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Create an Active Video Audience for Your Brand

Create an Active Video Audience for Your Brand Keith Richman

Video campaigns are a powerful tool to engage audiences, reach new consumers and generate grassroots buzz about your brand or product. Numerous campaigns -- the bride freak out, Doritos Super Bowl contest and Elf Yourself -- have become pop culture phenomena.

These successes demonstrate the power of great viral campaigns and their potential to build strong brand affinity. Yet for every wildly successful campaign, there are scores of almost great campaigns or ones that utterly fail to capture the video community’s attention, much less land a "Today Show" guest spot.

As the CEO of one of the leading independent video sharing communities, I’ve come to understand one big truth: The vast majority of viral video viewers are passive.

Check out the following six tips to help your brand transform this passive audience into active and engaged content creators.

Author notes: Keith Richman is chief executive officer for Break.com. Read full bio.

Cash prizes for contests seem impressive, but creators aren’t always motivated by money. Sometimes it’s bragging rights to something they couldn’t attain by any other means that will motivate them to pick up a camera. The key is to know your audience and match the prize to their hopes and dreams.
If the target is avid gamers, make the prize an avatar in the next "World of Warcraft" or "Guitar Hero" game. This is something they couldn’t attain by any other means.
It’s been written about endlessly, but the Dorritos Superbowl campaign offered the ultimate Wonka prize. What creator doesn’t dream of having an ad run during the Superbowl? That is cool.

Don’t measure the success of your campaign by entries alone. If you can get 300 people inspired to submit a video, it is a successful contest. Judge your success by the fact that your 300 entries may have received 1 million views or more! This passive audience is actually engaged in the process. They will share your video, make comments and rate the video. These usage figures should be included when you evaluate the success of a campaign.

Remember that even the most ardent video viewers are passive, even offline. Forty million people watch "American Idol" each week, but only a fraction of the viewers actually audition (some who clearly should be dissuaded), and even fewer vote on their favorite singer. But the show remains one of the most popular series of all time.

Video sites get millions of visitors a day, but in general people just want to be entertained. They don’t come to the site because they want to do something.

Yes, there is an active community of users who want to participate by submitting content, but the pool of people who participate by viewing and commenting is much larger. The brand is still exposed!

Great campaigns offer creative freedom. Structure your campaign with guidelines that don’t stifle creativity by being overly specific. Most people will shy away from things that are too targeted. If your criteria is too narrow, you may be disappointed by the results. People want to discover and share that unique voice, perspective or view. Too much of the same thing isn’t good.

Mentos Geyser video campaign, inspired by the infamous Eepybird Diet Coke/Mentos viral video, is a great example of offering guidelines and tools but letting people get creative within a theme.

Mentos wanted consumers to show the brand what happens when you drop Mentos into a 2-litre bottle of soda. Mentos said it was insane but encouraged people to find safe and creative ways to demonstrate the results. While everyone knew what the outcome of each video would be -- Mentos would make the soda explode -- the situations were highly original and generated a lot of pass-around videos to friends.

Don’t be the 20th campaign running that month in your chosen video community partner. Find a partner that is running no more than five upload promotions so that your campaign will not get lost in the mix

Ask the site to promote your campaign on the upload pages, not just in banners or on the front page. You only arrive on those pages when you are actively submitting content, so it’s a great targeted area to reach existing and active content creators.

Ask the site to feature the winners of your promotion. The winner will receive additional recognition, which they will appreciate, and more users will be exposed to your brand.

Successful campaigns understand their target audience and work in an integrated fashion with the appropriate video site to create that connection. YouTube is a powerful video community that gets millions of views each day from a very wide demographic. If "everybody" is not your intended audience, you’ll have more success working with a more niche community. You can even build your own and tie in a video site.

A great example of a successful campaign using this wide demographic approach is Ogilvy & Mather's Dove "The Campaign for Real Beauty," which won the 2006 Grand EFFIE Award.

"Evolution," a one-minute short film to support the Dove Self Esteem Fund got people talking from the get-go. The video shows a woman transformed, through makeup, lighting and airbrushing, from ordinary to perfect. Bloggers are talking about it, which is always a good sign, and it appeared on national television.

Some think it's overdone, others think it's right on target. We think that the traction it has gotten in the interactive space makes it worth seeing, and worth learning from.

Keith Richman, a recognized industry leader and successful entrepreneur, is chief executive officer for Break Media, the Internet´s premier community for men. Keith is responsible for providing the company´s overall strategic direction and...

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