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How should brands approach YouTube?

News, 20 July 2016

LONDON: YouTube has been central to a change in media culture and marketers need to understand how they can not only be discovered on what is now a global "everything channel" but be revisited on a regular basis.  

In a Warc Best Practice paper – How to develop an effective YouTube content strategy – strategist Julian Saunders explains that the platform is constantly evolving and that brands wanting to make use of it need to immerse themselves in the new culture it has spawned.

Developing a content strategy, he advises, will require several steps: aside from the creation of successful video content, marketers will have to set up branded YouTube channels and/or partner with other content creators on the platform.

"A significant investment in time and money is needed for a brand to be successful as a creator," Saunders warns, "as the founding of a YouTube channel sets up the expectation among users that it will constantly invest in fresh video – several times a week."

Feeding this beast requires a strategic approach. Marketers have to realise the importance of a distinctive channel idea, the nature of trust in online video and the role of YouTubers, the online celebrities who are considered a trusted voice by their fans.

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Saunders suggests that one way brands can attract viewers to their YouTube channel is by capturing the viewer's intent. By analysing search queries they can find questions the brand can credibly answer and make videos that quickly and clearly supply those answers.

That is the first strand of the Help/Hub/Hero approach to content, the second being regular, scheduled content that provides a reason to subscribe to a channel, and the third "big, tent-pole events that are designed to provide a step-change to audience growth".

But brands should not necessarily feel they have to have their own YouTube presence. Not only does it demand investment and time, "it requires a particular culture to be a publisher rather than an advertiser".

For some, it may make more sense to partner with successful publishers and YouTubers who have done the hard work of building an audience that brands can tap into.

Data sourced from Warc