Tag Archives: Viral video

A new trend in higher ed video?

The creation of funny and light-hearted college and university promotional videos has been on the rise ever since UQAM published their lip dub to “I Gotta Feelin'” exactly two years ago.  Since then there have been flash mobs, 16 minute musicals, spoofs on those 16 minute musicals, strange British attempts to be funny, oh and of course… more lip dubs.

I’m a little sick of flash mobs and lip dubs (and still waiting for the unflash mob to appear) but one style of video that I really enjoy are the music videos that are being produced by both institutions and students.  Chances are you know by now that one of my favorites is Midd Kid (completely student produced!) but I also enjoy Call Me a Duck from the University of Oregon, a well produced video created to engage an eager audience who learned about the group On The Rocks from NBC’s The Sing Off.  While at St. Mike’s I ran a video contest for students and received two music video entries Knight Vision and the contest winner At Saint Michael’s, proving to me that these videos are of interest to the 18-24 year old range.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Joe Schuberth, associate director of undergraduate marketing at Towson University, asking me what I thought of a new music video he produced with students called I Tell ‘Em Towson University.

My response? “HOLY CRAP THIS IS AWESOME!”  Although, I think I toned it down a bit for my email reply.

Luckily, Joe was willing to answer a few questions about this fantastic video…
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Where did the idea for “I Tell ‘em” originate?  Were you inspired by other institution’s music videos?

I wanted to do a music video since I started working for Towson a little over three years ago.  If they are done well, they are effective at getting tons of people talking and excited for an organization.  With so many students using social media, I knew a music video had the potential to explode and reach both people who were considering Towson University and those who might not initially have Towson on their radar.  I’ve seen “That’s Why I Chose Yale,” but I wanted to do something different.  I wanted it to be from the students so it felt genuine and original.  It took three years for it all to come together because I needed the right mix of talented students, and I finally found them during the winter of 2011.

What was your process?  You mentioned working with students, how did you discover their interest in doing such a project and what steps did you take with them to produce the video?

I manage a YouTube channel, which features videos filmed and edited by Towson students.  I hired Henry Basta to be part of the student YouTube crew in the fall of 2010 after an impressive interview and viewing some of his work which included a music video he and his friend, Jay Karolenko, produced for a video contest held by the library on campus.  After working with and getting to know Henry for a semester, I was even more impressed with his creativity, attention to detail and his zeal for Towson.  I knew Henry and Jay made up the band, Sharpened Crayons, and I started watching more of their videos on YouTube.  Search them yourself, you won’t be disappointed.  I started realizing that I had an opportunity to work with them and the rest of our student YouTube crew to make the music video I had been talking about for years.

At the beginning of the spring semester, I brought Henry and Jay in to talk over the idea with them.  They were thrilled with the opportunity and we immediately started throwing out ideas.  We met almost every week for the entire spring semester.  We started with the song.  A music video will go nowhere without a well-produced song.  I gave them some guidelines of things that I wanted them to cover, but I really wanted this to be something that came from them as students of Towson University, so I left most if it up to them.  They came back with lyrics, we made some tweaks, and then they added the music to it.  I loved what they did with the music.  I have no musical talent whatsoever, but I do think I know a good song when I hear it, and when I heard their first cut of this song, I knew we were going to be doing something big.  I couldn’t get the song out of my head!

After the song was finalized, we started planning out all our shots.  I also wanted the video to be a quick tour of Towson for anyone who watched it, so I knew we had to have lots of different shots and involve lots of different people all over campus.  We all worked to set up all the shots and made sure we could do things like have a dance party underwater with the women’s swim team or in the middle of a dining hall.

