Viral marketing: a video seeding strategy study

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Getting your video content seen by the right people is not simply a matter of creating and publishing. It is also about connecting with the right people that can help your content reach your target market. In this article we’ll look at Ford’s video seeding strategy in particular.

A study from UC Davis Graduate School of Management into viral marketing offers some interesting insights into what it takes to create that all important buzz around your content.

The report highlighted the importance of selecting the right ‘seeds’ in order to get your video shared. In fact, choosing the right people to seed your video is supposedly more important than the quality of the video itself. This is why a video seeding strategy is incredibly important.

Choosing the right seeds

The study was designed to help companies use online campaigns for a better return on investment (ROI). It noted: “seeding information in social media outlets through handpicked agents is now becoming a common strategy in buzz marketing campaigns”. It is becoming common because it works.

Choosing the right seeds for a campaign is about more than how many friends or followers the seed has. It is about looking at the quality of those relationships. Who are their friends? Who are their friend’s friends? What is their position in the network?

Ford Fiesta case study

Ford’s famous buzz marketing campaign is quoted in the study. Ford carefully selected 100 seeds (influential video bloggers) and gave them one of their new Fiesta’s to drive around for six months. In return, the video bloggers would record and document their experiences with the car via social media channels.

The impact for Ford? 6,000 car reservations, 6.2 million views on YouTube, 750,000 Flickr views and 4 million Twitter impressions (all in less than a year).

The importance of second and third degree contacts

The study included another element of research which is very revealing.

The researcher, Hema Yoganarasimhan, looked at 1,939 videos that were uploaded to YouTube in November 2007. Out of those 1,939 videos, more than 1,800 were posted by authors who listed their social media contacts or ‘friends’.She then visited the pages of these friends and obtained a list of their friends. For each video, she reconstructed the social network of the author up to two hops.

Then she monitored these videos daily for views, ratings, comments, sharing and other relevant statistics.

YouTube was selected as a good platform for the study because of the integration of social media and video sharing.

It is pointed out that a close-knit community may be committed and loyal to a regular dispenser of quality information, but that community may generate low video popularity in the long term. The reason for this is that close-knit communities don’t always interact much with outsiders, which means fewer interactions with second or third-degree contacts.

It is these second and third degree friends who are essential for the ‘viral’ spread of a video in your video seeding strategy.

The importance of ratings

Yoganarasimhan’s analysis of 1,939 videos showed that video ratings are important, but not in the way one might imagine.

It doesn’t matter if ratings are good or bad, the value is in their mere existence. Yoganarasimhan’s found that videos that actually have ratings, good or bad, are the ones that are likely to have had more views.

Limitations of the study

The main limitation of the study is the data. The data in this research is based on a specific number of people within the network of YouTube. It far from a complete picture of the entire social network within YouTube. That said, the study does explore new areas.

One example is that the study demonstrates that the size and structure of a local network has an impact on the overall diffusion of a video that it has seeded. As guidance to business, the study offers ways to identify seeds that provide the best ROI.

Video seeding strategy: conclusion

This study is valuable to businesses because it highlights the important factors that affect the consumption of video on YouTube.

Video sharing websites have become extremely popular (and therefore extremely powerful) in recent years. Despite this, businesses have limited information and understanding in terms of how to take advantage of video sharing sites as a tool for marketing purposes. The study represents an important step in the right direction in terms of developing this understanding.

So: who are you going to contact about your next video production and how will you encourage them to promote it with you?

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