Online Video Distribution: Learn How to Distribute Your Video Content

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You’ve done it all — brainstormed a unique video concept, nailed the footage, and edited it into something worthy of an Emmy award. You even found the perfect background music to complete the effect. 

Now what? 

Well, it’s time to get the video online, where a hungry audience awaits.

The question is, where exactly?  

Like many content creators, your first instinct would be to upload the video on YouTube and wait for the views to roll in. And while that might work in some cases, you’re only as successful as your online video distribution plan and strategy.

What Is Online Video Distribution?

You’ve probably heard the term “distribution” before, especially in executive discussions on film and television shows. It’s a word that gets thrown around in boardrooms and movie studios as executives talk about the best way to reach a wider audience.

So, to define, online video distribution is the act of getting your video content in front of a wider audience

But the definition can get a bit more complex than that, depending on who you ask. 

Two Types of Online Video Distribution

There are two types of distribution: free and paid.

Free Distribution

Free distribution is as the name suggests. It’s when an online video platform — like YouTube, Vimeo, or Brightcove player — hosts your videos and manages the distribution.

You can upload your video content to the site, choose your settings and wait for views to come in. And that’s where the process ends. 

Yes, free distribution is limitless as far as viewers go, but you’re also limited in how much control you have. You can’t determine where your videos show up, what tags they get, which search engine results they appear on, and so on.

Paid Distribution

Paid video distribution is when a company or an individual distributes a piece of content to additional outlets for a fee (including royalties). 

A great example is when a television show or movie moves from the big screen to Netflix. 

Since Netflix didn’t finance the production, it has to pay for distribution rights so that people can watch them through their streaming service.  

When you’re distributing your videos on YouTube, free of charge, you’re relying on them to bring in those views.

On the other hand, when you utilize paid online video distribution, it becomes easier to get your content viewed by a wider audience since it’s being uploaded and distributed in more than one place. 

The type of online video distribution you choose depends entirely on where you want your videos to appear.

Why Bother with Video Distribution?

We’ve already established that online video distribution is the process of getting your content in front of a wider audience. 

But why does it matter?

Many people don’t realize this, but there are hundreds if not thousands of websites out there showing videos to potentially millions of viewers every single day. And you want to be one of those sites.

Here’s why: These viewers are actively looking for videos to watch, and they have their credit cards in hand. 

That means you’re getting eyeballs on your video content without having to rely on social media or SEO, both of which take time to generate results.   

When you consider how much video content people view online, it’s easy to see why video distribution is a worthwhile venture for any business or individual.   

How Does Video Distribution Work?

Once you understand why online video distribution matters and have determined which type of distribution plan you’re going to attempt, the next step is understanding how it works. 

There are three main steps in the process:

  • Finding sites that will host and distribute your content. 
  • Getting those sites to distribute your videos.
  • Evaluating the results of your efforts.

Since there are hundreds of distribution methods, finding a starting point for video distribution can be a challenge in itself. 

Luckily, we’ve put together a list of free channels to upload and distribute your video.

Mailing ListsAn email list can be a powerful video promotion tool if used right.  

You need to give your viewers a reason to sign up — like offering exclusive content or behind-the-scenes footage –, and you need to make sure email addresses are only given out once (don’t spam).

Once they’ve signed up, send them an email with your video attached. 

First of all, this will get people used to the idea of receiving emails from you. 

And secondly, if they like the video, they’ll be more likely to share it, which means even more views for you.

Company Website and BlogIf you have a company blog or website, it’s logical to post your video there.  

That’s an obvious suggestion, one that many skip over. 

Don’t make that mistake!

Here are some tips to get the most out of your company website or blog:

  • When you upload your video, be sure to include a link to one of your relevant website’s pages, with more details about the video and what it’s all about. 
  • If you have a custom website, you can also create a custom video player that displays your embedded videos on every page of your site. 
  • You also want to share the link to your video on social media, and with friends, so they know about it.

Online Groups and ForumsIf you have an email list or know people with blogs or websites, consider asking them to share your video online.

Forums and groups on sites like Facebook and Reddit are great places to get the word out about your video.

To make sure your post stands out, start a conversation by asking for feedback or advice before you promote it.

Your goal is to show others that you’re willing to pitch in, which will make them much more likely to share your content once they see it.

Social MediaThis is the big one, as far as online video distribution goes. 

When using social media for video promotion, you should remember that you want more views for your efforts, not just a link to your site. 

Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Encourage others to embed or share your video. If you have an email list, ask them to share the link on their social media accounts. 
  • Tweet about it or post updates on Facebook that include the link to your video with a tag or hashtag (#hashtags are great for reaching a larger audience).
  • If someone comments on or shares your video, thank them and encourage them to do it again.
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Remember that social media is a dialogue, not a monologue. 

Make your audience feel like they’re part of the journey you’re taking them on, and they’ll be more likely to continue following you.

Video-Sharing Sites – If you have exhausted all the other options and still need some help getting the word out about your video, then it’s time you turned to video-sharing sites.

While this is not a long-term solution, it’s undoubtedly going to get your video some quick attention if done right. 

Here are the sites you should be using as part of your video distribution strategy:

  • YouTube 
  • Vimeo
  • Brightcove
  • Wistia

Video sharing sites are a great way to promote your video for more views and work on your SEO.

Be sure to optimize your videos for each site so that they can show up in relevant searches: link them back to your website, have titles that are easy to remember, etc.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)SEO is an often misunderstood art. But learning how to use it for video distribution isn’t hard. 

It would help if you learned how to use keywords and descriptions to connect with your target market

Essentially, keywords are words or phrases that people will type into search engines when they’re looking for something specific, which is why it’s crucial to choose the right ones. 

The description of a video should be an accurate, compelling description of what your video is all about. Many videos have poorly written descriptions that don’t connect with the target market, which is why it’s often best to leave this job up to a professional.

The truth is, there are a lot of different ways to make sure your video gets the attention it deserves. 

Just remember: if you don’t market your video properly, no one’s going to watch it – viral or not!

Press ReleasesA press release is a dying art, but one that can still be incredibly helpful in video promotion. We’ll discuss them briefly here since many videos go unreported and unnoticed by the media. 

A press release should include all the information you want someone to know about your video. 

That includes who you are, what the video is about, what makes it interesting, who you’re hoping to reach with it, how long it is, and where people can find it. 

You won’t get a lot of media coverage if your press release doesn’t stand out from the rest and look professional. If you don’t have a printer available, you can always have a friend in the media business help you with this or take it to a print shop and let them format it for you.

Social BookmarkingSocial bookmarking is one of the best ways to get your video content seen by many people. There are several places online where you can do this, but here are some of the most effective ones:

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Delicious 
  • Favourites

When people “favourite” your video on one of these sites, it means that they liked it and want to come back to watch it later.

Paid Video Distribution Channels:

You can pay for video distribution to some more popular channels, but this is generally not considered a good idea. 

It’s best to focus on organic promotion and maintaining a good relationship with your customers.

However, sometimes you have to pay for distribution if it means getting noticed by the people you’re trying to reach. 

Let’s highlight a few of these channels:

Ad Campaigns – Advertising on video channels is the easiest way to have your videos distributed. 

Your ads should include a compelling, engaging blurb that captures attention and encourages people to watch your video.  

You can run these ads for as little or as long as you want. Be sure to make the necessary adjustments. 

Video Networks – Some websites are exclusively devoted to video distribution, which means you could pay for a spot on these networks and have your content distributed across multiple channels all at once. 

That’s is often a good idea if your goal is to reach as many people as possible. Here are some of these places:

  • Vimeo 
  • Daily Motion 

Video Advertising and Sponsorship – You can also pay for your video to be distributed or sponsored by a site. That’s considered good marketing, provided the channel has a lot of traffic that happens to be interested in your offer.   

It’s expensive but effective.

Google Display – You can run a Google Ads campaign and have your video distributed across Google’s Display network. 

These ads are generally inexpensive and can target specific audiences based on keywords, demographics, and interests.

When done right, these types of ads can be incredibly effective.

Media Buy: Not something we’d recommend, but it’s worth a try if you have the cash to burn. 

You can also hire someone to distribute your video for you if you don’t mind doing the work. 

It’s a lot of work, but it can be worth it if you have the money to invest.

Online Video Promotion: Optimisation 

It’s common wisdom to optimise your videos so they can show up first on Google and other search engines when someone enters relevant keywords. 

Here are some tips for optimising your videos:

  • Title Tags – The point is to make sure your title contains the relevant keywords that people use to search for your video. You, however, don’t just want to stuff keywords in there. 
  • The Description Tag – It also helps to include the keywords in your description tag. However, your priority should be on describing the video as accurately as you can. 
  • The Title – This should be as concise as possible, with no more than 15 words, or it will cut off on many sites (YouTube is no exception). 
  • A long-tail strategyA long-tail approach usually focuses on using your keywords in a few long and descriptive titles and descriptions while writing the rest of your content around those terms. That’s part of what makes keyword research so important. 
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Developing a Video Distribution Strategy

Your video distribution strategy should include the three content distribution channels: owned, paid, and earned media. 

