Learning from PS22 Chorus, 2010 Webby Artist of the Year

PS22 Chorus’s 5 word acceptance speech.

They’re cute, they sing pop songs, and they made Tori Amos cry (in a good way).

And they have over 18 million views on YouTube.

On June 14th, the Webby Awards named PS22 Chorus its 2010 Artist of the Year “in recognition of their online contributions to music, popular culture and the online medium itself.” PS22 Chorus, a 5th grade chorus from a public school in Staten Island, joins the ranks of previous winners such as Trent Reznor and the Beastie Boys.

Formed in 2000, the chorus began to gain online popularity in 2006, shortly after choral director Gregg Breinberg (AKA Mr. B) started posting videos of the chorus. Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton started promoting the PS22 Chorus videos, and their legions of fans grew.

While your organization may not yet have celebrity fans -- and your work may or may not involve dozens of adorable children singing pop music -- it’s worth taking a closer look to see what other strategies worked for this group:

Take advantage of YouTube’s channels. PS22 Chorus customized their YouTube channel to create a look all their own. And by encouraging subscriptions, they could notify interested viewers whenever they posted new content. With more than 27,000 subscribers (as of 6/30/2010), there’s an opportunity for new videos to viral.

Promote across platforms. PS22 Chorus embedded YouTube videos on their blog, increasing their view count without having viewers leave the site. And, their YouTube channel prominently links back to the blog.  With your own online presence, consider how easily followers can access your content from different platforms.

Consider giving your unconventional marketing ideas a shot. PS22 Chorus’s fame was, as New York Magazine writes, accidental.  Mr. B mentioned on a Tori Amos fan message board that he was teaching her songs to his students.  He followed up with video posts.  Amos was charmed, and months later the chorus performed for her in person.

Don’t be afraid to have a personality. PS22 Chorus’s energy and excitement come across in their online presence. Finding your organization’s own voice can help you connect and engage with followers.

• And finally, update regularly with fresh content.

What else is PS22 Chorus doing right?  Which Webby Award winners are inspiring you?