YouTube Insights for B2B from the Frozen Food Master

b2b-youtube-freezerburnsGregory Ng is the CMO of Brooks Bell, an optimization firm focused on enterprise-level A/B split testing, targeting and optimization services. But at night he opens the freezer, cranks up the microwave and transforms into the Frozen Food Master. Greg has been reviewing frozen food on Freezerburns since 2008. In that time he has learned quite a bit about YouTube. Combining that with his understanding of B2B marketing and optimization, he shared his insights for B2B companies in the interview below.

Most of the biggest YouTube channels are run by individuals, not corporate brands. It seems that the promise of “anyone can be a publisher” really has taken hold on this platform. Does this make YouTube different from other social platforms?

I believe that most of the big YouTube channels are run by individuals because they don’t have the politics or red tape to publish like corporations have. YouTubers like honest messaging. They like genuine interaction and raw emotion. They tend to dislike brand marketing messages and paid endorsement material. If you want to create a beautiful brand anthem spot, definitely publish it on YouTube. But don’t expect the same type of engagement you would get by publishing on video sites like Vimeo that celebrate the art of video and have a community that appreciates video as an art form. The promise of “anyone can be a publisher” really took off when Blogger made a free blog platform. But while this allowed people to publish thoughts, the written word did not have the cache and sexiness of making you feel like a TV or movie star. YouTube provided a free way for people to publish a movie or a music video or a video diary for all to see. It is the promise of celebrity that inspires people to push out content on this platform.

Corporate brands could totally leverage the audience of this platform but typically they approach it in one of two ways, which are both ineffectual to this audience:

1. The Brand Advertising Method: They post every one of their commercials on YouTube and hope they go viral. While consumers expect to find those ad campaigns online, they do not engage with the channel, but they engage with the specific video. That’s why you will see well-known brands have videos with millions of views but only thousands of subscribers. This is not leveraging the platform correctly.

2. The “No Value to Anyone But the Sales Team” Method: They post product demos and video brochures. Again, this does not welcome community engagement and it is nether entertaining nor is it useful content.

So the reason why the biggest YouTube channels are run by individuals is because those individuals interact with their audience and their content is engaging.

You have built an audience on YouTube by focusing on one niche and consistently publishing videos. Would the same strategy work for a B2B company? Is there a business audience there?

No question YouTube has an audience large enough for whatever business you are in! In fact, YouTube has a big enough audience to support every single niche you can think of! If you are passionate about something (no matter how specific) there is bound to be a couple hundred thousand people in this world that are equally passionate. Consistently publishing videos in that niche is how those hundred thousand people find you. But growing audiences and creating awareness does not come from owning a niche and publishing consistently. Staying true to your niche simply helps you own the category so competitors can’t jump in. Consistently publishing simply keeps your content relevant and current.

The real key to building an audience is to provide value to your viewer. For me, this means reviewing food so customers are informed before buying something. This works for me because I do not own or work for any of the products that I review. For B2B it is a bit trickier. YouTubers do not like to be sold to. So the way to reach an audience is to provide value. For example, if you sell marketing automation software you won’t have much of an audience for tons of videos talking about the features of your product. But there is a huge audience for a web series highlighting success stories from your customers using your software. Jay Baer’s book, YOUtility covers this idea at great length and it is worth a read when creating your YouTube presence.

How can B2B marketers use video to support their overall content marketing efforts?

Uploading video content on YouTube can have multiple benefits towards your content marketing efforts. Video can capture a moment like no other medium can. You can use video to capture customer testimonials that mean a whole lot more than just a quote written in text. You can document an event or interview a team member. You can produce video demos or explain an FAQ using video. In all of these examples you can give a prospect, a customer, and investor a better idea of what your company is all about and instill more trust and confidence in the messages you are producing.

From a tactical standpoint uploading a video to YouTube means you can cultivate a new audience on the YouTube platform as well as embed the content on your website, blog and other social networks.

Does a YouTube channel let B2B companies tell their stories in a different way, or does it let them reach a whole new audience segment?

YouTube definitely allows B2B marketers to communicate a message in a more personal way. Instead of a message coming from a press release, it could be the same message delivered by the CMO. Have an endorsement from a partner vendor? Instead of dropping in a text testimonial, how about having their CEO put it on camera? There is potential for a whole new audience segment in YouTube, but it requires focus and commitment to realize that potential. There are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute! The only way to stand out is to put in as much as you expect to receive from the platform. Like Twitter, it requires engagement and community management in addition to quality focused content.