Keep in mind that each of these channels plays a critical role in the success of your video distribution strategy. I’ll explore each of these channels in this section of the article.

  • Owned Media (Channels Owned by You)

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Owned media refers to any distribution channel that belongs to you. That includes your website, any social media properties you have (for example, Facebook and Twitter), and any video hosting platform you operate.

There are two main ways to distribute videos on your owned channels: 

1) Embed video player on Web pages of your website

2) Share videos through your social media profiles.

Here’s a list of owned channels you should be using to distribute your videos: 

Website

The point is to try and put your video on as many of your website’s pages as possible.

For example, you can add a video player on the homepage of your website, about us page, blog posts, etc.  

You also want to make sure your videos are easy to find; otherwise, there is no point in adding them to your web pages in the first place. 

Alternatively, create a dedicated video page on your website and add a search bar to help users locate and play various videos.

Blog

Adding a blog to your website is an excellent idea because it helps you provide more value to your site visitors.  You can write blog posts related to your video topic or address questions that people typically ask about your videos and post them on the blog.

For example, if you have an instructional video with product reviews, you can write blog posts related to those product reviews.

Social Media Profiles

Social media algorithms have been prioritising videos over other types of content for many years, which means you should try and maximise your video exposure by sharing them through your social media profiles.

Video content performs better on social networks than images and text combined. 

That’s why it is crucial to distribute your videos through these platforms because if people can’t find them there, you’re losing on a great opportunity to engage with them.

Examples of social media platforms to distribute your video content: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Email Marketing

There’s a lot you’re missing by not running an email marketing campaign. If you want your video to create an impact, be sure to use email marketing to engage your target audience and get them talking.  Providing additional sources of information about the topic discussed in the video through email is a good practice because it increases the odds of the video getting shared and published on third-party websites. 

Video hosting platforms

As mentioned above, one of the main goals is to get as many views as possible for any given video.  You should share your videos on every channel available to achieve that goal and increase your viewership numbers.  

Suppose your biggest concern is the number of generated views on, say, YouTube. In that case, a simple trick you want to try out is to upload the video on YouTube and prepare a short snippet of the video (or trailer) to upload on all the other channels and link them back to your main video.

Paid Media (Paying for Distribution)

Even a tiny advertising budget can go a long way. 

Having said that, before going ahead and spending money on advertising, you want to make sure the video is worth all the extra effort and that it has the potential to generate views on its own. 

Investing in paid media requires some effort but is likely to pay off if your video production efforts are solid.

Pros

Cons

  • Your focus is on creating a piece of engaging video content instead of worrying about the distribution tactics 
  • You’re getting immediate results 
  • Potential to garner more views than you can get on your owned channels
  • The chance of success depends on the quality of your video 
  • Hard to tell whether the ads or organic effort generated the views because most of these platforms don’t come with analytics

Search Ads (especially Google Ads): 

Search ads aren’t video-friendly, but you can still use them to drive traffic and views to your videos. 

You should set a daily budget and ensure the keywords you’re targeting are relevant to your video and that you’re targeting the right audience. 

Paid Social (Especially Facebook and Instagram Ads:

As mentioned earlier, social algorithms are biased towards video content. That’s why you should take advantage of that by running Facebook and Instagram ads to grow your audience. 

You want to set a daily budget for each channel and ensure your target audience is relevant to your video content.

Native Advertising 

Native ads are widely used for driving awareness and engagement around video content. 

You can use this strategy by allocating your native ad budget to top-tier publishers. You know the audience is already interested in your discussion topics.

Influencer Outreach 

Influencers have large followings, and, in most cases, they engage their audience by publishing video content. 

You can use this as a distribution channel by reaching out to influencers related to your video topic to see if you can partner with them.  

Pros

Cons

  • The influencer does a lot of the heavy lifting 
  • You don’t need to worry about targeting since influencers have a following 
  • The influencer can get you exposure in front of a relevant audience and help improve your viewership numbers, especially if they are well-connected with other influencers. 
  • You have to make sure the influencer’s audience is relevant to your videos 
  • Influencers may not always publish your video if it doesn’t fit their editorial guidelines 
  • Content sharing by influencers can be sporadic or unpredictable. The best way to find influencers is by looking through Socialblade.com and Twtbizcards.com for relevant influencers and their contact information. Also, try using a tool like BuzzSumo to get an idea of the blog posts garnering the most social shares in your industry.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored content is where brands and publishers come together to promote sponsored stories on high-quality publisher sites.

