Today I happened to be thinking about my last few presentations at conferences, especially at the Global Reggae Conference in Jamaica in February where I was invited to speak about leveraging the web to promote Reggae music.
The short answer to the title of my post: Yes.
I spoke about the advantages of a push strategy and how it has worked far better than our original pull strategy for Realvibez.
When we launched in February 2001, the web was all about destination sites - Yahoo! and so forth. You would create a site and then spend tons of money to pull people to it. That changed with the rise of embedding and YouTube is a great case study of using a push strategy successfully to build an audience quickly and even generate revenue.
Traditional media companies would want you to have to view content on their site only but YouTube was built around sharing and so it allowed the embedding of videos anywhere. These videos carried it's logo - promoting the name and the brand - and clicking them brought you back to the site.
A brilliant marketing strategy that was incredibly cheap - It let the users become a virtual street team.
The attached image of YouTube's meteoric rise proves that you can build an audience by letting users push your content to where people already are (see Google Trends graph for YouTube.com).
In my presentations I point to the successes we have had in the last 12 months that are built on this push philosophy. Instead of trying to build an audience by spending money to bring people directly to the site, we focused our efforts on pushing our content out to where people already were and finding ways to generate revenue from that (or using it to save money).
One of our advisors told us that VCs care a lot about the costs involved in attracting users and we did not want to go to pitches and say that we wanted $1 million so we could spend $500,000 on marketing (we have yet to actually raise any money from sources other than friends and family).
Reaching Audiences and Revenue-share Deals
Realvibez is the only official Caribbean media partner for Imeem.com, Flux and Bebo.com, allowing us to reach a wide audience.
With revenue-share deals in place with most, we have an incentive to put our content on someone else's site or use their services. Flux for example is Viacom's social platform that allows users to use one set of login information to join Mtv.com, Vh1.com and partner sites like Realvibez.tv, with one click.
Instead of trying to build our own social network, we opted for Flux and aside from the technology benefits and the fact that we are in the company of Viacom properties, we earn revenue from the advertising placed within our specific Realvibez network while not forcing users to remember yet another set of login information.
Imeem has been even more of a success for Realvibez because our videos have been featured on the front page, including Sean Paul's most recent music video. Also, our channel has been featured and even a "Best of" video playlist, introducing our brand to all sorts of people.
Our channel is in the company of Showtime and Palm Pictures but being able to tell an artist like Sean Paul, someone who sold over 3 million copies of his last album, that we, "little" Realvibez, got his video featured on the front page of a website with over 22 million users, has a major impact on his attitude towards us.
We could never have achieved the same thing through our site alone without the capital to attract a massive audience.
Our push strategy has accompished what we ourselves could not, while generating revenue and exposing our brand to a much wider audience, all at a fraction of the normal costs.
What if you don't have a revenue-share deal?
Our approach is akin to that of a film distributor instead of a tv station. Tv stations want to horde content for themselves - you have to watch their channel to see it. Distributors don't care where it's watched, as long as they get paid.
If you can get paid by uploading your videos to YouTube, MySpace and Imeem, it would be wise to take advantage of the millions of users already there and hungry for content.
If you aren't getting paid, they can be marketing tools to grow awareness and drive traffic to your site.
I was recently asked why I felt that YouTube is an "opportunity" for Realvibez instead of a "threat" and my response was a very short story about how Realvibez connected with Columbia Records.
We relaunched Realvibez in May 2007 after a long hiatus (we had gone into tremendous debt trying to make it work and we finally had to pull the plug in 2006).
YouTube never existed when we originally launched and now that it was here, I wanted to figure out how we could benefit from it because it had commoditized some of our videos and so competed for views of those music videos.
I figured that the best way to learn was to experiment and one of our advisors (whom we met through Facebook), suggested that we upload some videos because putting them only on Realvibez was akin to "singing the park with few people around."
I uploded an interview with Collie Buddz, a Reggae artist from Bermuda who had been signed to Columbia Records (watch the interview).
That video was uploaded on May 27, 2008.
On July 10, 2008, I received the following message on YouTube:
My name is (name removed), I am an intern with Columbia Records, and I work for Collie Buddz. My job is to gather content for his updated website, that will hopefully contain various rare video's, interviews, performances, etc. I really like your interview with Collie Buddz, and I was hoping to use it for our website. If you would be willing to send me a copy of the file, please e-mail me back as soon as you can. Of course, you would be given credit and your name would appear on Collie's page. Please get back to be as soon as possible. Thanks.
Of course I sent the video to them and they have sent us promo items to give away on college campuses and via the site.
I couldn't have called Columbia and gotten anywhere but by uploading a video to YouTube, we got them to come to us and establish a relationship.
Once again I repeat what I often say, that the web provides us with tools - video sharing sites, social networks, etc. - and it is how we use a tool that makes it valuable or not.
YouTube.com can be a site for uploading videos of your cat or a marketing channel and revenue driver for your company, just like how Facebook can be a site to poke people or a site to network with potential investors, advisors, strategic partners and entrepreneurs - it's your choice.
Push your content out to where a ready audience already exists and find a way to make money from it.