Shashi Bellamkonda is Chief Marketing Officer at Surefire Local, a Tysons, Va.-based provider of local marketing technology & services for successful remodelers and home improvement contractors. Shashi is also adjunct faculty of the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies.

Making Your Video Go Viral

February 07, 2017
Go Granny video

Opening screen of 2011 Network Solutions "Go Granny" video

Watching the ads on the night of the SuperBowl LI, I was feeling the pain—and the exhilaration—of the business owners and marketing folks who must have worked very hard for over a year for this 30-second, $5 million moment when their ad  was presented to over the more than 111 million people watching the game.

It brought back memories. In 2011, I was part of a team that released a video called “Go Granny” on the Friday before SuperBowl XLV. Even though it was released on social media only, the video got over 60,000 views on one weekend, and generated a 500% increase in traffic to our website and a proportional increase in purchases. Fast-forward to last weekend’s Superbowl ad for 84 Lumber which, according to an article in the Washington Post, got “300,000 website views within minutes of the commercial airing and 6 million attempts in the first hour, which slowed access to the video” and “3.4M combined views on YouTube.”  

Although the scale of the response differs, both videos owe their success to the strategy and planning that went into the campaigns. As a business owner, you want to get your video in front of as many eyeballs as possible, even though your budget is not in the scale of a SuperBowl ad. Here are ten steps that worked for me and, it seems, for 84 Lumber.

Step 1: Decide on your objectives

  • Creating awareness and promoting your remodeling business
  • Media attention
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • Increased leads and sales
  • Employee recruitment

Step 2: Identify your audience

Who are you trying to reach, where are they, and what do they respond to? Timing is critical to the success of your release—when are you most likely to grab their attention?

Step 3: Plan your production

  • Look at and learn from videos that have been a hit—AdvertisingAge has a good list
  • Are you capable of producing the video in-house or do you need to find a vendor?
  • Brainstorm themes and stories that match your objective
  • Try 3 different stories and present them to a focus group (your crew will do in a pinch) to decide on the winning story
  • You can even try to shoot a video with your smartphone, but for most businesses we advise a professional video shoot to make sure your brand and work is represented well.

Step 4: Upload to YouTube

  • YouTube is the Second largest search engine after Google
  • Embed the YouTube link into a blog post on your website or on a dedicated landing page
  • When uploading, add your brand name and relevant tags about the subject of the video
  • Be direct with the title for search purposes
  • Search similar videos on YouTube and add a comment letting them know about your video
  • Engage and respond to people who comment (positive and negative) on your video

Step 5: Have a Facebook Campaign Strategy

  • Facebook videos get attention from your audience on that platform.
  • Create an early buzz by posting teasers and social media updates on the topic of your video
  • Upload the video to your company Facebook page
  • Post from personal pages to increase reach (employees can help a lot)
  • Link to other relevant Facebook pages
  • Promote the post on Facebook and set a Facebook ad campaign for the video
  • Facebook ads can be specifically targeted also (even directly to the fans of competitors pages)

Step 5: Social Media Sharing

  • Share on your company Twitter account
  • Encourage employees to share via their personal social media
  • Share the video link from your website to Pinterest
  • Add the video as an update on your LinkedIn company page 
  • Add the video link to your Linkedin Profile. You can do this be editing your profile and clicking on the option to add a video or link next to your title/position 

Step 6: Create a Google Adwords/YouTube Video Campaign

  • Creating a Google ad campaign will expand your reach to thousands of additional, hard-to-reach, light TV viewers who prefer watching their video content on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. 
  • Use TrueView video ads so that you will pay for only engaged viewers, such as thosewho watch at least 30 seconds of your content
  • Laser target your videos to any audience in the Google Network using Keywords, Demographics, Affinity Groups, Shopping Behavior, Remarketing lists, and more!

Step 7: Community & Industry Influencers

  • Work within your community to reach out for assistance. Advise your network ahead of time that you are working on something big! Remind them when your video releases
  • Interact directly with these influencers through Twitter to help create a buzz
  • Consider an outside PR company that can expand this reach to specific online influencers

Step 8: Create a Specific Email Marketing Campaign

  • Send notice of the video release as a special update to your current distribution list
  • Include a link to the video in your next newsletter and share some of its successes
  • If you have a large company, share the video with your employees initially through email
  • Have your team add a link to the video in their email signature, and encourage this company-wide

Step 9: Prepare for a Crisis or Controversy

  • Accept that you can’t please everybody—consider all possible negative feedback ahead of time
  • Prepare various responses to possible concerns and tailor the reply for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs, mainstream media, and email
  • Create talking points you can use should you receive phone calls or meet people in person

Step 10: Post-Release Promotion

  • Send a press release
  • Create a post and share results
  • Send a thank you email to everyone who worked on the project
  • Submit your video to industry award contests

Lessons learned from my experience

  • The biggest win is from your community, who will support you very well. That‘s why it is very important to create and be part of a community before you need them
  • Prepare for budget overruns or unforeseen expenses
  • Keep the video short and have a call to action that directs them to a short url on your website
  • A PR outreach was key to our success to reach influencers who created a lot of buzz for us
  • We had a great story and we were prepared for any controversy

It is a visual world, and video plays an increasing large role in it. You should think about your video strategy and let us know if you have additional tips that we can share with the community. Please comment here or email shashi@surefiresocial.com
 

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