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Creating Online Video Content that is Worth Watching

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Last month, we looked at the YouTube keyword tool and video optimization techniques. They can help your online video content to get discovered. And getting discovered on YouTube certainly accelerated the launch of Justin Bieber's singing career.

But for most marketers, getting you corporate video discovered in a YouTube search is a necessary, but insufficient first step. You also need to create online video content that is worth watching.

YouTube isn't the appropriate place to upload your latest video news release. And if you create something so bad that it goes viral, is it a public relations disaster or a video marketing triumph?

Microsoft's Viral Video PR Disaster

For example, check out HostingYourParty. Uploaded on Aug. 26, 2009, it told viewers how to host a Microsoft Windows 7 House Party. You can't make this stuff up.

Microsoft thought that putting a Tupperware-style twist on its Windows 7 rollout -- launching an initiative to encourage thousands of employees, partners, and technology enthusiasts to throw parties in their homes and communities -- would help spread the word about its new operating system. To promote this idea, Microsoft uploaded the video below to YouTube.

Now, the video does have more than 1.4 million views. But note that "Adding comments has been disabled for this video."

Why? Because most journalists and bloggers thought it was a public relations disaster.

Cindy Perman of CNBC wrote, "You just knew that once they put the Microsoft geeks in charge of the 'party,' that it wouldn't be a 10-kegger and before long, we'd all be putting lampshades over our heads."

Ian Douglas, a tech blogger for The Telegraph in London, wrote, "I'm beginning to think that no one involved with Microsoft's advertising has ever left the house or spoken to a real person."

James Lileks of The Bleat wrote, "If Microsoft had been put in charge of marketing sex, the human race would have ended long ago, because no one would be caught dead doing something that uncool."

And Janice L. Brown of The Fussy Marketer asked, "Hmm, if something goes viral because it's so bad, does that still count as achieving the marketing goals?"

Now, you may be tempted to watch this 6-minute, 15-second video yourself -- just to give the benefit of the doubt to Microsoft's marketers. But I'll bet dollars to donuts that more than 10 percent of viewers will click away after 10 seconds and more than half will leave after one minute.

How can I be so confident? Well, I've actually watched the entire video -- because I had to. And according to research by TubeMogul, "Most videos steadily lose viewers once 'play' is clicked, with an average 10.39% of viewers clicking away after ten seconds and 53.56% leaving after one minute."

How to Ensure Your Online Video Content is Actually Worth Watching

The knee-jerk answer is to keep it short and simple. And I confess that I once thought that it made sense to keep videos 2 to 3 minutes long.

But if you look at the most-viewed video of all time in all categories in YouTube Charts, then you'll see that "Justin Bieber - Baby ft. Ludacris" is 3 minutes and 45 seconds long. And this music video has more than 436 million views.

Or, if you have the time, then wach "Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." This lecture is 1 hour, 16 minutes, and 27 seconds long. And it has more than 12.7 million views.

So, if you have an uptempo R&B song or advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals, then you should feel free to make exceptions to the 2-3 minute rule.

Tell a Story with Your Video

But these exceptions point out a hidden truth. Creating online video content that is worth watching all the way to the end means that your video needs to tell a story. This story can be adorable, creative, funny, inspirational, or instructional, but it needs to be good.

Watch "NPR's Scott Simon: How to Tell a Story" to hear some great advice and practical tips on using video for storytelling.

Next month, we'll look at the third step in this process: Getting your YouTube videos shared. Stay tuned.

Join us for SES London 2011, the Leading Search & Social Marketing Event, taking place February 21-25! The conference offers sessions on topics including search engine optimization (SEO), keyword analysis, link building, local, mobile, video, analytics, social media, and more. Register now.


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