Learn From Netflix: Why “Orange is the New Black” Totally Works

A colleague of mine has been buzzing about her latest gig for the past few months now.

Her email announcement that she landed a role on a new series created by the one-and-only-one, Jenji Kohan was super exciting both for her career and for me (yay! I’m officially one slice of Kevin Bacon away from Jenji Kohan herself).

The second part of that announcement was that the series was being produced and self-distributed by Netflix to exclusively be available on – Netflix; this part of the news was interesting, somewhat perplexing and I wondered if my friend would have a job after she wrapped shooting.

Now, however, we see that Orange is television and narrative storytelling history in the making.

A Fast Lesson in Distributing Original Programming

We’ve seen some Netflix original programming done before and quite well I might add.  House of Cards, was the content provider’s first original series and the revival of Arrested Development, which originally aired on FOX for three seasons, was a move to capitalize on an established fandom.  Orange is the New Black, although greatly different from these two programs, is the combined result of what made both House and Development work.

The reported budget on House of Cards was around 100 Million, according to this Forbes.com article. The network used analytics of subscriber activity to know that their customers would indeed check out a Kevin Spacey starring political drama produced by David Fincher. This number crunching and market research is nothing new for Hollywood; Q-Star ratings have been a mysterious method of evaluating blockbusters for sometime now. Netflix, however, had one thing working in their favor – they could deliver the content right to the viewer verses blockbuster which still functions under the “if you build it they will come” theater distribution model.

So, Netflix spent the dollars, set out to produce something that was for sure going to be streamed and delivered something stellar. I mean how could something touched by David Fincher that birthed performances between Spacey and Robin Wright not be wonderful? Seriously.

With House, Netflix established themselves as a distribution platform that could work for original programming and not just a platform where audiences are watching outdated content that may or may not be new to them. There was just one thing that Netflix had to ask themselves: how long would it take for Netflix to gain more subscribers from their original programming?

Which led to them asking the smarter question: how could they obtain an untapped audience without breaking the bank on marketing dollars?

Easy answer here folks. Find a series that has a large fandom that is currently not being fulfilled. Enter: Arrested Development, Season 4.

Arrested is a show that drives transmedia fandom. The cult following that ensued from the three seasons on FOX made Arrested a true “social” series with fans discussing its’ past and future on blogs, making up stories for characters and in some instances posing as the characters themselves.

There was no question that the fans of Arrested would chatter and cheer over the announcement of a 4th season on Netflix. (That’s kind of the whole point beyond “fandom” they live in the same world that the Bluth family does). The distribution channel reportedly grew its subscriber base by 600,000 when they announced the revival.  A good number but arguably not enough; but that was OK because Netflix executed the alley-oop just right, what was coming next in the world of original programming for them was the slam dunk. .

And then, Jenji Kohan parted the red sea and released all episodes of a first and original season at once…. 

This is a move that Netflix has made before – all episodes, all at once. There is been a lot of debate over whether or not this model works or hurts. I think that the correct answer leaves us in too much of a gray area but there are certain instances in which releasing all the episodes at once “works.”

Orange is the New Black is one of those instances and here’s why:

1. Jenji Kohan is most known for her ground-breaking, critically acclaimed series WEEDS. I definitely signed up for Showtime just to watch it and I definitely cancelled my subscription after the series finale. But if I need my fix I can still watch the series on Netflix..

Yes, Netflix has been able to analyze the analytics over who was watching WEEDS; a show with a female anti-hereo protagonist, that was watched by not only women but men as well.

2. It is funny yet has its truthful moments, this is provided because Orange’s cast of characters live within a very, very specific world. That world is the prison system. It is one that you and I don’t live in but one that when we enter into “fandom-land” translate into transmedia-like properties, for example: “Red’s Cookbook”, an online Orange themed store called the “commissary,” beauty tips from Laverne, stretch of the day with Yoga Jones, Catch the Chicken Facebook game, etc. you get my point. (BTW if you are a representative of the Netflix marketing team you can reach me at amydepaola [at] mac [doc] com, should you want to develop my ideas.)

