A cable show might get 100,000 viewers. Compare that to a small group of YouTube celebrities like Shane Dawson who gets over a million online views a daily. Brands have begun to realize that YouTube celebrities get more views than they do. The next step is to leverage those audiences.
I spoke to Ricky Ray Butler, the owner of Plaid Marketing, about a campaign that his company is doing for Just Dance 2, a game for the Wii. Plaid Video put together a plan to leverage YouTube celebs by challenging six of them to stage a dance off. Competitors include: Tobuscus, Michael Buckley, JoeNation, Swift Karate Chop, thefinebros and Olga Kay.
They posted their dances on YouTube and asked their fans to vote for them. To vote, the fans had to go to the Just Dance Facebook Page and “Like” the page. Naturally, this campaign sent a lot of YouTube traffic over to the brand’s Facebook Page.
The strategy has been effective. Just Dance’s Facebook Page had less than 3,000 fans in August and are up to almost 185,000 today. 60,000 of those are from the last two weeks. The campaign also included offline dance contests in places like Times Square, as well as a team of bloggers they’ve dubbed UbiChamps, and a popular dance booth at BlogHer.
The celebs have a larger following than the brand, but it’s not just "views" that brands are after -- they want to build their own fan base. Retention and interaction are key to the success of the campaign. “We help brands not only get a lot of views, but we help them grow a following similar to a YouTube celebrity. Then they go to Facebook and become fans. That sets up a longer term relationship for the brand,” said Butler.
It’s working. AdWeek reported that GE tapped 15 YouTubers to make a series of videos for their "Tag Your Green" campaign. Three weeks later, the videos had over 12 million views.
Carl’s Jr tapped nine YouTube celebs including iJustine to launch their new Portobello Mushroom burger. The list goes on and on (see this Mashable post about about five brands that have successfully marketed on YouTube).
As for small businesses, the $20k price tag that some of the stars command can be a bit steep. So businesses without a big budget, like Original Skateboards, went the DIY route, starring in their own videos. After putting their videos on YouTube, sales at the company went up 40 percent. They decided the numbers made it worth it to set up a team to create videos full time.
Orabrush turned Austin Craig into “the Orabrush guy” and the videos he stars in put the small business on the map. It turned a new company that couldn’t turn a profit with an infomercial into a company doing $1 million in sales. Their online success has recently exploded into offline media coverage, starting with an article in the New York Times. That coverage has led to shelf space -- more stores are stocking the tongue scraper.
There's a little more to it than creating a killer video and telling your friends, though. Note that with most “viral” videos, you need to give them a push. The market is crowded. YouTube says that as of October they get 35 hours of video uploaded per minute on the site. Original Skateboards says they use a combination of promoted videos (YouTube advertising), print ads, Google AdWords and word of mouth to grow viewership.
Perhaps the most powerful element of YouTube marketing besides personality is connecting to a community and interacting with them. People loved how the Old Spice Guy responded to their comments in his videos and that helped fuel even more word of mouth.
Next New Networks gave some great advice on its YouTube blog that can be applied to any social media campaign. “YouTube is a social platform. Your audience wants to talk to you. Ask them questions. Get opinions and then feature them in your videos. You are leading a conversation.”
Have you been successful with YouTube marketing or created your own celebrities? Please tell us about it in the comments.
Janet Meiners Thaeler is an Evangelist for OrangeSoda Inc. and the principal blogger for their corporate blog and Twitter account. She regularly advises clients on blogging and social media strategies. Her own blog is Newspapergrl.com (and Twitter account @newspapergrl). She is passionate about online marketing and is always looking for new insights, resources and trends to help her clients.