Making a viral video

After 20 years running some pretty successful web publishing operations, I know I have a good sense of what people like to see and read online.

Over the recent Christmas holidays, I decided to put that knowledge to use in making what I hoped would be a popular video on Facebook for the business Cat Containment Systems which my wife and I own.

The video is simple, but it’s based on careful thinking about getting people interested in our product and inspiring them to share the video with their friends over the holidays.

Here’s a screenshot from Facebook just a few minutes ago. post stats, 15 Jan 2017 post stats, 15 Jan 2017

In the past two and a half weeks, my simple little video has been watched 6.3 million times, and shared over a hundred thousand times.

There have been over over 13,000 comments – and many of these were along the lines of “where can I buy this?”.

What you don’t see from this data, however, is just as impressive and valuable:

  • The video has generated 18,000 likes of our Facebook page – which in turn generated more enquiries, and a ready audience for my subsequent Facebook posts.
  • The video generated 63 Facebook reviews of our product, with an average score of 4.8 out of 5 – and many of these reviews attracted comments and enquiries from other Facebook users.
  • People followed the URL at the end of the video to visit our website, where Google Analytics showed an enormous increase in traffic.
  • Hundreds of enquiries poured in via the contact form on our website.

And best of all, this was entirely free – apart from the time I’m spending answering enquiries!

Oh yeah, here’s the video. It’s not flashy – but it works.

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Online video viewing up 68%

Online video viewing has increased dramatically over the past year, according to US data from Nielsen Online.

Online video usage in the USA - May 2009

The Nielsen chart above shows an increase in the number of viewers, but even stronger growth in the number of minutes that each viewer spent, on average, watching online video. This made me wonder about the growth in total minutes of online video, so I decided to work it out:

May 2009: 133.8 million viewers x 188.7 minutes/viewer = 25.2 billion minutes

May 2008: 118.6 million viewers x 126.7 minutes/viewer = 15.0 billion minutes

The change in total minutes of online video is 25.2/15.0, or an increase of 68 per cent.

(I derived the May 2008 numbers by reversing the percentage changes provided by Nielsen.)

YouTube was by far the leader in video delivery, with more than 95 million unique visitors last month, and more than six billion video streams.

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BlogTV adds news and comedy channels

Toronto-based community videocasting site is adding two channels: one for comedy and the other for news and politics.

The channels are scheduled to launch tomorrow [Friday].

Although is a platform for anyone who wants to videocast [including some who are a long way from being video professionals], it’s owned by a genuine television network, Alliance Atlantis Communications.

Alliance Atlantis is in the process of being acquired by CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs.

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Sun photographers’ anger is misguided

Photographers at the Baltimore Sun are withholding their bylines for three days this week in a dispute over newsroom convergence.

I think that’s likely to prove an ineffectual protest, and a misguided one.

The 18 photographers are upset that their employer wants to equip reporters with cameras so they can shoot stills and video for the Sun and its website.

The main point of the photographers’ complaint, which you can read in this news release from their union, is that the reporters will be preoccupied taking pictures and, as a result, will neglect other aspects of their reporting. They say it’s putting too much pressure on the reporters.

To me that sounds patronizing and self-serving. A reporter at a news scene will always have to make choices about what they do and how they do it. Yes, pictures and video complicate things and might cause a little confusion at first, but I’m betting the reporters and their assigning editors are smart enough to work out when a story needs pictures and/or video versus when the emphasis needs to be on observation and interviewing.

Any reporter who wants a long-term future in the industry should be eager to develop their multimedia skills.

Photographers, too, should be thinking in terms of media convergence and newsroom integration. Their specialist skills will always set them apart, but they may find themselves increasingly called upon to do their own interviews in the field too.

Convergence isn’t just for notebook-toting reporters, after all. It’s about all journalists broadening their skills and their contributions. And it’s happening, like it or not.

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Video: Microsoft’s amazing surface computer

This video has been floating around for a few days on blogs and on Digg, but it’s so good, I wanted to be sure to include it here too.

It’s a report by on Microsoft’s new coffee-table computer — a device that uses “multi-touch” input to manipulate files, and which can recognize and interact with actual objects sitting on its surface.

The surface computer concept is hugely exciting, and the video conveys an appropriate sense of astonishment and delight.

– via Publishing 2.0

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Video ads encourage click-throughs

Online ad-serving company DoubleClick says video ads get roughly twice the interaction of static image ads on websites. The findings are part of a study of 300 online video ads last year.

The video control consumers are most likely to click is the “Play” button. At 0.32 per cent, consumers are roughly twice as likely to play (or replay if a video starts automatically) an online video ad unit, as they are to click through on a standard JPG or GIF ad (the standard CTR for image ads is between 0.1 and 0.2 per cent).

The study also found that video ads are typically played two-thirds of the way through.

Beyond simply interacting with the video, DoubleClick says web users are much more likely to actually click through from a video ad to the advertiser’s own site, with a CTR between 0.4 and 0.74 per cent.

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