265,120 People Just Watched Our Video. This Is How We Did It.

72 Hours ago we created our first locally produced video at So Bad So Good. Since then, its trended worldwide on YouTube, been watched 265,120 times and received 200+ comments.

That’s a pretty remarkable achievement for our first attempt at video.

Rather than simply revelling in the numbers, I want to provide you with some tangible insights behind the actual process.

What we did, why we did it and what we learned.

There are many considerations you need to factor in when creating your own content. But get the mixture right and you too could have a video success story like this one.

The Concept

At So Bad So Good, we’re all big fans of Apple. The office is filled with iPads, iMacs, iPhone and even an Apple Watch or two.

Once we knew that September 16th was the worldwide release for the new water resistant iPhone 7, co-founder Daniel Reyes thought it was a great opportunity to create a piece of world-first and original content.

When it comes to previous iPhones, there’s always been big improvements with each new release — better camera, better battery, thinner design etc. But creating content around a phone’s superior battery life isn’t going to capture the public’s imagination — it’s simply not compelling enough.

But the first iPhone to be water resistant? Now that’s interesting, imagine the type of scenarios you can put it through to test it….

That was when Daniel suggested we buy one and throw it into the ocean at Bondi Beach and verify Apple’s claim.

One of the most sought after tech products of the year, set against one of the most famous landmarks in the world, in one of the most extreme tests. All held together by a vibrant, fun and personable host.

iPhone 7 + Bondi Beach + Interesting test + Great presenter = Something we’d want to watch and share.

On paper it was a great concept, all the elements were big draw cards — the question was, would it all work when we put it together?

Whilst we all thought it was a funny (and expensive) idea, the one factor that swayed us into doing it was being the first in the world to do so.

When the US Apple Store opened at 9am on Friday 16th September, it would already be 10pm at night locally. That meant if we could shoot, edit and upload the video during the day — we could be the first iPhone 7 water test worldwide.

When America is waking up, as articles are surfacing about people lining up for days and being the first to receive their phone, when tech blogs are manically trying to dissect and review all the new features — we would have a jump start on them all.

That’s exactly what we did.

The Team

We’re not a huge media organisation at So Bad So Good, we’re a small team with limited resources and an even smaller budget. To create a video, with the quality that we wanted to achieve wasn’t going to be easy.

So we called in more than a few favours!

We borrowed a surfboard and GoPro from our friends in the office, Daniel took the photos on the shoot, the wonderful host Samantha Clarke generously gave her time for a reduced fee, whilst the director kindly gave us ‘mates rates’ because he wanted to help us out and bring the project to life.

Without the help of those guys, the video would never have happened, simply because it would have been too cost prohibitive.

The entire crew was just 5 people: The presenter, director & assistant, Daniel & yours truly.

The Timeline

8.30am Pre-ordered iPhone 7 delivered to SBSG HQ 
2pm Start shoot on Bondi Beach 
4pm Start editing video and content at SBSG HQ
9pm Upload video to YouTube
9.30pm Post story on So Bad So Good
10pm Syndicate to press globally

Setting Goals

With little experience in creating video content, we had no idea what would be a good end result. I realise that seems strange — but with video you just never know.

The lead image could be wrong, the headline might be confusing, the edit might be choppy, the content might not be interesting, the timing might be off.

There’s unquestionably many moving parts.

For the amount of work and cost involved (the iPhone 7 itself is $1K) we set 50K views at the minimum result we’d be happy with. Anything above that would be a bonus. I remember Daniel saying that “If we get 200K+ I’d be over the moon.”

Other factors we considered was being able to recoup our costs through YouTube pre-roll ads and traffic to So Bad So Good.

The Benefits

  • Worldwide branding and exposure for So Bad So Good
  • A boost in SEO from any news site or portal that linked to us
  • Pre-roll revenue
  • On-site revenue
  • Increase in subscribers on YouTube
  • Increase in followers across other social properties
  • Boost in Facebook’s news feed for uploading video
  • Learn more about the process of creating and syndicating video itself

The Hustle

I spent about a day (with little sleep I might add) manically trawling through Twitter trying to find tech / entertainment writers who might consider featuring the video.

Many of the big tech sites and news mastheads don’t allow direct correspondence with an individual.

You have to fill out a generic “contact us” form which can be a pain having to click an endless amount of drop down and tick boxes. With Twitter, once I found them, I tracked down their email address, the sites they published on and contacted them via direct message or through my personal email.

All up, I was able to pull a list of about 130 emails — some individuals worked at the same company, some were freelancer writers. But for content as timely as this, we had to cast the net far and wide. I didn’t discriminate, if you wrote about tech, Apple or entertainment — you got an email from me.

Several of those media outlets wrote back asking about exclusivity around the story. I replied by saying that everyone would receive the clip, photos and press kit simultaneously. Then it was a race to see who could post it first and capitalise on that wave of traffic and interest on launch day.

That way I knew the people who really wanted to support and push the video, would be the ones who got it live ASAP. Not someone who simply added it to their news cycle to go out randomly during the day.