What are the analytics you focus on for your YouTube channel, and would B2B marketers focus on the same ones?

Fortunately YouTube has been making great strides in the analytics they provide (for free) for YouTube channels. My primary metric is engagement per video. This means out of the total number of people that see the video, how long into the video do they watch until they bounce. Also, do they Like, Comment, add to playlist, or subscribe as a result of that video. My secondary metric is the time of day that my video is watched. This is important to me because I have an international audience and it helps me strategize when in the day to publish my videos. This also helps when I schedule live video events and decide on the start and end times of contests and promotions.

My advice to B2B marketers is to think about what your primary goal is for your YouTube channel and then report on the metrics that influence that goal. Like Google Analytics you can gain insight into different metrics through your YouTube Analytics dashboard. But just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean it matters to you. And just because it is important to one channel doesn’t mean it matters to others.

It can be overwhelming to sit down in front of a camera and start talking. What are some tips you can provide for getting started with video content?

For some people, putting yourself on camera is easy. For others it is the most terrifying thing imaginable. But video content doesn’t have to just be someone talking into a camera! You can be very successful using voiceover over a product demo. Or you can get even more creative (and still be professional if used correctly) using animation, whiteboard drawings, and even puppets. The key is to find a method that is on brand, cost-effective to execute and something you believe in enough to commit to!

And can you really shoot good quality video with a smartphone, provided you turn it horizontally and you stabilize it by setting it down on a table?

Five years ago I wouldn’t have been able to say this, but yes, you can shoot perfectly fine, professional quality video with your phone. In fact, full movies have been shot using just an iPhone camera! The key is to use a tripod or a steady cam rig, and make sure your sound is great. People would much rather tolerate a low definition video if the sound is clear and the video isn’t shaky.

If you want some frozen food advice from Greg to go along with his YouTube advice, here is his list of the 50 Best Frozen Foods in 60 seconds:

8 Ways to Improve Your B2B Content Marketing Video

b2b-content-marketing-videoA recent Animoto survey revealed that 73% of adult consumers are more likely to buy a product or service after seeing an online video that explains it. B2B companies should take note of this survey too, since online video can help support a business’s overall content marketing plan.

Here are tips for using online video the right way for your business:

1. Keep it short

Internet users are, by and large, an impatient group. They want to get in, consume your information and move on as quickly as possible. Keep your videos limited to three minutes or less in order to engage users right then and there. Research also shows that that users are apt to give up on an online video if it doesn’t load within two seconds. Shorter videos will take less time to load and keep eyeballs on your content.

2. Break up longer posts into multi-part series

Take a note from television: leave a cliffhanger at the end of each of your video installments. Breaking up your content into shorter pieces that form a larger series not only helps your content marketing plan by generating more pieces of content, but it also gives users a reason to come back to your site. You can promote your multi-part series just like an entertainment brand does by setting a launch date for your next installment and using your social media presence to promote it before it “airs.”

3. Use inserts

Cutting away from the main action (such as a speech or presentation) to show what the speaker is referring to is called adding an “insert” (because you’re “inserting” content into your scene). If the speaker in your video is referring to something that you can easily show (such as a slide from the presentation behind the podium or a reference to something that would be helpful for the viewer to see), use your software to include that image. The experience will flow more smoothly for your viewer and your video will appear to be seamless.

4. Use title cards

In your video editing software, create title cards that you use at the beginning and end of your video with your business name, logo, website and a call to action. Viewers who are interested in your content might want more, and a title card will help them remember your business name and your company’s visual branding.

5. Create uniformity

Continuity is part of building a strong brand. This extends to your video content marketing plan as well. Your videos should look similar in production value, open and close title cards or even use the same person to deliver information from video to video.

6. Share your contact information

Use your video as a filter to obtain your user’s contact information post play. Displaying company website, social media channels or even a toll free number will provide a way for interested viewers to contact you. The information you receive will be pre-associated with warm sales leads because these users are ones who are invested enough in what you have to offer to exchange their information for it. Use your video as a way to grow your mailing list, social networks and overall outreach.

