[This article by Ryan Henson Creighton is re-posted from the Untold Entertainment blog, which is awesome.]
One element of my effort to drive awareness of our Spellirium Pre-Order crowdfunding campaign is a series of video developer diaries called Spellirium Minute. i had always wanted to produce video diary content, but i worried about all the effort involved in shooting and editing the videos together. In this article, i hope to convey that creating the video is the easy part.
i Post This Video Every Day
Robby "the Doogs" Duguay has been a big supporter of the campaign so far. Last week, he sat down with me and we banged out eighteen Spellirium Minute developer diary videos. All of them are short, screencapped vids about two minutes apiece, in which i talk about different design processes during the five long years we've been building the game. The videos contain info about our prototype regimen, communication with artists, and the inspiration that led to the project. They make for interesting viewing, and of course i'd like to get them out to as many people as possible.
Hey, hippies! Wanna watch a video?
i have enough content to release one video every day for the duration of the campaign. What i didn't realize was the enormous chunk of every morning that would be taken up promoting each video. This is the process i follow from the moment i hit that "Upload" button on YouTube:
Prepping the Video on YouTube
- Write a video description. Make sure to include a link to Spellirium off the top. If the video references a playable game prototype or a blog article, add a link to it at the bottom of the description.
- Write as many tags as my little mind can fathom. This improves searchability.
(my little mind can't actually fathom very many tags)
- Fix the auto-caption track to create an English closed caption track. i have no idea if this improves searchability, but i do it anyway. Even with only two minutes of video, it is an asspain.
- Create a custom thumbnail for the video and upload it.
- Add an annotation to the end of the video linking to the previous video.
- Add an annotation to the end of the previous video linking to this video.
- Write a little note to subscribers.
- Launch the sucker.
- Cue up the video and add it to the Spellirium Minute playlist.
Shouting From the Rooftops
From there, i have to pull a million different levers to get the link out to a bunch of different nooks and crannies:
- The Untold Entertainment blog. Every post must contain, at a minimum, a link to the Spellirium campaign, a link to the Spellirium Minute playlist, and a link to the Untold Entertainment YouTube channel with a call to action to subscribe, because subscriptions are a big deal on YouTube. They're like your mailing list, and they're how YouTube determines your worth as a content creator.
This is what posting daily video content has done to my blog traffic this past week.
- Ensure that the Untold blog post uses the tag "Spellirium", so that a plugin will automatically repost to the developer diary at Spellirium.com
- Tweet the blog article with embedded video out to both the @Untoldent and @Spellirium Twitter accounts
- Post the video link to Facebook under my personal Ryan Henson Creighton account, and on the Spellirium Facebook page. i haven't been posting on the Untold Entertainment Facebook page, but i probably should.
- Post an Announcement on the Spellirium Steam Greenlight page.
- Post to the Spellirium backers-only message boards, and
- the Spellirium press kit page, and
- the Spellirium wiki (for posterity) and
- the Spellirium subreddit (which we had to create because Redditors kept deleting our links)
- Email the vid to the guys at Evolve PR, who are helping us out with the campaign.
There's a Spellirium thread on the TIGSource forums that i update regularly. But TIGSource is a rare and precious snowflake that operates differently from many other sites. For example, the forum doesn't let you embed YouTube videos (PLEASE let me know if i'm wrong about that), and it uses a phpBB/wiki-style markup. (note: posting to Gamasutra presents a similar hassle.) Here's the painful process of posting there:
- Screencap the video.
- Upload the image to my server, since the TIGSource forums don't let you upload images (again, if i'm wrong, please let me know.)
- Copy/paste the content of the Untold blog post in a new reply to the TIGSource thread
- Meticulously go through the post and rewrite the HTML markup as phpBB markup (if anyone knows a handy conversion tool that will do this for me, PLEASE let me know! It's not quite painful enough to make me write my own convertor, but it's getting there)
- Point to the uploaded image of the YouTube video
- Link it to the YouTube video
- Change the Reply title
- Change the Thread title
Finally, since Twitter is easily our largest referrer, i make sure to schedule or post repeated announcements throughout the day, since Twitter is only effective if people happen to see your link float by in their feed when they're looking at Twitter.
Comb hair. Brush teeth. Promote video.
(who am i kidding? i don't have time to comb my hair)
This is the routine i run through every morning, which actually begins the night before at midnight EST when i post the video to YouTube and Twitter only (partly for my Australian friends, and partly for fear that i'll sleep in the next morning and completely miss my promotional window for the Eastern Standard Time breakfast crowd). Another key repost time is 11:30/12:00 PM EST, which is the double-whammy of lunchtime break for EST people and breakfast for PST people.
We've also created some "special" videos which took longer to shoot and required more effort, but they're there to sort of break away from the sameness of the screencapped vids, and to hopefully enjoy some viral sharing. The last "special" video we posted showed me pointlessly demoing the 2D Spellirium game on the 3D Oculus Rift.
Today's special is a Spellirium-styled parody of the Pokémon Rap:
watch Spellirium Minute Episode #7: The Dictionary Rap
The punchline is that through all of this, my video strategy is not working. Just take a quick look at the abysmal double-digit views each video is pulling.
Over the past week, with one video going up every single day, and despite a big push from Kotaku that brought over 5000 people to the first vid, YouTube accounts for a whole 27 visits to the Spellirium campaign. However, that's more eyeballs than articles on certain big press sites have brought us. Our conversion rate is high at 64%, and our lowest-priced and most popular tier is $15. If my i-flunked-high-school-math calculations are correct, the entire week-long YouTube effort has been worth roughly $275 to us so far. But maybe it's a slow burn?
i'm Taking Requests
You'll notice that despite all of this hustling, i'm still really only hitting a lot of insular locations. Where's Google+? Where's Dailymotion/Metacafe/Vimeo? There are so many more places on the Internatz. My blast radius is still quite close to home, and i haven't yet discovered many great places to share these videos that draw a potential audience from far and wide. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Maybe then, i'll have to spend the entire day promoting these videos, instead of "just" the entire morning.