I spent a weekend binge watching YouTube so you didn’t have to – yeah, I know, I’m good like that. After a hard week searching for gems at the old content marketing agency mine, I spent a weekend in my jammies, strong coffee in hand, eyes going slowly rectangular with a little arrow in place of each pupil.
From a father and son cutting an Olympic torch in half, a thousand Pinterest galaxy-something challenges, slow motion flame throwers, a waffle iron frenzy, to my favourite Youtuber who may have landed upon the secret to creating reliably viral video – I watched it all, just for you. (You’re welcome).
You might think what I’m going to recommend is a stack of expensive gear, a talented content marketing agency on call to craft thoughtful and compelling narratives and a mile-high pile of money to amplify your content. But each of the people you see as successful YouTubers started with getting that first view. Then the next 100. Then the first 1,000, and so on.
What matters isn’t the production quality nor the professionalism of the performance, but in producing something entertaining, valuable or that you connect with emotionally. And if you think that great emotional B2B content marketing can’t be done, think again.
Here’s what I learned which you can apply to instantly improve your content marketing (fluffy slippers and bathrobe optional).
Make sure your content shows the real you from the beginning.
If you focus on nothing else I say, know this: in order to want to work with, or buy from someone, you have to like them first. For some YouTubers that comes with a certain amount of schtick of course; many YouTubers are young, and the characters over the top like many teenagers you see who are just trying to work out who they really are.
But what captures them their viewers is the genuineness of what you see on screen. The struggles they go through are the struggles that their audience is dealing with. Their audience believes, “they’re like me – they get me – we’ve got something in common.”
You see a great deal of their life on screen – the polished and professional, stories about their family, their home, the cameras falling over, the shots that didn’t go quite right. And you like them more and more each time. “I think we could be friends if we met in real life.” There’s a reason VidCon attracts over 55,000 visitors all aiming to catch up with their favourite video creators and personalities.
That’s a great place for a brand to get itself through content. We know that people do business with those they like and trust – just think how much easier your salesforce would find their job if their potential customers had already smiled at something they’d seen or read from the company before they’d even met.
Make your content personal.
Simon Sinek (of ‘Find Your Why’ fame – which I don’t think I went through a single meeting in 2014 without quoting) is one of the most watched TED talks of all time, and one of his top speaking secrets is the importance of making eye contact with the audience one by one.
But what if you can’t see your audience? YouTubers use this idea virtually to great effect – there is a real difference in the connection between someone talking about their audience en masse, and talking directly to them individually. It seems like such a small thing, but so oftencB2B or tech businesses keep their language formal, speaking at you, not to you. Try using ‘you’ rather than ‘they’ and see how much warmer and connected the text becomes.
Use your content to show how things are done.
I discovered the advantage of content in its ability to explain, coach and demonstrate when I needed to repair my washing machine. Instead of paying an exorbitant callout fee, I found a man explaining how to do it step by step on the internet; since then my home improvement motto now is “if I can YouTube it, I can do it.”
The reason this matters is that it taps directly into that need many of us have for learning and self-improvement. We all want to know how to do things better, harder, faster, stronger (sorry Kayne).
This approach is perfect for showcasing a product – the unfashionably enthusiastic, fashionably hipster team at Chefsteps have taught me how to make the perfect emoji egg and dry ice soft serve, but have also piqued my interest for their co-star, the slick looking sous vide called Joule which they just happen to sell.
Seriously – just watch how easily they prepare Eggs Benedict for six and tell me you don’t want one too. (Note to self: set up affliate link here…)
Feed their curiosity
Blendtec is basically the poster child for this aspect of content marketing with their ‘will it blend series’ series. We’re all suckers for a story – the need to know what happens next will keep us watching though TV ad breaks, may even make us pause before clicking the ‘skip ad’ button on the screen in front of us.
The amazingly absurd ads from Geico took this and ran with it and broke the pre-roll ad drought with a series of ‘unskippable’ ads that made people actually sit and watch to see what would happen next. Explore this by finding the right story arc for a series of blog posts, a teaser video at the end of the previous one, an marketing email with the promise of something exciting yet to come.
Keep it regular.
Casey Neistat is not only giving me a thirst for a Boosted Board, but he has sold me on the idea that regular content is the key to an audience. His numbers are massive – 500,000 to 4 million in 18 months is kind of crazy. And yes, of course he’s charismatic and talented, but he credits his success to one thing: daily vlogging.
Hubspot agrees; studies regularly show a direct correlation between content volume and site visits – on one study companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts. The moral of this is, blog early, blog often.
Collab, collab, collab
Another secret for growing an audience in YouTubeland is the ‘collab’, where channels cooperate to create a two or more part video aimed at cross-selling their audiences to the benefit of both. While it may seem like the domain of beauty bloggers doing GRWM (Get Ready With Me) challenges, look further afield and you can see that there is definite advantage in leveraging a creative partnership with a complementary business with a similar target audience.
This might be by simply ‘collab’ing (I’m beginning to hate myself) with a blogger or vlogger to create some sponsored content, an offline partner who may have a mailing list you can share content with – or scale it up and you can go as big as GE and create a global documentary series which involves everyone from Ron ‘Run Forrest Run’ Howard to Jimmy Fallon.
OK, perhaps sometimes a talented content agency on call to craft thoughtful and compelling narratives and a mile-high pile of money to amplify your content might not go astray after all.