What is the definition of YouTube success?

A global brand is on YouTube. Is that enough or should its videos be entertaining too? Video

A global brand is on YouTube. Is that enough or should its videos be entertaining too?

Real estate agents are not the most innovative marketers—effective maybe, but not innovative. For every agent with a blog, there are many more still relying on newspaper ads and referrals to drum up business.

Get caught up in the social media revolution…join your colleagues on the campus of eBay for a unique communications conference. Register by June 20 to save $100.

With that in mind, kudos to Century 21 for launching an online video campaign called Dig the Digs.

On paper this idea pops: Century 21 agents team with their clients to create a two-minute video about the home they’re selling and then upload it to the company’s branded YouTube channel.

Once all submissions are in, YouTube viewers vote for their favorites. The top 10 vote-getters are announced and a panel of Century 21 employees chooses a winner. The winning homeowner gets $21,000.

More than 52 people submitted videos, surpassing the company’s goal. While some of these amateur efforts offer a bit of quirky charm, most fall short of that special something that makes a video go viral.

That how marketers and robots think real people talk

The video welcoming viewers to the contest home page is an attractive, wide-eyed woman staring into the camera doing her best “Vicki the Robot” from Small Wonder impersonation with painfully scripted lines like, “Vote for your favs. The winning video will get a cool $21,000 and an HDTV.”

Apparently that’s how marketers (and robots) think real people talk.

What this inspires are contest submissions filled with bad acting, even worse lighting and sound, and confusion over what the houses actually look and feel like.

It proves dreary lighting can make even the loveliest home look drab.

‘Because we’re marketing people and that’s what we do’

So why would Century 21 go down this road? It’s a global brand with over 145,000 agents selling something everyone understands and probably wants. I asked the man responsible for Dig the Digs, Robert Schwartz, vice president of national advertising at Century 21.

Schwartz told me that Dig the Digs was designed to kick-off and draw attention to its newly minted YouTube channel.

“We were bouncing around YouTube one day—because we’re marketing people and that’s what we do—and I stumbled across something for Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s office in London, and they had a dedicated brand channel on YouTube and it kind of struck us: ‘Hey, this is something that makes a lot of sense,’” Schwartz explained.

In theory, he’s right. This plan should make sense. A recent study showed 80 percent of homebuyers start their search online. Add onto that stagnant home prices and the high cost of newspaper ads and you’ve got an industry ripe for cheap, easy-to-produce social media.

Century 21 jumped into social media with the idea that it was a “learn as you go process.”

“I’ll be honest with you this is one of the few times that we sort of jumped into [a marketing campaign] and we didn’t have the foggiest idea [what success looks like],” he explained. “And we were okay with that from the start.”

Schwartz said the goal of the contest and YouTube channel is to leave consumers and agents thinking, “Hey that’s something I might not have expected from Century 21, they’re really a brand that’s beginning to understand and grasp technology in new ways” and encourage their agents to start posting videos online.

So it seems Dig the Digs meets Century 21’s measure of it success.

Problem is Dig the Digs is a contest with roughly two hours of footage of people’s homes; many of these videos are too dull to watch.

Does this mean the new definition of success is simply being on YouTube?

Online video: Success and stinkers

Numerous companies have ventured into online video. Here are some examples.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.