by Courtney Eckerle
The concept behind coworking spaces is to combine the freedom of working remotely, with the structure and human interaction of an office, along with the readily available coffee, for a monthly membership fee.
Since atmosphere and networking are two of the biggest assets of Common Desk, the coworking space in Dallas needed a way to quickly and efficiently convey that to potential members before they ever walked through the door.
In order to bring its culture to the forefront, Merrick Pickens, Community Manager, Common Desk, came up with an idea to "do something fun and cool that highlighted the quirkiness of our members."
Video emerged as the best outlet for accomplishing the goal of showcasing its atmosphere, while solving "some SEO challenges that we wanted to overcome," where Common Desk wanted to improve its rankings on Google.
Common Desk was struggling to show up even within the first two search pages on Google, and it couldn’t be located on Google Maps.
It also set out with the aim of increasing its night membership, and decided to focus the storyline of one of the videos around some of its night members.
Enlisting the talents of one of its members, a videographer, Pickens began brainstorming with him, as well as the owner and operator of Common Desk, Nick Clark.
They came up with a storyline that would feature Common Desk members in a series of "episodes" highlighting the "community that develops within the space," Pickens said.
The topics were chosen to reflect the unique nature of the business where "freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups [are] collaborating together just by the nature of the community that is within the coworking space" — with a special emphasis on the night members.
By starting a YouTube page to feature these episodes, Common Desk was able to improve its SEO results as well as increasing its night membership.
Step #1. Develop a relevant and engaging storyline
Prior to filming, Pickens and Clark knew they wanted the storyline to revolve around "the whole tagline for Common Desk for this month was to increase your productivity."
After sitting down and discussing different and engaging ways to convey that concept with Clark and the videographer, Pickens said an idea quickly took shape.
"To increase your productivity, we thought why don't we do just a funny spoof series about cloning yourself," she said.
They filmed members acting out the storyline about how they had either cloned themselves, or seen others do it to increase productivity. They specifically featured nighttime members.
Once they had the footage, brainstorming became about deciding how to build out the acquired film into the desired storyline.
Step #2. Engage community in the project
In order to showcase the atmosphere at Common Desk, Pickens said they decided to put out a Facebook invite to drum up interest in participating.
"Just posts and tweets about getting people to come and be extras in our little film series, and then we would provide free food and beer," she said.
They had about 50 to 60 people show up to take part in the series, she said, and they were able to get a lot of footage from just one event that way.
They "took these video shoots late at night. We wouldn't leave here until sometimes two o’clock in the morning," and after their videographer edited, they had about four episodes worth of material.
Each week, Common Desk released a different video on its Facebook
, Twitter and YouTube.
"I do social media marketing. So, it was in the back of my mind all along to really leverage these videos that we do, and fortunately, even the press has picked it up," said Pickens, adding The Dallas Observer
, a free alternative weekly newspaper, spoke about the video marketing effort in an article.
The key to catching the attention of both potential members and press and seeing "these videos pop up in random places" is simple — make them so people "find them funny … [and] they want to watch," she said.
Step #3. Build out YouTube page to improve SEO
Pickens built out Common Desk's YouTube channel
, a crucial element of which was tagging "everything related to coworking in Dallas and the people involved, and [the] same thing on Twitter and Facebook."
Pickens said it previously ranked seventh for the phrase "Common Desk" with Google, and for searches of "Dallas Coworking," usually fell all the way back in Google's Siberia: the fourth page. Currently, it holds the top ranking for "Common Desk" and fourth for "Dallas Coworking."
"We've figured out our SEO stuff and people are really remembering Common Desk and our increase of nighttime membership, which was the whole purpose of doing the cloning thing, increased," Pickens said.
Pickens said the relationship with Google is going so well that members have even embraced a Google employee who recently moved to Dallas into the Common Desk fold — "now we have Google 'in house.'"
Vimeo vs. YouTube
The team decided to focus their video efforts to YouTube as opposed to Vimeo for SEO reasons, and "just crawl all of YouTube, and we want information that we are putting out there to be extracted and used in Google Plus," she added.
Before this campaign, Pickens said she was "a Vimeo advocate over YouTube," because of the design and layout options Vimeo offers, but with the SEO increase they have seen, she has changed her mind.
"The fact that we're able to be found, and people are really following our YouTube channel, I've noticed that YouTube is a much better way to go long term, even though it doesn't look as nice," she said.
Having a Google Plus account for Common Desk is another way that YouTube works well with integrating the two.
"We're able to extract those videos and pull them onto our Google Plus and it tags in both places, so you [haven't] doubled your SEO, and that's great," she said.
"I would say one of the things we were struggling with … was Google Places," she said.
Common Desk wasn't able to get its address to show correctly on Google Places, and "we tried everything," Pickens said. "Of course, Google doesn't have a … support number. So, we were doing everything we could to get in touch with somebody."
Because they had been getting so much traction on their social media due to the video series, "we started talking about it … and immediately, we end up getting an email from Google that’s helping us at this point for figuring that out."
Achieve SEO payback from videos
As we discussed in the MarketingSherpa article "Video Marketing How-to: 4 tactics from a small business that generated 1 million YouTube views,"
YouTube videos receive a high ranking in Google's algorithm, usually above the fold on the search engine results page, and video links get indexed instantly.
In this regard, it's paramount to be thorough and to input keywords and descriptions, as YouTube focuses on bringing up videos to engage audiences, according to the official YouTube creator's blog.
Essentially, videos people watch for longer receive preference, not simply videos that achieve the most clicks.
The popularity and strength of the channel will also be important to SEO. For the best possible results, create regular content that will build a following, and nurture YouTube features such as comments, channel subscribers and the "thumbs up."
Currently, Common Desk has hired a videographer intern to help put into place some its vision for the video program.
"We're going to be doing member highlights … a spoof on our Monday morning meetings and things like conversations that take place on our weekly meetings, and that's really funny," Pickens said.
The team has another video coming out next month, and plan on increasing their frequency to two videos a month "at least," she said. "But our goal is to have two to four going out every month."
Pickens said Common Desk has seen a multitude of intangible results from the project, but a few measurable metrics it has seen are:
- A 30% increase in nighttime memberships (5 p.m. to 7 a.m.)
- Growing from an average of between 5,000 to 6,000 views a day on Facebook to 20,000 views a day on Facebook
- Moving from a number four to a number one Google ranking for "Common Desk" searches
- Ranking number four for "Dallas Coworking" Google searches, up from the fourth page
Common Desk is adamant about "honing in on social media marketing and knowing who our target demographic is, even if they don't live in Dallas," she said, adding she even received a call from Sweden, from someone who had found Common Desk on Google and watched one of the YouTube videos.
"The really unique thing about social marketing is that it's very direct to your demographic, versus our other marketing techniques [which] have been to do traditional PR or … putting [out] our little Common Desk flyers, but you just don't know who you're going to be capturing with that kind of stuff," she said.
- Common Desk Facebook tab
- Common Desk YouTube page
SourcesCommon Desk Kingersnaps Visual MediaExtra! Extra! Social
Related ResourcesMarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014: Call for entries
— Deadline is September 8, and there is no entry fee.YouTube Creators’ BlogVideo Marketing How-to: 4 tactics from a small business that generated 1 million YouTube views Inbound Marketing: A pioneering YouTube video strategyUser-Generated Content: Video email contest increases site traffic by 13% Social Media Marketing: Video campaign increased demo leads 63%, website traffic grew by 450,000 visitors Content Marketing: Videos attract 300% more traffic and nurture leads Email Marketing: Video email doubles clickthrough rate for Ragan Communications