Monday, September 29, 2008

YouTube as Promotional Vehicle

(Top YouTube hit: The Evolution of Dance)

I believe that YouTube can be used to supplement an existing promotion for a campaign / idea / or organization. While YouTube can be a powerful element – it seems that it may be difficult to promote an idea using YouTube as the single vehicle. In other words, YouTube would make an excellent secondary promotional device. Despite its possible limitations, I do believe that YouTube is an excellent vehicle to reaching to specific audiences.

One of the main strengths of YouTube is the fact that it is easily transferrable to virtually anyone on the internet. In other words, by there not being a requirement to download anything – YouTube is a simple tool to connect to various publics. Furthermore, YouTube is one of the top media outlets for many individuals within Generation X and Y. What this means is that people within these generations frequent YouTube looking for various content which reflects their hobbies and interests.

Even though YouTube is popular among certain generations, I believe it could be perceived as intrusive or unprofessional by others. Some individuals may perceive YouTube as an unprofessional platform based on news stories, statistics, specific videos (which may or may not be representative of the entirety of YouTube), or unfamiliarity. Individuals who perceive YouTube as unprofessional may also connect that perception to their perception of the organization hosting a video on YouTube.

For example, let’s assume that Proctor and Gamble will run a grassroots viral-marketing campaign on YouTube. Within this hypothetical campaign, let’s assume that Proctor and Gamble prompts their viewers to make their own videos on how they use certain products (I.e. Tide detergent). At this point, any viewer on YouTube could upload their own video to YouTube as a response to this prompt. Sounds good. But, at this point any viewer could post virtually whatever they want- including things which may damage the reputation or image of our friends at P&G. For a real-time example of this situation see the latest post by Discovery Channel which highlights a prompt from the show, Mythbusters

Along with video responses – a company may also be weary of the posts and comments which are available on the YouTube. While the random vulgar or ridiculous comments may surface – the main concern with the comments section is to remain true to your audience. In other words – keep a consistent message to your public. Don’t contradict yourself. Don’t send mixed signals. Don’t lie. And don’t cover things up. Reason being (besides the ethical aspect) is that if the truth surfaces (which it most likely will) it will be communicated across the board in a matter of moments. So to a company I say this: there is no reason for concern unless you create one.

The primary audience on YouTube is aged 18-34 – with this in mind, it’s important to consider the proper way to construct a video message. The most popular vides on YouTube are those which implement a specific (yet dynamic over time) style of video editing and topic. Videos which include humor or an otherwise unique message usually surface at the top. In other words – those which inspire, entertain, or include an undeniable element of novelty will receive the multi-million clicks. Videos such as “The Evolution of Dance” (which, by the time of posting this, will most likely reach 100 million hits) include music and otherwise ridiculous elements favorable by an audience looking for an escape from the ordinary. YouTubers will reward the novel videos through permalinks and online discussion. Those which don’t appeal will simply fade out of the spotlight to become part of Youtube’s growing video archive. Simply put – in order to reach this audience, your video needs to be new. It needs to be fresh and exciting. Elements of music, funky editing, or groundbreaking ideas will separate it from the pack. But be prepared, as videos in the past have shown, hits may escalate from 1 to 1 million in a matter of hours. Make sure your message is ready for the masses. Even with how much we know today, it’s impossible to tell what “Evolution of Dance” will be tomorrow.

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