Although Airbnb and Uber aren’t head-to-head competitors, they are both leaders in “the on-demand or so-called gig economy.” That’s why Airbnb, which lets many Americans make extra money by renting out a small room, and Uber, which lets many Americans make extra money by driving their own car, have often been compared to each other.

So, whether they like it or not, these two brands – which are both creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, but also raising hard questions about workplace protection and what a good job will look like in the future – are being compared and contrasted even if they aren’t in direct competition with each other.

Brand vs Brand: Airbnb and Uber on YouTube

Now, there is a lot to learn from head-to-head competition. That’s why video marketers love reading about “Brand vs. Brand” matchups between direct competitors like “Nike vs. Adidas” or “Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts”. But they also enjoy learning lessons when ReelSEO’s videologists and columnists compare two approaches to viral video success from brands that aren’t direct competitors like “Always vs. Dove”. So, let’s see what we find when we take a closer look.

Airbnb: Building a Community Through Video

According to its YouTube description “Airbnb is made up of an amazing worldwide community of hosts and travelers. It's not just about a place to stay, but also about the unique experiences our members have. We are here to show you the people, the spaces, and the faces that make up the community.” That’s right, the company’s description uses the term “community” twice in three sentences.

According to Tubular, Airbnb has a social reach of 2.4 million, which includes 30,000 YouTube subscribers, 1.9 million Facebook followers, 399,000 Twitter followers, and over 9,000 Vine followers. In June, the brand’s videos got 8.9 million views, including 6.7 million on YouTube, 2.1 million on Facebook, and over 5,200 on Vine.

airbnb social reach 2015

Social Media reach and June 2015 cross-platform video views for Airbnb (Data via Tubular)

On YouTube, Airbnb’s most recent video is entitled “The Daily Kindness Bulletin", a collection of positive news stories "guaranteed to make your day a little more cheerful". But, its most watched video with 6.9 million views is "Never A Stranger”, a reminder to travelers that with Airbnb, they 'belong anywhere':

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIba1WaNgJY

Airbnb’s most commented on YouTube video (471 at time of writing), is  “Welcome to Airbnb” an amazing 70-second tour of the world on a miniature scale. The clip - shot in one take - includes 96 tiny figurines, 6 of which were modeled on actual Airbnb users.

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YouTube audience demographics Airbnb

Engaged YouTube Audience Demographics for Airbnb May-July 2015 (Data via Tubular)

After watching these warm, fuzzy videos, I could understand why Airbnb’s image often appears more positive than Uber’s. But, there’s a downside to trying to fit in without making waves. This begins to explain why Airbnb, despite getting an average of 100,000 views per video, also gets 0.0% engagements per view.

Nevertheless, if you look at Airbnb’s engaged audience demographics, 70% are male, 30% are female; 42.0% are 18-24, 28.6% are 25-34, and 11.7% are 35-44. Wouldn’t it be great if a few of these fans did something retro like attend a Meetup at a city council meeting or write a letter to the editor, where older government regulators might see them.

Uber: Changing the World - One City at a Time

Uber's message to the public on its YouTube About page reads “We're changing the way the world moves — one city at a time.” Some people embrace change, while others resist it. But Uber lets you know which side they’re on.

Uber has a social reach of 2.5 million, slightly higher than Airbnb’s, which includes 8,298 YouTube subscribers, 2.1 million Facebook followers, 314,000 Twitter followers, and 81,000 Instagram followers. In June, the brand’s videos got 2.7 million views, less than a third of what Airbnb’s videos got, including 372,000 on YouTube, 2.3 million on Facebook, and over 14,000 on Instagram.

uber social reach 2015

Social Media reach and June 2015 cross-platform video views for Uber (Data via Tubular)

Let's take a look at some of Uber's video content. On YouTube, its most watched video, with 1.9 million views, "Who Drives with Uber". However, not only is this video unlisted, and doesn't even have a description, the brand has also turned off the ability to comment. The video also has an incredibly low engagement rate (15 likes, 16 dislikes for 1.9 million views) which suggests this video was part of a paid promotional campaign.

On YouTube, Uber’s most commented on video (225 at time of writing) “Surprise! Deadmau5 Drives with uberX in Toronto”, featuring  the legendary DJ's trip around the Canadian city in a McLaren.

youtube audience demographics Uber

Engaged YouTube Audience Demographics for Uber May-July 2015 (Data via Tubular)

After watching these random, distracting videos, I could understand why Uber’s image often appears more negative than Airbnb’s. But, there’s a downside to ignoring the elephant in the room. This begins to explain why Uber gets only 19,000 per video, although it does get 0.1% engagements per view. 

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If you look at Uber’s engaged audience demographics, 91% are male, 10% are female; 40.6% are 18-24, 35.7% are 25-34, and 11.7% are 35-44. Again, wouldn’t it be helpful if a few of these fans did something newsworthy like hold a flash mob at a city council meeting or post comments on government websites, where older government regulators might see them.

Video Marketing Lessons from Uber and Airbnb

I have to say that neither brand engages video viewers as much as I would have guessed. So, what is the most important lesson that video marketers can learn from Airbnb and Uber?

Well, if your business model is creating exciting opportunities and unleashing innovation, then your video marketing needs to be untraditional, too. Otherwise, you’ll leave it up to the “Old Guard” in the traditional media or “The Ancien Régime” in government bureaucracies to answer the hard questions that you’ve raised and decide what the future will look like. In other words, you need more than customers. You need champions. And you need to do more than increase brand awareness. You need to build a community and transform your fans into an engaged and loyal audience, who can then, in turn, serve as a social army to promote your products and services.

In short, you need to do more than build a brand. You need to build a social movement. Video marketing can help you win the melee of the marketplace. Heck, it helped “a skinny kid with a funny name” to become the President of the United States.

Most video marketers know that the Barack Obama campaign used YouTube brilliantly to win the 2008 barack obama youtubepresidential election. What few of them know is that fewer than 10% of the 11,000 videos produced over the course of 22 months actually featured the candidate. More than 90% of the videos told stories about people like you going to events to meet the candidate, or going door-to-door with a clipboard to sign people up for the campaign.

Or, as Obama said in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, “I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office... What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me; it’s about you. It’s about you.”

Now, that’s a message that both Airbnb and Uber can leverage to take their video marketing campaigns to another level. Enabling more Americans to make extra money by renting out a small room or driving their own car is a story worth telling and sharing. That’s also much more likely to be engaging than uploading another Daily Kindness Bulletin.