A Beginner’s Guide to Paid Video Promotion

So, you’ve produced a video. It’s beautiful, compelling, communicates your message perfectly, and includes content that you’re sure your viewers are going to love and share. You’ve screened it internally and with a few key constituents to enthusiastic response. Excitedly, you publish it to your website and social media channels, kick back, open up your analytics and wait for the hits to roll in.

In the first 24 hours you’re encouraged by the activity you see. The video is getting a decent number of likes, and the occasional share. But over the course of the next several weeks activity dwindles to nearly nothing, and as you dig into the analytics you realize it’s the same group of people that are already your fans and users. What gives? Why am I not seeing a better response? Is it possible that I poured all of that time, effort, and budget into producing something that really isn’t going to move the needle at all for our organization?

If You Build It, They Probably Won’t Come—Unless You Promote It

Nothing promotes itself. Just because you’ve created a great piece of content, don’t expect your audience to find out about it on their own. No, you need to have a plan to get that amazing video in front of them. And if your goal is to make an impact outside of your current user/customer/fan base, it’s not enough to simply publish to your existing platforms and push out via the normal marketing channels. You need to expand your reach by promoting your video.

But First, Get Your Owned Channels Right

This article isn’t about owned channels, but it presumes you already have a content marketing plan in place. For video, this likely entails embedding it on your website, pushing it out on social media, distributing to an email list, and getting it up on your YouTube channel. If you don’t already have a mechanism for publishing content to your site, now’s the time to get that set up, along with the ability to create landing pages, which we’ll discuss a bit more later. If you’re not actively publishing to social media channels, it will be difficult to get much traction on a one-off promoted post. So have a plan in place for ongoing content publishing and distribution, a plan that includes publishing video content.

Know Your Audience

Really, you should be thinking about how you’re going to promote your content before you even start conceptualizing a video. This is an integral part of the planning stage, but if you’ve skipped over it before, take some time to work on this now. One of the first things you need to ask is, “Who is my audience?” If your goal is to inspire, motivate, teach, convince, you need to identify who it is you want to influence in those ways, and what it is that will inspire, motivate, teach, or convince them.

You need to know your audience. Where do they live and interact? What are their interests? What concerns, questions, or challenges do they have that you can help with? When you plan your campaign, you want to craft your promotions so that they’re both reaching your audience and addressing priorities that are important to them. A great way to better understand your audience is to talk with them. Conducting even just 5-10 interviews can yield a wealth of information, and may reveal some things that you hadn’t previously considered. Online surveys can also help by hitting a broader pool where you can better visualize trends, but nothing beats an actual conversation with a person.

You should also try to define your ideal audience in its narrowest form, then in larger concentric circles. This might be geographical (e.g. local, regional, national), demographic (e.g. age groups), interest groups (e.g. yoga, fitness, health) or something else. Knowing this will help you scope your campaigns so that you’re spending your promotional dollars wisely by narrowing down your focus.

Consider Opportunities to Get in Front of Your Audience

Forums and Publications

As you conduct research into your audience, you will learn a lot about who they are. But hopefully you’re also asking questions about where they are. Is there an online trade publication, popular blog, or other online forum where your audience is active? If so, look into advertising possibilities. Better yet, write a guest blog post or see if there’s an opportunity to insert your voice into the conversation happening there. Tapping into an existing distribution channel is an effective tactic for getting in front of your target audience.


Another way to get heard is through industry influencers. These are the major voices within the community you want to reach, thought leaders who are well-respected, publish regularly, and have thousands of followers. (An effective long-term strategy is for you to become a thought leader.)

Hopefully you already have relationships with influencers that would be willing to share or comment on your video. This sort of promotion is ideal because influencers are trusted by their network, so their shares won’t come off as an advertisement and it will put your video in front of your target audience in a more authentic way. People trust influencers. A recent study found that Twitter users trust influencers nearly as much as a friend or neighbor.

An excellent tactic here is to identify ideal influencers before you begin the project and feature or reference them within the content. This provides a natural ask for them to share within their own circles.

Tagging, Mentioning, & Commenting

Some in your target audience will actively follow hashtags on social media, so a simple way to reach them is to add an appropriate hashtag to your post. In your research, ask your audience what hashtags they monitor. Limit hashtags to one or two, as analytics shows that engagement decreases the more tags you add. While most platforms now support hashtags, you’ll get the most mileage out of Twitter and Instagram.

Mentioning an influencer in your post can be effective when handled tactfully. One approach is to insert your voice into an existing conversation. To do this, you’ll want to actively follow influencers and hashtags, and look for opportunities to contribute to the conversation. When part of an overall marketing strategy, you’ll be able to find conversations where it’s appropriate to share your video. And don’t overlook commenting on blog articles.

Preparing Your Campaigns

Now that you know your audience and you’ve mined unpaid opportunities to reach them, you’re ready to take the next step.

Develop a Landing Page

First, prepare a landing page where you’ll drive interested viewers. This should be a page on your branded website where questions can be addressed. Videos that are optimized for promotional purposes aren’t going to address every nuance of a topic, so it’s important to give viewers that ability to learn more about the story that’s being told, peruse other helpful resources, and find links to related content on your site. It’s often best to prepare customized landing pages for each campaign, but sometimes an existing page on your site may be an appropriate place to drive viewers.