7. Check audio issues

Don’t waste time creating video content that no one will want to watch. People will quickly abandon video with poor quality sound so invest in a good microphone system (with an additional clip-on mic). If your business doesn’t have a dedicated audio/video department, you’ll have to do a sound check yourself before you begin to record your content.

8. Edit out the mistakes

No one wants to watch video with dead air, a host who stumbles on their words or any other technical glitches. Using simple video editing software like iMovie, Pinnacle Studio Plus or Animoto, edit out any mistakes you’d rather the public didn’t see before you post it.

Quality online video can give an added boost to your B2B content marketing plan. Be sure to follow the steps above and you’ll soon see deeper engagement with your content that can lead to social shares and new business leads.

Photo credit: Flickr

How To Make B2B Video with @TimWasher

Tim Washer, Senior Marketing Manager at Cisco, sat down with me at MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston and shared his advice about making video for B2B companies. Tim had previously compiled a list of the 10 B2B Comedy Videos for this site, and these are good examples of what marketers can do when they stretch the bounds of their creativity.

Advice for Creating B2B Video:

  • Don’t talk about your product
  • Create or find an interesting story about your company
  • Focus on customers
  • Need someone who can write comedy for humorous video
  • Start with the pain point that your product solves

5 Ways for Your B2B Video to Compete with Hollywood

Doing B2B video? Congratulations. Your company is now in the entertainment business. Not only are you in the entertainment business, but you’re competing with professional directors like me, big companies like Time-Warner and the New York Times and CBS and Fox, and the millions of individuals who busily upload 48 hours of video every minute to YouTube.

Hollywood director provides B2B video tipsYou’re competing for attention — for the focused time to get your message across to a potential customer. It would be great if customers were sitting quietly in front of their laptops for your message to arrive, but they’re not. They’re drowning in the same tsunami of video that you are.

The good news about the video glut? People only have to watch the good stuff. They’ve learned how to ID a lame video in under 10 seconds and click it off. The bad news? Your customers have this skill too.

Which brings us to why nobody watched your video: You bored them. They didn’t want to hear the VP of marketing talk insincerely about how people-oriented you are. They didn’t want to see charts and graphics. They didn’t want to take 10 minutes to appreciate your sales process. And let’s get really truthful here: You didn’t either.

Great video cuts through the clutter. People watch it all the way through. It gets tweeted, linked and passed around all by itself. Bad video gets turned off.

Yet boardrooms overflow with chatter with about how to shoot video economically, how to get more video posted, how to propagate video and SEO it to the world. They forget to talk about how to make B2B video that anyone will actually want to watch.

My advice? Stop worrying about equipment and SEO, and start worrying about what matters — shooting video that doesn’t suck. Here are my top 5 B2B tips for great video:

1. Entertain or Die

Watching your video is optional for your customers. To get them to do it, you need to reward them for their time. In the entertainment business (which you’re now in, remember?) the expected reward is actual entertainment.

Your job is to deliver enough intrigue, motion, emotion and story to keep customers glued to their seats. If you don’t, they’ll un-glue themselves as fast as they can and run to the nearest episode of “Family Guy.”

“But…but…but…” I can hear you whine from here. “But I have a revolutionary product! Our manufacturing process is second to none! We save customers money!” Yes, of course. You have a very important message. A very important message nobody will ever see if your video is boring.

Think it can’t be done? Check out this Corning video on the I-just-want-to-shoot-myself topic of “the future of glass.” You will see no charts, no interviews with the heads of R&D and no customers talking about cool new trends in glassware. And you will be entertained.

2. Say One Thing

Think of your video as a tight sentence with a noun and a verb. “Our Blenders Grind Anything” is a good, compact sentence you can build a whole video campaign around.

“We have great customer service and low prices and our customer service reps love their customers and we’ve been in business for 50 years” would cause Mrs. Zelermyer’s red pen to go into conniption fits on your third grade composition. Best to imagine her looking over your shoulder when you do video too.

3. Put One Person in Charge

In business, we tend to work in teams and committees. Teams and committees are about sharing ideas, which inevitably leads to compromise. Great to think about before you start your video project. But not while you’re doing it. You can’t design by committee.

Somebody — and perhaps it’s you — has to own the process. Make the choices. Love the good parts and cut the bad. To answer the question — forgetting colleagues and pressure from above: If you saw this video on your computer, would you watch the whole thing?

