When Snickers wanted to reboot its You’re Not You When You’re Hungry video marketing campaign, the brand could have looked for Hollywood talent. Instead, it tapped Jessica Harlow, a self-made style guru propelled into fame by her YouTube channel, which boasts over 587,000 subscribers.
YouTube—home of cat videos, double rainbows, and maniacally laughing babies—has become a hot spot for Harlow and other personalities who have earned significant followings. Even big brands such as Nike can’t compete. At over 263,000 subscribers, Nike boasts just half of Harlow’s fan base and a fraction of that of the most popular YouTube stars.
Given YouTube’s huge user base, that lackluster showing is problematic. YouTube has over 1 billion users, the company reports. Year over year, the number of hours people watch on YouTube each month has doubled.
YouTube’s impressive growth should be piquing brands’ interest. With Facebook slowly choking organic reach, YouTube provides an alternative avenue for brands to reach consumers. In fact, brand engagement on YouTube is 20 times higher than engagement on Facebook, the Content Standard previously reported.
But fan engagement won’t come without great content. To bolster their YouTube video marketing efforts, brands should take a few cues from the growing ranks of YouTube celebrities.
To attract and retain followers, it’s not all about developing one viral video after another. YouTube touts the “hub, hygiene, hero” approach when it comes to developing content and cultivating engaged followers. YouTube tells brands to focus on “hub” videos—that is, valuable and engaging content, published regularly, that people will want to return to. “Hygiene” videos help answer burning questions—the kind of content people will find through search. “Hero” videos refer to content that accompanies major marketing initiatives. Above all, keep the content coming. YouTube success story Michelle Phan (7.6 million followers) has uploaded over 300 videos in the last seven years. That steady stream of quality content—from makeup tutorials to lifestyle tips—fueled her growth over the long haul.
Listen and Interact
YouTube stars tend to be hyperengaged with their fan bases. Teenager Bethany Mota grew her fan base—now up to over 8.6 million subscribers—by asking what they wanted to see (be it makeup tutorials, shopping haul videos, or DIY fashion tips). On Twitter, Mota interacts with fans through “Motavator Mondays” and surprises them with tweets and direct messages. By putting fans at the center, Mota cultivates loyalty and keeps them coming back for more.
YouTube’s Rosanna Pansino built up her 3.8 million subscribers by baking cakes and cupcakes with video games and comic book themes. By producing a wealth of content that doesn’t get stale, Pansino regularly draws in viewers on the prowl for a great recipe. Makeup queen Phan often delivers content with a seasonal tie, but her bread-and-butter videos are the how-to tutorials that stay relevant for years after they debut.
Brands looking to make a splash on YouTube can also go with an obvious strategy: partner with a YouTube celebrity. Brands including Taco Bell, Aeropostale, and L’Oreal have teamed up YouTube celebrities to promote their products. With a star-studded partner offering their endorsements, brands can earn eyeballs they ordinarily wouldn’t reach.
Brands looking to reach a growing audience hungry for great video content should consider upping the ante on their YouTube gain. By thinking strategically about YouTube content and channeling successful YouTube stars, brands can start to reap the rewards from their efforts.
To learn more about video marketing, peruse Skyword’s eBook on planning a pre-production video strategy.