Making a Viral Video

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Alumni, Analytics, Athletics, Blogging, Embedding, Facebook, Free, Higher Education, Marketing, Mascot, Recruitment, Research, Social Media, Technology, Thoughts, Video, Viral, Web, YouTube | Posted on 10-10-2008


It’s been nearly one month since I created and released the Butler Blue II video during our missing mascot fiasco (no, they were never found).

I’ve refrained from posting on this until now because I wanted to allow enough time to look at stats and analytics on the video to say if it was a success or not. Conclusion?  Success.

I’ve never been one to throw the word ‘viral‘ around.  [Example] You can’t make a video ‘viral’, it’s up to the people who watch it if they want to pass it along.   But you CAN help the video become viral by choosing your key influencers and letting it go from there.

After creating the video, I decided on my strategy and chose my key influencers and tracked them using the Google URL Builder. The strategy was:

  1. Create a simple video, upload to YouTube, and post on Blue II’s blog.
  2. Identify influencers and give them links to the blog & video.
  3. Promote the blog & video on existing sites.
  4. Promote Blue II’s blog & video in all traditional media.

My Key Influencers were:

  1. Butler Bloggers
  2. Butler Class of ’12 Facebook Group
    1. Side note – great reason to be an Admin of main FB groups of your University.
  3. Butler University Facebook Group
  4. The unOFFICIAL Butler Basketball Forum
  5. Twitter accounts of myself, Butler Blue II, and the Bloggers

By setting up unique tracking links for every avenue that we promoted the video, we were able to successfully track the virility of each influencer. So let’s look at the stats of the video, as well as the level of virility from each influencer.

  • In the first 5 1/2 days on YouTube, the video had over 5,000 views.  (That’s one every 92 seconds.  Very impressive when you know the video is over five minutes long.)
  • For the first five days of the video, traffic to Butler’s Bloggers was up 38% compared to the same period in the week prior.
  • By day eight, the video was over 7,800 views.
  • At day thirteen, the video ‘peaked’ at 11,000 views and has since slowly crawled to 11,755.
  1. Butler Bloggers: Link was sent to 9 students.  This link was shared for a total of 3,428 views.  Students who came to site from this link had an average time on site of 7 minutes, 47 seconds.  They averaged 12.3 pages on the site.
  2. Butler Class of ’12 Facebook Group – Link sent to 500 members in group. 478 views.
  3. Butler University Facebook Group – Link sent to 800 members (alumni, students). 1,497 views.
  4. The unOFFICIAL Butler Basketball Forum – Posted, 955 forum views. 1,271 video views and 20 comments (lots of repeat traffic.)
  5. Twitter accounts of myself, Butler Blue II, and the Bloggers – 496 views.
  6. BONUS! We emailed ’09 prospective students, and 1,418 clicked to watch the video.

So sending out 6 links accounts for 8,588 views.  There were other small players such as the Smiley Show and Horizon League Network, an Alumni newsletter last week, as well as direct traffic that took the total # of views of Butler Blue II’s blog/video to 9,747 views.

The remainder of views would be directly from YouTube, I assume.

So… a link to 9 students has generated 3,428 views. That’s 38,000%. Pretty awesome.  The other performer as the Butler Facebook group, which had nearly double the views as members. I bet some Alumni in there passed it along.

There were a few comments that the video (5:10) was a tad too long, but analytics show that the average pageview for Blue II’s blog was right near 5 minutes. Also, people averaged nearly 4 pageviews so it was good to see that they checked out more of the site after finishing. I think that to an outsider there is not a connection to the video, but someone Butler-affiliated would be much more interested in watching the full clip.  If I had to do it again, I probably would get closer to 4 minutes, though.

There were plans for a 2nd ‘whodunit’, but I shot it and hated it.  Adding humans + voice just made it cheesy, so I didn’t release it.

Well, I guess all I can tell you is that you need to figure out your key influencers and let them do some promotion for you.

And if you haven’t seen the video.. enjoy! It was shot entirely on a Kodak Zi6 in HD mode and no post-processing was done to the footage. Excellent quality. Here is an HD version on Vimeo.

Comments posted (3)

So you were able to track all this in GA using the destination URL builder? That’s awesome! I’d love to see more of those screenshots. Really shows how segmenting your campaign can help you decide what eggs to put your basket in next time. So now you know the best way to promote it for next go around is emailing your student bloggers who can forward. Of course the others help, but if your limited in resources that’s definitely your most bang for your buck.

Also be interesting to see where your visitors who watched the video were viewing from. I’m sure you can put that and other demographic data from YouTube.

Nice job!

Kyle – thanks for the comment and for showing me the URL Builder. Have you seen ‘Hot Spots’ in YouTube insights yet? Shows you when people think your video is ‘hot’ and ‘not’. Pretty cool. I’m excited about all of these new metrics, social media is finally becoming measurable!

The video was primarily watched in the US. On one of the first days it launched, it was nearly one of the most popular videos on YouTube.

Great post and great video! It looks awesome in HD. I confess I was just going to check out the first couple minutes because five minutes sounded like a long time but I was hooked after the first minute. Great use of music, too.

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