Founded in 2005 with just $5000 by four friends dedicated to helping others refine their personal fashion, Refinery29 is now one of the most popular, fastest-growing media brands in the world. The female-centric brand defines itself as a “lifestyle destination that delivers nonstop inspiration to live a more creative life,” and as of 2016, was valued at $500 million. Clearly, the company’s message and content resonate very well with its audience.
And part of that content includes video. Over the last eleven years of its existence, Refinery29 has become one of the most-recognized publishers in the world of online video. Appropriately, its visual content centers around lifestyle-related categories, including fashion, style, beauty, health, and entertainment, and routinely pulls in millions of views each month. Here’s how Refinery29 continues to attract views and why the publisher is worth paying attention to in terms of video strategy.
Celebrity Content Dominates Refinery29’s Top Video Hits
A quick look at the top ten most-watched Refinery29 videos of all time reveals a lot about the viewing preferences of the brand’s audience. In general, it seems Refinery29 viewers have a taste for a very particular kind of content: namely, celebrity-based videos.
Refinery29’s most-watched video of all time, for example, is all about celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the stark contrast between the way he talks to adult competitors on his TV shows and the way he talks to children competitors. The one-minute-forty-one-second video, posted to Refinery29’s Facebook account, claimed 43.9 million total views, with 33.2 million of these arriving in the first three days of the clip going live.
Ironically, Refinery29’s second most popular video also featured Ramsay, but that’s the last time the chef shows up on the top ten most-watched list dominated by celebrities and popular figures. Other clips on this list include the profile of 87-year-old Instagram star Baddie Winkle, relationship goals from celebrity couples Ashton Kutcher/Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake/Jessica Biel, and the best moments of former president Barack Obama. A video highlighting David Beckham’s adventures as a father claims the #3 spot and also boasts the highest average 30-day view count (V30) of all Refinery29 videos ever at 41.7 million.
30-Day Engagement Rates High on Refinery29’s YouTube Channel
Refinery29’s presence on YouTube has proven to be a boon for the media brand in terms of average 30-day engagement rates (ER30). The ten videos which boast the highest ER30 of all Refinery29’s social profiles live on the brand’s YouTube channel, with the top five clips amazingly seeing ER30 figures of 10x+. This means those five videos are performing at least 9x better on average than most other videos on YouTube!
So which video is so compelling Refinery29 audiences can’t help but interact with it in some way? That would be a clip featuring digital celebrity and beauty influencer Iris Beilin, aka Irishcel507 on YouTube. In the short video, Beilin talks about her insecurities growing up as a Latina woman in America while removing her makeup to reveal her natural skin tone and features. Among other stats, Refinery29 viewers gave this clip more than 6000 thumbs-up and left over 300 comments, all from a modest 69,000+ video views. On average, each view of the Beilin video resulted in a 9.5% engagement rate.
Another interesting aspect to Refinery29’s YouTube channel is the popularity of social or political-themed content, which make up almost half of the clips with the highest ER30s of the brand’s entire online video presence. For example, the video with the third-highest ER30 discusses whether or not Islam and feminism are mutually exclusive, while the fourth clip on the list features a rundown of the Baltimore protests from 2015. Other socially or politically-bent videos on the top ten ER30 list for Refinery29 include a clip about what millennial women really care about and the gender wage gap within the Women’s World Cup.
By their very nature, these topics incite lots of discussion, opinions, and interaction, which is why Refinery29 should be lauded for placing these clips on YouTube where it knows its audience will engage with the content.
In short, Refinery29 plays its video cards exceptionally well. The brand knows the specific types of content audiences will view and react to on which platform, and caters to those tastes on a regular basis. Other lifestyle media brands hoping to reach Refinery29’s $500 million valuation level would do well to mimic the company’s successful online video strategy.