Social Video Success Story: 10 Product Video Tips from “Will it Blend?” (Part 2 of 2)

We continue our interview with social video expert and viral video sales sensation, George Wright. George shared more of his tips with me for what we can learn from doing product videos in our own retail, e-commerce, and marketing activities.


In Part 1 of our interview with George Wright, we covered the following video tips:

1.  Have a strategy in place first
2.  Work on your storytelling
3.  Use the social space early
4.  Be willing to acknowledge mistakes and correct them early
5.  Get on the speaking circuit

Today we’re covering the remaining 5 of our 10 total tips for doing product videos:

6.  Handling naysayers
7.  Properly measuring video views
8.  Staying focused
9.  Working with legal
10. Management of user-generated content and ideas

Tip #6: Handle the naysayers by doing videos regularly and continually

Whenever you try something new and innovative with online video in the social media space, expect to have skeptics and challengers.  George told me that when they first started the “Will It Blend?” YouTube channel (for showcasing creative and somewhat dangerous demonstrations with their own blenders), they had to deal with pushback from two groups:

  • Industry competitors who were public in expressing their derision of the campaign.
  • Consumers who weren’t sure whether it was real or just a spoof.

George said they had to continually and regularly put out new video product demos on their YouTube channel, so that people could eventually catch on. As viewers got deeper into it, they watched more of the earlier videos, and found out that all the claims about the blender were actually true. So by doing videos regularly, Blendtec was eventually able to win over the skeptics, and made a huge change in consumer perception of their blenders.

Tip #7: Focus on the quality of views over the quantity

“To be successful at online video you don’t need to have hundreds of millions of views; you need to have the right views.” said George. This means going beyond measuring whatever number of views you have registered on YouTube or your own website analytics, and going deeper into measuring actual social engagement.  These deeper social metrics could be seen by measuring shares, comments, views to your product website, backlinks, stories posted about your products and your brand experience, and your overall buzz online. Ideally, you should go even further and comparatively measure any increases in sales that correlate with increased views, shares, and referrals.

Tip #8: Stay focused on your strategy after any initial success

George explained that once some companies actually get a successful online video, they tend to become distracted from their original business objectives. With the initial success of the “Will it Blend?” campaign, George mentioned having to deal with others who wanted to veer off from the original strategy he developed. “It becomes very difficult to maintain your strategy once you have success; that’s why being prepared for success is as important, if not more important, then actually having success (with any online video campaign).” George recommends having a plan from the beginning to:

  • Commit to your original message, at least at first
  • Take time to re-review your original plan
  • If your strategy does need to change, be sure to document it into your strategic plan

Tip #9: Avoid legal problems with proper disclaimers

George explained that at first he received a lot of backlash from Blendtec’s legal counsel for the “Will it Blend?” campaign. “The insurance, the legal guys, everybody hated the concept.  Clearly we were using a high performance blender in a way that it shouldn’t be used.”

George knew that because of the potential danger with others copying their amusing ways of blending things, he always had to include disclaimers – not just in the video, but front-and-center on their own website’s home page as well.

“The ‘Don’t try this at home’ slogan actually became something a lot of people made fun of, but there were some serious undertones to it as well.” said George. “Because of the dangerous elements of the campaign, we went out of our way to help people understand that we’re doing things that you shouldn’t be doing in your home.  At the same time though, we were able to demonstrate the performance of this piece of equipment.”

Fortunately in the case of “Will it Blend?”, it was decided that they could mitigate the risk with an overabundance of disclaimers. “I believe there are a lot of ideas that fall prey on the floor of development just because there’s a fear of the legal side and there’s legitimacy to that.  You need to make sure that you are covered and that you’re doing things in the right way,” said George.  Here are some legal tips:

  • Have disclaimers for any unusual uses
  • Include disclaimers in the video
  • Include disclaimers on the video’s landing page
  • Create videos showing appropriate ways of using your product

Tip #10: Have a plan early for incorporating user-generated (and user-populated) content

George said that with the “Will it Blend?” campaign, they had made some very strategic decisions early on with user-generated content (UGC).  “There were a lot of people that really felt like we needed to open up the campaign and let other people film their experiences and then post them to our site.” he said. “That quickly became too much of a liability issue for us, and we decided against it. We were comfortable being in a controlled environment for doing these demonstrations, but us having a video contest for user-generated submissions was absolutely not appropriate.”

The happy medium that George found with “Will it Blend?” was their “Suggest Stuff to Blend” feature, which is a link on their website to their Facebook page, featuring tons of suggestions from fans.

“We found it was best for fans just to recommend to us what they would like to see us blend. Even though there were hundreds of spoofs and different things that people would do in their own blenders, we certainly didn’t encourage that in any way.” said George.

EXTRA Tip: Have consumers appreciate you for actually being helpful (over trying to being funny)

Many brands today get carried away with thinking their goal with their product video has to be about “going viral” with a humorous or otherwise entertaining video; but they can end up sacrificing what’s really much more important – actually helping consumers out.

George said that most brands should accept that they will never have what it takes to get on the front page of YouTube, likely because their product and brand image many not lend themselves well to humor. However, most consumers ultimately become loyal fans not because a brand is trying so hard to be funny, but because the brand is willing to really be helpful to consumers.

Here’s an example of what George means: “I had a auto repair that I needed to do on my pickup truck and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to take it in and have it fixed by a professional shop, try to fix it myself (because I’m kind of handy and I like to try and do things myself). So I went to YouTube and boy I’ll tell you what, I found a video of somebody replacing the ball joint on the front of their truck; and it showed me exactly what to do, exactly how to do it and because of that I was able to go and do it myself. It saved me a lot of money and a lot of time, and as a consumer, I appreciated that. It was a great experience.” said George.

So while humor can a great attention getter with online video, you shouldn’t lose sight of actually helping out the consumer. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Actually demonstrate the product in common tasks and scenarios
  • Show all the product features
  • Visually show how compelling the benefits are with using the product
  • Show them exactly what they need
  • Encourage them to share the help with others

Some final tips on social video marketing with products

Here’s what else you can learn from the success of the “Will It Blend?” video campaign:

  • Commit to making a decent number of videos over time. While you don’t have to make over 100 videos showing different creative ways to demo your product (like Blendtec did with their blender), think about all of the social relationships you can showcase with how consumers not only use the product, but how it adds value to their lives. How-to videos, videos of your product at events and consumer reactions, taking suggestions from consumers for new video content – all are excellent ways of building interest and engagement in your videos, your products, and your brand.
  • Make them timely. If some news has come out around your industry  that can be applied to a creative use of your product, have the ability to create and distribute a video quickly, and then use it to comment on that same news feature. Putting out an individual video that’s timely to recent news in regular interviews can work much better in your favor than putting out a bunch of unrelated videos at the beginning of your campaign.
  • Demonstrate the product thoroughly – many brands feature videos of themselves giving presentations on their product, but spend way too much time talking and not enough time actually demonstrating the ways it works. Less talk, more action!
  • Ask for suggestions – Your Facebook fan page is a great area to do this, but also mention it in your demo videos. And of course, let people submit questions on your own website.

All of these tips George and I have given you on social video marketing – DO TRY THEM AT HOME! (And at work, and everywhere else you like ;) )