Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Even Your Father is on YouTube

Are you thinking about different ways to build demand for your products or services or just to attract more people to your website or blog?

I've been reading a few articles lately about how some user-generated content ad campaigns such as the one that Dove ran called Dove Cream Oil Body Wash Ad Contest "failed" as it wasn't well received by the YouTube community. YouTube vlogger oneparkave (AKA Shmuel Tennenhaus) mentioned that the ad only received a 1 star rating out of 3 million views and received some extremely negative comments on YouTube. Shmuel argued that Dove angered the entire YouTube community as YouTubers perceived the video as self-serving for Dove and not adding to the YouTube community.

I was pondering this over a late afternoon coffee when I received a link to a video recorded in 1991 that featured my dad. It turns out that someone had recorded a speaking engagement in which my father had introduced the main speaker. Besides the fact that I saw a video of my dad when he still had some colour in his hair, the interesting thing is that the link was from YouTube! I could not believe that my father had a video on YouTube before I did and I'm the one that watched YouTube all of the time. What does this all mean? It means that YouTube is much more then just a community in itself as Shmuel perceived it. As a blogger and a marketer, you need to look at YouTube in a broader context.

YouTube is another way of Building Demand

Where Shmuel is incorrect about Dove's "failure" is that many people may not be aware that YouTube is the platform that is hosting the video. My father sure wasn't. A friend of his who did a Google search came back with this video in the search results. My dad has since emailed the link to anyone he has ever known with an email address. If I ask my dad what YouTube is, I'm 99% sure he won't know what it is. In this case, it didn't matter that the platform was YouTube.

In Dove's case, YouTube acted as a platform for people to post commercials that they created (like this interesting one). YouTube also assisted Dove spread the word about this campaign as those who made commercials could send them to friends and family. Studies including this recent one have demonstrated time and again it's those closest to you that influence your buying habits.

Yes, there will always be those who react negatively when marketing is encroaching on something like YouTube as parts of the YouTube community perceive YouTube as a platform for user-generated content only that is not sponsored by a corporation. Guess what Shmuel and the rest of you 'Tubers - get over yourselves. Marketers must think beyond the YouTube community and see YouTube for what it really is - another channel to help spread the word about your product or service to your target market. You may receive some negative feedback if you open up comments (which you generally should) but if you're up front about what your campaign is all about you're not doing anything wrong. It's the YouTube community that must accept that YouTube is now being used as a marketing tool. Bloggers have accepted this and even embraced companies that have started blogging. It's only when businesses deceive the public that things go terribly wrong.

There will always be those that leave negative feedback on either on YouTube, blogs, forums or websites just because they want to "stick it to the man". These are typically comments that don't really have much substance but they react negatively to businesses in general. As marketers, you need to way the odds of losing some control over your brand as you will typically succeed if you execute your YouTube (or any user-generated content) campaign successfully. Typically, these detractors are not your target market anyways so don't worry too much about them. I would recommend responding to these comments though in a generic sort of way - don't just turn off comments on a blog.

How Can I get Started Using YouTube?

One of the main advantages as we saw with my father's example above is that YouTube can assist your company as a means to increase your prevalence in search results for your company. You can use YouTube as another channel like a blog or email to get your name out there and increase your staying power. Do you have a demo or you did your company recently speak at a conference? Post it on YouTube! Here's another great idea - if your company does speaking engagements or puts on events, record the testimonials from the event and post them on YouTube. Here is an example from a recent Marketing Effectiveness Summit. It's really that simple. If you're a blogger, why not do a 1 minute intro video about yourself and your blog and post it on YouTube? It's that simple.

Remember - always think of your target market and don't get too distracted by those who don't really care about your product or service (or blog) as your not trying to market to them in the first place. In addition, if you do get some negative exposure, it may help build even greater demand as you get some additional viral effects that money couldn't pay for. Look at Cisco who is suing Apple over the use of the name IPhone. Even if Apple loses the suite they win as the publicity that is archived and the sympathy that Apple will attain from the law suite is even more valuable.

Here's a video on how to use YouTube (notice the subtle way that this person uses markets himself with this helpful video)

Chad H.

PS - Look beyond YouTube to other video hosting platforms such as Google Video
PPS - It was really great to know that I have a video of my dad that I can now watch. Video really has an amazing impact
PPS - here are some other posts on YouTube:

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