More than a year ago, we launched AtlassianTV, a section on our website dedicated to videos about products, customers, plugins, partners, and all-things Atlassian. When we first launched the site, it was a barely structured, small group of videos. Since then, the site has become more sophisticated, the number of videos grows weekly, and the audience has grown at a nice click.
Graphs that go up and to the right are usually a good thing. That’s the result, but of course there were some mistakes made and lessons learned along the way. Herewith are a few key takeaways:
1. Think about your audience first
2. Determine how you’re going to measure success early on
3. YouTube is awesome, but is it the right tool for what you need to accomplish?
4. Get into a rhythm
5. Have fun
6. Even B2B companies can use ads
7. Got content? It should be organized

1. Think about your audience first

No one likes to spend an hour of their time on a webinar being sold to. And yet, 98% of the webinars I’ve seen from companies do just that. Sell, sell, sell. It feels a little demeaning to me to have someone walk through a standard sales process, when what I really want from a webinar is facts, not a slick pitch. This is especially true among software developers and IT.

So we set out to inform and educate rather than sell. For one thing, we made an assumption that the bulk of the viewers were our own customers, not people we want to sell to, but rather, people that are looking for new and innovative ways to use our products. We began producing “Voice of the Customer” and “Plugin of the Month” webinars to give people insights into different aspects of our products.
After ironing out the kinks of producing videos via GotoWebinar and then publishing them for on-demand viewing with Episodic, we began to offer live webinars about the latest product releases to give customers an overview of the new features and to ask questions. Over time, we’ve created a rich assortment of video content.

2. Determine how you’re going to measure success early on

One thing we failed to do when the site was first launch was establish good success metrics. We couldn’t, for example, determine what percent of video people were watching. Were they dropping off halfway? We could measure page views via our website analytics, but we knew very little about the video itself. That made it hard early on to prove our success with video.
There are many video sharing services to choose from. We picked a new one called Episodic. Episodic is chock full of features, but one of the top features for us was analytics. With Episodic, we get pretty charts, rock solid data on views and video popularity, and the ability to compare metrics.
In addition to validating the use of video on the website, we’ve learned things like…

  • There have been over 133,200 views of AtlassianTV video in the last 10 months
  • Many live webinars may only attract 50 viewers, but within a week, that number has multiplied by a factor of 10 for the on-demand version
  • That people like to download the video. Our videos have been downloaded more than 2,500 times since we started offering a downloadable version of the video
  • The top 3 referring sites for video are GreenPepper Software (makers of GreenHopper, which we recently acquired), Balsamiq, and ReadWriteWeb

3. Syndicate (aka Leverage YouTube)

Aside from analytics, why not use YouTube? Actually, we are. And there’s a lot of good reasons to use YouTube that probably don’t need to be expounded on. Episodic has a nice little feature built in to use TubeMogul for syndicating AtlassianTV content automatically to YouTube. YouTube gives us far-reaching distribution and helps us find new audiences through associated content and communities. Episodic gives us tighter control of our content, better content management, analytics and higher video resolution quality and formats.
If/When we find the time, we’ll be spicing up our YouTube channel.

4. Get into a rhythm

When you first embark on creating a video channel, you have lots of ideas for the kinds of video to publish on your website. But it requires a lot more than just ideas. It required commitment on our part to see it through. One thing Jay emphasized when he started working here was cadence, setting a regular rhythm of video production.

Cadence did two things. It created expectations among the team here that twice a month, they would produce a video. It also created an expectation from the audience. They will come to understand that there is a regular schedule and that they should keep coming back to see what’s in the hopper.

Almost a year later, we don’t think much about creating a new video. Like writing blogs, filling out JIRA tickets, and editing the wiki, it’s just part of what we do.

5. Have fun

When it comes to producing videos, I’m pretty much a straight shooter: create the video and publish it. Fortunately, there are a lot of creative and talented types working here that have taken our video to the next level with sweet graphics and animation.

Rather than a laundry list of new features, Mark has edited little masterpieces, like the series of Confluence videos that borrow themes from the tv series, 24. Everything is done in-house using Screenflow, and Mark wrote a 3-part series on how to create videos like this in Screenflow.

It’s fun and distinct, and hopefully keeps viewers interested. You know you’re not going to see the same thing on other company websites.

6. Even B2B companies can use ads

Ads are ubiquitous in online consumer videos. You know you’re going to get an ad before that movie preview. Advertising is useful for B2B companies. In fact, it’s a lot more targeted compared with many of the consumer sites I’ve visited.

We ran a short (13-seconds) animated ad to promote our upcoming user conference, Atlassian Summit. Episodic allowed us to easily insert the ad into the AtlassianTV template, refreshing all the video on AtlassianTV with the ad at the click of a button. After the conference, we were able to delete the segment from the template, republish, and return hundreds of videos back to normal. That type of control over our content is awesome!

To do that in YouTube would have required re-editing every video in FinalCut or another non-linear editor, re-encoding them, and re-publishing them. If you think you may want to include ads in your video, find a system earlier rather than later that will support this feature.

7. Got content? It should be organized.

Our most recent update to AtlassianTV has focused on content discovery and search, helping users discover associated videos by how they’re tagged. We took some cues from consumer video sites like Hulu and ESPN on how they organized content, and associated similar content together, and we’re iterating on the design over the next couple months. But for now, we’ve improved the functionality so users can browse by product (Confluence, JIRA, FishEye) and by content type (demo, webinar, customer testimonial).

It’s been a great journey so far, and we’ve learned a ton. Video is fun but time-consuming. But if it’s true what they say – a picture paints a thousands words – Atlassian TV says volumes.

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