The sharing economy has arrived in a very big way, and right now, Uber is the most visible name in the car sharing market. But to what degree is Uber in charge of its own message on YouTube? Well, it turns out that like many brands on YouTube and social media, Uber the company is one of many voices in the conversation. The company's own YouTube channel has a plurality of the overall views about its brand, but not a majority.
Uber and YouTube: Earned, Owned and Paid Media
We did a study using our Octoly YouTube brand management system to understand Uber's footprint on the platform. We learned that Uber has 92,000 organic views on its channel and 222,000 paid views. But the brand's earned views, from videos on channels not belonging to that company that mention the Uber brand, total 2.5 million views, roughly 8X the organic and paid views combined.
Uber has many influencers taking about it on YouTube. In the video "How to become an Uber driver Part 2 of 2" by "FindYourTruth888," aka Sage, he uses his smartphone camera while driving to tell us what it's like to work for the company. He is also evangelizing new drivers to sign up through him to drive for Uber, because he will get a $250 referral fee. The video has 3,000 views.
YouTube Influencers Are Not Always Brand Fans
Anyone who posts to YouTube and gets people to watch their video can become an instant influencer on YouTube. In just the last week there were 29 user-generated videos about Uber posted to YouTube, with a total of 2,300 total views on them so far. If "discovered" by the community, any one could suddenly gain a lot of views.
But influencers aren't always fans, and there are negative stories about brands on YouTube as well. Perhaps this isn't surprising, given that YouTube is a social media platform open to all, including those spreading news. And bad news travels fast. Major companies like Southwest Airlines are addressing bad social media "press" by creating social media rapid-response command centers, and they would be well advised to follow a YouTube listening and response strategy as well.
Negative stories about new types of business that are "disrupting" the old models can be big on social media and YouTube. A recent video from TYT (The Young Turks), titled "Here's The Uber Story You Knew Was Coming," with 93,000 views, tells of an Uber driver accused of kidnapping a drunk woman and taking her to a hotel room. Perhaps this could have also happened with a taxi driver or someone in another type of profession, but it has gotten attention in the media because it's considered an "Uber" story instead of a regular crime story.
The Power of Pre-Roll for Reputation Management
Note that this TYT video is "monetized," meaning it has a spot for a pre-roll ad at the beginning. If they wanted to, Uber could very well chose to make its own YouTube video responding to this problem, and tell how they are addressing it. Then they could buy the pre-roll on this video for their own video ad that says something like "Hi this is Uber: We're very sorry about what happened in the video you're about to watch. That's why we've decided to tell you what we're doing to try to prevent this in the future."
So, overall, earned media can be both positive and negative for brands on YouTube, but it's helpful to be as informed as possible on both fronts to decide how to respond to negative stories, and to promote and engage with positive ones. In general, Uber has a very good earned media footprint on YouTube.