Should You Just Avoid Social Media Marketing?

Many small businesses think it’s enough to do some search engine optimization, set up a pay per click advertising campaign, and maybe a Facebook page. However, putting together a consistent social media marketing campaign is often not on their radar. This is a mistake, as over a billion people on the planet now use some form of social media, and ignoring it can result in fewer sales.

social media blog iconLet’s just take a look at some of numbers for the popular social media sites.

Facebook is the undisputed king of online connections, with over one billion users. And those users spend an average of 423 minutes per month on the site.

Twitter has nearly half a billion users sending out monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly tweets to an average of one hundred friends. Users of Twitter spend about 25 minutes per month on the site.

LinkedIn has over 175 million users on the site, and Google+ is quickly growing with well over 100 million users. People spend an average of 300 minutes per month on YouTube, over 150 minutes per month on Tumblr, and 80 minutes per month on Pinterest.

These are some serious numbers, and it is clear that people are spending more and more time on social media sites scattered throughout the web. And they are not doing it just to talk to their friends or play games.

Increasingly, social media is being used to bring businesses and consumers together, with average people serving as the foundation on which companies can project offers, share news, and spread their own marketing ideas. Businesses can use the site to listen to current customers on their concerns, what they like, and what they would change about the company.

There is always a lot to listen to on social media, with how much time people spend on these sites each month. Everyday chatter can inform a business of emerging trends in their industry or local community, giving them an opportunity to participate in the conversations going on around them. Specific feedback about a company can also be shared through social media, whether it be good or bad, and people who express a need for a product or service that a company offers can more easily be approached on social media than any other online venue.

Social media can also be used to humanize a company, from a large corporation to a small doctors office. It turns an online ad or business listing into a social media presence that displays its own personality and culture.

Since consumers are always online hunting for information, and businesses are hunting for new customers, social media can bring them together in ways that are just not possible in SEO or PPC. Social media marketing can generate increased exposure of the company and turn customers into endorsers or evangelists for the business, further increasing exposure and the customer base.

The only warning for any company starting to market on social media sites to keep in mind is that the focus should not be on selling, selling, selling. People are on these sites to interact with friends, keep in touch with family, and share funny or interesting information they come across. They are not always on Facebook or Twitter to buy a product.

Understand the focus of the users of social media, and create a marketing campaign that plays on these intentions of the users, rather than trying to shove products or services down their throats and always be advertising. People are more likely to share information rather than sales pitches.

Low Quality Score? Here’s How to Raise It

This is the third part in our series on Google AdWords’ Quality Score. The first was a general overview of QS, while the second looked at landing page factors that can instantly torpedo a keyword’s Quality Score. This article, the final one in this series, will look at how to analyze a keyword’s QS and how to raise one that is lower than desired.

pay per click blog iconOne great way to analyze AdWords data is to use pivot tables in Microsoft Excel or Open Office Calc. Pull a report including the keyword, ad group, impression data, cost data, and Quality Score. Using a pivot table, it is relatively easy to find ad groups with a high cost and low QS overall. With this data, it becomes easier to fix problems and write better ad copy.

With so much data offered by AdWords, it is a great idea to look at the normalized Quality Score. This can be done by Ad Groups with a simple formula that can easily be calculated in Excel:

Normalized QS = (Quality Score x Impressions) / Impressions

Excel is also good for looking at low-volume AdWords data. Some keywords may not get enough impressions to give a good indication of QS. Filter just the Quality Scores from 1-4, then create a pivot table including the Ad Group, Quality Score, and Cost. This will aggregate the data and make it easier to analyze.

Generally a 7 or higher is considered a good Quality Score which does not need more work. It is usually not worthwhile to bring a QS7 to QS10 unless it is a very high-cost industry where every penny counts. A Quality Score between 1 and 3 indicates a landing page problem, which would bring into account the eight factors we looked at in Part 2 of this article series.

