It is easier than ever to produce and distribute online video. The challenge today is what to produce and where to distribute it. We see companies struggle with this all the time. They have a YouTube channel with a dozen videos and somewhere between 200-2,000 views per video, or they created a series of videos that are too branded to get earned media. It’s not just little guys struggling with this – big brands are faced with both the opportunity and the challenge of being a publisher.
There is one simple problem with most brands’ approach to online video. It’s very simple to remedy, and once a brand does this, they see their results improve. Once you understand how the system works it seems very obvious, but if you are on the front end of developing content for your brand it can be very frustrating.
The problem? Not matching your video content with your distribution method.
Granted, it doesn’t sound very revolutionary, but let’s unpack this idea a little bit. The acronym POEM has been around for a few years now, and it has caused much of this problem. It stands for Paid, Owned and Earned Media. This represents the Distribution method for your content online. The thing that’s not discussed in this acronym is that certain types of content fit better for certain types of distribution.
For example, ads are great for paid media, but they have to be amazing to get any earned media. Think about the last ad you shared on Facebook. What was it? What was the last ad you saw as content on your favorite website or blog? Ads have certain places that they run on a site: pre-roll or over in the margins, and you pay for these placements. So, if you are creating advertising and hoping to get earned media or to rack up lots of views on your owned media properties, it probably is not going to happen.
"But I didn’t create an ad, I made a—viral video/online video/how to video/other kind of video—to run everywhere online." Yeah, we hear this one a lot, but when we watch the video, the brand has sneaked in features and benefits and competitive language – basically, doing what a good ad does, which is sell. And the first rule of editorial is, No Selling! If you are hoping for earned media, then you need to create a different kind of video.
There are 3 kinds of videos that work online: Advertising, Entertainment, and Information. The problem is that most brands create some kind of hybrid of these, and then they are stuck because publishers don’t know what to do with it, and audiences don’t really get what they are watching. Remember, people have been watching video their entire lives on TV and in movie theatres. They are very sharp about it, and understand the genres. You violate this rule at your own expense.
So, first decide the right mix of online video for you (more on this in our next post): advertising, entertainment and information – you need all three for a robust online video strategy.
Then match your content to your distribution. We mentioned that paid is best for ads even though there are a lot of social video companies in the news running entertainment or informational video in paid space – some of these placements are a bit dubious despite their well-branded names. For entertainment videos, you are best running it on your owned media or in partnership with a publisher who has existing traffic. Finally, your information video—evergreen, non-selling, editorial videos—are perfect for earned media distribution.
There are exceptions to this approach, but they are the rare, 1 in 500 cases, and who wants to base their entire strategy on capturing lightning in a bottle?