It’s all too easy for perfectly well made branded video content to get lost and overlooked amongst the 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute (we’re not exaggerating here either – that’s over 100 minutes every second!). As managing director of a video content agency, I’ve seen too many examples of perfectly well made brand videos ending up as orphan content, lost and neglected in this sea of content.
Avoiding this unfortunate fate requires capturing the attentions of the people that have the potential to influence others and this in turn requires a careful and considered seeding strategy.
What is Video Content Seeding?
Video seeding is different from video promotion or video activation in that it is far more laser like in its focus and targeting. The key to understanding video seeding is to appreciate how networks of influencers work. The influencer is key to seeding video content effectively and building genuine social buzz. By picking particular websites, blogs or individuals you are able to ‘seed’ your content with those who aren’t just likely to share it but likely to share it with the right people.
Video seeding requires a good deal of understanding about your target market and the social spaces that your desired audience frequent. Unlike blanket promotion, which aims to get your video in front of as many people as possible with the hope that a large enough percentage will like and share your content, seeding looks to secure advocates that act as conduits of your video promotion. Deciding who these influencers are and how to reach out to them is the next step in the video content seeding process.
Choosing where to seed your video content comes from experience of your target market and this in turn comes off the back of market research and genuine social media engagement. The influencers worth their salt will often get bombarded with a ton of offers to share and promote content, some of which may be from your competitors. Whilst you can always offer influencers something in return for their advocacy, whether it be sharing or commenting on their content or hard cash, this can quickly become either very time consuming or very expensive.
The trick to good outreach is that there isn’t really a quick win. It really does all come down to building genuine relationships and this takes time and energy and a good deal of reciprocity. Sharing one piece of content from an influencer won’t make them a lifelong brand advocate, but demonstrating a genuine interest in what they have to say over the long run may well do. Nothing is guaranteed and you could spend a year or more trying to get an influencer to share your content to no avail. Persevere though, because the value of creating genuine relationships with influential bloggers and social media mavens is worth its weight in gold, believe me.
The potential for any given seed to bloom into a wave of social buzz and brand advocacy is all about reach. It’s important to look beyond the influencer’s friend / followers to second and third degree networks. A given influencer may have ten thousand Facebook followers but if these followers rarely share content outside this network then your video’s viral potential is essentially capped. Understanding the propensity for second and third degree networks to share content beyond the initial influencer community requires a good degree of measurement and monitoring but it is essential to effective video seeding.
Video Seeding and Bloggers
So far we’ve talked about social reach but blogs are fundamental to the video content seeding process. Whilst social media will act as one of the main conduits through which your content will get shared, it is through the websites and blogs of influencers that your content will gain a lot of traction organically. This is because influential bloggers tend to have loyal readerships that discover their content outside of social channels. That is to say they click on their website and receive regular updates to new content (via RSS feeds or other means). Many of these blogs are syndicated by other blogs as well, further increasing their reach and influence.
Blogger outreach is part and parcel of video seeding and should be considered as complimentary and interconnected with your social media outreach efforts. One of the most successful video seeding campaigns of recent years was Ford’s 2009 campaign in which the company reached out to 100 video bloggers and gave them a Ford Fiesta to drive for 6 months. During this time the vloggers documented their experiences and shared them via their vlogs and social media feeds. The results helped Ford target a younger demographic and generate 50,000 sales leads.
Stacking the Odds in your Favour
Seeding content isn’t a case of just idly hitting up your portfolio of influential contacts and bloggers each every time you make a video. As well as nurturing the relationships you have already, you need to be constantly looking at exploring and developing new relationships by building on those you already have. You also need to appreciate that not every piece of video content you put out will appeal to every blogger and influencer, so it pays to be selective.
There are a ton of other things you can do to stack the odds in your favour when it comes to getting enough traction for your video to gain enough momentum to build genuine buzz amongst your desired audience. Let’s look at some now.
- Selective content curation: I’ve talked already about the importance of investing time into relationship building if you are to develop a successful video seeding regime. One of the best and simplest ways to start this is to start curating the content of those influencers in your industry. You could also look to comment on this content and even link directly to it on your own website’s blog. Not only does selective content curation keep your own social feeds full of fresh and interesting content, it also paves the way for reaching out to influencers.
- Optimisation and Video SEO: When it comes to videos that are looking to answer common questions, address common issues or offer up specific advice, it’s likely that people are already searching for these things in Google or YouTube. Optimising your YouTube videos properly will help you get discovered by those who may have never heard of you.
- Email marketing: Emailing a link to your existing marketing contacts via email certainly isn’t a silver bullet when it comes to video seeding but it may lead to some exposure amongst groups of individuals who you aren’t necessarily connected to on social media. Try experimenting with different email formats to see what works best, or embed your latest brand video at the bottom of all your marketing emails as standard.
- Social bookmarking: Sites like Reddit, Stumbleupon and Digg can be very useful for drawing attention to your content but they come with a warning. Blanket exposure to your videos on some of these sites (Reddit is a case in point) can lead to a backlash if users think you are overtly promoting your brand. Make sure you know your audience and make sure your content is offering them something of value.
- Website placement: A real no brainer but it’s amazing how many companies still don’t use feature their video content on their own websites. You don’t need to host the content yourself as embedding YouTube content is easy to do and will still have the desired effect of helping you rank your site in search and keeping viewers on page for longer.
- Make your content easy to share: If you are to effectively seed video content then it helps to make it as easy as possible for all those influencers and gregarious social butterflies to share your content. This means including share buttons for all major social feeds, including email and RSS. It also means including YouTube embed code so bloggers can easily embed your content on their blogs.
- Blogger outreach: Getting your content shared by the biggest influencers in your industry isn’t going to happen overnight. Seeding content involves starting at the bottom when it comes to creating an impact amongst the big players. There are tons of business and niche industry focused sites out there so try approaching them to write guest content in an effort to get yourself on the radars of the movers and shakers in your industry. Editorial rules depending, this will also allow you to embed your content in guest articles on other blogs yourself, further helping your exposure.
- Advertising and paid promotion: Paid promotion is an essential pillar in the content seeding process. Although it sits outside of many of the organic methods we’ve discussed here, it does offer you the opportunity to supercharge your content’s reach and get it in front of the people who count. If you have a very sparse social following, then paid promotion can also temporarily bypass the long process of growing a large and relevant social following and get you on people’s radars fast. Just remember it’s no substitute for genuine influencer outreach and social media engagement.