|"Evolution of Dance" is the most watched YouTube video ever.|
Set up a simple YouTube measurement program, decide if particular videos are really problems, and prepare for the worst case scenario.
Quick: How many people have watched the most popular YouTube video? Now, how many people watched the last Superbowl?
If you answered 87 million for the first and 98 million for the second, then you probably already know that video is the most popular type of shared content in Consumer Generate Media outlets. And with video technology becoming simpler to use and bandwidth growing, we can expect huge video sharing growth in the future. So, if you are not measuring YouTube now, then you will be sooner or later.
Actually, YouTube is only the most popular of at least 40 or so video-sharing websites. You will want to check most of these to see if the content is relevant to your organization or products. And maybe you will want to monitor some of them. As a practical matter, however, if you keep an eye on YouTube, you've pretty much got the field covered. Here's how to get started.
Welcome to YouTube
If you are absolutely new to YouTube, then first just go there and look around and watch some videos. Be amazed at a few of them. Be amazed at the inanity of many of them. Notice that some of the videos have been viewed 30 million times, and some have been viewed 30 times. There is even a movie being made about the YouTube video "Battle at Kruger."
Do a few searches. Do a basic search for your name and your teenage daughter's name and the name of your ex. Take a look at the Channels page, and at the TestTube page. And if you want to really get to know the place, create an account and upload your own video. Here's a hot tip: If you are going to upload that video of you doing the Wild Chicken Dance at the company party, don't put your own name on it.
Why Would You Want To Measure YouTube?
Now let's get a little more complicated. There are three basic reasons why you would want to measure YouTube:
- You want to measure other peoples's videos about you, and need to decide if you should really care about them.
- You are thinking of making a video, and you want to know best practices.
- You already made a video and you want to know if it achieved your objectives.
We will leave #2 above to a separate article. But in the meantime there are some resources on the Web that might help. Just google "How to make a good YouTube video."
Measuring Other People's Videos About You, and Should You Care About Them?
Five Minute YouTube Measurement Program
First off, here is the quick and easy way to stay on top of YouTube. Do a search for your company and product names every day or every week. If you come up with nothing, great: You can tell your boss there are no videos posted, and you are monitoring YouTube. For each video you do find, decide: "Would we approve this video, or would we not approve this video?" And so put all the videos into those two files. Now you can report on YouTube activity whenever you need to.
(Note that these searches will pick up all text in the headlines, descriptions and user tags [it doesn't search the actual video itself]. Knowing user tag behavior for your organization is key on YouTube and elsewhere for this reason.)
You Get Excited about a Video?
If you find an number of videos that mention or concern your organization or product, then you will want to do a more careful analysis. Do you appear in the title, description, tag, or just in a very quick glimpse? What are the positive points? What are the negative points?
Thumbs Up? The videos that are favorable can often teach you something about your products or image that you didn't know. Keep track of them, and see below for techniques to examine them more closely.
Thumbs Down? The only ones to worry about are the negative ones, and even then, don't go getting all excited until you examine the situation carefully. How many people are actually watching the negative video(s)? Did the video(s) get low ratings and bad comments, or good ratings and lots of links? Maybe a negative video actually proved strong brand loyalty when viewers gave it negative comments.
You can deal with the problem videos on a case-by-case basis, and/or compare them to see if there is a pattern or a larger problem that needs to be addressed.
to Survive the Worst Case Scenario
So, it comes to pass that there is a video out there that says strongly negative things about your product or company and lots of people are watching it, commenting on it and passing it on. What to do? First, recognize that you have a full blown crisis on your hands; any video that gets really strong response indicates a major problem that needs serious attention. Respond to the video as you would respond to any crisis: Monitor the press, get your replies together and get your messages out. Details depend on the situation. Maybe you do a response video, maybe you do a press release. But the good news is you have plenty of opportunity to learn what people's problems are and, by analyzing comments, to learn specific ways to fix them.
Indepth YouTube Measurement: Basic Metrics
If you find a number of videos about your products or organization, you may decide you want to examine them more closely. If so, here are the basic metrics that you want to collect for YouTube or any video site:
- How many times was a video watched?
- How many times was it rated and what were the ratings?
- How many comments did it get?
- How many times has it been favorited?
- How many times has it been embedded?
- How many times has it been linked to?
See below for ideas on how to compare coverage to other media, and how to analyze comments. Be aware that it is often very complicated to understand the impact of a video that mentions your product or company. (For instance, KDPaine & Partners looks specifically at what characteristics of brand strength or organizational reputation are affected.)
You Made a YouTube Video:
Did it Achieve Your Objectives?
The key here is that you want to be able to show that you communicated what you were supposed to. So, right from the start set your video design objectives so that the video expresses what your bosses want to communicate about the company or product. O.K., yes, it seems elementary, but if everyone agrees that your video says to the world what you (and your boss, board or board room) want to say about your organization, then you have a video you can measure. If there is an uncertainty about what your video should communicate, then all the metrics in the world are not going to tell you how effective it was.
Once your video is posted, you want to collect the basic metrics described above. Measure at standard times from posting: say, one hour, one day, a week, two weeks, a month, and then once a month thereafter. After six months your video has probably finished its YouTube lifecycle, but check at one year just to see.
Now compare your video's metrics to those of your competition, or to your videos in the past. Are you doing better or worse? Which stats are different and why? What do comments reveal about each video and what do they teach you about how to make your next video?
Comparisons to Other Media
Your YouTube metrics will be put in context if you can compare them to other media. So, for instance, you can provide some meaning by comparing number of views to newspaper circulation, or TV viewership. It's not exactly apples to apples -- you can make a case for YouTube views as being much more powerful than print or TV impressions, for instance -- but it is a place to start.
For the Advanced Student: Comment Analysis
If you have plenty of comments to analyze, then things get much more interesting. If a viewer leaves a comment, you can argue that the video had a greater impact on that viewer than did some other video on which the viewer was not moved to comment. So for two videos with equal viewership, the one with the most comments can be said to have the greatest impact.
You will find, however, that many comments are not relevant to your objectives or relate in any obvious way to your product or organization. So, analyze comments based on to what extent they achieve your original objectives. Also check to see if they indicate any other important sentiments or reactions that you did not anticipate:
- Positive or negative responses to your organization, brand or products
- Demonstrations of increased brand strength of loyalty
- Unusual engagement with product or company
More advanced analyses, like that those available from KDPaine & Partners, include teasing out exchanges of particular sorts, debates on particular topics, and threads on topics of choice.
How to Impress your Boss and Justify Your Existence, Video-wise
Here are two quick ways you can demonstrate that your video has been particularly effective:
1. Compare your video against other media (ads, newsletters, etc.) for transmission of key messages or brand reputation.
2. Use comment analysis to show that people are interacting with your brand(s) and are more engaged with your company and products. Remind your boss that non-social media -- like advertisements -- can't encourage or measure that sort of engagement at all.
Extra Credit: Do focus group or survey analysis of video viewers to determine if they, after watching the video, are more likely to buy your product or visit your theme park or whatever. If you survey all customers, ask "Do you watch YouTube videos, and did you see ours?"
Peter Kowalski is Director of Research Strategy at KDPaine & Partners. His research interests include international inter-media influence, agenda setting and network analysis. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.