Viral Video: The “Watch where you are” strategy

In the fall of 2009, Abby, Gus, and social networking intern Lindsay sat down to discuss outreach strategies. One of the things we made clear is that we didn’t want people to have to come to our website¬† We live in a scarce attention economy; everyone only has so much free attention apart from their jobs, schoolwork, families, favorite media, and other activities. So we didn’t want to have to drag people away from the sites where they were used to hanging out; because we don’t produce for a major network or have an advertising budget, that was a fight we were bound to lose.

The theme we came up with was “Watch where you are.” Our focus would be on uploading episodes and other content to a range of sites. Aside from YouTube, most sites would not have all of our content, and we would put a link to the YouTube channel in every other location. We also started linking to our other locations from the YouTube channel, so people who didn’t usually spend time on YouTube might decide to find us on LiveJournal, Facebook, or Twitter instead. The result, we hoped, was that people would stumble across us, then end up watching from their usual favorite location.

The data below is the total viewcounts for particular videos on some of the sites where we posted. (If there is no data in a cell, it’s because we didn’t post the video to that site.) Using this data, can you make an argument for or against the Watch Where You Are strategy? How different do you think the YouTube view counts would be if we had only posted videos there, and not on other sites? Why do you think the view counts on some videos are so much higher on some sites than others? Are view counts the best measure of a video’s success?

A chart of our views on various sites where we posted. Careful -- the last four columns should be subtracted from the YouTube (YT) views, as they are also included in that count!

A chart of our views on various sites where we posted. Careful -- the last four columns should be subtracted from the YouTube (YT) views, as they are also included in that count!