Audience Building

In the latest in an occasional series, here are some tips on how to increase eyeballs on your internet TV channel (what do you mean, you don't have an internet TV channel - you should talk to Narrowstep ;-) ).

Audiences are the lifeblood of a channel. They pay the way through subscription, pay-per-view or by viewing advertising or sponsorships, and will have strong opinions on what they want to watch. So, if you’re looking to extend the reach of your Internet TV channel, before you do anything, make sure that you define your audience. You need to know who you are appealing to, where they are and how they behave. This may be easy if you’re already deeply embedded in the community, but even then, take nothing for granted.

Here are some useful tips for increasing audience reach:

1) Find Industry Experts
Find people within the community you are serving who will champion you (often called 'mavens'); make sure that they are influencers who carry a crowd around with them. Check them out in forums and pay them as advisors. They will be able to use their blogs and presence online to give you a leg up.

2) Syndicate
Use nBed to syndicate your Player onto third party websites, blogs and social networking sites. Many traditional websites want to offer a video service but cannot afford to do so; try to get onto the home page if possible. You could even establish a referral system to as an incentive for your distribution partners.

3) Syndicate Again
Use technology such as Narrowstep’s new distributionServer technology to send feeds of your videos to services such as Technorati and to the main search engines such as Google and specialized search engines such as Blinkx.

4) Run Promos
Utilize user generated sites like YouTube, Revver Veoh and Metacafe to promote your channel. Upload short, enticing clips that launch your main channel when clicked, and be to sure to regularly post new clips. But don't let them control your content and steal your audience.

5) Promote In The Real World
Issue press releases, court the media, attend events; brand building an Internet TV channel is no different from any other product or service, so be sure to give it the proper attention it deserves.

6) Make It Worth Their While
Use competitions and other incentives to get people to watch your channel. You can also try offering premium programming for free for a limited time. In addition to removing the risk involved in trying your channel, you have also given them a call to action because it is a limited time offer.

7) Advertise
More specifically, use services such as Google Adwords to build your audience and to expand it. This can be expensive, but it’s an investment which you can manage actively from day–to-day and immediately monitor the returns. Indeed, one of the key metrics of online business is the ability to leverage online advertising expenditure to generate higher revenues.

8) Unique Distribution
Look for other forms of distribution - in stores, bars, sports centres and clubs; it’s easy and relatively cheap to set up a PC and a big screen; make sure that you have prominent branding on the service, especially with eye catching trailers.

9) Make It A Compelling Experience
You cannot treat Internet TV differently from any other medium. You have to work on retaining your audience even harder than you work on building it. Live events have proven especially successful in my experience, especially if they are regular live events that the viewers know to look out for. Indeed, scheduling, or the consistent uploading of new content accompanied by email marketing and alerts should be a core part of your programming strategy.

10) Optimise
Make sure that you have made your channel search engine bot friendly by presenting metadata that's easy to index.