We wanted the ending to be our grand finale, so we spent a lot of time planning that out and getting some of our students, cheerleaders and marching band to participate, as well as our mascot, Doc the Tiger.  All of the student YouTube Crew, including Henry and Jay, played a part in figuring out the right camera angles and techniques for all the shots, especially the ending.  Chad Harrell was the main videographer for most of the shots, and Alex Nearey and Steven Wilson also played roles in filming.  I was really blessed with excellent student talent around me to be able to pull all this off.  After we got all the footage, Henry edited it together.  I gave him some feedback and so did some of the other members of the YouTube Crew our other students, Henry made some changes, and we finally had a music video after four months.

Why did you choose to invest time in a fun promo video?  What are your aims and objectives?

Our students are some of the best people to tell the story of why a prospective student should come to Towson University, so when I saw this opportunity coming together, I had to take it.  The main goal of the video is to increase excitement for Towson University and ultimately bring in more students who want to become Towson Tigers.

How will you be promoting this video?

We are promoting the video through e-mail and our website, and it is the featured video on our YouTube channel.  We will be showing it during our campus tours and our Open House events.  The Towson community liked it so much that we had a request for it to be played on the television screens in our University Union, so it now plays on a loop there too.

What will constitute success with this project?  How are you measuring results?

Measuring results is a challenge with something like this because you will never truly know how many people were affected by the video.  But we will do our best to measure results by including a question about the music video in the surveys we conduct with our prospective students.  Hopefully this will tell us whether or not the music video played a factor in their decision on whether or not to attend Towson University.  We can also obviously measure views.  We’d like to have at least 50,000 views within a year of releasing the video.  We are on our way with 28,547 views so far as of 9/8/11.  The comments on YouTube have been a nice sign of success too.  Alumni, current students and prospective students have all been commenting on the video with lots of excitement and pride for the school, which is exactly what we wanted.

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Watch the video for yourself!  What do you think about this new trend in higher ed videos?  Leave a comment and let me know.


10 YouTube tricks you need to know

Last night’s episode of Higher Ed Live was chock-full of YouTube pro tips from Seth Odell.  Any business or higher ed institution who uses YouTube to share web video needs to know the following 10 tricks in order to get more bang for your buck.

Here’s a recap of the Top 10 YouTube tricks:

Video Pro Tip #1 – Always post your video initially as private or unlisted.
Even once YouTube has finished uploaded your video, it takes awhile for it to process.  A processing video usually looks like crap… not what you want your customers to be watching!  Allow for the video to process (the length of time varies) and then make your video public once it is completed. 

Video Pro Tip #2 – Thumbnails are important. As a YouTube partner you can customize your thumbnails.
Thumbnails lure viewers to click on your video.  Higher Ed institutions can become an EDU partner (bonus tip: in order to do this you must have quality academic content on your channel, not just promo videos) and upload customized thumbnails.  I recall seeing stats somewhere in my internet searching equating a well-chosen thumbnail to higher viewership.

Video Pro Tip #3 – To hyperlink in the video description box, make sure to include the “http://”.
Do not start links with “www.” in the description box as they will not be hyperlinked.  This is important to remember if you want to drive viewers back to your website. 

Video Pro Tip #4 – You can link to a specific time in a video with the code #t=00M00S.
Ever wanted to direct blog readers to a certain moment in a YouTube video?  Add the above code to the end of the video URL and replace with zero’s with the time in the video that you want them to see.

Video Pro Tip #5 – YouTube does not weight your video titles as much as it weights your file name.
If you are like me, you are careful to tag your videos appropriately so they show up in searches.  A little known fact is that YouTube places more weight on the original file name of your video than the title that you later give it.  When exporting your video from iMovie, Final Cut Pro, etc. make sure to properly title the file.  YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world and I can imagine you want to make sure you’re optimizing YouTube SEO.

Video Pro Tip #6 – Use the YouTube Keyword tool to find trends and help optimize YouTube SEO.
This free YouTube Keyword tool will help you capitalize on current trends on the web.  You can even sort keyword suggestions by country, language, demographic, and interests.

