Adding YouTube to Your Marketing Mix

Michael Miller, author of YouTube for Business: Online Video Marketing for Any Business, offers good reasoning and solid rationale for the why-and-how to incorporate video into a business’ marketing mix.

Statistics show that YouTube receives close to 20 million visitors per month, and Miller suggests that with those kinds of numbers, YouTube “represents a new and exciting way to reach potential customers.”

While Miller acknowledges the composition of a business’ marketing mix looks different today then even a few years ago, he reminds us what all good marketers need to be cautious about–don’t just add something to the mix because everyone else is doing it. He advises businesses to develop a YouTube marketing strategy, no differently then you would do for any other strategy you’d consider to employ, by focusing on: your customer (audience), your message, your products/services/brand, and the other elements of your marketing mix.  Miller states:

“Everything has to work together to bring your chosen message to your chosen customer and generate the desired results. You can’t just shoot a video and throw it on the YouTube site; you need to develop a plan.”

Ask yourself:

1. What is the purpose of the YouTube video e.g. pre-sale promotion, after-sale support
2. Who is your customer? Do they visit YouTube?
3. What does your customer want or need?
4. What are you promoting–is it your overall company, a brand, or an individual product or service?
What is your message?
5. How does your YouTube fit within your overall marketing mix of traditional and social media e.g. email, websites, search engines, blogs, social networks, photo-sharing, video-sharing.

Measure the Results:

1. Determine what it is you hope to achieve. If it’s to generate sales, measure sales–track sales with the url, 800 number and a promotion code.
2. Use site analytics to determine where your site traffic originates from, specifically track the traffic that came directly from YouTube.
3. If your goal is to build your brand image, conduct some sort of market research after your YouTube campaign- what customers think of your brand, and where they heard about it.
4. If your goal is to reduce customer or technical support costs, measure the number of support requests, before and after uploading the YouTube video. the more effective the video, the fewer the subsequent calls for support.

Evaluate types of video content best for your goals:

  • repurposed commercials
  • infomercials
  • instructional videos
  • product presentations and demonstrations
  • real estate walk-throughs
  • customer testimonials
  • company introductions
  • expert presentations
  • business video blogs (vlogs)
  • executive speeches
  • company seminars and presentations
  • user or employee submissions
  • humorous spots

Miller reminds us that businesses are not limited to promoting  videos to the YouTube community.  “You can also promote your videos to anyone else on or off the Web… when you post a new video on YouTube, send a mailing to the entire list, letting your customers know all about the video and including a link to the video on YouTube.”

The book YouTube for Business also serves as a great primer about creating, producing, and managing effective videos. But before taking the plunge, step back and take a good look at what you’re hoping to achieve; and don’t be too trigger-happy to shoot a video and upload– before you strategize your video marketing plan.

If you’re already using videos, we’re interested in learning how you’ve been using them, and what effect you think they’ve had on marketing.

Mission-Focused Social Media

If you’ve been struggling to get your arms around Social Media– what it means, why you and your organization should cross that bridge–I think you’ll find insight and inspiration by the American Red Cross’ Social Media initiatives.

Consider the American Red Cross’ statement:

“Social media tools allow us to connect with you on an individual basis at the place where your life intersects with our mission. It makes sense that we would explore these tools and join these conversations that are an important part of your daily life.

Every day, several hundred people talk online about how their lives intersect with the Red Cross. We read and learn from every conversation. By adopting social media, we’re making it easier for you to tell us how to make the Red Cross a better organization.”

The American Red Cross has created multiple social media presences:
red cross chat, chapter blogs, youth blogs, disaster online newsroom, flickr, twitter, facebook, youtube, good2gether, linkedin, ammado, social vibe.

What you’ll see about these presences is that they are all purposeful and mission-driven–and exemplify how organizations can use different tools to accomplish specific goals. That being said, the overriding arc for American Red Cross’ use of social media do what they’ve set out to do–connect, intersect, converse and listen.

Social Media Q & A

In a recent online Q & A, I had with Wendy Harman, of the American Red Cross, she provides valuable perspectives on the how-to’s of Social Media implementation.

What departments needed to be involved in decision-making and implementation for social media presences?
Communications & Marketing, Office of the General Counsel, in some instances the President’s Office, Development, Disaster Response, Blood Services, Health & Safety Services. Pretty much everyone at one point or another.

How long did it take from the time the ideas were introduced until they were rolled out?
Well, our social media projects have evolved all along, but I’d say it took about two years from the time I started proposing its use to the “tipping point” where most everyone is on board and supporting our initiatives.

Approximately how many staff are involved in the communication via social media? Did existing staffers have to acquire new skills? Were new positions created?
Officially there are 2 staff members involved in social media. I was hired as the “new media integrator” in late 2006 and we brought in Claire Sale from the intranet team in early 2008. We have spent a considerable amount of time educating and training others at headquarters and in the field and even expect our disaster public affairs volunteers and staff to create content for our disaster online newsroom.

We often hear people talk about difficulty moving social media initiatives through because some question the Return on Investment.  Were there statistics, examples of organizations which helped to support the case?
We’ve been lucky in that we’ve been given a bunch of freedom to try out pilot projects and dip our toes into social media without being tested on ROI. We’ve had other obstacles but this hasn’t been one of them. This isn’t to say we’re not interested in ROI because we increasingly are – we’ve just been allowed to find out the returns on insight. We’ve been given the gift of time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

What kind of schedules have been set-up for social media communications? e.g. times a week for blog posts, facebook, twitter.
We haven’t specifically set up calendars or schedules for updating these things. I think doing that is a little dangerous because then we’d be filling a slot and not necessarily offering valuable information. We update when we feel we have something to say. That said, we usually post to the blog at least 1/day, we spend several hours “listening” and responding to the existing conversation and inviting people to join us, and we tweet about 1/day (more if there’s a disaster happening).

