So you want your video to go “viral.” Well, who doesn’t? There aren’t many people left who post media to YouTube so only friends and family can see it. More often, people are trying to create a groundswell of interest in their work.
But how do you get a large number of people to see what you’ve shared when there are so many other videos to compete with? YouTube puts the number of videos uploaded at 15 hours of video uploaded each minute.
So even if you video is compelling, funny, well-produced, controversial… people are going to have to dig through scads of other videos first before coming to yours. What do you do?
The easy answer is to simply put it up and let your audience find you. After all, presumably your video will live on YouTube for as long as the site exists. Over time people will come to it, see it, and even share it with people they know. The problem with this is it means giving up on making it viral. Viral means hundreds of thousands of views right now.
You could post something that already has a lot of buzz behind it, either because it is about someone famous, or an event that has been widely publicized. Which is all fine and well, if you happen to have that on hand. Most people are trying to get views of something no one knows about yet. The magical promise of YouTube is the ability to create a widely consumed media event from scratch.
So if you are dedicated to getting this kind of attention to your video, you are going to have to game the system.
I have my own moral compunction to let things rise or fall on their own merit. But sometimes we don’t all have the time or budget to shoot something and hope for the best. If that’s the case, here are the broad strokes on how to get your video seen.
YouTube’s Most Popular
Let’s assume you’ve shot something that people will actually enjoy seeing, you’ve tagged it correctly, and written a decent description of the video. These things help YouTube sort out where to put your video, so the people interested in your kind of content can find it more easily. It will still need to compete with those videos that are getting so many more views in a shorter period of time.
So you will need to get a sizable number of views to get even more. Think of it as stoking a fire: You have to start a small fire that can grow larger by itself. You do this by posting your video to a number of locations on your own.
Facebook: Create a following on Facebook and share the video with all of your friends. Beg them each to share the video with all of their friends as well. If you’re particularly ambitions, or you don’t have a built-in Facebook following, create a Facebook Page. You can set the page up to open on the Facebook version of the video, with a link to the YouTube version for people to follow. Then buy Facebook advertising to promote the page. These ads convert much better than normal PPC ads, and can help you to create your Facebook following as well as funnel traffic into your YouTube posting.
Forums: There are thousands of forums for specific categories you can join and post your video to. If these have enough traffic of their own, you may want to set up several accounts and create artificial conversations about the video. This isn’t exactly white hat, and the forum in question won’t take kindly to it if they find out. However, the worst they can do is kick you off the board. This is a common practice for some link marketing, but using forums to post a video is much more successful than posting SEO links.
StumbleUpon: This bookmarking site has millions of dedicated users who enjoy nothing more than randomly calling up web pages, photography, and, best of all for you, videos. Adding your video to this site can quickly jump start the number of views it gets. These tend to slacken off after a day, so you’ll definitely want to incorporate this into your video launch strategy early.
MySpace: Since MySpace allows the posting of videos into the comment sections of other users’ own profiles, you can place the video in a number of locations. Then it will be viewable by both that user and all of their friends. (Should they choose to play it.)
Flickr: Along the same lines, you can post your video to Flickr and include a link to your YouTube video as well. Videos on Flickr cannot run longer than 90 seconds, so either your product will need to be short or you’ll have to post the best clip of it. But you can include a link in the description. These links are useless for creating SEO links, but are fine for redirecting traffic.
Blog Pitching: This is the tried-and-true method of gaining word of mouth for any on line public relations. Before you ever post your video, create a list of blogs that write about topics similar to what you’ll be sharing. Make sure you have some e-mail address, Twitter handle, or some other means of getting in touch with them. Then, on the day you do launch your video, contact them with a link to your video and a QUICK explanation of why they should post it. Do not write a press release-like tome about how great it is. Bloggers hate being told what they should be thinking or feeling by someone trying to promote something. Instead, let them know how great they are, and offer the content as, “something your readers might be interested in.” Appeal to their ego, get the link in, then get out of there.
In fact, most of these tactics are common in link marketing. The difference is that with link marketing, you need followable, indexable links. Here, you only need a site that has traffic and a willingness to share, and the time put aside to push the video’s link the moment you upload your video.