3. A show in a female prison and therefore a 90% female cast is something to talk about.

How many of us have peered inside a women’s prison before? Not many. The majority of content out there that focuses on the prison system is focused on men. Mean men. Dramatic men. There is SO much to talk about here. We are seeing content we’ve never seen before. Releasing all the episodes at the same time has had the complete opposite effect. Ever since the series aired its’ hashtags and reactions from viewers have been crowding my newsfeed, on Facebook and on Twitter. I argued just the other day with a friend of mine that that was absolutely genius. Having the content there all at once allows fans to reach the point of obsessive, they, we are ultra-consumed by the show’s content.

It is a different kind of social chatter that is occurring when the series is available all at once to viewers. Unlike the social chatter that I see crowd my newsfeed on a Tuesday night before the new Sons of Anarchy. This chatter is not only an announcement that “I can’t wait for it to come on” or “yay, it airs tonight” or “can’t wait to have a glass of vino and watch it tonight,” the conversation is about the content within the program:

“Did she really see the chicken” appeared in my newsfeed.

“Did Bennett sleep with her mother?!?!” Also appeared in my newsfeed.

Why? Because we are ultra-consumed with something when we are given the opportunity to experience it all at once. That is how you tap into audiences imaginations, by inviting them 100% into the world. (See: Walt Disney and the Magic Kingdom).

What Happens Next?

Rumor had it, way back when, that Orange was going to be produced by Netflix but was possibly going to be sold off to a more established original programming network for distribution.

Lucky for Netflix that did not happen. In fact the series has been greenlit for a second season and another excited email popped up in my e-mail earlier this week announcing the start of production on season 2.

Orange is the New Black not only set the standard for Netflix but is going to change the landscape of original programming – and possibly episodic narrative programming as we know it.

____________________________________________________________________________

Stay tuned from more insights on Netflix from ZoomTilt’s Community Manager, Amy DePaola and follow her on Twitter.

Memoir of a Web-series Producer

I’ve been hitting the pavement in the independent production scene since 2008. I currently serve as the Manager of Brand and Community Relations for ZoomTilt and am obtaining my Master in Fine Arts in Media Art from Emerson College in Boston, MA. Below is a recollection of how I became a web-series producer and my opinion on the status quo of web television. My opinions are my own and do not reflect the overall opinion of ZoomTilt or Emerson College.

_______________________________________________________________________

My first job in the world of production back in 2008 was with an independent, non-profit, production company that focused on women’s programming in New York City. Back than we received hundreds of feature film and play submissions from hungry, powerful, talented women writers. Our involvement with a winning 2006 Sundance Film Festival as well as our long list of female celebrity endorsements and our core messaging made this production company one that everyone wanted to be involved with.

However, we were just as broke as the hungry, powerful, talented women writers that sought us out.

True, there were a few celebrity writer/directors that were vying for us to produce their work. One well-known TV actress/writer and director in particular submitted three feature scripts to us during the summer of 2009. I wasn’t overtly impressed with her work. Three years later in 2012, one of her scripts that she submitted had made it to production and further than that into the Sundance schedule. As I predicted three years earlier, her work wasn’t well received, but it was still her film I was watching on the screen and not my former production company’s film.

The actress/writer/director in question had spent, seven – I repeat seven years, getting that script from paper to screen. And when I say it wasn’t well received, I really, really mean it wasn’t well received. One veteran producer I had breakfast with the day after its debut said and I quote, “I’ve never walked out of a Sundance movie till last evening.”

_______________________________________________________________________

I moved out of New York City during the summer months of 2010 to pursue my graduate studies and re-evaluate how I was going to find my place in this business. In the fall of 2010, I embarked on executive and supervising my first web based series, a concept that mimicked that of Friends and Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and was the brainchild of a Boston filmmaker. I show ran the concept, built the production team, as well as the cast and tried to break the mold by keeping a TV standard for the series, releasing a 24 minute pilot online in late 2011.

I had spent about 9 months promoting the series before its debut. My knowledge and PR skills came in handy as did my social media accounts. The pilot episode at its length received over 24,000 views in just the first week.

But that was it. We only had money for one episode. How on earth were we going to continue this?

I’ll admit I was slightly stubborn at the time. I wanted to present this power and stay firm in my decision to keep the series at television length. It wasn’t until one epiphany in the shower that it really hit me. “Don’t break the mold, follow the status quo – follow the rules.”