One way to keep track of changes in QS is to schedule keyword reports to be sent to an email address once a week. This will show the Quality Score of keywords at that point in time, so it will be a matter of simple research to find when a QS dropped for a particular keyword. Also, looking at the Change History in Google AdWords itself can indicate if there have been any unexpected changes in the account.

When attempting to raise Quality Score, organization of keywords and ad copy is essential. Since a higher Click-Through Rate leads to a better QS, CTR is a logical starting point. With low CTRs, writing different ad copy may be an easy fix, or adding more keywords to a new ad group. A/B testing of new ads is also a strategy to improve CTRs.

The relevancy of the landing page may also need to be evaluated. This can include looking at how relevant the content on the page is to the ad copy and keywords, and testing new ad copy that more closely echoes the message on the landing page.

It should be noted that Google updates Click-Through Rate numbers daily, while relevancy is updated ten times per quarter. Landing page factors are updated every six weeks. If Quality Score does not increase after changing the landing page, this may be completely natural. It will take Google days or weeks to update the relevancy numbers and reflect them in the Quality Score.

If you notice that Quality Score has dropped, the first factor to look for is exactly what date it dropped. This is why we recommend scheduling weekly reports with this information. Then, examine the change history of the account, checking for site changes especially. Also, look for any changes in the natural search results, and use the AdWords Editor’s notes function to look for changes.

Then, look at the relevancy between the keywords, ads, and landing page content. Break down the keywords and look at their Click-Through Rates, looking for changes. Finally, look at the landing page itself, examining keyword-landing page relevancy. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool can help identify related keywords, while Webmaster Tools can help identify crawl or page load problems.

Typically, a drop in Quality Score will quickly reverse itself. Google may have crawled a site when it was down or slow, or recent news may relate two usually unrelated keywords. Recovering from a QS drop is usually easier than increasing a new keyword’s QS, but both can be done. Using a spreadsheet application to dig into this data is also vital for increasing AdWords Quality Scores and optimizing a pay per click campaign.

How to Fix Landing Page Quality Score Problems

In this article, the second in our series on Google AdWords’ Quality Score, we’ll take an in-depth look at the eight factors that are taken into account when determining the relevancy of a landing page. If you are not familiar with Quality Score at all, or how relevancy and landing pages can affect the QS of a keyword, then make sure to read the first article in this series.

pay per click blog iconSpiderability. This is how well a page can be crawled. If Google can not crawl a page, either because it is down or built on some technology that Google’s web crawlers can not make sense of, Quality Score can suffer.

Adsbot. This is AdWords’ bot that Google uses to crawl pages to measure landing page quality. It can be blocked in the Robots.txt file located on a website’s domain. While the Adsbot ignores global disallows, it can be blocked individually. If it is blocked individually, it will result in landing page problems in AdWords, so make sure that it is not blocked if you are running a PPC campaign.

Crawl Errors. Any crawl errors that Google runs into when spidering a site can result in low Quality Scores. The easiest way to check if a site has numerous crawl errors is to set it up in Google Webmaster Tools, which will display any messages relating to this issue.

Relevance. This is the same concept as keyword relevance and ad copy relevance. Typically, as long as a web page has some reasonable degree of relevance to the keyword and ad, it will pass. However, if there are huge discrepancies between the content of the landing page and the keyword and ad copy, QS can drop.

Related Keywords. Did you know that people want to “learn;” they don’t want to “read?” Using “learn” instead of “read” can instantly improve Quality Score in some instances, especially if you are selling an Ebook. This is an example of how related keywords can change a Quality Score. Look at related keywords with Google’s Keyword Tool in AdWords to find other words and phrases you should include on your landing pages to avoid a Quality Score drop.

Transparency. This factor has to do with the user’s experience on your site. Don’t alter their browser settings or install software on their computer. Include a Privacy Policy page, and use SSL if you are taking credit card information. Google wants sites to be transparent, and can decrease Quality Score if a site is lacking in this area.

