May 15 2008

Leveraging Free Web Video Services to Spread Your Marketing Message

Published by Loren at 7:51 pm under Web Video

Note: A hearty welcome to the members of the Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs Meetup! This post’s raison d’etre was my participation as an expert on web video at the “Ask The Experts” panel for the Meetup on May 15th, 2008. I would recommend any entrepreneurial types in the Atlanta area to attend this Meetup, the networking opportunities are enormous.

Introduction

By now, you’ve probably watched hundreds of videos on YouTube. You might even have an account with YouTube to help you organize your favorite videos for posterity, or for participating in the community. If you’re tired of adhering to television’s strict schedules and spotty on-demand coverage (like me), you may also be watching your favorite television on the internet through sites like Hulu.com.

So, given these things, video on the internet must have finally arrived, right?

Wrong! But we are starting to see the beginnings of what it will turn into. It isn’t that the TV or YouTube models are wrong, per se, they just aren’t finished growing into the Web. Humanity has MUCH more diverse needs for video than the ones served by these approaches, and the Web knows it (much as it slowly comes to know pretty much everything.)

Today, I’m going to explore a few of the new Web services out there (as well as techniques for some older ones) that are pushing this envelope. As always, I’ll be speaking with an eye towards leveraging these platforms to spread your brand, which can be anything: your startup, your cause, your organization, even your face. So what services am I talking about?

Here’s the table of contents:

We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started…

Tracking Your Viewers and Maximizing Exposure With YouTube

YouTube.com did an amazing thing by leveling the playing field for video on the Web. It is now trivial for anyone to create and share videos across the Web, a huge component of which is linking to or embedding video on blogs, social networks, and the like (and I’m going to assume you know how to do these things already.)

But as marketers, we like to be able to track our visitors, and all of this embedding and linking to YouTube means we aren’t in control of the content we post there. Or are we?

Enter YouTube Insight. Launched in late March this year, Insight is like Analytics Light for video. It breaks down the viewers of your videos by lots of interesting metrics, so you can tell in which countries you are most popular, or on what search terms your video is showing up (searches on Google or YouTube.) There’s potential here to do some traditional keyword research and targeting (which many of you will already be familiar with.)

Here’s the overview video from YouTube:

“But how do I target keywords? ” I hear you ask. “Google can’t understand video yet, can it?”

No, not yet. But you DO have a description and tags at your disposal. To me, it is really sad how few people take the time to fill out the description. Believe me it is worth it, even if you aren’t engaging in exhaustive keyword research! I’ve had my videos embedded by spiders just by mentioning key phrases in the description, like “Amazon Kindle” (don’t laugh, this was my first web video.)

A couple of quick tips (i consider them best-practices): Always make a link to your own website the very first thing in your description. Most of the content will appear “below the fold” as it were, because users will have to click “More Info” to see anything beyond the first few dozen characters, and you want as many people exposed to your link as possible. Also, getting your link on-screen during the video is wise, if you can manage it. If you achieve that, then embedders become your friend, because no matter where your video is viewed, your own website gets exposure.

(The embedding tips go for all video services.)

Lastly, tell all of your close friends/fans to rate all of your videos. I can’t prove that it helps you show up anywhere, but it would be hard to believe that Google isn’t using those ratings for SOME kind of relevance, probably in YouTube searches.

Technically, Google also allows people to create video responses, but they downplay this option, and its frankly rather clunky to use. If you’re interested in this type of interaction, then you should check out…

Seesmic: Bringing the Video Conversation to the World

Seesmic.com is a new startup from the prolific Loic Le Meur, a man who seems to have made it his personal goal to break down global boundaries and become friends with everyone (seriously, everyone.)

(Note: Seesmic is not officially “open” yet, but you can sign up for it via our video comments at the bottom of this post.)

The point of Seesmic is to make it trivial for anyone with a webcam and microphone (most modern laptops are perfect) to quickly record video and post it instantly (unlike YouTube, which has processing lag time built-in, even when you record via the Web.) Seesmic has a sizable community that spans the globe and is always lying in wait to respond to your posts, so you can literally fire off a video about whatever you are thinking right now and have a response from someone across the pond in minutes. Check out one of our first experiments with video conversation.

Here’s an interesting response from a complete stranger, posted mere minutes after our initial post:

Another really powerful possibility with Seesmic is the concept of an “all-video blog”, that is, a blog in which all posts are videos and all comments are videos. Seesmic has an amazing WordPress plugin (and now a Disqus plugin if you’re not on WordPress) which allows you to create video posts or leave video comments on the fly. It’s as easy as clicking “record”, leaving your message, previewing your message, and clicking “Publish Now” when you’re satisfied.

Again, Seesmic sets it live immediately, there’s no post-processing time involved.

I see this as a major first step to video becoming a first-class citizen of the Web, as a video-only blog seems much more compelling than all that text we constantly deal with. We will naturally tend towards throwing the keyboard away, as more and more people realize they can interact much more meaningfully (and easily) with video systems of this nature.

“But I don’t want to converse with people, I just want to broadcast live!” I hear some of you grumbling. Let’s look at some live video options…

Produce Live Television With Justin.tv

Justin.tv is one of a handfull of startups that are putting the power of live broadcasts in your hands, for free. You can sign up for an account quickly and easily, and from there it’s one more step to broadcasting live to as many people as you can convince to watch you.