We than re-released the series into 5 parts. One “season,” when combined was now the length of a standard TV episode. And for the two years of work that it took us to film two “TV length episodes” I was able to say instead that I produced two seasons of a web series concept, ten episodes in total. The numbers in our new scenario just sound much more impressive. And made me feel slightly accomplished.

The success and buzz over the “Friends-esque” web-series led to the production of several short films that I produced as well as another web-series concept, this one though, was a competition based reality show that was shot and edited in a 7-day turn around period. We had established reality personalities built into the concept but alas did not give the series that much build up regarding our PR efforts and therefore received less views than we had hoped. We also faced the difficulty of having some production restrains. Here we were working less with quality and more with quantity and proof of concept.

This past year at Emerson College I began to wonder about narrative complexity. That little theory based yada yada that formulates why storytelling is effective, how it is structured and as a result resonates with audiences. Narrative complexity theories have since been translated into television and I figure that the same must go for web series content, right?

So, as I begun studying to understand whether or not narrative complexity existed in within web series I discovered a lot more than I expected. Or more correctly, I heard a lot of what I “didn’t want to hear.”

Realizing you made mistakes is never something easy to admit. However, it is important to realize the mistakes and grow, learn and move forward with them.

Looking back on my time working for the NYC based production company, as well as my time producing web-series and short films as well as my time at Sundance (and SXSW and CES and TriBeCa), I’ve learned one thing that I hope to leave you all with:

Be inventive. Embrace innovation. Think outside of the box.

Whether you are producing narrative content or running a small marketing firm. Sure, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” but I believe that there is an overflow of what is out there these days and even those who are getting praise and recognition are not looking to alternative methods or allowing exploration of “finding the new.”

One thing is for sure if you are like me, interested in spearheading your own projects, take a moment to think about it? How has this been done before? Has it worked? I guarantee you that nothing that has been done under the sun – or made it to Sundance for that fact was simply out of “luck”.

 

 

Web Series Creator Spotlight: Katie Shannon and Audrey Claire Johnson

Let’s face it, Hollywood and their blockbusters have been dominated by men for decades now. Television has given a slight rise to powerful female centric programming with shows like Weeds, Sex and the City, GIRLS, and The Big C, all of which is on premium, pay-for television.

Independent filmmakers have turned to the web to generate programming and stories that they believe is missing from the likes of Hollywood. Programming that can be made accessible to a much broader and larger audience. But with the likes of Machinima and Rooster Teeth it is safe to say that the “Hollyweb” is also favors a slight edge towards content that is generally considered male-centric.

Alas, we over here at ZoomTilt have stumbled upon the dynamic duo of Katie Shannon, writer/director and Audrey Claire Johnson actress/producer; both funny-gal extraordinaires. that are embarking on their first collaboration together: K&A, which stands for Karley and Alex.

Written and Directed by Katie Shannon of Thompson Films. Starring Audrey Claire Johnson and Ashley Elmi. Produced by Katie Shannon, Audrey Claire Johnson and Michael Madden.

Written and Directed by Katie Shannon of Thompson Films. Starring Audrey Claire Johnson and Ashley Elmi. Produced by Katie Shannon, Audrey Claire Johnson and Michael Madden.

Katie and Audrey worked together previously on 617, The Series, which also included producer/actress, Amy DePaola (sound familiar?) You can view the second season of 617 on ZoomTilt’s YouTube page.

@ZoomTilt: Ok, first off, this question is for Katie. Tell us about the concept of K&A? How did you come up with it? 

@KDuffShannon: K&A is a comedy about the friendship between Karly (played by Johnson) and Alex (played by Ashley Elmi) as they navigate their complicated lives in the city of Boston. One of my favorite shows is “Sex and the City” because it is honest and truthful about women today and their relationships with one another. It reminds me of my relationship with my best friend [from college], who currently lives around the corner from me. However, their is one huge difference between us and the ladies of SATC; I’m gay and she is straight. A lot of the ideas for the series come from our relationship (not all but some!). For storytelling, it’s a character dynamic that hasn’t been explored all that much. When I hear or see something I think would be great for the show, I write it in my phone. If someone ever read the list, they would probably think I’m crazy!

