Turkey Testicles Go Viral

Tweedee Productions is currently riding one of those YouTube viral video phenomenons that you hear about.  By the time this blog entry is posted, we will probably crack the 1,000,000-view mark of a story about people eating a most unusual part of the traditional Thanksgiving bird.

It all started innocently enough back in the fall of 2008.  We assigned Sandy Kowal and our good friend Carrie Cokins to do a simple little story about the annual Turkey Testicle Festival (see video below) in the great city of Huntley, Illinois.  That’s right, a festival celebrating the eating of turkey testicles!  Deep fried.  Dippin’ sauce.  Tastes like chicken.  After much fun and frivolity, the story was put together and posted on Tweedee’s YouTube channel where it has lived in relative obscurity (by YouTube standards), generating only about 1,500 views throughout the year.

This fall, things changed.  It started with the organizers of the event asking for permission to post our testicle eating story on their web site.  At the time we thought any exposure was good exposure, right?  Besides, it would be nice if a few more people saw one of our videos, right?  Within a few days we started to notice a slight increase in the trickle of views.  A couple of mouse clicks later and that trickle turned into a flood.

As Thanksgiving 2009 approached and viewership continued to grow, we were amazed at the numbers we where getting.  In a matter of a few days we went from 3,000 to more than 150,000 views!  Over the long Thanksgiving weekend we surpassed 700,000 views.  It kept growing – 880,000 on December 4th – and growing – 950,000 on December 7th – AND GROWING!  Just when we thought that viewership would trail off, wham, another 20,000 views!

Up until now, in the vast video wilderness known as YouTube, we had never received more than a few thousand views for any of our videos .  So, naturally getting 1,000,000 views for any video let alone one about a testicle eating festival made us happy.  In YouTube numbers, however, it’s a drop in the digital bucket.  There are millions of videos on YouTube and millions of video producers trying to be the next big thing.  So why have viewers flocked to our video?  What has attracted viewers and, more importantly, kept them watching, prompting them to spread the video virally?  Apart from the rather unusual subject matter, it tells a story pure and simple.  It pulls you in, explains an event and leaves you with a good taste in your mouth (pardon the pun).  Simple is better.

Watch our video and share it with a friend – it’s the viral thing to do.

-GS

The Blog Police

When you read a blog post with a glowing review about a certain product or service, do you ever wonder if the blogger who posted that was getting paid by someone to provide that glowing review?  Well, that problem has actually become an epidemic on the web and it’s gotten so bad that the federal government has stepped in to provide some oversight.  When you’re on-line, it’s often very difficult to determine if the content (blogs, customer reviews, etc.) you are seeing is a paid endorsement or an independent review.  So the FTC recently announced that bloggers who receive compensation must disclose any payments they have received from the subjects of their reviews or face penalties.  The changes are aimed at de-blurring the line between editorial and advertising on blogs, social media sites (like Facebook and Twitter), etc.

A study by Nielsen Online showed 78 percent of online users view recommendations from other consumers as trustworthy so the concept of policing pay-for-play bloggers sounds like a good idea.  But  the devil is in the details and this new regulation could create a myriad of problems.  For example, in previous blog posts, I’ve talked about videos we’ve produced for several different companies who have paid us to produce those videos.  But I’ve also referenced other videos that we have not produced.  So would future posts like that put me in jeopardy of being fined by the FTC if I don’t make that paid-or-not-paid distinction for every video I reference?  You can probably see how this problem would translate to any company, group, or organization that provides a blog or editorial content on social media sites.

As a production company, we are always creating videos that help a business or organization tell their story, connect with their customers or members, and market their services or sell their products.  In a previous Tweedee blog post, my colleague Steve Donovan provided links to six different videos to show further examples of what he was talking about that week.  Those videos were a collection of movie trailers and other videos that Steve produced himself.  So if Steve or I mention videos or provide links to videos in a blog posting to enhance our message, do we really need to distinguish for each and every one whether or not we were paid to produced that content?

It has been 30 years since the FTC revised its policy on endorsements so this new regulation is probably long overdue since these types of pay-for-play endorsements have become a rampant force in the internet world for shaping consumer decisions.  Of course, this new regulation will be very hard to enforce due to the overwhelming number of blogs, podcasts, social media outlets, etc. out there on the World Wide Web and we could have a Pandora’s Box on our hands.  It seems to make sense that a blogger should not be able to promote themselves as an independent reviewer providing their opinion as opposed to what they really are:  A paid spokesperson.  So this new ruling will hopefully provide some transparency among these pay-for-play folks.  But once again, monitoring and enforcing these new regulations seem like a real nightmare.

mac@tweedeeproductions.com

Glee!

Have you heard of the Fox show Glee?  It’s my new favorite!  Sure, it’s cheesy, what with the singing and dancing and earnestness of the characters.  But it is also entertaining, funny, and heartfelt.

I’ve told several people in the past week about this show.  And I’ve said pretty much what I just wrote.  Glee offers an hour of escape from reality TV, crime procedurals, and the news.  It is an example of successful counter-programming.  As cited on Wikipedia, “Mary McNamara for the Los Angeles Times wrote that the show had a wide audience appeal, calling it: ‘the first show in a long time that’s just plain full-throttle, no-guilty-pleasure-rationalizations-necessary fun’.”

Glee doesn’t rely just on the quality of the show.  When the pilot aired after American Idol, people on social media sites spread the word. “Glee was the top ranked topic on social networking site Twitter on the night of its initial airing.”  And there is an official Facebook page where behind-the-scenes videos and photos are posted as well as sneak peeks of upcoming episodes.  On the official Fox site, you can watch full episodes and “Behind the Glee” videos about each episode.

So even a big company like Fox, with deep pockets, uses social media and online videos in addition to broadcast television to market its products.  All these marketing outlets can be a lot to keep up with, but there are products, like Shoutlet, that make keeping up easy.  Tweedee Productions recently used Shoutlet and StreamPilot to help us get the word out about our latest sitcom newsletter.  Check it out!

Glee is so funny!

Glee is so funny!

How do people discover video online?

Blogs are actually one of the most popular ways to discover video on the web.  In fact, a recent study by TubeMogul found that 44% of all online video is viewed after initially being discovered through a blog.  The study also found that 45% of video views are the result of a direct navigation to a video site (i.e. going to YouTube and running a search or clicking around the featured or related videos).  So really, unless someone is specifically looking for your particular video, or a specific video category, then one of the best ways to get exposure for your video is to get coverage in the blogosphere.

A video interview with David Burch from TubeMogul further explains the results of the study (Hey I just provided a link to online video in my own blog.  How ’bout that!!!).

But basically, the study shows that blogs are the biggest referrer of on-line video views.  So if I include a link in this blog to our recent video of the baby falcons nesting in the Madison Gas & Electric generating station then more people are likely to see that video.

Or if I blog about the video we produced for the innovative FlameDisk product as an alternative to traditional charcoal then that video should also get more exposure.

Come to think of it, if I blog about the video we created for Thrive that promotes the incredible regional advantages making the Greater Madison area a great location for business and pleasure, then the video should be seen by more people.

Then again, maybe I should blog about the public service announcement we created to help educate the public about the new simplified method of compression-only CPR so more people can learn about this new procedure.

Hmmm… Maybe there’s something too this blog thing.  Hopefully, it will catch on someday.

mac@tweedeeproductions.com

mac@tweedeeproductions.com

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