Oftentimes, we will hesitate to post videos because we feel like they are not good enough, or there needs to be more polish. I think a lot of people share in this feeling. After all, we all want to leave a great impression on our viewers.

Being live changes all of that, because it changes expectations. When you broadcast live, it excites your users greatly, especially if they can interact with you. Of course, Justin.tv allows this interaction. There is a chatroom attached to your channel, so that you can host a kind of show for your viewers.

Here’s an example of someone playing GTA4 live (you can easily send different video sources to Justin.tv) while interacting with vitriolic viewers in his chatroom (and drinking and driving in the game):

We’ve considered doing a live show every day at a certain time, discussing web marketing and fielding web marketing questions from anyone who cares to join. It has Twitter integration, so you can let all of your followers know that you are live and increase your live viewership. It also allows you to record sessions and make them available to be viewed at any time.

If you were to utilize all of these things, you would almost certainly form up an audience after a couple of weeks. It may sound time-consuming, but really, what better way is there to build your brand than to involve your fans directly, daily? Biweekly or weekly would certainly work also, but the uptake would be commensurate with your frequency. The more often you post, the faster you get an audience who cares about you and comes back.

For those of you who prefer a little more power over the production quality (you want to embed logos, or put text on the screen, etc), I highly recommend the CamTwist software (Mac only.) Ed Dale is the master of utilizing all of these things. He uses his Thirty Day Challenge as an excuse to indulge in his technophilia, I think. (We here at Snowcap Labs highly recommend the Thirty Day Challenge to beginning web marketers.)

Here’s Episode 2 of Ed Dales Thirty Day Challenge Show. He’ll briefly discuss the technologies that he is using for your edification:

For those of you who want to be able to do live video without the need for your laptop, wifi access, and production software, there’s…

Live Video, On Location With Qik

Qik.com just had its alpha launch this past winter, and already I have seen such amazing things as foreign diplomats interviewed live at Davos by Robert Scoble and some of the first footage of the Tesla Roadster by Jason Calacanis.

Some Davos action:

And holy crap this car is fast:

How did they achieve these things? Well, aside from being prolific bloggers or self-made millionaires, all they needed was a certain phone, a nice data plan, and the wherewithal to go record something.

This service is not exactly free, I suppose, since you have to buy hardware and potentially change carriers. The Nokia N82 and N95 can use Qik, but Scoble tells me that the N95 is preferred for its 3G access (more bandwidth = better video.)

Sound easy? It is.

So who is this for? What kinds of brands can leverage this? Actually, I have a hard time thinking of brands that couldn’t leverage this:

Got a music blog? Broadcast from the next festival you go to.

Got a band? Broadcast from backstage or from the studio (everyone’s a groupie!)

Got a business blog? Broadcast from the next conference you go to.

Got a big, stuffy, corporate business that needs to look more human? Walk through the cubicle farm and ambush your most photogenic employees with a quick interview.

Got a cat or dog blog? Well, you probably don’t need any advice from me on how to follow your animals around taking annoying pictures, but now you can do it when you walk your dog in the park.

Like Justin.tv, you can embed your live channel on your blog, removing the need to visit someone else’s site for your content. Let’s take a music blog scenario for illustration:

You’ve got a music blog with your Qik channel embedded. You’re away at a your favorite yearly music festival, blogging it in the afternoons when you get access to the bloggers tent (or what have you.) Night falls, and your number one fan has gotten off of work and is now reading your coverage of the festival (a festival that he desperately wishes he could attend, if only he didn’t have that pesky day job!)

Now, your favorite band begins their set. You pull out your phone and begin to record. Suddenly, in your number one fan’s browser, your movie starts to play automatically…

“What!”, he thinks. “That’s Ultra Clown Jacuzzi Pop taking the stage! Holy crap, this is live!”

Now what is this fan going to do next? First of all, he’s going to link everyone he knows to your blog, instantly. Second of all, he’s going to come back again and again, whenever he thinks you’re going to broadcast.

Here’s Calacanis at Duran Duran (…i think?):

I just can’t imagine a better way to explode buzz around your brand, week after week (the frequency-to-uptake ratio holds, as with Justin.tv)

So What Are You Waiting For?

Aside from these, there are many other great video services and software out there that I haven’t covered, such as Vimeo for hi definition content (that you don’t want YouTube to mangle), or ScreenFlow (Leopard only) for creating super-pro screencasts. The best thing you can do is start using them!

It’s no secret that video is about to happen to the Web. I’ve even heard talk that the new face of huge corporations is going to be the video blog. So if you’ve often felt that you “missed the boat” on this whole World Wide Web thing, and have been wondering when there will ever be as much opportunity as there was in “the good old days”, I’m blogging to tell you that those days are still ahead of us.

What uses have you found for video on the Web? Would you like to see a more thorough treatment of any of these technologies, or others? Leave us a comment (preferably a video comment!) and we’ll work work to dig deeper and teach the techniques that YOU need to get your brand out there.

Thanks for reading and watching!

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2 Responses to “Leveraging Free Web Video Services to Spread Your Marketing Message”

  1. Loicon 15 May 2008 at 11:22 pm
  2. Kellyon 17 May 2008 at 4:45 am

    Veveo has launched a new mobile Web video service for Sony Ericsson customers called Vtap to provide access to over 150 million Web videos on the Internet.
    With the new offering, users can easily search, view and collect relevant and high quality Web videos from anywhere on the Internet, including popular sites like YouTube, DailyMotion, and MySpace , using their existing data services.

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