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Longboarding around the world with YouTube

By Serena Satyasai

Marketing Manager

Today’s guest blogger is Scott Imbrie, CEO and Co-Founder of Original Skateboards. His passion is longboarding, a popular new form of skateboarding that also blends elements of surfing and snowboarding. Scott started Original with his brother, Brad, using YouTube to grow the business from scratch.

Update: As of December 1st, 2011, you will start to see Promoted Videos referred to as TrueView in-search and TrueView in-display.

From the start, Brad and I wanted to design longboards and trucks that would allow descents of the steepest paved roads in the world. Since longboarding as a sport was relatively unknown in 2002, we saw an opportunity to grow both our sport and business through online video.

In 2005, we shot our first video, “Longboarding Cadillac Mountain,” on Cadillac Mountain in Maine. With just 12 subscribers to our channel, we uploaded the video and promoted it through our MySpace and Facebook communities. We had no idea what to expect. The next day, we came into the office and found more sales orders than we had received in the previous week, including many orders from Europe and Australia.

YouTube had provided us global reach, which drove more potential customers to the Original website. Our total sales increased roughly 40% from that night forward. Seeing the impact online video had on our sales, we began to build our business with YouTube at its core. We added Nick Patrick, the director of Cadillac Mountain, to our three-person staff to shoot, edit and produce YouTube content full time.

To stay connected with our viewers, we began to expand beyond a single video. Our next project was an episodic travel series we called “Western Sessions.” YouTube featured the first episode on its home page, and we reached over 150,000 views, which was a record for us at the time. Our sales again increased by approximately 40%. Last year’s sequel, “Puerto Rico Sessions,” received 8.9 million views, making up over 30% of our total video views in 2009.

Our strategy to achieve those viewership numbers and increase our subscriber base has been through a combination of online advertising (primarily Google AdWords and YouTube Promoted Videos), creative print advertising and word-of-mouth. We found when we produce relevant, high-quality content, one in four viewers will share that video with a friend. This viral word-of-mouth sharing greatly decreases our costs (when we pay for video advertising) and has enabled us to grow our business on a very limited budget. Additionally, we are developing YouTube-based applications to help us connect even more effectively with our viewers.

While Original has more than 105,000 subscribers around the world, it remains very much a family affair. Brad and I continue to work together every day, and our childhood best friends are key players in our business. Moreover, longboarding as a sport has grown exponentially. The sport now receives millions of views per week on YouTube and has grabbed the attention of major newspapers and television shows.

We are thankful that the YouTube community supports our artistic expression and sport. It has helped open many new opportunities for our business.

Our latest video, “Go Longboard 2010,” is our interpretation of what we feel makes longboarding different from other extreme sports out there. Our goal was to make the most visually stunning nature video on YouTube, and showcase longboarding while we were at it. We hope you like it!