Welcome to the first episode of ‘Behind The Reel’, a new weekly show where we take a real look at the personalities shaping today’s new media culture. Today’s guests are two “Internetainers”, pillars of the YouTube community who have succeeded both on and off that platform. Please welcome to the show, kings of the viral video, none other than Rhett and Link:
“We’re YouTubers, We Make YouTube Videos” – Rhett & Link
ReelSEO: For those seeing you for the first time on YouTube, how can they find you?
Rhett & Link: We have two channels, one is the second channel where we host our daily talk show “Good Mythical Mornings” and then there’s our main channel, Rhett and Link, where we do music videos, comedy sketches and other things including local commercials for real businesses that are intentionally horrible such as:
ReelSEO: How long has this been your full-time job?
Rhett & Link: We’ve been doing this full-time and making a living on the internet since 2007. Of course now we take advantage of the YouTube Partner Program and the ad revenue that comes in from the views on our videos. But even before that, and of course now, our speciality is creating custom branded content for brands and agencies. Essentially, people pay us to make viral videos.
ReelSEO: As part of that rare group that has crossed over into television, how is your process different when you’re making something for television versus YouTube?
Rhett & Link: The main difference is the time line. There are a lot of lines of communication, we would even call them barriers, between a conceived idea and then the idea of making that video to put in front of an audience. Whereas on the internet, we can have a one week turnaround from coming up with the concept and then executing it. We can be ahead of the game and have a really quick turnaround time when it comes to YouTube videos, because there’s no “gatekeeper”, it’s just the two of us to determine whether or not we want to release a video.
With television, there’s a network involved, other creative partners involved and when you’re making an ad for Chuck Testa, the taxidermist, and he’s parading these animals around as if they were real, you have to get the buy-in of the network executive at IFC. When there’s a few more layers, a few more opinions attached to something then the more rounded the corners become and the more vanilla it becomes. The riskier ideas become rounded off as the bigger team involvement wears down the creative process. When there are fewer layers of legal, TV, brand and agency people questioning things, the more original the content is going to be.
ReelSEO: You guys are the kings of the viral video, is there a formula to viral video success?
Rhett & Link: There’s a lot of people who don’t even like to use the term ‘viral video’ because they like to think it happened accidentally. So when creators do engineer a viral video, there’s a potential for backlash because viewers may believe they were tricked into watching something that was not planned, even though it was. We’ve developed a track that’s a little bit different, you can create a video that attracts millions of views if you know your audience and know how the internet works. We have trained our audience to expect us to incorporate brands and sponsors into our content but, we want to entertain them first and then advertise to them second. They are then compelled to share it because of the entertainment factor.
The easiest way to describe our recipe is that we want there to be a one-sentence, compelling description that people can use when they naturally and organically share that video. If we can’t conceptualize a video where somebody could share it with someone else using one sentence, then that’s probably not a video that has a chance of going viral. Not all of our videos are a viral success, but very rarely do they bomb either.
ReelSEO: What is something that would surprise the average “mythical beast” about your creative process?
Rhett & Link: It very often starts with a prompt. We’re very reactive and we have established ourselves as people who can take a prompt from a brand or agency and create custom content around it. That prompt could be anything from a brand message to a slogan to a campaign concept. We have engineering degrees so we like having an assignment where there’s a problem to be solved creatively, but also from a mathematical standpoint.
ReelSEO: Have any of your videos surprised you with the way they took off?
Rhett & Link: We’re not going to lie, we try very hard to make videos that get lots of views but we have been surprised by a few of our videos and the number of views they got. For instance, for “The Most Amazing Optical Illusions On the Internet“, we expected around 100,000 views and we got 7.5 million so we were pleasantly surprised. We were also surprised at how well our “Cracked Chiropractor” commercial performed. It had Dr Lee performing all types of violent moves on women in a chiropractic environment so perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised at the amount of views it got.
That’s it for the first episode of ‘Behind The Reel’.
A huge thank you to Rhett and Link for their time and our viewers for watching. Let us know which stars you’d like us to interview in the comments below!
Behind The Reel with Andy Smith – Fridays @ 9:00am Pacific
‘Behind The Reel’ is the new interview series from ReelSEO that will be taking a look behind the scenes of the big YouTube names. let us introduce you to Andy Smith, the newest member of the ReelSEO team: