Lights, Camera, Upload! Essential Tips for Online Video

July 23, 2009

[As posted on Sigma’s Fuel for Thought]

I decided to round up some interesting facts, figures and best practices on online video, while many of my fellow Sigmites are out this week producing them.

Recently comScore reported that in April 09, U.S. Internet users viewed 16.8 billion online videos. Nearly 152 million folks watched an average of 111 videos, and an average online viewer watched 6.4 hours of video. The age of online video viewers trends slightly younger, however, viewership by Generation X and older boomers are at no small scale.


That’s a lot of folks watching videos online. And every minute there’s around 20 hours of new videos being uploaded to YouTube. However, videos that generate millions of views overnight are few and far between—especially those uploaded to support a marketing agenda (e.g., commercials or promotional videos created by companies to promote their brands).

Here are some basic, yet essential, guidelines for online video success that we use to provide results for our clients.

  1. Take a Long-Term Perspective: While it is true that some online videos became an overnight sensation (e.g., Susan Boyle), the reality for most is that building an audience takes time—weeks, months and perhaps even years. Keep in mind that unlike running a TV commercial where your ad/message disappears after your schedule runs out, online video has a potential to be active for years, accumulating viewers all along the way. Therefore, creating content that has long-term relevance is key, which brings us to our second point.
  2. Content is King: Don’t just put a TV ad online (unless you have an incredible, one-of-kind commercial). Create a short, entertaining message through a good story (e.g., humor, heartfelt tales, did you know, can you believe this, etc.). People love to be surprised and everyone enjoys a good laugh. Just as laughter works, so do tears, joy, compassion and a poignant moment. The key is offering the viewer some quick entertainment that will engage them to respond, further investigate and/or share with their network.
  3. Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan: Just like you would with a TV commercial, incorporate a strategic plan behind your online video. Don’t just count on people stumbling onto it. Remember that your new video has a shelf life of 48 hours before it’s moved from the Daily Most Viewed list to the Weekly Most Viewed list on most video sharing sites, so it’s important to share and spread the video quickly. Some basic tactics that should be included into the online video launch include sharing and posting on social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, MySpace), reaching out to bloggers and sending out email invites to your circle of contacts.
  4. Engage with Your Viewers: Some of the most successful videos are those that are able to solicit comments and start discussions with their viewers. According to Tim Street, creator of French Maid TV, in order to get your video to a higher plane, “It needs to interact with the viewer, and allow the viewer to interact with the characters or the creators.” Comments are a great way to hear feedback and receive ideas for future initiatives. Keep in mind that comments may not always be positive, but they present the opportunity to connect with your audience one-on-one. Therefore, make sure to properly monitor the social web sphere across all chatters on your video and brand.

Related articles:

  • Video + SEO = Best Practices for Video & E-Commerce (
  • YouTube Surge Fuels 16% Rise in April Video Viewing (
  • Top 20 YouTube and Video Memes of All Time (
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