4. The Secret to Viral Video in Two Words

“Naked Celebrity.” If you have one, you’re viral. If not, it’s time to get real. “Viral” is not a kind of video — it’s a response by an audience that’s so excited by your video that they urgently and quickly share it with everyone they know.

A viral video is, in other words, a hit. Hits take skill, vision, artistry, marketing savvy and a huge amount of luck. You can hire all but the luck — but it’s expensive and still may not work. Rather than focusing your strategy on going viral, focus it on doing great, entertaining video. If you’re entertaining enough, viral has a chance to happen.

5. Hire Help

Do you assign accounting tasks to people who can barely count? Of course you don’t (I hope.) Don’t ask video know-nothings to do your video.

But have no fear. You may already have people in your company who love video and do it well. Odds are you’re paying them to do something else. You can often find these people by just by asking around.

If you’re a big company with a big product, hire big pros. If you have a fun creative challenge and a decent product, there are talented people out there who are dying to work with you. If you’re not that big, hire someone with experience to consult with you on video. They can guide you through the creative and economic pitfalls of the process until you grow your own in-house pros.

What has your experience been making B2B videos and sharing them online with your customers?

5 Ways to Salute Your B2B Employees Using Social Media

Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States, when we honored those who defended our country. B2B companies have lots of opportunities with social media to honor their own employees. Customers and prospects prefer doing business with people that they know, and the following simple ideas can help share your employees with the world. Show employee photos with all these suggestions so people can begin to relate to your employees as people, not just an email address.

Create a Twitter List
A Twitter List of employees shows what employees are talking about, thinking about, reading, sharing and doing. Make sure you inform employees about their inclusion on the list, especially if you will be incorporating that feed into the company website or blog.

Write a Monthly Blog Post
While you already should encourage employees to blog on the company site, there are other ways to showcase employees on the blog. Many employees volunteer with organizations in the community. Each month write a blog highlighting an employee and their work with a local organization. This shows both the character of your employees as well as the companies connections to the community.

Highlight Accomplishments in Email Newsletter
Create a standard spot in the email newsletter to feature employee accomplishments, whether these are internal achievements or notable external events, like speaking at an industry event or publishing a guest blog post.

Video Interviews
Employees have knowledge and experience worth sharing with customers and prospects. Conduct short interviews with employees where they share one tip or one challenge that they have overcome. Keep each video short and tight so that it doesn’t need to be scripted. Many employees will come across better speaking with knowledge and authority than reciting scripted lines.

Facebook Feature Photo
If your B2B company has a Facebook Page, consider featuring an employee in the company profile photo. Many companies do this with customers, but this is an opportunity to showcase one of your own.

All of the above ideas can be coordinated to create a featured employee of the month across all social channels. This may work better with fewer employees, as those who work for larger companies may need all the channels to highlight more employees.

What are some ways you promote your B2B employees on company social profiles?

12 Tips to Produce Compelling B2B Video

B2B marketers need to add video to their arsenal of skills in today’s online world. Video can sometimes tell a story quicker and easier than a written post, can humanize a company and can turn marketers into brand journalists. And a keyword-titled video seems to be more likely to show up in higher search results than a written post. There are plenty of B2B companies making high production videos to share online, but this is more about getting started and producing videos alone or with minimal help.

Here are some basic tips to get you started on the path to becoming a Hollywood director.

1. Keep it Simple
Online video is more compelling if the idea is simple. People are distracted when watching video, so you can’t try to put too much into a video. Try to convey one or two ideas at the most. If you do a longer interview with someone, produce several shorter videos out of the footage, each about one thing.

2. Compose Like a Photographer
Video is a visual medium and your video will be me more compelling if it is shot well. Photographers often compose shots using the rule of thirds, which means the most important item in the shot is not centered. Pay attention to television and movie shot composition and imitate what you like.

3. Use a Tripod
Avoid shaky, hand-held video. The easiest way is to use a tripod. Simple full-sized tripods give you more flexibility in shooting, but table top tripods are more portable. Either way, securing the camera will help tremendously. If you are shooting with a smartphone, there are inexpensive mounts available to attach to a tripod.

4. Find a Clean, Well-Lighted Place
Shoot video in well-lit areas. Harsh shadows or uneven lighting can be distracting, especially if you are shooting an interview. Always think about the viewer, and can they see the subject matter in the shot.

