin had committed the unforgiveable sin of pre-taping a segment for another morning show (NBC's Today Show). The nerve!
You're not just skimming this article, are you? You actually read that sentence, right? Because it's kind of amazing. GMA put them out on the street for having talked to the Today Show. Give me a break.
Thankfully, the Today Show has better PR people than GMA does, and swooped in to save the day, putting the entire wedding party up in an even swankier hotel. So there! In your face, Diane Sawyer!
I think the morning shows need a lesson in the long-tail. They're chasing the short-term traffic and ignoring the long-term viewer. I work with a lot of small businesses, and they've mostly got this issue figured out: if you provide good service and products, people will stay customers for life. You can compromise on service in order to see a short-term boost, sure… but then you lose the long-term relationship with that customer.
The problem is that the morning shows are trying to boost ratings with their guests, instead of trying to deliver good content. It's really a short-term strategy, if you ask me.
Say I'm a housewife in Indiana (I am not), and I saw the video online. Then I see a commercial during Desperate Housewives (which I do not watch, I swear) for the GMA interview with Jill and Kevin. Normally I watch another morning program (again, I don't watch any morning programs), but because I love the video, I tune into GMA for the day.
GMA thinks they have gained viewers by exclusively having the bride and groom on. But the gain is largely temporary. Tomorrow, I'm going back to my other morning show.
So GMA completely bobbled the ball on that one. It became more important to them to trump a rival than to simply deliver stellar programming.
Jill & Kevin seem like really nice people
Aside from their fun and cheeky wedding entrance, which was charming in and of itself, the happy couple are well-spoken in interviews, and seem like genuinely nice people who got caught up in a very unexpected viral phenomenon.
They even put up a website. And they're using the site—and their 15 minutes of fame—to raise money for one of their favorite charities via donations. Seriously… in today's reality-show-fame culture, it's refreshing to see someone in the spotlight taking donations for charity instead of selling me t-shirts for profit. (Yes, they have Adsense running on the site, but probably only because they don't know how hard it is to make money from that system).
Those are just some of the many lessons we can glean from the wake of this gigantic story. Good luck to the bride and groom in their marriage. Good luck to GMA with their efforts not to be complete trolls. And good luck to you in your video, SEO, and online marketing endeavors.