December 18, 2007

Go Viral + a web video swarm

Camcorderinfo has a swarm of new posts on web video:
My favorite post of the bunch is How Video Goes Viral, since I enjoyed how Fox has been leveraging viral video to promote a fictional drink from a movie they wouldn't promote (see an earlier spin Idiocracy kool-aid -- red or blue?).

At a recent SF Cutters meeting, it was noted that much of the business of Phoenix Editorial has shifted to web video (especially HD). It seems that companies want to create video that can go viral, which would seem to be the art of astroturfing (as opposed to grassroots). And like the rest of the web, there are exploits to raise ratings (like on Viral Video Chart); see Blackhat Video SEO on Youtube - Boost Video Views for one example. Companies can also deflate as well as inflate; as noted by NPSC Blog: "Another blogger details how the San Francisco Chronicle uses software to continue to display deleted comments to the people who posted them, leaving them completely unaware that their views have been hidden from everyone else that visits the site. Subsequent commenters to the post then reveal that other sites are using similar techniques."

Camcorderinfo's How Video Goes Viral does note some tips on how to propel video into viral territory. These were summarized from an interview from a CNN video show below:

1. Keep the video short.
2. Design the video for remixing like “The Dramatic Hamster” to allow other viewers to customize it.
3. Don’t make the video an outright ad.
4. Make it shocking.
5. Share the video via social networks like MySpace and Facebook and through e-mail lists.

Dan Ackerman Greenberg, the same fellow interviewed by CNN, also posted a detailed article on TechCrunch last month. Here's a very short excerpt from the heavily-commented article, The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos:

"Over the past year, I have run clandestine marketing campaigns meant to ensure that promotional videos become truly viral, as these examples have become in the extreme. In this post, I will share some of the techniques I use to do my job: to get at least 100,000 people to watch my clients’ “viral” videos.

Secret #1: Not all viral videos are what they seem
2. Content is NOT King
3. Core Strategy: Getting onto the “Most Viewed” page
4. Title Optimization
5. Thumbnail Optimization
6. Commenting: Having a conversation with yourself
7. Releasing all videos simultaneously
8. Strategic Tagging: Leading viewers down the rabbit hole
9. Metrics/Tracking: How we measure effectiveness"

The comments on this article were quite lively, for example Fleet Street PR later presented a starker summary of some of Greenberg's
other tactics:
  • Using fake headlines
  • Paying bloggers to post the videos
  • Spamming forums on websites
  • Spamming peoples' comments on their MySpace pages
  • Spamming email lists
  • Fake comments by his company on videos to provoke controversy
Check out the ViralBlog and B2BbLead for more on viral marketing in general; they track leading viral companies like GoViral, ViralTracker, The Comotion Group, and Promote Socially. Also, Pam O'Neal Mickelson presents a sober overview and case study on viral marketing in a Vimeo video.

Update: of course marketing goes far beyond viral video -- behavioral targeting of ads and content is really still in its infancy. but still has attracted the attention of the FTC.

Update 2: one investor's alternative...Track your videos and stats properly using TubeMogul.

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