Most YouTube brand channels do need the support of paid media to break through. One of the most powerful examples in recent months of paid and earned media working in tandem is the Old Spice campaign of 2010 that launched with a TV ad buy and morphed into a YouTube and Twitter phenomenon.
That brings us to our second set of guidelines for maximizing YouTube opportunities.
A brand channel alone is not enough
The Old Spice campaign did not simply take off one day. The online videos were part of a con-certed media plan that began on TV and in movie theaters months before the Internet video push last summer. The same applies to the popular Evian Babies campaign, which was supported first by a paid media campaign to drive viewers to YouTube: Paid media -- whether TV, the web, or a YouTube ad buy itself -- can accelerate and amplify a YouTube brand channel. Phil Farhi, Senior Product Manager at YouTube, said: "You want some kind of paid media to support your campaign. The key is starting with an asset to have that acceleration." United Linen's Townsend also advocates linking videos on a Facebook page, Twitter account, and even cross-promoting the YouTube channel on business cards, billboards, newspaper ads, and radio ads too.
Make the videos feel YouTube-esque
Remember that YouTube is a place marketers can drive viewers to from other platforms, like TV, Internet, or radio for instance. "Let's say there is a great Coca-Cola ad on TV, but I can't tune to the Coca-Cola guide on Comcast and watch more Coca-Cola commercials. But now there is a chance to interact with that, discover more videos. YouTube allows for a longer conversation and a deeper conversation," Farhi said. But that conversation must also be different than what's on TV, and that's why brands should focus on developing videos for YouTube that look and feel like content. Toyota found success with its Swagger Wagon campaign not just because of the paid media support behind that, but because those videos relied on a style of content that had already become popular on YouTube -- musical video parodies.
Make a video that speaks to the YouTube ethos, audience, and expectations. Smaller brands can do this as well. Orabrush is a toothbrush maker that struggled to gain WalMart and Target distri-bution, but then created a YouTube series featuring a guy dressed up as a giant tongue. Those videos became popular because they were in the vein of the fun, spoofy YouTube vibe, Farhi said.
Play around with interactivity
There are many ways to use interactive tools on YouTube. These range from high-end ad innova-tions down to annotations. Dreamworks created a series of videos with Po the Panda fighting the screen to support the release of Kung Fu Panda 2, while Lionsgate and Millenium Films tested out an ad for The Expendables that showed star Sylvester Stallone appearing to blow up the screen during a film interview. While these for-mats may be cost prohibitive for smaller brands, Farhi suggests marketers try out simple interac-tive tool such as annotations to create choose your own adventure series, or to link videos together.
Feed the beast
Individual YouTube stars like iJustine and Michael Buckley have grown their audiences by post-ing videos regularly, interacting through comments, answering questions in vlogs, and so on. Be sure to follow their example and engage with your audience and supply them with regular videos.
Tap into your community
Old Spice invited fans and influencers to participate in its video campaign last year by posing questions for its star Isaiah Mustafa to answer in additional videos. Look for ways you can engage with your community to make them feel part of the process and conversation. "A lot of these things don't necessarily require a high cost of production," Farhi said.
"Research of online video, especially in reference to other predominant advertising media, has only recently become available to YouTube-savvy marketers who can now take advantage of tools that will link online viewing behavior to online and offline purchases, search behavior, TV viewing habits, social media sentiment tracking, and key brand health measures," Tilsner said. Once you have the brand channel and have marketed it properly, be sure to see how you're doing. Find research, data, and tools to measure the performance. Assess what worked and didn't work and tweak the next campaign.
Daisy Whitney is a producer, on-air correspondent, podcaster, and expert in the new media business.
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