Prior to coming to Big Fuel as a Content Director, I used to work on social video for two major brands, ESPN and Red Bull Media House. During my time there we used to push our video content online and hope that it would be pushed virally through SEO techniques, posting on Facebook pages and tweeting from various related accounts. We would also pitch our content to various other distributors who were hungry for our content and wanted to put it on their platforms to entertain their constituents and drive viewers/clicks.
I knew that if certain criteria was met then a video would go successful:
It contained an athlete or celebrity saying something controversial or socially trending at the time
It contained a great play or achievement that was now water cooler talk
It contained a fight or physical violence
It was funny and also included a celebrity/athlete
It received either website or linear support
I also made sure that these videos were less than 30 seconds each whenever possible. We called these videos “Essence Videos” and they gave people just enough, the essence of what they needed to feel a part of the conversation.
Not everything I put out did well, especially if it did not adhere to my five rules I laid out. Some videos languished while others brought in a modest 30-50K videos views. But my goal was always 100,000 or more. I was very ambitious. I did not fully grasp that getting these kind of numbers without additional pushes was almost impossible. I depended on other distributors to pick up our content and push it to their constituents who may not have been searching for ESPN or Red Bull. One thing I never considered, however was to actually purchase views to expand our reach. What did I need to do that for, I worked at two of the largest, most recognizable content brands in the United States. It was not until I started at a Big Fuel and worked on clients that were: 1. Not known for their content , 2. did not have natural linear platforms to push their content, and 3. did not have a celebrity spokesperson with a large social graph, did I realize the importance of paid media. This new found reality of limited platform access caused me to rethink the strategy of strictly organic social video growth. For those clients that have:
Compelling creative content that is linked to a music act or celebrity attachment that has a large social network
A linear platform associated with it that allows water cooler conversation to spark around it like an ESPN or The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live
A larger linear advertising budget that centers on a trailer or a short piece of shareable content surrounding the product
A large event budget that pushes a spectacular event like the Dove soap initiative., Red Bull Air Race or the launch of a Nike shoe (which also has the celebrity factor built in)
a paid media strategy may not be necessary. But for the remaining 95% of the brands out there a paid media strategy is something to consider. With the magnitude of content on the internet and social media channels, it is very hard to cut across the clutter. Especially those brands which do not have a natural connection to entertainment or have not cultivated a lifestyle brand. At the end of the day paid media can be used just to seed a video until it reaches critical mass and then can be shared more organically or used extensively to push out the message entirely. There are companies who are able to pinpont those people who maybe interested in the content you are peddling. The more you pay per viewer the more attuned these ads are. Companies like Stumbledupon, Grabnetworks and Adaptly allow companies to be more precise in the people they are trying to engage with. In the end these networks allow your branded content to be pushed and seen by a large group of people.
But if you are only interested in being totally USDA certified organic, I suggest adjusting your budget and spending the money you would have put into paid media into hiring that celebrity or music act to be a part of your content. It will probably be more expensive and cause more hassles along the way, but either way, you are going to pay for distribution.