@ZoomTilt: What makes Karly and Alex’s story different from some of the more popular female duos that are currently out there? (ex: “2 Broke Girls”) 

@10ThousandHangs (Audrey’s Twitter): The combination of one straight and one lesbian lead protagonists is blatantly underexplored in sitcom format. Television comedies with a broad audience have found success with straight/gay leads, normally shown as leading/supporting man/man or man/woman. Because of the female straight/gay premise, I’m already interested in their history, their friendship, and their chemistry with other characters on the show.

@KDuffShannon: Both these characters don’t hold back. Their lack of caring what people think has allowed me to explore so many story lines. I’m partial to comedy shows like Family Guy and It’s Always Sunny Philadelphia for never apologizing for what they put out there and talking about topics that many of us think about, but are too afraid to bring up.

@ZoomTilt: What are the benefits of distributing the series online? What are also the challenges?

@KDuffShannon: Online distribution gives us the benefit of being able to reach anyone in the world and have a much broader audience for that. The challenging part, however, is to get people to discover it in the first place. Anyone who has a camera can make a web ddfseries these days. You need to think to yourself: what makes your [concept] different? Why should someone take time out of their day to watch? It’s also even more challenging with bigger and bigger names getting into the web series scene, so you really need to take the time and steps to make your concept stand out.

@10ThousandHangs: If you’re a creative artist in any medium, you will have challenges deciding on the best way for your work to be seen. Not just any way, the best way – and one that is financially doable. With K&A we’ve studied other projects that have been crowd funded, how they interacted with their audiences and where their content was eventually hosted. Its been a huge help.

@ZoomTilt: Interacting with audiences is important online, how are you both hoping that audiences will interact with K&A? 

@KDuffShannon: I hope people find the show as funny as I think it is (obviously I’m partial). I hope people can see that females can be just as funny as men. And trust me…these two ladies are.

@10ThousandHangs: Goals would be to have a hefty number of subscribers on our YouTube channel and dialogue on social media about each episode as they are released. We’d also like our fans to share their stories about their exterminators with us, and, of course, get 1,000,000 signatures on to petition HBO to pick it up……..obviously.

@ZoomTilt: So, what are some points of the series you are looking forward to shooting? Can you give us some secrets about what to expect? 

@KDuffShannon: I’m looking forward in shooting the episode “Doing Nice Shit For People” because in that episode Audrey’s character gets tasered. We read that episode during our auditions for the character of Alex, and her [Audrey] performing the act of being tasered made me laugh every single time.

Karley takes a much needed rest on Alex's lap. (From L to R: Johson and Elmi)

Karley takes a much needed rest on Alex’s lap. (From L to R: Johson and Elmi)

@10ThousandHangs: There’s an episode about a rat in the apartment. I am paralyzed by rats, phobic to a traumatic degree. K&A stand and huddle on the couch while some weird stuff goes down off camera. It’s classic suspense, not seeing the “violence” on screen while we react in horror. I can’t wait to play that scene.

@ZoomTilt: What are some female-centric web-series out there that you enjoy?

@KDuffShannon: I was an intern on set once for the filming of The Guild, so I really enjoy that one. There was also a lesbian web series called 3Way, which was one of the funniest web series I have ever seen. It’s sad but the lack of female leads in web series is a reflection of what you see on television. Obviously as a female filmmaker you want to try to change that as much as you can. I’ve never made a project where female characters weren’t the focus and I plan to stick to that.

@10ThousandHangs: I worshiped Broad City, would die to have been on Delusional Downtown Divas by Lena Dunham. Other web sketch groups that do incredible work are Good Neighbor, Olde Payphone and Paulilu.

The admitted lack of female genres within the web series community is a reflection of the industry as a whole. I spend my energy focusing on women crushing the scene online, on television and back to feature length blockbusters. They are my inspiration when choosing projects, writing scripts, and aspiring to be a great comedic actress.
Touche. Thanks for your time ladies! We are happy to support you. Please let us know when we can expect the first episode!
Support K&A by taking a visit over to their Kickstarter page and learn about their team on Facebook and stay up to date with them on Twitter.
If this photo is any indication of the realistic bond between these two ladies, we are extra hyped to watch!  (From L to R: Elmi and Johnson)

If this photo is any indication of the realistic bond between these two ladies, we are extra hyped to watch!
(From L to R: Elmi and Johnson)

10 Key Measurement Metrics for Video Marketers (Part 2)

In the first installment of 10 Key Measurement Metrics for Video Marketers, we looked at earned media views, content sharing and subscriber and sign-up conversions.  In this week’s post we’re going to explore three more key video analytics data points for marketers and advertisers: (A) click-through rates (CTRs) and referral traffic, (B) audience retention (view-to-completion), and (C) social conversation.  Let’s dive in.