Video Pro Tip #7 – “Best” the YouTube algorithm with proper file names and creating your own co-view web.
If you are interested in your videos appearing in the “suggestions” column (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?) you can attempt to “best” the YouTube algorithm by combining Pro Tip #5 with some careful clicking.  Seth Odell admits this is a time-consuming process: start on your own video and click on a suggested video that is not your own.  Spend time clicking around on the next set of suggested videos and inserting your own URL ever so often.  YouTube makes it’s “suggestions” by remembering the web of videos that viewers watch.  You can essentially create your own co-view web… if you have the time.

Video Pro Tip #8 – There are only 3 ways people find your videos: Directed, Direct Search, Indirect Search/Browser.
This is an important tip to remember, as you can only do so much in marketing your video.  (Raise your hand if you’ve ever been charged with creating a viral video.) 

Video Pro Tip #9 – Use YouTube annotations to drive viewers to your own videos.
At the end of every video you create, place a 10 second screen that has text to the effect of “Click here for more videos from Company X.”  Use YouTube annotations to link the text to your YouTube channel.  Wouldn’t you rather your viewers watching more of your videos versus leaving your channel for a suggestion?

Video Pro Tip #10- Hotspots tell you when viewership drops off, this is only available for videos under 1 year old.
Understand your viewers better by paying attention to YouTube Insights, particularly the hotspots.  This will help you catch viewership trends on your videos.

BONUS! Want the latest stats on web video?  ComScore, Inc. is my favorite resource and they recently released  “The State of Online Video.”  The presentation and slides from Dan Piech, Senior Product Management Analyst, can be found here.   

Watch Episode 17 “Seriously Advanced YouTube Tips” with Seth Odell of Higher Ed Live.


What is a viral video?

After realizing today that I had not listened to the Midd Kid rap video in far too long (it’s been at least a month), I also realized it was time to update my blog readers on the status of Midd Kid vs. Yale.

In a blog post from November 2010, I recapped my HighEd Web conference session “Using YouTube for Recruitment.”  I ended my presentation with the question, “What makes a video viral?”  I showed screenshots from the videos “That’s Why I Chose Yale” (YouTube musical from the Yale admission office) and “Midd Kid” (student produced rap video at Middlebury College) and asked the audience to raise their hand if they could recognize what video the screenshot was from.

While many of the attendees had heard of the “Yale” video, only one attendee had ever seen “Midd Kid,”  and he was from Vermont so he didn’t count.   Now, this was despite the fact that the videos were released roughly one month apart and “Midd Kid” had over 11,000 more views than “Yale.”   My point was that a video can not be considered viral solely based on the number of views it has received.   One needs to ask “Who is my target market?” and “Did the video reach them?”  According to YouTube’s Insights, at the time of the presentation, the top 3 audiences for “Yale” was Females 13-17 and Females and Males 45-54.  The top 3 audiences for “Midd Kid” was Females 13-17, Males 18-24, and Males 25-34.

Today “Midd Kid” is outpacing “Yale” by almost 58,000 views and the top 3 audiences for each video haven’t changed.  It’s important to note that “Midd Kid” did not have the extraordinary amount of press coverage that “Yale” received when it was released.

Yale disabled the ability to add comments on their video. (Side note: I’m not a fan of that.)  But, here’s a screenshot of the top two comments for “Midd Kid.”  I think the 2nd one is particularly striking.

midd kid comments

“This has probably made more people want to go to Middlebury than all the college’s recruiting efforts combined.”  Walee227, you are one insightful dude.

What do you think?  Is “Midd Kid” a viral video?… even though you may never have heard of it until today. Is “Yale” a viral video?… even though it isn’t fully reaching it’s target market?

Or are neither of them viral because they don’t have over 65 million like “Bed Intruder?”

Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

Update: For your viewing pleasure…

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Update 5/24/11

“Midd Kid” surpassed 1 million views while “Yale” continues to lag behind with roughly 925,000 views.

Recent audience view for “Midd Kid”

audience view for midd kid rap video

Recent audience view for “Yale”

audience view for that's why i chose yale video


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