The Shoot

Remarkably the day of the shoot ran smoothly. We had a script prepared, we’d planned out the scenes to an extent, we’d already checked and rechecked everything we needed to bring.

From that perspective, it was a huge success — especially the dynamic in the team, zero egos and positive energy.

The only downside in the heat of our excitement….we forgot to film Samantha doing a 10 sec YouTube outro video. It’s YouTube best practice, where the host at the end of the clip encourages you to subscribe to the channel.

A minor mishap but the fate of the video didn’t depend on it being missing.

Watch The Final Result

  • Total Views: 265,120 (in 72 hours)
  • Trended worldwide on YouTube
  • Votes: 3,173
  • Comments: 291
  • Primary Traffic Source: United States 60%
  • Audience Retention Rate: 66% (People who watched the entire clip)
  • Most watched by: 25–34 year olds
  • Biggest Referrer of traffic: Mac Rumours Blog
Screenshot of video Trending on YouTube

What We Could Have Done Better

They do say hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I’d like to have formed a stronger relationship with the writers and media before hitting their inbox. Like anything in life, media is all about the relationships you have with people.

Cold calling and dropping emails into the inboxes of strangers probably wasn’t ideal — but due to the short time frame and turnaround, I didn’t have time to set the scene with them.

Rather than doing the research and approaching them with a softer “I loved this article of yours, would you be interested in also featuring our video.” it was more a case of “We have this epic video, if you want it here’s everything you need to go live ASAP.”

If you take a look at the YouTube comments, people question whether it was an iPhone 7 at all (it looks the same as the iPhone 6 but the camera lens is a little bigger at the back).

Others assume it was just a blatant ad, whilst some chimed in that “20 seconds isn’t long enough to affect the phone.”

To be fair, some argued that dunking it into salt water is actually a bad idea regardless.

By and large the feedback on the video and experiment has been mixed. But you can’t say they haven’t been engaged and entertained.

The truth is, you can’t appease everyone and there is a reason why YouTube comments are considered universally as breeding ground for trolls — it’s because they are.

I didn’t understand that premise until I saw them flooding in. This is an example of one that I’ve since deleted for obvious reasons:

That’s partly why I’ve chosen to write this blog, to help people understand that behind most videos you watch on the site — there is a tremendous amount of creative energy, blood sweat and tears that goes into making them.

It’s something to be respected I think.

It’s one thing to question and give constructive feedback, is another thing entirely to hurl unfounded abuse at someone from behind a keyboard.

Why It Worked

Timing is everything they say. Within a few hours of uploading to YouTube, the iPhone was officially released in the US. With that came a wave of people searching for videos about the phone itself.

Was it water resistant, what did it look like, what new features did it have, why should you buy it?

Our video was perfectly positioned to ride that huge lift in traffic and search terms around the iPhone.

As we were one of the first “iPhone 7 water test” videos on YouTube, the site saw us as the most relevant. That lead to the video being displayed to more people. More people watched, more people commented then it started to trend worldwide.

How long it lasted is due to supply and demand, plus the other types of content people are watching in and around yours. Right now there are 10–15 similar “water test” videos all playing catchup and vying for the same eyeballs we just had.

There’s been many studies that reveal our attention span online is about 8 seconds. That’s not much time to make an impact and compel someone to interact with your content.

That’s why we spent a long time refining the title of the video to give it that “x-factor” that makes you curious enough to click. We ended up giving it the title of:

We Dropped The iPhone 7 In The Ocean. This Is What Happened

Some harshly call such a tactic as nothing more than ‘click bait’.

To me click bait is when you click on something only to find you’ve been totally mislead. Where you’re promised an answer or insight but it never comes.

We didn’t do that. We placed the phone in the ocean, we filmed what happened. You can’t say fairer than that.

The second part is of course the image. There’s no denying that Samantha is an attractive girl, that certainly helps — but we also wanted to keep the content clean without veering off into the cheap and overtly sexual kind.

It’s why she’s not in the bikini in the photo. We wanted to make it tasteful enough that someone like Mashable could feature it, but eye-catching enough Apple fan boys would click.

You have to know your audience.

Summary

The success of our clip is proof that if you:

  1. Have a compelling concept
  2. Create for an audience (in a manner that educates, entertains or rewards them some way)
  3. Syndicated and promote effectively
  4. Produce quality footage / work

You give yourself a every chance of achieving some real success online.

There’s no denying we stacked the cards in our favour, but just like any game of cards — there’s always an element of luck to it.

If we posted it a day later would it have been the success its been? Unlikely.

If we had simply run the iPhone under the tap, would it have been as interesting? No.

When you’re creating your next video, try and think about those different areas. Ask yourself, “If I saw this would I watch and share it?”

If the answer is “No”, then why would anyone else?

In Closing…

I have to say a huge thank you for everyone involved in making the video (especially to Dan who was the brains behind it all) and to all my friends and family who put up with me spamming them with and asking them to share.

Everyone starts at zero, without that grass roots support it’s incredibly hard to gain that initial traction.

So thank you to everyone involved. It always amazes me what can be achieved when nobody is fighting over who takes the credit.

Oh and as for the iPhone 7 itself?

It’s still working, in fact I just used it to write this post.

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