5. Listen for the Quiet
Many common environments that you might consider shooting in are noisy. Try to find quiet areas off the tradeshow floor and the manufacturing area. While it is fine to shoot there to provide context to a video, do not try to shoot lengthy interviews where the most important thing is to hear the person. People will watch poorly shot video if the sound is good, but they will not suffer through bad sound.

6. Use Stills
Shoot still pictures to augment the video. Ken Burns made the style of movement on still images so common in his Civil War documentaries that Apple calls it the Ken Burns effect in its video editing program. They are a good way to set the scene or help with transitions.

7. Make It Branded
Create simple title slides that include your company logo. A black screen with words that includes your company name is not enough. Customers and prospects need to visually connect this video to your company, and opening with the company logo is the best way to do that.

8. Keep it Short
Unless you are using video to tell an involved story that must build out over several sections or creating a how to which requires many steps, keep the video under 5 minutes.

9. Cut it Together
Editing is key to improving the quality of your video. Don’t get wild and cut between multiple shots frequently, but use editing to tighten conversations and remove extra footage. Use simple transitions in your editing rather than fancy spins and wipes.

10. Music Makes the World Go Round
Simple music during title cards adds a level of professionalism to the video. Continue the music at a lower beneath the entire video to add a bit of aural texture. It really makes a subtle difference.

11. What’s the Call to Action?
The end of a video should end with a company URL or a landing page. What action should people take after watching the video? Many video platforms include the ability to embed links in the video. Take advantage of that with your calls to action.

12. Post and Share
After editing the video, post it on a variety of social channels, including YouTube and Facebook. Embed the video on your company blog and drive traffic back to it with updates on Twitter and LinkedIn. Add a screenshot to an email newsletter for extra viewers. Depending on the content, others may want to embed the video on their sites, so make sure that’s possible. It is with all common video platforms.

Bonus: Think Mobile
Make sure the video makes sense on a mobile device, as more than 23 million Americans watch mobile video. This means more medium shots and close-ups than long shots, as well as clear audio.

What tips would you add for making compelling B2B video?

Photo credit: Maxymedia

Why the IBM Watson Jeopardy Challenge Is the Greatest B2B Campaign Ever

Nearly 10 million Americans tuned in to the venerable Jeopardy quiz show on February 14, forsaking their Valentine Day activities for a half-hour to watch a computer battle to a standoff with the two greatest Jeopardy champions of all time. Nearly as many tuned in the ensuing nights to see the IBM machine, called Watson, soundly thrash Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter at the game they have dominated for the last decade.

Back at IBM, marketers were all smiles. What had started as an evolution on the 1997 contest between a computer named Deep Blue and world champion Garry Kasparov had become a cultural phenomenon, one that will be paying dividends for IBM for years to come. Thanks to a group of anonymous computer scientists, and a marketing organization that understood the power of their grassroots appeal, IBM had just pulled off the greatest B2B marketing coup of all time.

The Watson Jeopardy challenge wasn’t strictly a social media campaign, not by a long shot. IBM paid dearly for the chance to align itself with the Jeopardy brand and even footed the bill to create a television studio in its Yorktown, NY labs so that its computer could compete in climate-controlled environs. But many of the principles that IBM embraced in its grassroots promotion for the campaign represent the best of what social media has to offer.

Full disclosure: I’m a contractor to IBM on the project that is unrelated to the Watson Jeopardy challenge. I have no financial interest in the program’s success, but my role did permit me a bit of an insider’s view on the social activities that led up to the contest.

Beyond the Golf Course
Make no mistake about the fact that this was a B2B campaign. IBM has no consumer business, and its choice of Jeopardy was meant to find a crossover between mass-market and business constituents. Jeopardy was a gateway to selling computers to the Fortune 1000.

B2B companies have always struggled to find mainstream media channels to a business audience. Mostly they’ve settled for golf tournaments and news programs. The genius of the Jeopardy challenge is that the program combines highbrow content with mass appeal. It was also the perfect place to showcase state-of-the-art artificial intelligence technology in a context that makes sense to ordinary humans.

The 1997 chess match, in which an IBM computer beat the reigning world champion, received international coverage, but the game itself excited little interest in the US. In contrast, every American has watched Jeopardy and respects it for the mind-bending challenge it can be.

