I video-interviewed Erik Qualman at the Chicago House of Blues for the launch of his new book, “Digital Leader: 5 Simple Steps to Success and Influence“.  I asked him about his take on “social” and “viral” video and asked him to give us some tips for how businesses should think about and do–better social video marketing.

Below is my video interview with Erik before he was about to give his speech to the crowd. (I hope you will pardon the shaky camera footage and poor audio, as it was all spur of the moment and we didn’t have a tripod. I also hope you won’t mind my zombie-like eyeballs. ;-)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV9V4oSmcS4

You can watch the entire 15min video here.

Erik Qualman’s 5 “Musts” for Social Video Marketing Success

The following is an excerpt taken from Erik’s Digital Leader book, which I wholeheartedly encourage other online video marketers and professionals to purchase their own copy of. (Kindle versions are available as well as hardcover.) I’ve combinded Erik’s own quotes from one section titled, “DIGITAL DEEDS Viral Videos: 5 Musts,” with my own comments on each of his tips.

Why digital leaders should do video (+understanding what “viral” means)

“Video footage is a main component of your digital footprint, so use it to your personal or professional advantage in creating change. Keep in mind that any video can potentially go viral, so you always want to act in a way that you can be proud of—once a video is online, it has a life of its own. If a video of yours goes viral, the size of your digital footprint is exponentially enlarged and, if it portrays you or your company in a positive light, you are fortunate to have achieved this notoriety. But “viral” isn’t a video strategy: we cannot control what goes viral, the viewer does. We can, however, take five steps to give our video greater viral potential.

Guided by these five maxims I produced several videos the power of social media. Viewers pushed these viral, and they became the world’s most viewed social media videos.”

  1. Good Music
  2. Short and sweet
  3. Viewer is king
  4. Other purpose
  5. Share

#1 Social Video Tip: Good music

“Find successful viral videos that are similar to the one you want to produce, and determine what music they are using. You may seriously consider using the same music as it has proven to be successful, and the music owner isn’t blocking it.”

My response: This is a good reason to check first for instances of that song being used on YouTube with other videos, and see if the YouTube Content ID is already allowing for it to be featured. (This way you can avoid an unfortunate takedown of your video for copyright infringement.) However, realize that just because it’s being allowed on YouTube, that doesn’t give you the right to feature your video with that audio track outside of YouTube. For that reason alone, you should always try to first find out who is handling the copyrights for both the music and the artist, and see whatever permissions or licensing they require.

#2 Social Video Tip: Short and Sweet

Keep your video under five minutes; preferably to a minute or less. In Enchantment, author Guy Kawasaki displayed data from research firm Visible Measures that showed 19.4 percent of viewers abandoned a video within the first 10 seconds, and by 60 seconds 44 percent had stopped watching. Lead with your most eye-popping content to gain and hold viewer attention. Don’t build to a crescendo that may never be viewed.”

My response: Now while there’s a lot debate with online video marketers over just how long you should keep your video piece (since it can depend on the audience, your industry, and the type of video piece itself), keep in mind that what Erik is saying here speaks more to what you first need to accomplish with just getting your viewer’s attention. I agree that for attention getting pieces for bringing in new audiences, focus on doing shorter pieces, and really try for getting one within 60 seconds.

Erik himself does both a short version and an extended version of some of his “Socialnomics” videos. The shorter one typically get a larger audience (including more newbies), but the longer one typically will get a more engaged audience. (However, interestingly enough, Erik’s latest video Socialnomics 3, actually has 3x the audience on the longer version than the shorter one.)

#3 Social Video Tip: Viewer is king

“Only viewers make videos go viral. Yet, often we produce videos from the vantage point of what we want to get out of them. This approach is wrong. We need to constantly ask, am I providing something of value for the viewers? What do they want to get out of it?”

My response: It is essential to always be thinking of providing value to your audience, each second of your video. However as my earlier interview with the folks from Orabrush showed, companies are especially successful with social video when they can find the marriage of what they themselves what to see, along with what their audiences want to see (and what they want to engage with further). This ideally works when you are actually like your audience, with similar video tastes. (If you aren’t like your audience, find someone in your office or social circles who is, and as them what they would like to see.)

