I saw a story coming out of SXSW over the weekend that featured Jeremy Sanchez of Global Strategies and Robert John Davies of Ogilvy, who ran a panel explaining that businesses looking to get into video shouldn't be aiming to become a viral sensation. And I smiled. This is something we have talked about at ReelSEO a lot. Yeah, I know, we like to talk about how a video got a colossabatrillion views and how everyone loves it, and you might be getting the wrong idea of what makes a success. So, inspired by the story from the weekend, I thought, "Let's discuss this and hammer it home some more."
Quality Views Are The Goal, Content Is Still King
I love the Rokenbok story that Greg Jarboe touched on a couple of months ago. Rokenbok Toy Company is a specialty store that was in danger of closing and turned to video for help. Now, you might wonder how Rokenbok got quality views that translated into sales. How did they target their audience? First, they got into the YouTube Promoted Video Ads, and then TrueView to control where those ads were seen. And then SEO came in. They put in keywords for their videos that related closely to what was already being watched by families online. This quote is especially illuminating:
[Paul] Eichen reveals, "What we have learned through our exit survey is that children who like to watch videos of construction equipment or machines were discovering our videos." The Rokenbok team implements keyword motifs like bulldozer, cement truck, trash truck and airplane— words they anticipate kids and families are searching for on YouTube — with their videos ad campaigns.
In other words, Rokenbok leveraged popular search terms and related them in a relevant way to their own video content. They mixed in with something awesome, like bulldozers doing their thing, and then showed toys that could do that very thing, at least in the imagination-filled world of a child.
Rokenbok's videos get around 200,000 views, which is a decent amount, above average, but they are getting people who would want their toys to watch. They don't even need as many views as they have to sell their toy sets. In our exploration of YouTube group product manager Baljeet Singh's YouTube myths, Singh mentions a channel called BBQ Guys, one that has a fairly low view count per each video but are successful selling grills, usually by cooking great dishes using their products.
Let's backtrack for a moment. I think the other message that somehow might get lost in this whole "doesn't have to be viral to be a success" adage is that well, we really don't need to worry about great content if it's not going to hit millions of views. That's not true at all. What debunking this myth requires is learning a simple truth: the content must be relevant to your product, the kind of content that people are actively looking for. You don't have to make it funny, or bizarre...just informative. And lots of times, informative turns into entertainment. It is especially entertaining to people who came looking for the kind of product you sell.
I think of this kind of analogy from Wayne's World 2:
You see all the people calmly enjoying themselves watching Kenny G while Garth equates it to dental surgery. While this is a funny moment in the movie that is poking fun at Kenny G, the message here is that someone like Kenny G isn't for everyone, but he is certainly for a lot of people. You cannot win over everybody. There's not one YouTube video with a good sampling of views that have a 100% "like" rate.
It recalls one of the myths Singh mentioned, that people are going to YouTube for entertainment only. No, they are also going to watch how-to videos. They want to learn something. And if you can put your product in one of those types of videos and direct it towards the right people, then you have unwittingly made an entertaining video. Sure, the Will It Blend? guy found viral attention with his videos and is reaping major rewards for it, but how many of the 13 million viewers of the "Will It Blend - iPad" video went out and bought a Blendtec blender after that? Probably quite a bit, but most of the 13 million just sat back and were entertained for a couple of minutes. Blendtec didn't need 13 million views, they just happened to get them through great content, shared by many.
I think another interesting thing brought up in the Sanchez/Davies panel is the often-suspect view counts that occur. I'm not talking about what Jeremy Scott wrote about a couple of weeks ago, where a guy obviously gamed the system to somehow find a million "empty" views for his stupid video. Although, I would say the techniques are closely related. The panel discussed a Liquid Plumr ad that looked like it had hit the goldmine of viral success, but analytics showed that the video only got to that point after an online media ad buy. I'm only assuming it's this one, which garnered nearly 2 million views since it premiered last month:
It's a good video, actually, but they had to spend money to find the views, and they weren't necessarily quality views. Not everybody has the money to spend to get their ad shown everywhere. Most businesses need to follow the steps of creating solid SEO and targeting an audience without superficially inflating the view count.
Those interested in what Sanchez and Davies said about skewing less viral should go here and read the overview of their steps to creating quality views. It's good information.