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Pierre Chappaz 

If content is king, what's the queen?

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Pierre Chappaz, CEO and co-founder of Ebuzzing says that distribution is the queen of content - and argues that there are three phases of distribution if videos are to become viral sensations...

Everyone knows that content is king, right?

The phrase is renowned in the digital space, coined by Bill Gates back in 1996. It's something that certainly applies to branded online videos. But there's also an age old adage which tells us that behind every successful man there's a woman. So if content is king, what's the queen driving its success?

I believe the answer is distribution. The reality is that most branded videos need a solid, planned distribution strategy if they are going to become a hit. There are a number of comparisons people recognise when branded video distribution is discussed - no matter how well a book is written, it struggles to go anywhere without a publisher; or a great song without a record label.

Although it may be nice to believe that all viral videos come from nowhere, in reality, for the vast majority of videos, this isn't the case. Even the most fabulous branded content needs a push first if it is going to be viewed by millions of consumers.

Videos have to reach critical mass for them to become viral. This is the number of people needed to view a video for it to be pushed into mainstream consciousness and have people talking about it, sharing and generally registering its existence. Once the video reaches this point, awareness snowballs and views multiply like a virus.

To reach critical mass, every distribution strategy is going to be different; a video advertising light fittings will require a different approach to the latest Evian ad. There's a different audience and different levels of interest in the content.

But one thing that is almost always a necessity is YouTube; if a video isn't uploaded to the site then it becomes much harder for it to reach critical mass and trigger a viral reaction as this is where most people will search for it.

Generally speaking, there are three phases of distribution if brands want to transform their video into a viral sensation. The first wave is targeting key influencers and bloggers. By using tools like the Ebuzzing Social Lab it is possible to track which blogs have the most influence in their category, whether they're fashion, religion or sports blogs.

Key influencers can push an online video in front of the right people and have strong referral power. Viewers trust bloggers' opinions and will go on to watch and potentially share the video themselves.

The second wave is to position the branded content as part of a value exchange. One example of a value exchange are Facebook games like Farmville or Candy Crush. To reach the next level you have to play for several hours, invite 20 people on your friends list, which we all know can be incredibly irritating, or watch a video.

By offering your video in a value exchange you can amplify the number of times your video is viewed or shared.

During the final phase the branded video should be placed on niche websites to approach the core fanbase. It becomes much easier to raise interest in the target market once significant buzz has been created.

By completing these three distribution phases, brands will have given their video the best possible chance of being the next viral hit.

The romantic in me is secretly pleased that some content becomes viral organically, but my more cynical side recognises that most branded videos need a helping hand. While content is still king and poor content will struggle to become viral, distribution is increasingly the driving force behind the final creative.

It's very similar to chess - while the king is the focus of the game, it's the queen that moves around the board and dictates play.

If brands want to raise the chances of their video attaining the coveted viral status they must remember to play the queen and pay attention to their distribution.

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