It’s the dream of all marketers: create low budget videos, upload them to YouTube and Facebook, and build a global audience of raving fans. Lots of people talk about it. Lots of blogs write about it. But the indie band Walk Off The Earth did it.
In 2006, Walk Off The Earth was an unknown band from Burlington Ontario. But their creative cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” brought them 127 million views in four months on YouTube. Since then, they’ve proven to be consistent viral hitmakers with over 600 million YouTube views and successful branded content campaigns for Volkswagen, Pringles, Telus, and O2 Mobile.
I interviewed Gianni “Luminati” Nicassio, a founding member and talented multi-instrumentalist. He reveals how the band approaches online video. Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
If you were to start again and build a YouTube or Facebook audience from scratch tomorrow, what would be the first thing you’d do?
I’d go and research the successful channels that were doing what I aspired to do. Study what makes them great. And then try to make your videos slightly better and more creative than those videos.
It’s not about copying other content. It’s about taking inspiration from successful creators. The goal is to break down their techniques and study what is working. Over time and by creating a lot of content, your skills will become focused and your content will feel different from those videos that inspired you.
Beyond creating ‘create good content,’ what advice do you have for new brands or businesses looking to build their online audience with video?
Creating engaging content is only half of the process. You need to get ruthless and promote, promote, promote.
If you’re getting started, don’t shy away from the grunt work. Start with your Facebook friends and shamelessly (but still with some class) ask them to share your video. Then, find out where your audience is hanging out and start targeting those sites. Go to blogs that relate to your content and share your video. Or reply in the comment sections of the related video.
If you really believe in your video and you have a budget, don’t be afraid to take out some ads. This will be annoying work for you AND for the people that see your comments, but if your content is good you will be forgiven by the Internet gods!
Eventually, your fanbase will grow to a point where you don’t have to do grunt work like this.
What’s a small detail that many brands or businesses ignore with YouTube or Facebook videos?
We’ve found that the first eight seconds of your video are the most important. The click-away rate in those precious seconds is staggering. If you make music videos, start playing music right away. If you are teaching something or explaining a product, start delivering information.
Don’t tell people about your day, don’t talk about other videos that you’re making or where to buy the song. Just play the song and tell them the supplementary info after the song or in the description.
Walk Off The Earth has worked with brands such as Volkswagen, Pringles, Telus, and O2 Mobile. What makes successful branded content on YouTube?
If you’re working with an influencer or artist, make sure the branded content is in line with the artist’s other successful content. The influencer or artist knows what type of content their fans respond to. So trust their judgment.
We’ve worked with lots of brands. What’s made these partnerships successful is the brands have always wanted us to “do what we do” while integrating their product in a natural, organic way. Your fans really get to know you when you’re putting this much of yourself out there. They can tell when you’re not being sincere.
How do you brainstorm new video ideas?
To be honest, we don’t have much of a process. We sit in a circle and talk about stupid ideas.
Gianni, your credits in the band are—bass, guitar, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, drums, vocals, theremin, glockenspiel, piano, cajon, cello, bongos, harmonica, double bass, percussion, kazoo, keyboards, melodica, beatbox, kalimba, and whirling sound tubes. If you could only take one instrument to a deserted island, which one would you pick?
Probably a ukulele. That way if there was a stranded islander of the opposite sex, I could serenade her with a few Randy Newman deep cuts!
If a brand wants to work with you, how can they get in touch?
Anyone—brands or fans— can contact us here. Here are a few videos for brands we’ve done in the past:
You can find out more about Walk Off The Earth on their website. They’ve also released a new original single, “Fire In My Soul.” It’s available on all online music services.
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