I couldn’t help but notice how effective a presence like Twitter is for an organization like the American Red Cross–e.g. in communication regarding first aid tents at the Inauguration, and communication regarding the New York Plan Crash.  How would these messages been communicated previously?
Before social media tools like Twitter we had to rely on being in front of traditional media gatekeepers like print, radio and TV journalists reporting on these stories. These outlets are still important but we now have the luxury of telling our own story and offering important resources without relying on them.

Did you work with an outside vendor for any parts of the process? Are you able to maintain internally?
We have not worked with an outside vendor at all before now. We recently got the help of Radian6’s tool to make it easier for us to “listen.” We also very recently hired a firm to help with our email outreach. They’ll be helping us a bit with our social media strategies as well.

What advice would you give to an organization who is considering social media–but still on the fence?
It’s simple advice. Lay out the goals you have for your organization and evaluate whether social media can help you achieve them. Don’t get in this pool just because everyone is doing it – be mission-focused.

photo credit: turtlemoon’s photostream on flickr

Not my mother’s Facebook…or maybe it is.

Woman on computer

Last night my mother told me that she reads our newsletter (nice) and wants to join Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo.  She is a consummate online communicator and consumer. She uses Freecycle to get and give free stuff, she buys things from QVC, she emails with our relatives in Germany, and she sends her grandchildren interesting pictures and stories via email. She is often sharing a new application or a time saving tip with me and my siblings. Next year her Christmas letter will be digital to save time and postage.

While my father, now 76 years old, has only been on a computer once, and with regretful results (that is a story for another day), my mother has been surfing the net like a pro for many years.  While I think my dad would like to throw a blanket over the computer like he did to my sister’s bird cage to “shut that damn thing up”, my mom was panicked when her computer went in for a repair and required a back up while it was gone.

So today I read a study that indicated that the fastest growing segment using Facebook is women over 55, and I knew that they were talking about. The computer gives those who might otherwise be isolated so many ways to create community and keep in touch.  Ellen DeGeneres has been promoting her Facebook page daily, which has resulted in over 1/2 million people signing up. Her audience, of course, is women of a certain age. We have seen the same effect with the Wellness Community, who had to close their physical doors two weeks ago, but have taken quickly to the Ning community we set up for them, with more than 100 members and growing.

So today I went to my Facebook page to clean up anything that my mother wouldn’t approve of and warn my sisters of my mother’s imminent arrival only to discover that I have nothing to hide from her. I must be getting old.

Looking past ROI for social media

In today’s challenging times, as marketers we’re being called to task on nearly every decision we make.  Whether it’s accounting for every line item on the marketing budget or justifying any new marketing programs - it’s all about hard results and ROI.   But what if you have limited ability to measure return on investment?  Do you scrap the program and only seek out programs that are quantifiable?

According to Marketing Sherpa’s 2009 Social Media Marketing & PR benchmark study, many marketers may, to their detriment, be doing just that when it comes to social media.   Social media marketing – defined as “the practice of facilitating a dialogue and sharing content between companies, influencers, prospects and customers, using various online platforms including blogs, professional and social networks, video and photo sharing, wikis, forums, and related Web 2.0 technologies” -  is a prime example of a program that can be extremely difficult to measure results quantitatively.

According to this benchmark study, the inability to measure ROI is the second most significant barrier to social media adoption (said 43% of respondents), behind the lack of knowledgeable staff (said 46% of respondents).   So how do we as marketers get past this?

Let’s start by viewing social media more like PR than direct marketing given the difficulty in measuring hard-number returns.  Then, let’s all consider Marketing Sherpa’s assertion when it comes to social media and ROI:  marketers need to look to measure the value of the conversations and resulting relationships qualitatively, and not focus on sheer quantitative statistics like traffic, hits, etc.   In other words, don’t get stuck on ROI and miss the point of various social media tactics for the sake of measurability.  Some of the most effective social media programs – like blogs, user reviews, forums and discussion groups – are the least measurable.

What is that Thing, Called Ning?

Sounds almost Suessical, does it not? I wish it was as simple as that–a fun rhyme. But I discovered Ning under anything but fun circumstances. You see, the Wellness Community of Greater Boston, an organization who has provided free services to people affected by cancer for fifteen years, had to temporarily suspend operations on February 1st, another victim of the Madoff Ponzi scheme.

I have a personal connection to the Wellness Community, in fact, I was one of the first people to pass through the doors when it first opened in Newton, MA.  And when I needed their services again, four years ago, after a recurrence of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, I remembered all I had gained from my association with such an amazing organization. I returned. The office was in a different location, same town, but in the most exquisite setting one could imagine. An old mill building with a view of Echo Bridge and the Lower Falls of Newton, MA.

While we don’t know exactly how the story will end yet, we know this—The United Methodist Church of Newton donated space, and helped move the Wellness Community into rooms of their church. On Monday morning, with most of its services suspended, the support groups which have been a lifeline to thousands of people in the Boston area, resumed services, with the caring staff who are also volunteering their time.

And so, Weber Media Partners, a group which I’m affiliated with, also stepped forward to donate their time and expertise, to help the community stay connected during this time of transition. Ning, a free social networking tool, was selected as the tool to carry out this critical mission. I’m indebted to the generosity of the developers at Ning for enabling non-profit organizations to continue their work, in an easy-to-use, well designed platform.

I really got it this morning when I walked through the doors of the Methodist Church.  While a building may house a community, it’s the people and their commitment to serve, which ultimately harbors a community- until they can get back on their feet again.

Social networking and community service is alive and well. Thank you, Ning!

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