4. CTRs

Marketers we talk to seem to be split about 50-50 on whether to track CTRs and referral traffic from videos as a campaign metric.  On one hand, it’s worth asking the question of any digital marketer – “why wouldn’t you want to track clicks?” – considering how focused many are on email, call-to-action button and social media post CTRs.  The flip side however, is that measuring referral traffic and CTRs from video tends to be challenging: primary social video hubs like YouTube and Vimeo offer very limited native click-tracking support. In the full-service version of our video A/B testing tool ZoomTilt Analytics, video experiments can be customized to track video click-through-rates for videos where YouTube annotation links have been added.  ZoomTilt Analytics can also estimate and compare CTRs for any type of video by capturing closed-loop audience data, but doing so currently requires additional custom client integration.

Video A/B Testing Software

If you’re not using ZoomTilt Analytics, there are still a few options to track CTRs on your video.  One option is using trackable links (like bit.ly) within YouTube annotations then calculating your CTR manually with bit.ly’s analytics data.  For enterprise customers using Brightcove or Wistia for video hosting, both platforms also offer click and conversion tracking insights on individual video call-to-actions within their respective analytics reporting.

Overall it’s helpful to monitor and A/B test video-specific CTRs, as well as track video referral traffic from YouTube and other content hosting destinations.

5. Audience Retention (View-to-Completion)

Video Audience Completion

One of the best video measurement metrics is, of course, audience retention or the video’s view-to-completion percentage.  The higher the average, absolute percentage, the more engaging, relevant and/or enjoyable the content is to audiences.

What’s a good baseline view-to-completion benchmark for branded video? One data set from Tubemogul indicates that, on average, only 15-25% of skippable online video ads are viewed to completion. In most cases, when viewers are allowed to skip pre-roll, they’ll jump ahead to the content they want to watch.  When video viewers are forced to watch ads, additional data indicates 85-95% view-to-completion rates for long-form videos and 65-70% completion rates for short-form (<5 minute) videos.

Since social video and branded entertainment is clearly the right content strategy in digital video, our view is advertisers should be sure to open their content to choice-based viewership and evaluate content traction with people who can freely skip or share it.  Audience retention rates won’t be as high as forced pre-roll or mid-roll ads, but that’s exactly the point: content marketing should be pull-based because of its value, not push advertising that’s forced into audiences viewing sessions.

When it comes to measuring view-to-completion, we see a new layer of valuable data emerging in demographic and audience-profile-specific retention data, a key feature within ZoomTilt Analytics.  For example, a branded entertainment spot aimed at working mothers might have 100,000 views and an overall view-to-completion rate of 30%.  That’s directionally helpful to a marketer, but it would be great to know what % of those views came from working mothers and what their subsegment-specific audience retention rate was.  Was it higher than the mean? Lower versus the mean? That’s a critical campaign insight that deserves to be tracked.

6. Social Conversation

Another metric we recommend video marketers track is the volume of social conversation around their video (where, at the risk of repetition, it helps to develop content worth talking about). Generally, the best places to track conversation is in comments sections (YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, blogs where the video has been embedded) and on Twitter.  Generally, our baseline recommendation is to measure three conversation dimensions:

  1. Total number of comments, responses or social mentions for your video or campaign
  2. General sentiment of comments (positive, negative or neutral)
  3. Distribution of comments across owned media properties and other channels (is your content most discussed on your YouTube channel? more popular on Facebook? Why might that be?)

By understanding (and participating) in the dialogue around your video, as a marketer you have another great feedback tool to measure what works or doesn’t work with different audiences. Moreover, by encouraging your viewers to take a follow-up action by including a call-to-action that incentivizes user-generated content responses or conversation, you can help amplify your message and brand experience well beyond your own content.

=======================================================

In next week’s Part 3 we’ll continue our discussion of key measurement metrics for video marketers, looking at viewer sentiment, redemptions and the viewership distribution curve, so stay tuned!