On the landing page, you should provide a way to capture visitor information. This could take many forms, including inviting visitors to sign up for your newsletter, download a guide or white paper, fill out a response form, or call you. Building an opt-in list with names and emails of people who have shown interest in your content is one of the most valuable marketing activities you can undertake.

Landing pages can also be a great place to display related content. If you have a content marketing plan and have been consistently publishing quality content to your website, there’s a good chance you’re going to have some great, related content that you can put to work here. This can help drive visitor engagement, further their interest, and move them closer to a conversion. One word of caution here—you don’t want to overwhelm the visitor with too much content. Your goal is for them to convert by capturing their information, so try to keep your landing pages interesting and relevant yet lean at the same time, optimized for conversion.

Finally, add retargeting pixels to your landing page. Retargeting works by tracking visitors to your site or a specific page on your site, so that after they leave you can then display relevant ads to them. There are many third-party platforms that provide retargeting on web and social, or you can do specific retargeting directly through Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others. The nuts and bolts of retargeting ads are a topic for another article, but what you should know is, if you want to run retargeting ads (and you probably should), you should add retargeting pixels to your landing page now. If you wait to do this later, you’ll miss an opportunity to retarget visitors early on in the campaign.

Choose Your Channels

With a solid landing page in place, you’re now ready to prepare content for the channels you’ll be using for promotion. At this point you should know which channels are going to perform the best in terms of reaching your target audience. Hopefully you’re already active in those channels, regularly posting quality, relevant content. Later you might test promoted content on other platforms. Over time you will get a good idea which channels give you the best ROI.

Craft Your Posts & Ads

Here are several ideas for putting together posts that encourage engagement:

Post the video in its entirety.
Depending on the length and production intention, this may be the type of post that performs the best. In some platforms (such as Facebook) video content plays automatically, increasing engagement. When you post, be sure to title the video so that it appeals to your audience, but avoid making it sound too much like click bait. You’ll also want to craft a message that resonates in some way with your audience. Tell them what they’ll learn, how they’ll feel, or what’s unique and different about the content. Also be sure to choose an appropriate thumbnail for the video (sometimes this is set within the video settings rather than the post).

Call attention to a quote or concept.
Choose something that is said in the video that your audience will find interesting, provocative, insightful. Design a custom graphic that overlays the quote on an image, and then link back to your landing page, or simply have the quote be what accompanies your video post.

Reference a compelling statistic.
Call attention to a fact or statistic that will elicit a response from your audience. Create a custom graphic for that statistic and link back to your landing page with the video.

Highlight a contributor.
If there is someone in your video that audience will know and be interested in, craft a post that highlights their involvement. A screenshot or portrait of that person should accompany the post.

Configure Promotion Settings

Here’s where your audience research will help you get the best value for your promotional dollars. In most platforms, you’re able to specify geographic and demographic parameters for your promotions. The more tightly defined your parameters, the fewer people will see your promotions, but the better chance they’ll convert. The higher your conversion rates, the better your ROI.

Multivariate Testing

It's good practice to always run multiple promotions so you can judge what is performing the best. Try different images and different text across different platforms. By running multiple, shorter runs to test out different variables, you can then select your winners, tweak as desired, and set them up for greater reach.

Measure Results & Make Adjustments

John Wanamaker, a successful U.S. businessman at the turn of the century and considered by many to be a pioneer in marketing, is credited with saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” While that may have been true in the past, in today’s world of digital marketing this is no longer the case. We have all the tools at our disposal to track just about everything: how many people view our promotions, watch our videos, click through to our landing page, sign up for our newsletter, complete a contact form, or make a purchase.

While you might not always be able to accurately predict how well a promotion will perform, you will have hard data on the real results. Measure your promotions regularly, and you’ll know exactly what’s working and what’s not. Put more resources into better-performing campaigns, and consider abandoning, adjusting or creating another option in place of any campaigns that are underperforming.


Once your campaign has run its course, you can still get significant value out of your video. Here are a number of ways to squeeze out additional value:

Share and Share Again
The lifespan of social media posts are becoming shorter and shorter as our timelines become crowded with content. A 2013 study showed that 75% of people who see your post on Facebook do so within the first 2 hours. And the half-life of content on Twitter is measured in minutes, not hours. A vast majority of your audience will NOT see your content when you post the first time, so post again. Vary the days/times you post. Depending on the content, you could be re-posting it for months without fatiguing your followers.

Cut it Up Into Smaller Chunks
With a 2-3 minute video or longer, you should be able to pull out multiple short clips of 10-15 seconds that are interesting and can stand on their own. These might be significant quotes or stats, or really interesting sections of the footage. You may have already explored some of these ideas as you were crafting the posts you were seeking to promote, so no could be a time to revisit the concepts you didn’t run initially.

Use as Supplemental Content in Future Promotions
Depending on the content, you could include this video on a landing page for a future promotion, giving users the opportunity to explore further.

Repurpose as Written Content
If you haven’t already, consider using the video as a basis for writing a blog article or case study.

Why You Should Pay To Promote Your Video

Here’s a shortlist of three great reasons you should take advantage of paid promotional opportunities:

  1. Expands your reach beyond your existing followers
  2. Allows you to target a very specific demographic
  3. Gives you real data on what is effective

By investing a small percentage of what it took to produce your video into paid promotion you’ll maximize its value. It’s well worth it.

Kevin Barr ( is a partner at Pinkston, overseeing digital and creative teams. Stay updated on all Pinkston content by following us on Twitter (@Pinkston_co).