Scheduling the show during the frigid winter months following the Super Bowl was smart. Even smarter was that production schedules gave IBMers a month between the taping of the three-show series and their airing. While everyone who witnessed the taping was bound to draconian nondisclosure terms, there was nothing to stop the Watson marketers from putting the promotional wheels in motion, fully aware of the favorable outcome.

This is where the social component came in. IBM did relatively little mainstream media advertising for the event. Instead, it leveraged “owned” and “earned” channels at modest cost. A dedicated website featured background and video interviews with Watson’s creators, as well as an aggregation of social media buzz. The PBS program Nova was enlisted to air a documentary a week before the contest. IBM even cooperated with former BusinessWeek editor Stephen Baker on a book about the contest, with the final chapter set to be released immediately after the third program. IBM was able to piggyback not only on promotion for the book, but also on Baker’s popular writings on Huffington Post. A series of viewing parties and informal tweetups brought key customers into the fold.

Watson’s frequently updated Facebook page has more than 17,000 “likes” and its Twitter account has more than 6,000 followers as of this writing. On YouTube, IBM posted more than 30 short videos in the months leading up to the event, racking up more than 1 million views. It chose to feature the researchers and engineers who built the computer rather than the corporate suits.

Spotlight on the Little People
The company chose as its chief spokesman Dr. David Ferrucci, the attractive, articulate and disarmingly likable chief scientist on the project. Ferrucci’s ability to explain technology concepts in plain English without sounding arrogant was an asset to a project that was at constant risk of swamping its audience with technobabble. The final video in that series, which features the engineers speaking of the computer in the same way a parent speaks of a child, can almost move you to tears.

I can only imagine the restraint it took the suits at IBM not to hog the limelight, but letting Watson’s creators own the story. This lent an everyman tone to a project of incredible complexity.

About two weeks before the contest aired, IBM marketers began turning the conversation to business. It rolled out YouTube videos speculating on the technology’s applications to healthcare, customer service and finance. A week before the contest, press releases told of customers who were already lining up to apply the technology. As the media asked “What’s next?” In the wake of Watson’s victory, IBM had the answer ready.

IBMers were active in nooks and crannies of the Internet. The research team chose Reddit, a social news site with a small but enthusiastic membership, to answer the top 10 questions about Watson and the contest. Ferrucci and others used for a live webcast the day after the contest ended. They also live-blogged during the Nova program.

Finally, IBM tapped into its own social media resources, including more than 130 Twitter accounts and a hard core of IBM bloggers who have attracted their own followings over the years. There were no mandates from on high. IBM made it easy for its internal communicators to get the information they needed and its people blogged proudly and extensively about Watson in the weeks before the contest.

The Watson Jeopardy challenge was a huge financial bet for IBM, but the company will reap the rewards for years. Technology vendors compete fiercely for talent, and Jeopardy will keep IBM’s recruiting pipeline full of budding computer scientists. More importantly, the company’s B2B clients got a glimpse of technology in a context that sparked visions of possibilities in their own industries. Over the past week, IBM has been swamped with inquiries by corporations, universities and government agencies wanting to get their own taste of Watson.

Yes, it was a very good campaign.

Top 10 B2B Comedy Videos

This list of funny B2B videos includes two of my own projects, one each from Cisco and IBM, which seems both reasonable and in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley. To keep the comparisons somewhat fair, I’m going to exclude videos for smaller ticket products (e.g. FedEx, Nextel, Staples) since their addressable markets are much closer in size to B2C, affording much larger production budgets. The opinions below are my own, as my company officially does not comment on rumor or comedies.

1. The Cart Whisperer takes an idea we recognize from a Redford film and applies an absurd context that’s only remotely relevant to its sponsor VeriSign.  If during the approval process someone in marketing gripes, “What in the heck does this have to do with our product?,” you’re off to a great start.   This enjoyable experience continues on the microsite, where we’re invited to participate by uploading our own photos of abandoned carts.

YouTube Preview Image

2. While august Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs don’t need to lean on comedy to build a global reputation, that’s not the case for some smaller businesses in the banking ecosystem, like the regional repo-man.