Instagram Video or Vine: Why Not Both?

Vine vs Instagram Video

Image credit: Matt Nazaro

In the biggest user divide since Apple and PC, the showdown between Twitter’s Vine
and Facebook’s Instagram Video has prompted heated conversations about which
service reigns supreme for branded entertainment. However, as a marketer, you don’t necessarily need to get caught up in the debate, since both platforms offer unique benefits for content marketers and advertisers looking to start conversations with customers and prospects around engaging, sharable video.

Overall, online video engagement is booming as users rush to view, create, and share “viral” videos and clever branded content with friends and family. It’s no surprise, then, that social video sharing has seen massive growth across all devices.  For marketers, both Instagram Video and Vine present an opportunity to distribute branded entertainment in a short-form, packaged format most consumers are actively participating in and seeking out.

Already, brands have begun to take advantage of Vine and Instagram Video, two of the
most popular social video sharing apps. Though technically these services are
competitors, you don’t have to choose a side: both platforms have their advantages and short-comings, and both can be leveraged in order to connect with consumers cross-platform in interactive and authentic ways.

Vine

Key features:

  • 6 seconds
  • Loops
  • Embeddable for easy sharing
  • 13 million+ iOS users & ~1 million Android users

Consumer attention spans have never been shorter – particularly when it comes to intrusive and uninteresting content.  When use properly, six seconds can be more than enough time for a company to create unique, sharable messages for its fans and social media followers. With Vine, sending a clear, creative and succinct message is imperative. But remember, less is more.  Keep the video simple and avoid bombarding
fans with too much information in the short clip.  Moreover, Vine’s intrinsic loop function makes the app particularly suited for repetition-friendly content like animated GIFs, memes and recurring sequences.  There are also great opportunities for brands and agencies to incorporate Vines into contests, product launches, sneak-peeks and helpful tips, hints and informational content.  At the end of the day, if your brand has a large presence on Twitter, Vine is a must.

Instagram Video

Key features:

  • 15 seconds
  • 13 filters
  • Editable
  • 130 million current Instagram users

Yes, you have a few more seconds of story-telling time with Instagram Video.  Nonetheless, make sure your clip captures viewers’ attention early on so viewers don’t drop out early. Filters and editing ability allows more creative freedom, but don’t abuse it. Again, simplicity and creativity are key. If your company already has a large fan base on Instagram, use video features to broaden brand awareness, improve your messaging to mobile users and engage your social media followers with richer content.

Ultimately, Vine and Instagram Video both share benefits video marketers shouldn’t ignore. In particular, both services are optimized for search engine indexing with the ability to use hashtags and tag individual users. Brands can search for user-generated content and monitor the ways fans share or respond to specific branded content campaigns, messages and hashtags.

Since Vine and Instagram Video have natural distribution channels through their respective parents Twitter and Facebook, distributing content is relatively cheap across both platforms.  Moreover, with branded Vines are shared four times as often as branded online videos, and branded content making up four percent of the top 100 tracked Vines, there’s evidence to suggest short-form video users are receptive (or, at least, more agnostic) to creative branded messaging.

As a marketer, if you aren’t already using Vine or Instagram Video, it’s time to
start.  Keep it simple; send a clear, effective message; don’t be afraid to experiment; and amplify the consumer-brand conversation through innovative social video.

5 Lessons for Startups Working with Large Brands

Written by Chris Bolman

As a one year old social video advertising tech company, our core target customer base is medium-to-large brands, agencies and media companies. In a lot of ways, we’re selling enterprise software products and video content marketing services. It’s been a blast so far, but at the same time we’ve definitely learned a few lessons over the past year as startup entrepreneurs serving the enterprise space that it would have been really helpful to know on day one. With the hope of imparting some wisdom that may help other current and future startups, here are 5 Lessons for Startups Working with Large Brands:

1. Expect Older Technology

“By the way, your [web]site keeps breaking in my browser,” an exec at a Fortune 500 company emailed me one afternoon.

Me: “What browser are you using?”

Exec: “Internet Explorer 7.”

