Now that YouTube is more popular than all the sites of the TV networks combined, you may wonder whether broadcast TV's days are numbered. It may well become more important for your brand or company to be on YouTube than to be advertised on TV. Undoubtedly for some that day has already arrived. With Google having acquired YouTube, certainly it has a heck of a lot more resources at its disposal. You can bet that YouTube will be one of the major players in consumer-generated media for years to come.
Already, YouTube has launched careers, such as that of YouTuber "Brookers" who was hired by Hollywood celebrity Carson Daly because of her zany videos. YouTube has also brought international fame to previously unknown bands such as Sick Puppies, a band popularized by the hugely popular and inspiring "Free Hugs" video set to the Sick Puppies song "All The Same."
And then there are the hugely successful commercial viral campaigns, such as Blendtec's "Will It Blend?," the brilliant video series on various household objects that are run through a Blendtec blender—including marbles, rake handles, and even iPods.
"Will It Blend?" was the brainchild of George Wright, Marketing Director at Blendtec, and Blendtec's Founder and CEO, Tom Dickson. George Wright recalls the birth of the idea: "Tom likes to run non-standard things through our blenders in the demo room to test out their strength. One day I wandered in to the demo room and saw sawdust on the floor. Tom was testing out the blenders again, this time it was a 2 x 2 jammed into the blender to see if he could destroy the blender or the 2 x 2."
That gave George an idea: why not post those demonstrations of "extreme blending" online. The trick to creating a viral campaign George reckons is to make it funny and worth watching. They went to work creating the videos back in the fall of last year, starting with five videos: "Don't Try This at Home Blending." They built a companion microsite to go with it—WillItBlend.com—and sent an email to all employees to pass on the word of the videos and the Web site.
They also emailed their customer base and asked for suggestions of things to blend. At the time George was traveling and had his Blackberry; all the emails coming in were set to forward to him as well. Calls to his Blackberry wore out the batteries in a few hours, coming in from the media, print magazines, and TV. They were featured on a Today Show segment the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. iVillage Live did a segment on them too. They were interviewed by Newsweek, Playboy Magazine, and the New York Times.
Blendtec had a surprisingly low budget. It happened to have an on-staff video producer and on-staff webmaster, so development of the first five videos ran somewhere between $50-$100—including buying the domain name, a couple of rakes, some marbles, and few other supplies. So it can definitely be done on a meager budget.
George Wright advises that companies wishing to get into YouTube marketing focus on something that is fun, with either the interviewer laughing or scratching his/her head, because only then will they want to pass it on. But don't force it. It really should be something worth watching.