Yesterday I attended the "Top Chef: How Transmedia is Changing T.V." panel featuring Andy Cohen, Lisa Hsia (Executive Vice President of Bravo Digital Media), Aimee Viles, Dave Serwatka, and Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio (my personal favorite).
Moderated by Andy Cohen himself, this panel was just as entertaining as any Bravo television program. Lisa Hsia had some great information to provide on content in broadcasting and how the network operates in the social space. In fall of 2011, Bravo began focusing on transmedia and the fan & cast relations through new digital innovations.
If you're unsure what transmedia exactly is, Lisa explained it short and simple: "Story telling across platforms". And this was the exact execution used during this past season of Top Chef: Texas. For those who got involved, the Twitter Quickfire challenge and Last Chance Kitchen web series were a few specific examples.
Bravo found that leveraging these executions after the show programming extended the Top Chef brand from one night to seven days, 24 hours. Connecting fans with the show/cast through these transmedia efforts successfully helped the show become the most streamed series to date across all of NBCU.
What’s Bravo’s next transmedia plan of attack? A Real Housewives of New York Facebook game they hope will bring in a new demographic and younger audience. This will also enable co-creation of content. Can’t wait to play!
**Check out the live sketch compliments of OgilvyNotes.
The session wasn't about bashing the idea of things "going viral." It was about the word. The word viral derails conversations and thus the word should be banned (it's long been banned in my world). Part of the problem is that people think viral means free in the marketing space, which of course isn't the case. They assume that just because a video is good it will catch on (not true).
With each "Double Rainbow" type video, assumptions are made that it must be easy to generate that many views. That's also not true and imagine if a logo appeared in the "Double Rainbow" video. It wouldn't have been viewed and passed along like it was. Yes, my friends, viral is a dirty word.
So what word or words do we use instead? The panelists suggested a video that's "good" and "relevant to my audience." That's a good place to start but a successful video goes beyond that. It starts with avoiding goals based on video views. The next time someone asks you to create a video that will get 10 million views remember that fewer than 0.4 percent of of YouTube videos reach even 100,000 views.
When it comes to successful videos, the key is science. Achieving that takes a five step antiviral program as shared by panelists Jeremy Sanchez of Global Strategies and Robert John Davis of Ogilvy.
Step One: Have A Plan
Planning is the key to a successful video, probably the most important piece. Forget the creative for now. With no planning, even the best produced video is going to fall flat.
According to the panelists, everything starts with a trigger. That trigger could be an expected event like the Super Bowl or something unexpected like Angelina Jolie's leg showing at the Oscars (that spawned a rather popular Twitter account). The trigger is important and to identify it, Google is a good place to start. Google is a "database of intentions," a good indicator of what consumers want. It's topics people are interested in and it's in their terms, not in marketing terms. As Google information is gathered, trends around topics and even timing may rise to the top and from there start thinking through what it could mean. What sort of video would be relevant? Will that video be primarily for mobile consumption? Google-based patterns can help. And these days, that mobile question is huge. Size matters. A video for mobile consumption impacts the production in a big way.
Another early part of the planning process is around KPIs. In this case, it's all about "post play interaction" for these panelists. It's one thing to get people to click on a video. It's another to get them to do something after the fact. And what is it that you want them to do -- watch more videos or get into the sales funnel?
Step Two: Creative In Context
A successful video can fall into various categories: user generated, archival, pro-am, and professionally produced. Don't discount drawing a niche audience, the panelists said. In the B2B world in particular, this can be so important.
Think of video as flypaper. It's sticky. It has a job to do. Video is the transitional piece between a consumer need and the sales funnel. It's going to be promotional, bridge content, or lead to engagement.
Step Three: Optimize First
Think of the basics first. You need a channel for your video and getting that channel right is important. You can't move a video to another YouTube channel later without losing all the views, search results and so on that you've gained. Create the channel right the first time. Make its name the name of the brand, not a campaign that may be short-lived. Include a title, description and tags with every video. Write the description for search engine crawlers not flowery language for viewers. Pick a good-looking thumbnail image.
None of this is the sexy side of video creation but it's important. All of these elements will help in the video getting picked up by search engines and ultimately in attracting eyeballs.
Step Four: Distribute and Promote
Getting a video distributed and promoted is another must. It's also good to think about the promotional channels so you're reaching the right audience.
Liquid-Plumr's recent "Double Impact" video was originally posted about a month ago but it just recently started getting views (though it's not a viral video). The views started coming thanks to a combination of paid search campaign and TV advertising. Media has been pushing it. Once it started getting embedded on softcore porn websites, the video started capturing more viewers but the panelists noted they're likely the wrong demographic. The video is clearly going after women but the top demographics viewing the video have been men.
Step Five: Measure What Matters
Typically, volume oriented metrics are selected for measurement, things like views, shares, complete views, basic demographics, and favorites/likes. Those are okay to keep track of but they're just scraping the surface. Business oriented metrics are really what matter, according to the panelists, things that tie into post play interaction like leads generated, product sold, value of earned views, brand lift, meaningful engagement initiated, and ROI for the long tail. The long tail can be extremely relevant in situations where a video continues to capture views long after its launch. How-to videos may fit that category well.
Overall, each of these steps helps to formulate the plan in step one. The work that goes into the planning, promotion and measurement around each web video is more important than the creative end product. Don't get me wrong, that video is still important but even if it's an amazing creation, how much does it matter if no one is watching it or engaging with it?