Navigation. This is a big factor for long sales pages which may have thousands of words of promotional language and no other links than a “Buy Now” button. From the marketers standpoint, they want visitors to buy or leave. However, from Google’s standpoint, it is wise to include at least some basic navigation to the home page or related content. Navigation does not have to be featured, but it should be included on every landing page.

Load Time. In PPC and SEO, Google is starting to take into account page load times. No one wants to wait for a website to load one section, one picture at a time, and Google understands this. Extraordinarily long page load times can negatively affect Quality Score.

If you notice that your Quality Score has dropped recently, and there have not been any recent changes to your AdWords campaigns, then checking out some of these factors may help solve the problem. It could be as simple as Google being unable to crawl your website because it was temporarily down, or you may have to add a Privacy Policy to your site. In any case, knowing how Google considers landing page factors in Quality Score is vital for all PPC marketers.

Search and Content Quality Score in Google AdWords

This is the first in the three-part series on Google AdWords‘ Quality Score. The first article will discuss Quality Score in general, and the second will look at what factors Google uses to determine landing page relevancy. The final part will discuss ways to analyze AdWords data and how that analysis can be used to increase Quality Score.

pay per click blog iconOne of the biggest mysteries of a Google AdWords campaign for many small businesses is Quality Score (QS). Google introduced this feature several years ago to measure how good of an experience a searcher will have, depending on the search query, keyword, and landing page. Let’s take a look at how Quality Score is calculated, and some ways to optimize it.

Each keyword in an Ad Group is assigned a Quality Score number, ranging from 1-10. A score of 1 is the lowest, while 10 means that the keyword has received the highest score available. Quality Score determines the visibility of an ad, and can stop ads from displaying (or from displaying in higher positions) if the Quality Score is too low.

It should also be noted that only the exact match keyword type is taken into account when determining the Quality Score. These keywords are usually marked in brackets in an actual AdWords campaign, [like so]. Here is the formula for calculating Quality Score and the actual cost per click that advertisers pay, which is dependent on the QS:

Ad Rank = [keyword] Quality Score x Max Cost Per Click
Actual Cost Per Click = (Ad Rank to Beat / Quality Score) + $0.01

The most important factor that Google takes into account in determining Quality Score is the Click-Through Rate (CTR). This is normalized by position, so an ad in the #1 position on the search page will have a greater expected CTR than an ad in the #7 position, for instance. The QS is also determined in the search partner network based on the Click-Through Rates of ads on those networks. Other factors that are used to determine QS are the ad copy, the display URL of the site, geographical factors, and account history.

The main goal here, as with all things from Google, is relevance, another important factor in Quality Score. The keywords should be relevant to the ad copy in the ad group. The keywords and ad copy should be relevant to the content on the landing page of the website. Thus, relevance and Click-Through Rate are two of the most important factors that make up QS.

The landing page itself is not a positive factor for Quality Score, but it can have a negative effect. A relevant landing page won’t help you, but an irrelevant one can hurt you. They can result in a penalty much more likely than they can result in a boost to QS.

When discussing the Quality Score of ads running on Google’s Display Network, the QS is determined at the Ad Group level, not the keyword level. This is an important difference. The Click-Through Rate of ads on related content sites is used to calculate the QS, and Google also takes into account the relevance of the landing page.

Thus, businesses should focus on improving their QS in search advertising first, before tackling Display Network advertising. The most important factors to consider when optimizing Quality Score are the Click-Through Rate of the keyword, overall relevancy between the keyword, ad copy, and landing page, the company’s account history with Google, and the landing page itself.

Google AdWords Certification Study Guide: Fundamentals Exam I Ebook Review

Taking any test can be nerve-wracking, and a certification test even more so. Throw in a professional certification by the likes of Google to prove one’s proficiency with the AdWords advertising platform, and the whole situation is akin to having a nervous breakdown.

Google AdWords Study GuideAnd the Google AdWords Help Center site is no real help, either. Measuring at 424 pages, just the AdWords Fundamentals test material can be overwhelming for the new internet marketer hoping to get a leg up in PPC advertising.