YouTube Preview Image

3. I’m pretty sure Art of the Sale was the first B2B comedy on YouTube.  My partner Scott Teems and I created it in the summer of 2006, featuring  sales vp Bob Hoey as himself.  Hoey began his acting career in 2004 starring in a comedy short “Z On Demand”  which was released direct-to-DVD (we copied discs for each regional sales meeting) and on the company intranet.   Since I couldn’t get a comedy video approved initially, I kept the financial risk small by offering Scott $400 to direct/edit/film the spot.  I think his fees have gone up a bit since his feature film won SXSW.

YouTube Preview Image

4. I don’t like potty humor, but David Meerman Scott showed me a completely new angle in this brilliant CWS ad.  I’m sure the production benefited from a TV broadcast budget, but I’m still including it in this list because its for a narrow industrial market.  For more background, see this previous Social Media B2B post.

YouTube Preview Image

5. Microsoft chose the classic comedy approach of juxtaposition to sell to advertisers.  In this metaphor, the man and the woman characters in the relationship represent advertisers and consumers, and to be sure we’re not confused, the symbolism is spelled out — on their t-shirts.

YouTube Preview Image

6. Kinaxis used the same dating/relationship storyline to poke fun at a supply chain management rival, but thankfully  Sally Ann Perkins is not wearing a monogrammed t-shirt.  This kind of humor is perfect for its target  – inside jokes are flattering to your audience, and can build rapport by making fun of a shared pain.   Clare McDermott told me when prospective customers meet Kinaxis’ representatives at trade shows, they say that watching the video has made them feel like they already know the company.   There’s your ROI.

YouTube Preview Image

7. Also early to YouTube in October 2006, Dell jumps in on the JibJab genre.  It’s very well executed with sharp graphics/animation and music, and a script full if inside geek jokes.  I’m guessing they didn’t get script approval from Larry.

YouTube Preview Image

8. My hard-and-fast rule of never including a rap video on a top 10 list was softened to more of a guideline thanks to intern Greg Justice. When  original music, clever lyrics and Chuck E. Cheese’s references blend into an artful production, the genre is timeless.  I love Woot’s rhyme, jokes and the honesty.

YouTube Preview Image

9. Keeping product specifics out of a video is always a good idea, particularly when the video goes live a few weeks before the launch.  And those aren’t my words — that’s what my manager told me after reviewing an early draft of my script.  So, instead of mentioning details of Cisco’s Videoscape announcement at CES, we empathized with the lonely TV set.

YouTube Preview Image

10. “People just didn’t seem to like me”  is one of the touching admissions in this beautiful example of personification.  This clever story resonates with us, because we’ve all experienced this feeling.  It creates curiosity and delivers surprise.  Hats off to Mr. W.

YouTube Preview Image

Let me know in the comments if there are other B2B videos that have made you laugh your way to a call to action.

5 Tips for Business Blogging While Traveling

This week is BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas and a fair number of bloggers will be in attendance, myself included. Whether you are attending a conference, visiting clients or taking vacation, if you have a well-read B2B blog, you need to develop a plan for the time away. This is much easier to handle if it is just a couple days, but the following tips can be easily scaled if you are going to be away longer. It is possible to announce a vacation, and take some time off from the blog, but if you are writing a business blog for your B2B company, this is less of an option. Your readers and Google are expecting you to publish on your normal schedule, so you should try to keep to it.

1. Write Ahead
This one is the easiest to plan, the most obvious to do and the hardest to accomplish. If you plan to be away for the time that you would publish one or two posts, spend some time one or two weeks before and write an extra post. If your posts are based on current trends and need to be more timely, this would be a good chance to provide an industry overview and put the issues in context. Unless you will be completely off-line, if you write and schedule posts before you go, make sure you can check for and respond to comments.

2. Set Aside Work Time
If you normally blog at a certain time in a certain place (other than sitting at your desk), try to steal that same time away from your trip. If you always write in the morning, get up a half hour early and write at that same time. Since travel is already so disruptive, keeping some of the structure of your normal day helps on its own. If you can get some blog posts out it, all the better.

3. Guest Posts
If you can plan far in advance, solicit guest posts from colleagues or others in your industry. This is easier if it someone who already blogs, as they will better understand the time involved to write a post for you, but anyone with thoughts and opinions on your blog subject matter can create at least one post. While it is always good to have a few guest posts (or posters) lined up for a rainy day, the perfect time to publish these posts is when you are away.

