What's wonderful about this news is that YouTube has found a way to advertise without ruining the purity and simplicity of the YouTube experience. It is blazing a trail for brands to connect to consumers, and brands can measure campaign success in terms of quantitative numbers and real engagement metrics such as user comments, friend recommendations and audience subscriptions.
But, given how new it all is, we suspect that many brands are asking themselves "How best can I leverage this big opportunity?"
Before a brand can answer that question, it has to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask, "Am I ready to put myself out there to be commented on, shared, mashed with other content, and generally toyed with?" Not every brand is comfortable with this, but if the goal is to create an authentic connection with consumers, there's no avoiding it. It has already been proven that confident brands win in the web 2.0 culture. Brands that aren't ready for this type of exposure can always stick with tried and true marketing methods, but they will potentially miss a golden opportunity to harness the power of the two most important trends in emerging media -- video and community.
For companies willing to throw open the windows and doors to their brands, here are a few ideas to get them started:
Secure your brand channel and make it a destination. Brand channels offer a bit of a "safe haven" on YouTube, allowing you to have moderate control of your message and providing a platform for telling your story. A good example is Warner Bros. Records' Paris Hilton Channel. (In the spirit of full disclosure, Organic was the agency that arranged for Fox Broadcasting Co.'s show "Prison Break" to sponsor the Paris Hilton Channel in its first week.)
Respect "tribute-ors." We define "tribute-ors" as those who pay tribute to a brand by making their own home-brew advertising. Think of it as consumer-generated media in the form of an ad. Like tribute-ors or not, they are on YouTube and they have their own opinions. By having your own brand channel, your story will be there to speak up for your brand.
Put it all out there. Remember, YouTube is the de-facto research for TV spots and video content. Make sure that you are well represented. Did you have a celebrity spokesperson for a campaign? Put some footage of the shoot or an interview up.
Haters hate. Demonstrate that you are a 2.0 brand by embracing all comments, tributes and ratings.
Reward loyalists. Surprise your favorite people with special content and exclusive offers. People love to be in on a secret. If they know one, then they're sure to tell a friend.
Have fun. If you're having fun, chances are your audience will too.
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Chad Stoller is executive director-emerging platforms and Chris Portella is associate media director at Organic.