Enter the Google AdWords Certification Study Guide: Fundamentals Exam I ebook, written by Brad Frese.

This short (and I mean very short!) book has a lot going for it that its 29 page length may conceal. Is it the only book or material you should read to pass the Google Certification exam? No way! And Frese himself admits that you should still spend time in the Help Center to digest all of the AdWords material; this book will simply make it all more palatable. Thus, it is one of the easiest, fastest ways to brush up on your AdWords knowledge heading into the test.

One of the best things the book has going for it is that it represents the most recent changes to the AdWords platform and test. Even books published in 2012 are outdated compared to the new test questions. The handful of changes that Frese’s book outlines can help test-takers gain an extra point or two that they could have misunderstood (by today’s AdWords standards, at least) by reading an older, longer introduction to AdWords.

The book also hits all of the major points that are on the test, including ROI, language and geographical settings, My Client Center, Ad Groups, Keywords, Ad Polices, Ad Extensions, Auction and Bidding, Quality Score, Click-Through Rate, and all aspects of the Display Network.

The ebook is available on Amazon for $4.99. Is it worth five bucks? You bet! While it will not give you all of the answers, this is probably the best pre-test study guide for mopping up all of the easy questions on the exam.

Brad Frese is doing the internet marketing community a great service by “[boiling] all things AdWords down to the bare essentials” in this study guide. After searching online for several days for up-to-the-minute AdWords information relevant to the test, this was by the far the best info available in one simple package. In fact, it was the ONLY info available in one simple package.

For test-takers, my advice is the following: do some serious studying in the Help Center, but if you make it through all 424 pages of the official Google material over several weeks or months, and need a refresher or a capstone, get this book a few days before you take the exam. Read it over a couple of times at least and then take the test. It will give you enough information to understand all of the most recent changes, jog your memory on some of the lesser-used aspects of AdWords like My Client Center, and give you the confidence to answer the easy questions with no sweat.

Other PPC books go into greater detail on advertising philosophy and optimizing an AdWords account, and you shouldn’t ignore those books for PPC success. But just for this exam, pick up a copy of Google AdWords Certification Study Guide: Fundamentals Exam I.

Disclosure: we have no affiliation with Brad Frese at all, and  never communicated with him directly before purchasing the book, reading it, or writing this review. We have an Amazon Associates account. This post is a review of a book we recommend.

Backlink Beast with LinkPipeline Review

In early April 2013, Matt Callen came out with his brand new automated “Tier 2” linking program, Backlink Beast. About a day after it was released, I decided to give it a try, and purchased the lifetime license of the program. So after nearly two months of giving the program a try, what do I think of it?

backlinkbeast-linkpipelineBackLink Beast

Actually, not much. It’s a nice little tool that functions well enough, although the submission process is a little slow. To submit a social bookmark to 25 websites, it can take the system well over ten or fifteen minutes to finish, including entering Captchas. It is usually around the last couple of submissions that the program really seems to get hung up and won’t progress. For instance, just in today’s submission to 25 social bookmarks, the log says the process began at 1:08 PM ET, and ended at 1:23 PM ET, over fifteen minutes later.

This is especially frustrating, when submitting a handful of links turns into a ten minute project, and one-quarter to one-half of the submissions fail anyway. I’ve experienced failure rates of 20-of-25 submissions that still took fifteen minutes to complete. The submission I did today that took fifteen minutes also had 9 failed sites out of the 25 total, a 36% failure rate. And this is a rate I’m fairly happy with, considering previous experiences with 75-80% failure rates.

Backlink Beast Success

For the submission process to be worth recommending, one of two things needs to happen. First, the program should give up on these websites far more quickly than ten minutes of waiting. Second, these websites should be checked more often and simply deleted from the system entirely, as nonfunctioning websites do not need to be included in it to begin with.

Thankfully, it is fairly easy to submit a piece of content – far easier than in Magic Submitter, for instance, and Backlink Beast provides a nice alternative to the more high-powered link-building programs available. Pasting in spun content is easy, as is previewing the final output to determine if there are any mistakes made.

