Last month I produced and directed (via Wheelhouse Communications) the book trailer to Libba Bray's Going Bovine for Random House Children's Books. This video lit up Twitter when it debuted on EW.com and continues to build a growing audience through Young Adult blogs and other sites. I wanted to tee up the valuable lessons learned in this experience for you to bear in mind on the next video you make:
- Be Different. A standard Q & A author video with cuts to the cover art is not going to stand out or be remarkable. In this video, we started with a wacky premise: the author wore a cow suit and did not mention it at all.
- Spend Time On The Edit. Most beginning web video makers want to concentrate all on the shoot. Here's my advice: spend more time on the edit. If you're hiring professionals make sure you've budgeted ample time for the creatives to digest all the footage, try out sequences, and then some more time to add some zing and polish.
- It Takes A Village To Go Viral. With the video done, it was time to get people to notice it. Everyone involved in your video should have a strong or fledgling social web prescence to shout out to the world, "Hey, watch this video!" In the case of Going Bovine - Random House has an incredible in-house publicity department that worked all the blogging and twitter angles to their advantage.
Libba Bray, the author, has a well trafficked blog and sizable twitter following @libbabray. Her twitter following includes fans, other authors, librarians and bloggers. Bray blogged about the making of the video (see here) and then tweeted out the link when it was first available. Lastly, yours truly, the filmmaker pointed all my contacts to see the video by posting on twitter, facebook and linkedin. Through some social networking, I was able able to get it posted on the popular eguiders.com site. (see here).
- There Is A Place For Traditional PR. A month before the book's publication, the video premiered on the highly trafficked EntertainmentWeelkly.com's site (EW.com = nearly 4 million visitors/month) Shelf Life. Random House did a great job getting this eyeball friendly placement and it was the initial engine that drove views. I think it was a good strategy. It forced the truest and most loyal fans to go to the EW site and read the positive review of the book and the video - See here.
- Video Feeds The Conversation. The second life of the video started a week after the EW.com blog premiere. RH posted the video to YouTube. Fans of Young Adult (YA) literature are all over the web. It's an extremely vocal and supportive group that includes readers, librarians, teachers, publishers, authors and agents. Again, it was traditional PR relationship building at work that informed this audience about the book's release and the video.
When thinking about spending the resources and time on a video think about if there is an existing online community that is already in place. For this video, it was interesting to see how many blogs embedded the youtube clip or linked to it. See here, here, and here for examples. I would show you the plethora of tweets that the video received but time has erased them from twitter's memory. Believe me - the link chirping was plentiful.
Be clever with your video - first and foremost. No one is going to link to plain Jane video anymore. Use your budget for editing; it's the most essential part of your process. Create videos for audiences that have strong social platforms in place. Lastly, everyone involved in the making of your video should have a strong social web presence.