Me [to myself]: Jesse from Breaking Bad

It was a particularly funny and pointed lesson that big, mature companies tend to use older technologies. Yes, I realize we’re all tearing through Github with our blazing-fast Macbooks doing epic, efficient things backed by cloud-hosting, but we need to keep in mind most of our big brand clients and prospects are probably reading emails in Outlook, working on PCs and using much different workflow tools than we are. Not only does this make product elements like backwards browser compatibility (and, *shiver* IE support) for your website important, but it’s also important from the standpoint of thinking about how your product might incorporate into an existing B2B user or department’s existing workflow.

2. Nothing Happens as Quickly as You Want it to

I’m going to preface this by calling this a generalization – in some cases I’ve seen big companies execute very quickly. That said, generally, there are controls, checks and decision-making hierarchies in place at enterprise customers that will never move at the pace of your lean, nimble startup.

Before you even start selling to most large brands, you’ll need to go through vendor approval. Rarely does vendor approval ever happen quickly. Sometimes vendor approval processes can completely stagnate, even if you have an internal champion trying to push your application through. If you’re selling a B2B product (unless it’s a low ticket item that can easily be expensed by a department manager with a small budget), add vendor approval timelines into assumptions about your sales cycle and revenue roadmap. It really matters.

Vendor approval however is just one example; others include invoicing, setting follow-up meetings, getting contracts completed and many more. As much as you want to come into a first business development meeting with a client ready to revolutionize their business, just realize their world is a lot bigger, safer, slower and more process-controlled than yours and set realistic expectations.

3. Most Big Companies Are Not Looking for the Next Hot Thing

Personally, I’m scanning Techcrunch and my Twitter feed on a daily basis trying to keep up with the pace of startup innovation and information flow. If you’re reading this, you probably are too. Most people are not like us. Quite the opposite, there’s genuine professional (and businesses) risk in adopting a new enterprise app that doesn’t work, doesn’t perform or doesn’t deliver its expected ROI. It’s a really good thing when your product or service makes someone at another company look good internally, or helps make their job safer. It’s a bad thing when it doesn’t. Build this thinking into your product development, sales and customer support process.

4. Always Go Into Meetings With an Agenda

A meeting with a Fortune 500 company is not a daily standup. When I’ve gone into meetings with a clear agenda and structure to run the meeting they typically go well. When I’ve gone into meetings with big clients unprepared sometimes it goes very not well. [Painful] lesson learned.

5. You Really Can’t Over-Communicate.

If you’re working with large brands (or agencies), chances are you’ve got stakeholders and points of contact in different business units, roles and teams. Unless you’re selling lower-priced, no-touch SaaS without much client-side customization or implementation, it’s critically important for your mutual success you try to ascertain what each contact is looking for out of the relationship, how each unit or stakeholder benchmarks their success, and how they like to be briefed or communicated to you. Moreover, there really is no such thing as over-communication with your larger clients. Quite the opposite, in many cases it can be really reassuring that at least one person on your team is a stable, available, friendly and transparent presence during the course of the relationship or engagement. It also re-communicates your brand and value. Even great inbound marketing companies with self-service SaaS products like Marketo and KissMetrics maintain consistent communication with customers via emails, blog updates and new product announcements (even if most of it’s automated). Again, to repeat, you really can’t over-communicate to your customers early on, particularly when it’s done on a person-to-person level.

What has your experience been as a startup or entrepreneur working with larger clients? Care to share your wisdom or war stories in the comments section?

10 Key Measurement Metrics for Video Marketers (Part 1)

Digital Marketing Measurement

Campaign measurement and metrics tracking is a must for digital content marketers. But, unlike other brand communication and advertising channels like PPC/SEM and blogging, where success is typically dictated by clicks and follow-on signup or purchase conversions, a common core objective in video marketing – particularly social video marketing – is to create content that encourages a strong enough emotional connection or response from a viewer that leads them to (1) share the video, (2) display a more positive affinity toward the brand, (3) explore additional brand properties (potentially further down the conversion funnel at a destination like a landing page or e-commerce store), or, even better, (4) perform some combination of all three. In other words, social video typically reaches people outside or at the very beginning of the typical inbound marketing funnel, a place where identification and attribution analysis can be most challenging.

As a result, video marketing success must be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively (with a heavy emotional component to the latter). Because of this, and with a goal of clarifying some common video marketing misconceptions, we’ve put together a practical guide to help digital marketers get started measuring the results of their video efforts.