The system includes a large number of websites in a number of different categories. There are 13 PDF Sharing sites, 1,024 Social Bookmarking sites, 42 Social Networks, 1,709 Web 2.0 Article sites, and 583 Wiki sites. That is a large number of sites to register for, so be ready to do some Captcha inputting or use the program’s built-in support for Decaptcher, DeathByCaptcha, or ExpertDecoders accounts.

Backlink Beast also has support for proxies and various thread, retry, timeout, and delay verification settings. Some of these could be used to mitigate the long submission processes, but greater support on the back end to remove websites from the database is really needed to provide users with a consistent experience.

Tiered linking is available through the system and can be set up relatively easily once you know the proper format for doing so. Support videos are featured on the Backlink Beast members website which explain how to do this in detail. I use Magic Submitter for this type of linking, so did not utilize is much in Backlink Beast.

LinkPipeline Integration & Performance

One of the more intriguing aspects of the system is that is integrates outputted links with LinkPipeline, another of Callen’s projects. LinkPipeline is a link indexing service. My experience with it has been negative, with all of the links in my account being mysteriously deleted twice, due to a “database server crash.” It happened once 12 days after I purchased Backlink Beast, and once in October 2012, my first trial of LinkPipeline.

Furthermore, the integration in Backlink Beast ceased to function. I could no longer one-click submit all of my links in a URL list to my LinkPipeline account. This seemed to happen after an update to the program, and uninstalling-reinstalling did not fix the problem. It was not long before I canceled the LinkPipeline account and will not be going back for a third try at it. The idea of the service is good, but the execution is lacking after having all of my links deleted twice in a three-month period.

The system could be designed and updated far better than it is, but Callen seems more intent on releasing a new marketing product every month than continuing to give Backlink Beast more than cursory support. This is a very difficult program to recommend for anyone but the most casual link-building effort.

If it integrated well with LinkPipeline, it may be worth purchasing as a lite version of Magic Submitter, but that functionality seemed to break soon after I purchased it (perhaps it’s been fixed since I canceled my LinkPipeline membership, but I’m not willing to be fooled again). Your mileage may vary with either or both of these services, but it seems like it was just another product-offer-of-the-month, rather than a long-term, fully-supported effort to bring value to internet marketers.

[So you’ve read my review and still want to give the software a try as a Tier 2 linking program, with LinkPipeline as your indexing service. Where can you pick up a copy of each? Thankfully, BackLinkBeast is a relatively inexpensive product, which you can pick up right here. And you can subscribe to the LinkPipeline system right here.]

What Negative Videos are Worth Stopping?

One issue we haven’t talked about much on this blog is reputation management, especially in terms of video marketing. While a bad review on a blog may get hundreds or thousands of views, a popular video can get millions or tens of millions of views and cause long-term damage to a company’s brand and reputation. These types of videos are well worth trying to stop, or at least mitigate.

video marketing blog iconNo company wants to get hits to their website or even be talked about offline due to some infamy. The negative reaction of consumers to the BP oil spill is just one example of this, and the fallout over the NSA’s wiretapping program has just begun. The government certainly does not want its name dragged through the mud unnecessarily.

A couple ways to prevent videos with a poor image of the company from ever appearing on the web are to restrict access to the official YouTube account to only a select few employees, and not to ignore bad videos when they are uploaded. The open nature of YouTube forces corporations of all types, public and private, to be more transparent and accountable.

YouTube has only a few ways to remove a video, as well. In most cases, a video that is affecting a company’s image will have to be responded to, rather than removed entirely. However, YouTube may remove a video that infringes on a copyright, such as including background music without permission. Privacy rights can also be claimed for private individuals, although public officials and widely-known celebrities will usually not have the same level of privacy rights. Also, any type of satire will usually be allowed to remain on YouTube.

