YouTube, the mega video broadcasting network, is chock full with segments showing construction companies doing what they do best: installing, renovating, and repairing. That inventory includes a lot of video from roofing companies. But there aren't many videos that show something like this.
Workers from Istueta Roofing arrived at the house in Southwest Miami last January, knowing that there was a bat problem. Company owner Frank Istueta says that the homeowner, Pomo Pomares, contacted him specifically because he'd been trying to get rid of the small mammals for some time. The bats — Mexican free-tail bats, which feed on flying insects, especially mosquitos — had been living under the concrete tiles of this particular home for years. Now numbering in the thousands, they were generating noise and, increasingly, odor. Pomares had installed screens, employed pest control contractors, and had even called the local zoo; all to no avail. "He told me he wanted a new roof," Istueta says, one in which "there was no way that a bat could get in."
More Than Just Educational
The company's crew arrived at Pomares' house equipped with not only the tools and materials needed to strip the roof and replace the tiles, but a Flip camera as well. The idea was to make an educational video of the process.
As the first tile was lifted, one bat, then dozens, then hundreds, exposed to the harsh sun, crawled out onto the wood sheathing and, chirping, flew away.
Their departure was recorded on video by Istueta Roofing's job superintendent. The video was edited down to about three minutes long and, in July, was posted on YouTube.
Istueta Roofing has 86 videos currently on YouTube. The idea behind the videos is to educate homeowners about the roof replacement and repair process. The "Concrete Tile Removal Instruction" video, for instance, has been viewed 37 times. "For a month [the bat video] was dormant," says Ariel Istueta, who manages the company's marketing. "We had about a thousand views." But one weekend, it took off. Local news bloggers picked up on the video first; then the local Channel 10 news; then Univision, a Miami Spanish-language TV station. By January, the 3-plus-minute video had gone viral, defined as gaining more than 200,000 views. Today that video on Istueta's YouTube channel shows more than 1.5 million views. It has been particularly popular in Brazil and India, where links have been posted on various websites. "Part of it is luck," Ariel says, which he defines as "being in the right place at the right time — with your camera."
Traffic to the company's website grew exponentially. Typically, Frank says, IstuetaRoofing.com might get 40 visitors "on a good day." But once the video went viral, traffic climbed to 300 visitors per day, then 600 to 800 per day.
Prior to the video, Istueta Roofing regularly appeared on the first page of organic search results, thanks to its search engine optimization efforts and company practices, such as posting educational videos. But the bat video pushed Istueta Roofing's spot in Google's organic search to number one or number two if you type in keywords such as, "Miami roofing contractor." Not a bad place to be in the eighth most populous county in the U.S., with a population of 2.5 million people.
Like many roofing companies, Istueta depended on referrals for most of its work. Frank Istueta says that he only started marketing three years ago. But the bat video and its effect — it seems like everyone he talks to, such as architects and homeowners, has seen it — have made him a believer. Istueta says he is now considering advertising on television for the first time.
—Jim Cory is editor of REPLACEMENT CONTRACTOR.