Since 2013, Jamie Oliver's YouTube presence has gone from being barely noticeable to one of the platform's biggest food networks.

Now with three channels and well over 2m subscribers, he has truly mastered the art of video marketing.

How has he managed it?

From his early failures to FoodTube’s current winning strategy, here is a close-up look at how Jamie has turned around his YouTube fortunes.

Rebranding

Way back in 2012, YouTube was popular, but it was better known for videos of flash mobs and crazy cats – certainly not famous chefs. 

Jamie’s original YouTube channel was underused and certainly not consistent in terms of style or strategy. In fact, it was mostly used as way of integrating video content into his main website, resulting in an ad-hoc uploading schedule and miss-matched tone.

Recognising these mistakes, Jamie decided to completely overhaul the channel, relaunching as FoodTube with a live half hour show in January 2013. 

Despite earning 100,000 subscribers in just a single night, the channel’s early days weren’t entirely smooth sailing.

Richard Herd, now Head of FoodTube, explained that keeping the content similar to how it would appear on television was a steep learning curve. 

We soon learned through analytics that we were losing 40% of our audience before Jamie even started cooking.

It needed to be more immediate. We moved everything up, and we got straight to the cooking. It was interesting for us to re-learn the grammar of what we do.

Soon after, the video titles were scrapped and FoodTube began to further clean up its design by introducing descriptive thumbnails and carefully curated categories.

Discovering data

Born out of Jamie’s desire to create a personal connection with his audience, making FoodTube more of a community has been a deliberate move from the start.

Unlike television where it’s difficult to discover specific details about the viewer demographic, YouTube’s ability to tap into data allows for much greater insight. 

By delving into this data, FoodTube was able discover who exactly the audience was as well as what points they were switching on and off.

As a result, a much more streamlined strategy was put in place.

The most popular upload on the channel to date - ‘How to Make Perfect Scrambled Eggs 3 Ways’ – typifies Jamie’s simple yet shareable formula.

By encouraging users to comment with their own favourite tips and tricks, it demonstrates how one-sided content can evolve into a real conversation.

Collaborating with others

One of the easiest ways for brands to expand their reach on YouTube is to collaborate, and while Jamie might already rank highly in terms of celebrity status, he’s not been afraid to collaborate with others.

From Gennaro Contaldo to Alfie Deyes, his ‘Jamie and Co’ series has seen him team up with a wide range of faces from the world of YouTube and beyond.

Similarly, ‘Jamie Presents’ allows him to showcase the talents of a number of budding chefs, explaining why the viewer should watch them.

This type of content is what gives FoodTube more substance than your average celebrity-hosted channel. 

Of course Jamie Oliver the ‘brand’ is a huge selling point, yet without a constant stream of authentic, engaging and collaborative content, it would not have garnered half of its current success.

Expanding the network

Despite uncertainty over the channel's ROI, Jamie has continued to grow his YouTube presence with the launch of two new channels – Drinks Tube and Family Food Tube respectively.

Drinks Tube – a celebration and exploration of all things beverage-related – endeavours to fill a gap in the market.

By drawing on the knowledge of bartenders, brewers and experts, it aims to be a hub for anyone interested in creating great tasting drinks at home, both soft and alcoholic. 

Having signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Bacardi, it relies on more heavily-produced and brand-centric content.

On the other hand, Family Food Tube aims to create a community for parents, providing tips, advice and support on the often tricky-to-navigate experience of family meal times. 

With a much more informal tone, Family Food Tube draws on more personal input from Jamie, including at-home vlogs and casual style videos.

In terms of Jamie Oliver's future on YouTube, as long as his famous passion and enthusiasm for food is poured into all areas, there's no reason why it won't continue to flourish.

For more on this topic, book yourself onto Econsultancy’s Video Marketing Training Course or check out these posts:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 19 May, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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