No views = sad you

April 12, 2017

When undertaking a video project, when’s the right time to start thinking about distribution and promotion?

a. The earlier the better.

b. Just as we’re wrapping up production—we’ll get to it!

c. Don’t bother me, I’m too busy finalizing my color correction.

If you answered b or c, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for organizations to create great, creative and well-produced videos, only to have them seen by just a handful of people because the distribution strategy wasn’t baked into the budget, planning and vision of the content to begin with.

The truth is that developing a video distribution strategy is an entirely different skillset than the team you think you’ll need to create your video: your shooter, producer and editor, for example.

Making sure your video gets seen requires the skills of a content marketer, social and digital media strategist, with a bit of PR and community outreach, as well. The key is making sure that these skills and teams are brought together early enough to be effective.

I used to run track, so I think of it like a relay race. There are four runners – they’re part of a team, each with an important individual job to do but all working together toward a common goal. As your video’s concept, production and editing phases are coming to a close, it’s important to pass the baton off to the final leg, distribution, in order to close the deal and have a successful video project. If there is no distribution strategy, the rest of the team needs to run more—they’re surprised, exhausted, over-budget and ultimately are limping over the finish line. Not the best way to finish.

One good place to start, which informs the first creative concept phase, is thinking about your video platform. Where will this video be seen, and why? Some of your options might be YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo or Snapchat. Each platform has different audience demographics, features and engagement rates, so your platform will influence your video concept. For example, you might want to launch a series of Facebook live videos, meaning your viewership success depends on your Facebook following, so you’ll want to maximize the numbers and engagement among your target audience in advance of going live. Or, you might want to partner with a YouTube or Instagram personality to actually help create your video, in which case you’d use their creative skills and pursue an organic distribution strategy that takes advantage of the celeb’s built-in fan base.

The latter certainly has enticing advantages. Getting in front of big audiences through the organic reach of a celeb means a higher engagement rate for your video. This way you don’t have to have a rumba-riding cat or be the next PewDiePie in order to get a high volume of interested, engaged viewers.

The key is to know the strengths and weaknesses of both organic and paid promotion strategies, and map those to your overall communications goals. The truth is that pursuing an organic strategy can’t hurt anyone, but if you’re seeing this video project as an opportunity to build your following and reach new people who would be receptive to your brand but haven’t heard of you yet, organic-only won’t necessarily get you there.

Over the next month we’ll be rolling out a series of blog posts on the topic of online video distribution. We hope you’ll come back and read more blog posts on the basics of video SEO and promotion targeting, moving people to action with video and analytics. Stay tuned!

Sian Wu