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You can get much more out of this strategy by integrating your video content as part of the campaign. 

For example, you could upload relevant videos to YouTube and syndicate them to other publishing platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Pros

Cons

  • You get top-tier exposure 
  • The publisher does a lot of the heavy lifting by promoting your video content to their audience
  • Hard to scale, especially since you have to work with each publisher separately
  • You’ll have to set up tracking, or else you won’t be able to tell whether or not your campaign was successful. 

Sponsored content should be a last resort because it can get expensive. However, if your goal is to increase views quickly, then this strategy might work for you.  You need to set up a daily budget and find sites relevant to your video content.

Earned Media (Distribution from Other Sources Other than You)

Earned media is the most organic form of distribution. It’s when someone else talks about your video, and you don’t control the publishing platform.

The best way to get in front of a relevant audience is by searching YouTube for “your video title” -site: youtube.com. You’ll notice that there are thousands of results related to your content. They’re just people who stumbled across your video and chose to share it across different social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit.

Additionally, you can get in front of a relevant audience by finding other creators with content similar to yours.  Use a tool such as Socialblade.com to identify the influencers in your field. 

Once you find the influencers, add them to a spreadsheet and enter their information into a database.  You can then reach out to them individually via Twitter DMs or email and see if they would be interested in sharing your video.

Pros

Cons

  • Earned media is free 
  • People randomly share your content across different platforms
  • It’s organic and helps build up your video content over time 
  • It can take a long time before people start sharing your videos 

Earned media can be unpredictable, but here’s one way to boost up your earned media efforts:

Encourage Social Sharing

Social sharing is the simplest form of earned media. However, it takes a long time before people organically start sharing your content. So, it’s upon you to figure how to encourage them to do it quick enough. The best way to do this is by creating a “share” graphic that includes the video you made. After that, you want to encourage viewers to tweet it along with a link to the video.

You can also create multiple versions of a “share” graphic for different platforms (e.g., a native Facebook share graphic, a Tweetable Twitter graphic).

How to Track Your Video Distribution Success

The only way to prove the success of your video distribution strategy is by tracking results. You can easily do this with the help of Google Analytics and a host of other content tracking tools.

Not only that, but you also have to decide which metrics to track. For example, you could track views as a success metric, but this doesn’t tell you how people found your video or whether they went on to view the rest of your website content.

So, when it comes to tracking video distribution success, you have several options:

Option 1:  Track Views and Shares

 The first video distribution metric to track is video views and shares. You first have to determine how many people viewed your video across all the different platforms it was published. 

Next, you want to identify which publishers generated the most traffic and optimise your efforts accordingly. In addition to that, track how many times people shared your video content on their social media profiles. In most cases, that would be your most loyal fans. 

Option 2: Track Engagement (Clicks)

How are people engaging with your video?

 A high number of video views doesn’t necessarily translate into a high click-through rate.

You have to optimise your video for clicks. Identify which parts of your video drove the most engagement. Or which publisher brought you the most business. 

All these insights should help you optimise your videos for better conversion in the future. 

Option 3: Track Comments and Likes

If your goal is to generate more user-generated content, then you should track comments and likes. For example, if someone leaves a comment that asks a specific question about the piece of content they just watched, that indicates people are engaging with your content and that you should start creating more of it.

Option 4: Track Subscribers 

When someone submits their email address to watch your videos, they become a subscriber. These viewers represent high-value users because they are interested in your content. They also don’t mind it when you market other related products and services to them. And, of course, these are the viewers who are most likely to be receptive to watching your video content.

Option 5: Track Sharing and Traffic to Landing Page

 Suppose you have a landing page specifically dedicated to a business objective (e.g., getting people to sign up for an email capture list). In that case, you should track how many people accessed the landing page after viewing your video.

It would also help to track how many people have been sharing your video on social media. 

Option 6:  Track Revenue 

If you have an e-commerce site, you can use Google Analytics Custom Events tracking to track how many people purchased your product or services after viewing or clicking on your video. That is very powerful because it demonstrates how video can influence people to make purchase decisions.

Option 7: Track App Installs

Assuming you’re using video content to market an app, then common sense dictates you track how many installs you’re getting from your video distribution efforts. 

Option 8:  Track Branded Search Volume

If your goal is to increase your brand search visibility, you should start tracking branded keyword searches – both monthly and daily. Then, you can take the insights gained from that data (e.g., top keywords) and use them to optimise your video distribution campaigns. 

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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