Do you know how many brands are in the top 100 most subscribed to channels on YouTube? Just 6, which is lower than Twitter (16), and Facebook (41). YouTube is the ultimate litmus test for brands because it is much less easy to ‘buy’ engagement, in the form of Twitter followers, or promoted posts, or Facebook Likes. You can buy YouTube views, but that tactic becomes very apparent if you don’t generate the type of engagement that many views should bring. At the 2014 ReelSummit, YouTube expert Brendan Gahan walked us through how brands can successfully build communities on YouTube.
How Brands Can Successfully Build Audiences on YouTube
YouTube is in a very interesting position right now, as it straddles both old media and new media. Currently, 18-24 year-olds are watching around 13.3 hours of video content on YouTube per week, and the platform has more millenial viwers than any cable network. Also, YouTube subscribers watch twice as much content as non-subscribers so there is a tremendous opportunity for brands, so it’s definitely worth investing in creating content for the site. There are four key steps to doing this:
- Best Practices
- Go with what people know
- Focus on a human connection
- Iterate like hell
1) Best Practices for Brands on YouTube
These should be obvious to any video marketer, brand, and creator but it is essential that you optimize (but not over-optimize) your titles, tags and descriptions so you can be found in search. Metadata and visually compelling custom thumbnails are the #1 way of driving organic growth so don’t skip this step.
Also, adding annotations can facilitate engagement, and a good end slate can drive a CTR of between 10-20%.
2) Go With What People Know
If you pay enough money to YouTube (we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars), you can only some fancy widgets on your channel. However, viewers like familiarity and data from Tubular shows that these widgets often don’t help the brand. Typically, the effect is:
- 50% fewer subscribers per view
- 50% fewer likes per view
- 15% fewer social media shares
Why? Because the formula becomes over-complicated, and the viewers are turned off.
Sometimes brands get so caught up in their own jargon that they believe their content is as interesting to everyone else as it is to them – but that’s not true. Brendan took a look at the top channels on YouTube, branded and unbranded, specifically the kind of language they were using for their title tags.
The top 15 channels use very straightforward jargon-free phrasing which appeals to the viewer who is scanning through the results to find what they want. Speaking in campaign is potentially losing brands thousands of views.
3) Focus on a Human Connection
Good content on YouTube will always rise to the top but good content means different things to different people. Often, good content isn’t the result of high production values, but the way the video talks to people. Branded videos on YouTube tend to do well when they contain real people, so that human connection can be formed. Ninetendo’s ‘Minute’ videos are a great example of this type of content:
Also, the more commercial-like content, the less well the branded channel performs. Viewers want human interaction, rather than just to be sold to.
4) Iterate Like Hell
A typical YouTube brand channel isn’t particularly well organised or presented, and often has a lot of disparate content that the viewer has to fight through to find. It’s important for brands to tell one story really, really well – and that’s exactly what the top channels on YouTube do.
If you take a look at the top channels, a lot of them focus on a limited number of series that they just keep making better and better. That serves them well as they are able to apply data and insights to that consistent content, and build upon what works.
We’d like to thank Brendan Gahan for giving attendees of the ReelSummit a very valuable, and insighful look into what brands can do to build engage communities on YouTube.