With the more transparent nature of online sharing of videos, there is less room for error or outrage for companies. The bigger they are, the more backlash they can expect from an issue in which the company appears negatively. Thus, any sort of wrongdoing, whether it be entirely inadvertent or simply an unexpected result of an otherwise sound policy, needs to be responded to as quickly as possible. Sitting on such issues will not make them go away.

And this is the key point: hiding does not make a problem go away, it only gives it more time to spread online without a defense also able to spread. People may hear about the issue offline and then search for it on the internet, which leads to an increase of negative search terms related to a business. Without any competing video explaining the company’s side, only the negative will show up in search engine results.

The image created by any video, whether it be good or bad, is not easily forgotten in the minds of many people. Search engines that display content from websites, video sites, and social media accounts have radically changed reputation management in the last few years. Especially because search results that include images (such as video preview thumbnails) are more likely to draw attention to themselves, any negative videos regarding a company need at least an official response.

One final tip to removing or responding to a negative video about a company is to involve the social media team in any response. Creating and uploading an official video response is one step, but the video must also be shared with opinion leaders to ensure that it is spread further into the online world. Social media marketing will help with this, and will give consumers at least the option of exploring both sides of any given issue. Again, ignoring the problem will give them only one side.

Alternatives to YouTube Extremely Limited

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you just hate YouTube and don’t want to market on it. Ignore the fact that this would make little, if any, sense from a video marketing perspective, and that you should just get on YouTube. But are there any alternatives to YouTube as a video sharing and marketing platform? Or any viable alternatives?

video marketing blog iconThe short answer is no. YouTube is the “be all and end all” of video marketing on the web right now. There are some sixty other video sharing sites, but all have much smaller audiences. Vimeo is a decent alternative for very artistic videos that offers some pro hosting options, while DailyMotion, a French site, has several dozen localized versions of their site. Metacafe gave up trying to compete with YouTube and is now an entertainment network that targets the younger male audience.

In terms of other video properties, Google’s websites, including YouTube, are the top video property on the globe right now. With YouTube blocked in China, Youku is the main alternative there. VEVO is an alternative for the music industry and enjoys a revenue sharing agreement with YouTube. It was built for the music industry for music video sharing. Facebook has a video platform, but most people still share YouTube videos on Facebook, although more FB videos have begun showing up in feeds recently. In Japan, Nico Nico Douga is somewhat popular, and features comments overlaid on individual videos, a feature that may one day gain widespread use.

There are really only a couple of other video platforms, which allow videos to be integrated into a website or blog. One is Brightcove, which is the leading provider of cloud content services on the internet. The other is Ooyala, an industry leader in online video technology and analytics services for companies. Interestingly, these two advertise on each other’s name on Google’s search engine results.

One part of the industry where YouTube is not the far and away leader is in ad properties, at least in terms of streaming advertisements. Hulu is the biggest video ad company, showing users an average of 44.4 ads per month. The site has a smaller reach, but has the highest frequency of streaming ads. Tremor Video is another in-stream video and platform, which works with Fortune 1000 advertisers and owns a network of websites. Adap.tv is a third streaming ad option, with over a billion video ad views to its credit. Blip is another company that focuses on original web series.

Unfortunately for companies that would like to minimize their exposure to YouTube, there are few real alternative sites on which to share their videos and receive a large number of views and shares. YouTube videos are widely recognized and trusted by consumers, where other video players may have less credibility or more risk. The only area where YouTube currently lacks is in streaming ad views, with Hulu being the current king of in-stream ads.

Audience Involvement, Blog Outreach, and Social Media for Video Marketing

Getting started on YouTube is relatively easy: just sign up for a Google account, sign in to YouTube, and get started on the website. Of course, getting a video marketing campaign off the ground is not so simple, but there are a number of resources and methods that can be utilized by any business to jump start their presence on the world’s largest video sharing website.

video marketing blog iconThe YouTube Creator Playbook Version 3 was released in April 2013, and comes with an additional five Playbook Guides for niche-specific channels in the education, media, music, nonprofit, and sports industries. The Creator Playbook offers tips for new and existing content creators, outlines best practices for the website, and details strategies for getting videos shared.