#4 Social Video Tip: Other purpose

“Don’t produce a video simply hoping that it goes viral. Produce a video with a clear purpose in mind. If it goes viral because you adhered to the three suggestions above, it’s a bonus!”

My response: This is a common fault of people who treat “going viral” as the main goal and the end goal. What they often forget is establishing measurable goals beyond just brand awareness from the beginning. Even if you are in the brand awareness business, you also need to think of how you’re going to keep your audience’s attention beyond that initial video. My argument is a lot of this can be achieved with blending customer service values (such as a forum for multi-way engagement, real access to people responsible for the video and the brand’s customer service staff or “chief listeners”) and viewer incentives  with the interesting content people want to share and talk about.

#5 Social Video tip: Share

“People ask for your original file so they can use it in their presentations or for other purposes—share it. Sure, there will be a few that do so with malicious intent, but they will be in the minority. The majority will be adding distribution points and beacons for your great work. They may make the video into something cooler that you never dreamed of as well.”

My response: This is a nice concept I agree with. To help make things easier for yourself, look into adding a Creative Commons license – perhaps right at the end of your video playback, and on the same landing page where your video is featured. This way people who are sharing the video with others and having it embedded will understand where it came from, and have the opportunity to acknowledge it. (If you want the extra insurance, you can always include your brand name as a watermark inside the video for the complete playback, such as on the lower right of the video.)

Why Online Video Pros Should Get Erik Qualman’s Latest Book

Like I said before, there are a many other video-related tips in the book – for business, professional, and even personal fulfillment and growth. I encourage all online video marketers and video enthusiasts to pick up a copy of Erik’s book (I myself have both the Kindle edition and the hardcover), and to share a customer review on Amazon.com.

The Story Behind “Socialnomics” Book Success – Online Video

If you’re an online video marketer, chances are you’ve already watched and shared several of Erik’s videos. His Socialnomics YouTube channel (the same title as his international best selling marketing book, Socialnomics), features some of the most popular videos about social media on YouTube.

Erik “gets” social video, but not just because his videos go viral. Just do a search on Erik’s name along on YouTube or Google Video Search, and you’ll see how active he is with personally engaging with his audience and genuinely helping people out. In fact, Erik also has an entire section on his Socialnomics blogsite dedicated to video, and is surprisingly accessible to do video interviews for such a busy guy.

I found this particular passage in Erik’s latest book particularly revealing about how he achieved huge marketing success with doing online video for his previous book:

“While I performed multiple efforts to help promote my last book Socialnomicsby far the biggest contributor to awareness around this new word were a few videos that I produced on YouTube. In one year’s time search results on Google for the term “Socialnomics” went from zero to over 1 million and this was primarily driven by people looking for and reposting these videos. I then made certain to focus on doing several revisions to these videos. In developing this specific concept and utilizing social media tools, I was able to create a great deal of attention for the book in a shorter time than may have been possible in the pre-digital world.”

Thanks To All These People:

  • First I have to thank to sponsor Brickfish for making this event possible, and providing a fun setting (with appetizers and drink tickets. ;)
  • Thanks also with Social Media Club Chicago for handling the ticket arrangements, and bring in my fellow social media colleagues.
  • And finally, a special thanks my colleague and friend Margaret Hicks  for holding the iPhone camera for me on a moment’s notice, all without a tripod. Margaret is also known in Chicago as “The Pedway Gal” with ChicagoElevated.com (meaning, she gives tours of the Chicago underground pedestrian walkway, which is huge and surprisingly entertaining), and author of “Chicago Comedy: A Fairly Serious History.”) I met Margaret while my spouse and I were doing the Pedway tour she hosted, and kept us all in good spirits throughout.

About Erik Qualman, Social Media Expert

Erik Qualman is the author of Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Socialnomics made Amazon’s #1 Best Selling List for the US, Japan, UK, Canada, Portugal, Italy, China, Korea and Germany. Socialnomics was a finalist for the “2010 Book of the Year” awarded by the American Marketing Association. Fast Company Magazine listed him as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. He also has a viral video on YouTube that you may have seen – “Social Media Revolution.