As you may know, I’m the co-host of the weekly #WebSeriesChat on Twitter and each week we chat about the business of “web series” in 140 characters. There seems to be a recurring theme in the chat which is somewhat due to new creators finding our weekly chat and some of the regulars still not figuring out all the pieces. So, I thought I’d share some of my knowledge with you in this post and hopefully inspire you to see the glass half full – not empty.
First, I have questions for webseries creators – are you creating art or do you want this to be your business? There is no wrong answer to this question. But this blog post is focused on the creators who want this to be a business – to get paid, sponsored, and continue to create.
There are several elements to launching any “product” and as a creator you need to have a plan and work the plan. As a professional marketing strategist, I spend a lot of time watching and reading trends in the industry that I work in. (In my career I have launched over 35 software/mobile products from startups in Silicon Valley to Fortune 500. You can read my resume at LinkedIn if you’d like to see more.) I consult with a lot of different companies including TV Shows about using social and new media marketing to engage with their target audience and getting sponsor love.
When I started pitching web shows over 2.5 years ago, I had to have some research to support the reasons why the brand / advertiser should sponsor my site / and shows. This is what some people refer to as marketing “spin” and it works if done well and in a way that makes YOU the trusted source. With that said – here are some questions and answers that might help you with your quest to build audience and get sponsored.
Question 1 – How many people do you need to have watching YOUR content to be valuable to an advertiser?
I got pretty frustrated seeing some comments today about needing a HUGE audience to get a sponsor. Not true. If you believe you can’t do something – guess what, you won’t. If you have a good product, a good presentation, know your audience potential and USE the Internet then you can get a sponsor. Now this does not mean you should not be building an audience while you are writing, filming, editing and producing your webseries. You should be a social media expert – you’re creating on the web – use it. Facebook, Twitter, connect with bands on Myspace and make a partnership where you promote their music and they promote your series (no more garageband music for your opening).
Here’s what you need to know – the value of a fan is worth something to the brand. You have fans. 100 – 1,000, 10,000. They have value – especially if you are talking to an advertiser who wants to reach YOUR audience. Let’s say your series is in the Teen Horror genre and you have 1,000 Facebook fans and your series gets 5,000 views an episode.
You find a sponsor who wants to reach the teen audience, you share with them your “social media savvy” i.e. community that you’ve built from your blog, press mentions, video, distribution, Twitter and Facebook activity. And you use these channels to post messages about your sponsors even asking your FANS to LIKE the sponsors… what’s that worth to the sponsor? There are a number of studies that show the engagement of a Facebook fan being greater than any other social media platform out there.
Additionally, these fans are also valuable to the brand this graphic shows the value at over $136 per LIKE. If you use your social media marketing arm and ask your fan base to LIKE your sponsors – and they get 1,000 LIKES from your community – that’s a perceived value of $136,000. Imagine getting 10% of that to create your season 1 of your series and then having a guaranteed season II when you double that audience and the fan base for you and your sponsor?
OH – and here are a few other things to think about when you worry about “video views”… If you are engaging an audience online – they don’t have to watch the video to talk about YOU and your project.
– 10,000 views translate to 10,000 people watched all or part of your video
What it doesn’t tell is how many places that video is embedded on (benefit of YouTube being easy to embed in reviews, articles, blog posts, social networking sites). It also doesn’t tell how many links to the video are out there with comments about the video, how many people on Facebook have seen the brand name associated with your project as the sponsor. It does not tell how many people were exposed to the brand and your project without ever watching the video or what the quality or influence of the viewer is on and offline.
This is where I use the marketing spin… the unknown can be a positive thing.
Oh, here’s ONE more fact for you: the entire Internet digital video market (advertising revenue) is around $1.1 Billion. Guess where $500 million of that comes from? The premium TV shows found on Hulu.com and other sites. There is $60 Billion spent on traditional TV advertising. We’re just getting started in tipping the digital advertising dollars towards digital web content. This means that video advertising inventory is scarce – and offering a brand a special social media engagement might net out more value to them as they are investing in content – banner ads are NOT content.
Online Video Viewership Growth Fast Facts:
- 32% more people watched video online (Dec ’09 to Dec ’10)
- 12% more time watching video content in Dec ’10 – i.e. 14 hours average
- Watching TV online at the networks site grew 82% (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox)
- Multi-Screen Viewing Habits are growing TV, Computer, Mobile with 68.2% of US Internet users watching video each month (158.1 million people)
Why you need to get Internet Savvy? The average number of sites that 70% of consumers visit is 20 and only about 16% of Internet consumers are trying new sites… if there are 158 million people watching video online today, you need to start thinking outside of the box to reach them.
Question 2: What’s your genre? Where do people go on the Internet to chat about it?
Fan forums, communities, search Twitter conversations (that’s what the SEARCH bar is for in Twitter) engage with people who are passionate about what your theme is… Start sharing what you are doing, get people to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, your YouTube channel.
Bottom line – don’t wait until you have produced your series to start engaging with your audience. Use the different social media outlets, post photos, story lines, character info while you’re creating your project – get engagement. You need to get on Internet time… and you need to get savvy about the business of online video.
Question 3: Do you know what a Meta-tag is? Do you use them? Do you ask for comments and Ratings? Do you use Hotspots and Annotations?
I can’t begin to tell you how many videos I have watched on YouTube that just have a name as the title – no description and 2 words in the tags. REALLY? No one will find you in search. Oh and Google is the #1 Search Engine with about 70% of all global searches…. and who is #2? YouTube. No one will find you if no one can find you. Put descriptions and links on your videos – to your website, twitter, facebook – make it easy for people to find you. Use more than 2 keywords in the tags! Use the space in the title to tell people what your video is.
Did you know that 43% of YouTube’s top 100 videos are from YouTube partners? Ray William Johnson has six of the top 20 spots. Do you know how he does this? (1) He asks for comments and ratings with specific questions about what you just watched. ShaneDawsonTV has gotten 70K comments because he asked for them. (2) Incorporate your viewer feedback – you can make your episodes longer, improve sound, lighting or whatever the feedback is and your audience will love you for it – in fact why not do what Ray does and give viewers credit for helping improve his content. (3) Use hotspots and annotations: after a viewer watches your video on YouTube guess what – something “related” comes up and it’s probably NOT something YOU created. When your credits are rolling at the end create an annotation and hotspot to drive people to your website, fan page or twitter. ASK and they will follow you – especially if they liked what you created.
This concludes my blog rant… I hope that it has given you some good food for thought and that next week on #WebSeriesChat you come with some tips for the chat about what you’ve discovered that works for you rather than make blanket statements that you don’t have enough views.