These involve engaging the audience, reaching out to relevant popular bloggers, and getting involved in social media. Every company that wants to start sharing videos on YouTube should download and read the Creator Playbook, and businesses engaged in one of the five niches listed above should check out the relevant Playbook Guide.

Involving the audience is perhaps the most important strategy for any business on YouTube. Without an audience, there is no one watching or sharing videos. Building fan loyalty to a brand’s conent will crease their engagement with the channel and company overall. Creating viewer-centric content is key, as is using the social sharing features of the website. Once a new video is uploaded, companies should dedicate further time to interacting with viewers, asking for feedback and looking at what their fans like and dislike about their video production.

Blog outreach efforts should also not be minimized, as there are more conversations taking place outside of YouTube than on it. Blogs can also display a higher level of intellectual engagement than the average YouTube comments thread. Companies should share their latest videos with relevant blogs and targeted websites, and create a blogroll on their channel pointing to these influential supporters. Videos can also be sent to relevant channels with targeted audiences for more engagement with opinion leaders.

In terms of using other social media sites to get a video viewed and shared, it should be remembered that over 17 million YouTube accounts are directly connected to some other social network. Businesses should set up official presences on these other websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and create a social media strategy for sharing their YouTube content. This obviously includes posting and sharing videos from their own channels, as well as asking fans for input on their videos and other interesting resources.

On YouTube, creating and uploading content is perhaps the easiest part of the whole process. Engaging an audience enough to entice them to watch a video, and then share it with their social circles is much more difficult. However, YouTube has put together a fantastic primer on the whole process with its latest version of the Creator Playbook, which should be read by every marketer attempting to promote a business through video sharing.

Opinion Leaders Can Make Your Video Go Viral

In an earlier article, we looked at the demographics and characteristics of who watches videos online, and who shares them. That article revealed that huge numbers of people are watching YouTube and other video sharing sites’ videos on a daily basis, and about half of all online users have shared a video at one time or another.

video marketing blog iconIs there any way to tap into that enormous power, though, and get a viral video marketing campaign off the ground? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. Through the power of opinion leaders sharing videos in their social circles, a single video can be seen by millions and millions of people over time. The problem is identifying who is and is not an opinion leader.

But first, what is an opinion leader? Knowing something about them will help us track down a few who are interested in a particular video topic and entice them to start sharing. Put simply, a person is an opinion leader to the degree to which he or she is able to informally influence other people’s attitudes and behaviors. This obviously includes influencing people to watch and share a video further.

Remember that the S-shaped diffusion curve for a viral video (or any type of innovation) takes off somewhere between the 10-20% adoption rate, with 16% being a fair estimate of a video crossing over and becoming viral. With that said, let’s take a look at opinion leaders in more depth, because they are the ones who can share a video on their social media account or on their influential blog.

In general, opinion leaders have a greater exposure to mass media than the average internet user, and are more cosmopolitan. They have more contact with other change agents, and participate in social events at a higher level. They typically have a higher socioeconomic status than others around them, and are more innovative when a social system’s norms favor a change in that social system.

It is important to keep in mind that opinion leaders, in their role, must demonstrate prudent judgment when being exposed to a new idea. Should they share it or sit on it or simply ignore it? According to Emanuel Rosen’s book The Anatomy of Buzz, they are ahead in the adoption of new ideas if they are seen as good ones, and are more connected socially to others. They are more likely to be travelers, and are hungry for information. They are often more vocal than others around them, and expose themselves to media at a higher rate.

In any given industry or niche market, there are bound to be a handful of opinion leaders who can take a new idea and spread it. These might be Twitter users with tens of thousands of followers, the publisher of a high-quality, influential blog, or a popular YouTube video marketer. Opinion leaders come in all shapes and sizes, but knowing some of their personality traits will make it much easier to identify and contact them.