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Up until now, it’s been a mystery as to how brands can truly make a success of marketing on YouTube.

Largely it’s been a case of trial and error. Of the top 5,000 YouTube channels, only 2% are owned by brands. 

This is incredibly frustrating if your company is committed to content marketing and wishes to exploit the many benefits of online video, but are then presented with the stark fact that if you’re not a teenager showing off their latest shopping haul or Rihanna then you might as well give up.

Common sense largely prevails though. The brands that do succeed on YouTube – GoPro, Marvel or Disney all have a strong similarity. They create content that is entertaining, engaging, unique to the channel and informative.

Timeless qualities that will always ensure a channel’s success no matter how much a search algorithm changes.

A few month’s ago I looked at YouTube strategy for brands and it’s made pretty clear that all of a YouTube creator’s positive efforts will help increase a channel’s ‘velocity’. This rather nebulous term is what YouTube is hungry for. Velocity is achieved through sharing, engagement and ultimately subscribers.

This week YouTube has revealed its Creator Playbook for Brands. It’s a massive 100 page tome with a highly detailed seven step approach to content marketing. 

Here I’ll be highlighting the explicit set of guidelines YouTube has provided to help brands create successful content.

10 Fundamentals to Create Content People Love

1. Create shareable content.

Probably easier said than done, especially when it comes to predicting whether a video will become viral or not, but there are ways to increase the chance a video will be shared.

  • Identify trending subject matter by staying on top of popular search terms and keeping an eye on what’s trending on YouTube.
  • Connecting through emotion increases the chances of a viewer sharing it. If they’ve felt a strong feeling towards it, whether it’s laughter, excitement, nostalgia, or even fear, a viewer likely use strong adjectives to describe it when sharing therefore increasing the chance that other people will watch it to.
  • What will your content say about the people who share it? People share content because they feel it says something about who they really are. Sharing a funny video says that they too are funny. Sharing informative content says that they too are knowledgeable. 
  • Creating an ongoing series does not mean a narrower audience. Often one video from a series will ‘break out’ and become a hit, drawing a wider audience to your content. Content that they are likely to watch every episode of because it’s part of a wider picture.

2. Collaboration

Collaborating with existing popular YouTube creators extends both partner’s reach into audiences that they previously wouldn’t have access to.

  • Use research to see if a creator is already interested in your brand, or seek ones out who use your brand. That way the collaboration will seem more authentic.
  • Transparency helps. Don’t try to hide the fact it’s a branded collaboration. You will be sniffed out by a naturally cynical audience.
  • If you’re reaching out to an existing creator’s audience, you can be assured that audience knows how to use YouTube and will engage, comment or subscribe accordingly.
  • Most importantly, this is collaboration. It should be mutually beneficial and a mutually creative process. YouTube creators are brands themselves after all.

3. Discoverable topics

Make yourself as easy to find as possible.

  • Just like results in Google, videos on popular search topics are more likely to appear in search results. Videos that utilise popular search terms will of course stay around for longer on YouTube.
  • Create evergreen videos, ones that will be searchable over a long period of time. 
  • Fully optimise your metadata and include all of your relevant titles, tags and descriptions. You’ll be surprised how many videos aren’t tagged properly. This relatively easy bit of admin can give you a large advantage over your competition.

4. Accessibility

A large percentage of your viewers will access a video through a link on social media. There may not necessarily be any context provided for this link. It’s important that any video you produce stands alone and is understandable without other context.

  • This may contradict slightly the earlier point about making a series of videos, but making a video that works both as a unique piece of content and as part of a series isn’t as complicated as may seem. It just requires a degree of skill and requires you to constantly put yourself in the place of a new viewer.
  • Don’t refer to videos that a viewer won’t have likely seen. You can’t be sure that a series of videos are being watched in the proper order.
  • When you make a series of videos, ensure that there isn’t a proper order that they need to be watched in.
  • If it is serial content, make sure you have pithy yet effective enough recaps at the beginning of an episode.

5. Consistency

Consistency can come in many forms for your content. Whether it’s format, schedule, tone of voice or minor elements that continue through each video you make that instantly creates recognition.

  • Familiarity breeds contentment. Viewers will return to your videos over and over again because they liked what they saw the first time and want to see parts of it repeated. We like a bit of formula to our comfort watching.
  • Consistency develops loyalty, expectation and hooks an audience in for the long-haul.
  • Developing a structure also helps you as a creator. You don’t have to continuously create brand new formats or ideas, a structure is also beneficial as a springboard for further creativity.

6. Targeting

Make content that your audience wants to see. 

  • Look at channels producing content similar to yours and determine which demographics are engaging with it.
  • Look at your own content. What worked, what didn’t work. Your own audience is the best judge of your content and the numbers will show what they responded to the most. Follow that engagement.
  • It’s possible that you may be making content for a niche audience. Don’t worry about that too much. Niche audiences can be the most powerful brand ambassadors. Keep them happy.

7. Sustainability

If you have an ongoing format that works and that you wish to maintain, look into how practical it is to keep it going.

  • Will your budget, resources and members of cast and crew be committed enough to withstand the long-haul?
  • When starting out producing a series of videos, it’s important to preplan as much as you possibly can to ensure that a long-run is achievable.  Make sure that this ongoing programme has the support and resources in place before production starts.

8. Converse with viewers

Going back to point number six, your audience will let you know what’s working and what isn’t.

  • Let fans know that they are an integral part of shaping your brand. Give them the chance to connect with you.
  • This can mean properly engaging with them in two-way conversation or even getting them involved with the creation of your videos.
  • Always ask for feedback and respond to comments both within YouTube and in other social media.

9. Interactive content

Again, involving your viewers in creating your videos will create positive brand perception, increase audience reach and strengthen loyalty.

  • If you’re not in a position to involve viewers in the production of your videos, give them an opportunity to make their own for you via specific contests.
  • Your brand can highlight these videos and shows your commitment to your fans.

10. Authenticity

Increase the audience’s connection to your brand by being absolutely transparent about who you are, what your core values are and what your commitment to your audience is.

  • Audiences respond to passion and integrity. Explain why your brand does what it does and how much it loves doing it.
  • Maybe produce a video that showcases the humble beginnings of your company.
  • Show the faces behind your brand, maybe cast them in roles within your videos to let your audience know that you are human too. 

 Read the YouTube Creator Playbook for Brands here

Further reading for beginners

During my first year at Econsultancy I’ve been making a point of writing beginner’s guides to any new terms or phrases I find particularly baffling, or that I might suspect other people may find baffling too. 

The following related articles should help clear up a few things… 

 

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 1 April, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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