4. Pull Out an Old Draft
A limited amount of time, whether preparing extra posts before you go, or trying find a bit of time while on the road, is the ideal opportunity to look back at your draft file for ideas and half-written posts. You might find some things that didn’t work at the time, but with a fresh eye and a compelling need for content quickly, can easily be turned into a worthwhile post. If you don’t have any posts lying around, either from ideas that you didn’t write or extra things that just didn’t get posted, you need to add some idea time to your process. While many business blogs are driven by an editorial calendar, you will be a more successful blogger if you have more ideas than you can use and can be more selective about which posts get written.

5. Video Posts
Whether you have a pocket video camera, like a Flip Cam or a Kodak ZI-8, or the latest smartphone, you are armed with great video-on-the go device. Capture your thoughts about an industry issue in a quick 2-3 minute video. If you are at a conference, conduct a few short video interviews with industry leaders. It is easier if you plan these ahead of time if there are certain people you want to talk to, but impromptu ones are fine too. Client testimonials work, but the quality of these needs to be a little better, even for a blog. Consider bringing a tabletop tripod, which greatly improves the shot. Make sure you test drive shooting video, uploading it and posting it to the blog. The point of this is to be able to do this from the road, and not wait until you return.

Please share other suggestions for how you have continued to post to your B2B blog while traveling.

Why your B2B CEO should be using YouTube

Google “CEOs and YouTube” and almost every result will center around some type of crisis. From Domino’s and KFC to Mattel and Motrin, most companies take a reactive approach to incorporating their CEOs onto their YouTube channels. Accordingly, most receive flak for the unnatural, delayed and – in some cases – unapologetic approaches to each situation.

While every organization must be ready to successfully react to crisis situations, any B2B PR pro worth his or her well-worn AP Style Book will agree on the importance of proactive messaging opportunities for the C-level suite. Traditionally, this has been achieved by drafting talking points, pitching CEO bios to trade reporters and securing keynote speaking opportunities in hopes of spreading the word about the B2B company, its products and its key messages.

Increasingly, social media has opened up new outlets for management to monitor and participate in consumer and media relations. CEOs using Twitter have received the most attention when it comes to social media for the C-level set, but what about YouTube?

If your B2B company is utilizing YouTube (and it should be), here are some reasons your CEO should be a regular contributor:

1. Addtional Media Training

While a B2B CEO’s main job isn’t media relations, he or she will come into contact with journalists (and bloggers) as a primary company spokesperson. The key to interacting under pressure with media is practice. However, mock interviews at a biannual media relations refresher held by the PR staff aren’t enough.

By becoming a regular part of the company YouTube channel, B2B CEOs will gain additional exposure to what works and what doesn’t work on camera, and how things like eye contact, nervous ticks and natural speech patterns can distract viewers from key messages. While a company YouTube video will probably be scripted and provide room for retakes and edits, additional face time in front of a camera will help prepare top management for “real” interviews with reporters and ease the canned and stilted feeling that often comes across in executive interviews.

2. Thought Leader

By joining the small ranks of B2B CEOs proactively using YouTube, your CEO will automatically become a thought leader in the social space. Beyond that, a regular YouTube feature can also help to showcase the expertise that carried your CEO to his or her top spot in the first place. Film shorts spots that allow him or her to talk about why your company is using social media; hit on two or three industry news items and have your CEO offer his or her opinions; or touch on new products or services and the value they will bring to customers.

3. Thinking Outside the Suit

For customers, potential customers, media and even internal employees, top management of B2B organizations can often seem elusive, elite and out of touch. A regular video post can go a long way to develop these relationships, especially when you consider that many of these people may never actually lay eyes on these busy men and women.

Consider a monthly Q&A with questions submitted from company stakeholders; a location-specific feature that discusses the different cities and events he or she has traveled to on business; or, depending on the manager’s comfort level, a simple “Catching up with…” spot that lets him or her give a quick update on the company, his or her job and even personal interests.

4. Crisis Credibility

Last week, Jeff wrote a post on the importance of a B2B social media crisis plan, and included a point about executive video responses to the situation. When a crisis does hit, a B2B CEO who has been participating on his or her company’s YouTube channel all along with have more credibility with online stakeholders, as well as more experience in talking with – instead of to – his or her company’s online followers.

How is your B2B company utilizing your top management on your organization’s YouTube channel?