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How a Video is Worth 2,000 Words: Vocus Meets Greg Jarboe.

As YouTube turns seven this week, SEO-PR’s Greg Jarboe tells us everything we need to know about marketing a business on the world’s biggest video channel.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So how many words is an online video worth?

If anyone knows the answer, it’s Greg Jarboe. He’s the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, a pioneer of search engine marketing, and the author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. Described by one industry blog as ‘ahead of the curve whenever there’s a major shift in technology marketing’, this is the man with all the answers about how to use video to get your business seen online. So how many?

“A thousand times a thousand,” he says, slowly. “A million. No—I’m exaggerating; that’s the dramatic answer. The actual answer may be somewhere around 2,000 words. That’s the length of a short story – and what a video does is tell a story.”

“It tells a story in a more organic way than words can,” Jarboe says. “You can see as well as hear what is going on. It works on dimensions that the written word doesn’t. Seeing something is often an easier way for someone to learn a new topic or tactic. Video makes a news story more believable. It’s often a better way to tell a joke. It brings to life dimensions that the printed word can’t. It happened in the 1940s and 1950s with the advent of television, and it’s happening again in the Internet era.”

Although the digital video format is nothing new, it’s only in the last five years that online video has come into its own. Jarboe pinpoints the purchase of YouTube by Google as the critical moment.

“What had crimped video in its early days was bandwidth,” he explains. “As more people went broadband or wi-fi, those constraints melted away and video started to do the things that pioneers had hoped it would. Then, in 2006 Google acquired YouTube for 1.65m dollars. That was Google placing a bet that online video was going to be really big. They decided to own it rather than compete with it.”

A compelling storytelling medium

At its most straightforward, using online video in your PR is a case of using it to tell your story in a more compelling way. In 2009, Jarboe created a series of 15 press releases for a client, community advocacy non-profit Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, to promote its inter-city Save the Dream Tour event. He then embedded a single YouTube video, a nine-minute shortened documentary piece, into each release.

“There was no need to make fifteen different videos,” says Jarboe. “We used the same one fifteen times. We were promoting an eight-city series of events. For each city, we distributed one release a couple of weeks out. Then, we came back much closer to the event for the second release, also with the video embedded. We ended up with 49 local news stories from 24 different television stations. And that was before Katie Couric and CBS News decided that it was a national phenomenon and that they were going to weigh in on the topic too.”

The video convinced local TV stations that if they committed a video crew to cover the story, they wouldn’t come home empty-handed.

“In today’s environment of shrinking newsroom staffs, where video crews are under increasing pressure to come back with something every time,” Jarboe explains, “how do you overcome the hurdle of holding a brand new event by an organization they’ve never heard of? When the producers saw our video, they could see that it was a compelling story. They could see that if they sent their crew there, they’d come back with something. It showed them that the story was legitimate.”

“I know that a lot of people assume that if your video doesn’t go viral, it’s unsuccessful,” Jarboe says. “But that’s a very ‘2006’ concept. There are lots of ways you can achieve marketing goals with a video that doesn’t go viral.”
Another way is using video to get found via search, he explains.

“A lot of people assume that a YouTube video gets you found in Google,” he says, “and they’re right. But far more videos are found when people conduct YouTube searches. Most people don’t think of YouTube as a search engine, but in terms of the number of searches, it’s the world’s second largest. There’s something north of 3.6 billion YouTube searches per month in the United States alone. We’re talking massive numbers, and you can optimize your videos like you would an online press release.

Get found to get viewed

“You do your keyword research, you find what people are searching for and you make sure those phrases are in the title of your video and in the description. You can also include them in your ‘tags’ for the video—all of this gives you more of a shot at being discovered. The chances of getting results just by throwing your video over the fence are decreasing every day.”

‘Throwing it over the fence,’ says Jarboe, is the number one pitfall for the YouTube novice; it’s an attitude he also sums up as ‘I’ve got my video up, ma – how come I ain’t famous yet?’

“There are 35 hours of new content uploaded to YouTube every minute,” he explains. “More video is uploaded to YouTube in a month than ABC News, CBS News and NBC News have broadcast over the last 60 years. Just putting your video up there may have been all you needed to do five years ago, but today, if you haven’t optimized it for YouTube search, nobody will discover it and nothing good will happen after that.”

As for engaging users of the site to build your network and influence, the same overall rules apply, but with different mechanisms, Jarboe says.

“Everybody hates spam on any social media platform, so don’t push unwanted stories,” he explains. One engagement feature that’s unique to YouTube is that you can get someone to do a video response to a video that you created: YouTube has that mechanism and it allows someone to give you a kind of shout-out – you could look at it as a much more complex version of a retweet.”

His second piece of advice for those about to engage is simple: don’t feed the trolls. While every social network has users who get kicks from posting offensive comments, they seem to inhabit YouTube in their hundreds of thousands.

“For some reason,” smiles Jarboe, “the comments on YouTube videos are teenage at best. It’s partly because the demographic skews younger; it’s also because there’s less of a penalty on YouTube for being offensive. Every now and then, you will get an enlightened bit of feedback. On the whole, though, it’s juvenile. The best thing to do is just ignore it.”

You can follow Greg Jarboe on Twitter here. For more video marketing tips, click here.

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