1. Earned Media Views

Although a simple view count is the typical conversation starter when it comes to video performance, outside of directionally indicating content quality an impression count, total views are primarily a vanity metric that convey more symbolic significance than bottom-line results. In fact, probably the single most important thing a video view count establishes is social proof (or lack thereof) that the video might be worth looking at. All other things equal, from a consumer psychology standpoint, a video with 1,000,000 views will get a viewer’s click over a video with 10 views simply because of the perceived “potential interestingness” the higher view count conveys.

Why? For starters, views can be paid for. While there’s nothing wrong with this practice (in fact, quite the contrary, we actually encourage reasonable video distribution spending to help effectively seed marketing videos and help quality content get discovered online), the simple fact is that anyone can get a million views on their video with a large enough budget backing it. Second, a high number of views can still translate to low engagement from a minutes viewed and viewer retention standpoint if the video has a high, steep drop-off rate during watch sessions.

Our recommendation: Track your video’s absolute earned media (e.g., non-paid) video views from social media and search engine referral views.

Earned Media = Total Views – Owned Media (views from your website, Facebook page, etc.) – Paid Media (CPV or other promoted views)

If 20% or more of your video’s total views aren’t coming from earned media from social and search, you aren’t reaching audiences beyond your existing follower base, and it’s likely you should explore improving both the quality and the discoverability of your video content. Videos that are shared are 3 times more likely to be watched and are watched 3 times longer than a video that a user finds himself.

2. Shares

Over half a million branded videos are shared every 24 hours. What kind of share rates is your brand getting?

Based on ZoomTilt research and branded content performance data we’ve observed, a quality baseline share rate for social video is approximately 0.25%-0.50% direct shares (from the player or player-embedded page, excluding re-shares from social networks) as a percentage of total content views. In most cases, even smash hit digital video ad campaigns only see circa 2.5% direct share rates.

Be sure to track how your content is being shared. And, just as importantly, consider and try to benchmark why your content will be shared during the creation.

Why do people share things online according to the New York Times?

Psychology of Social Sharing

3. Subscriber Conversions

As marketers, we all recognize the importance of subscriber lists. In many cases, email lists are the backbone of web commerce companies like Fab, Karmaloop, Birchbox and Rue La La. Video marketing is no difference: there’s much less value in a one-time view or share than a subscriber who sticks around for more.

In fact, if you’re using a hosting provider like Wistia, you can even capture email conversions within your video player:

Wistia conversion

However, with the bulk of social video activity happening on YouTube (and driven by shares of YouTube embeds on blogs and social networks), YouTube channel subscribers is a critical metric for the ongoing success of your video content marketing efforts.

An interesting case study example is “The Beauty Inside” video campaign by Intel & Toshiba. Released as an interactive web series, “The Beauty Inside” reached close to 7 million YouTube views and 14 million Facebook page interactions, according to Intel. At a high level, clearly a success, particularly in light of the fact that a concurrent Toshiba laptop campaign running through Best Buy saw sales increase from 200 units a week to 900 units a week during the campaign’s early release.

But one place the “The Beauty Inside” campaign seems to fall short is cultivating YouTube subscribers. As most social media marketers know, a Facebook page like just isn’t what it used to be (more specifically, it’s about 10% of what it used to be), so getting high Facebook engagement from a social video campaign is nice, but less impactful than adding new YouTube subscribers. Moreover, because Intel and Toshiba released “The Beauty Inside” on a special branded channel titled TheBeautyInsideFilm, the 16,000 subscribers they collected don’t subscribe to Intel or Toshiba’s YouTube pages, which TheBeautyInsideFilm doesn’t even bother to link to. In some way, while insulating the artistic integrity of “The Beauty Inside” from overt branding, both brands sacrificed their opportunity to build their YouTube subscriber base – a mis-step in our view.

Our recommendation: pay attention to and encourage subscriptions (channel, email) within your social video campaigns. Building a robust subscriber list on YouTube is one of the best ways to drive recurring brand engagement with your video content.

=======================================================

In next week’s Part 2 we’ll continue our discussion of key measurement metrics for video marketers, looking at click-through-rates (CTRs), view-to-completion, and more, so don’t miss out!