Engage and Convert! A Sneak Peek Into Orabrush’s Social Video Playbook

Orabrush has been touted as one of the most relatable stories of a small company that has achieved great success doing YouTube and social video marketing. They’ve sold well over a million units of their tongue cleaner and tongue foam, are the 3rd most subscribed sponsor channel on YouTube with over 45 million channel views, have signed a major deal with big box stores, and were recently selected for a 2012 Webby Award Official Honoree for their “continued efforts and achievements in social media marketing.” What many people may not realize is that it was a long struggle for many of the Orabrush partners to figure out what worked.

I had the opportunity to talk with Orabrush’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jeff Harmon. In this post, I will share how they developed some of their key video strategies that became their blueprint for success – a “social video playbook.” Spoiler alert: It’s as much dedicated to genuine engagement around relationship building and customer care as it is to sharing entertaining videos.


I originally interviewed Jeff and Orabrush spokesperson Austin Craig late last year at Search Engine Strategies Chicago.  This time around, I wanted to learn more about the actual nuts and bolts of their sustainable and profitable video program.   I wanted to understand all the hard work and planning involved, and that you continually have do to adapt to customer needs.

Here are some of Orabrush’s key video strategies that Jeff shared with me from their social business playbook.

Don’t be a one-trick pony: Make different videos for different purposes

Jeff explained that Orabrush strategizes their video campaign around two different marketing types: the conversion side and the engagement side.

First they have conversion videos, which are similar to entertaining, short-form infomercials.

“I guess you could also call it an edutainment video, or infotainment-mercial, but they are meant to convert,” says Jeff. “They educate people, teach them about our story, and show our personality.  They also have a clear call-to-action for a purchase to be made.  They’re really focused around ROI, meaning if they don’t get a positive ROI, they’re a fail, and the whole project was a fail or at least, we break even.”

Then they have engagement videos.

“Those videos are meant to bring people back, get them to subscribe, and to endear them to our brand. They are more for existing customers. They exist to buy “mind share” with our viewers. The goal is to get our viewers to interact with our brand more, and to understand our culture and our story.”

Pay attention to trends, but have a foundation of evergreen content

Jeff explained that any time they’re doing engagement videos, they focus a lot on what is trending. For conversion videos, they’re not as focused on trends because they want videos that can always be relevant – evergreen content that can be used for years and years.

Have different ROI expectations for different kinds of videos

Measuring ROI with video in a social space, especially when most of it doesn’t lend itself to direct transactions, is certainly a challenge for most brands. Orabrush’s approach is to ascribe different performance goals to their different video types.  The goals have some quantifiable value – either economic or social proof – that covers all their needs for the business to be profitable and sustainable.

For conversion videos, Orabrush’s ROI is directly equated to sales.

“There’s a huge chunk of our audience that we can’t directly correlate, but you can take the rest of it and just continue to hone and figure out. Then the idea is just make sure that if I spend $100 on a video, I want to earn $101 plus tax,” says Jeff.

Variable costs are what I focus on. We obviously have relatively small budgets for production and staff, compared to what bigger brands are doing. In fact, they’re miniscule. We learned to keep our costs really tight. What I care about is that the videos get millions of views – not immediately but over time – and that they continue to get positive ROIs.”

On their engagement videos, Orabrush equates video ROI to various levels of engagement. They look for patterns in both new and existing customers, along with influence in other groups – fans, followers, media, prospects, etc.

“We’ll track which video got more subscribers, likes, comments, or more overall engagement.  When we measure videos this way, we’re paying attention to trends. We don’t try to measure how many sales return from it,” says Jeff.

Plan to get yourself dirty, then plan to scale (then get dirty again)

Today most of Jeff’s work on video campaigns involves approval of concepts, budgets, and the final editing process. They now have other people doing a lot of the nitty-gritty stuff he used to do a year ago.

“Sometimes I’ll take on a certain project that maybe I’ll have the vision for or I just want to be a certain way, and I’ll get more into the details on those specific projects,” says Jeff. It was his hands-on work with the videos over the years that allowed him to train his new staff successfully when they were ready to go to scale, and guide them with a foundation for what was proving successful.

Listen and respond to the chatter from your video

Jeff shared that although they’ve done some experimenting with social listening and monitoring technologies, overall they haven’t found anything that replaces getting their team to directly pay attention to word-of-mouth chatter.

“People think they can just put it on autopilot or just put systems up that respond, and I just don’t believe that works. It’s not as effective,” says Jeff. “Your brand is what the chatter of social media says it is. Or, what the chatter outside of social media says it is, which is harder to get; but social media pretty well reflects on that. What people are saying across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube comments is the reality of what your brand is. If those comments are not reflecting what you’re trying to say your brand is, then you’re not doing your job.”

Jeff also shared that some of the videos they’ve posted on their Facebook page have been an excellent catalyst for having customer/fan/follower feedback, which they’ve used to dream up new concepts for future videos.

“If you get a comment on Facebook and you follow through with that comment, you may find out someone has a problem. Then if you’re self-aware enough to talk to them, you might realize that this is directly connected to another problem you’ve heard from the call center or from another channel.  Then it’s a much larger problem that you’ve solved by changing the outlook.  It’s like a dreamland for a marketer, in my opinion, right now with social media.”

Get your executives involved in the community

Jeff also explained that he and a few others share community manager responsibilities – not just following what people are saying across their social media channels, but taking the time to write thoughtful responses.

“I happen to think the executives of any branch should be the ones who are most involved social media and customer relationships,” says Jeff. “I read everything that comes in on Facebook, all the comments.  I respond to most of them personally. I read what’s coming in on Twitter. The comments on YouTube and Facebook are really helpful. I know a lot of our team does as well. If you’re constantly reading everything that everybody’s saying, then you learn how to automatically just filter out the noise versus what’s important.