- The content posted needs to be relevant to the audience on that channel, speaking to them and spurring them to take action.
- It’s essential to create unique content for YouTube instead of repurposing previously-produced videos.
- Many brands find paid YouTube ads to help them build followers and increase video views, so consider adding that as a part of the budget.
The role YouTube plays in a branded content strategy can’t be understated. It’s consistently ranked the most popular social media site among U.S. adults, taking advantage of the massive percentage of internet users who view online video regularly.
Other social network platforms have added video capabilities in recent years, but YouTube remains the gold standard.
Setting Up Your YouTube Content Strategy
Every channel being considered as part of a branded content program needs a strategy all its own, including YouTube. That means making decisions that will impact what sort of material is posted there, what the expectations of the audience are and what metrics are being tracked to determine success. It helps to answer a series of questions.
Like any other part of a content program, multiple divisions within a company will want to be included. Customer Service, Marketing, PR, Advertising, Sales, Media (broadcast, digital, print), HR and others may all vie for influence and involvement.
Determining what the goal of the YouTube program is will help narrow down who does or doesn’t get a seat at the table. Other divisions and areas may be added over time as appropriate for the program.
Tip: Having a program owner well-versed in the strategy and goals is essential for having these conversations.
What Story Are We Telling?
It’s easy to understand why so many brands’ YouTube strategies begin and end with “throw our TV commercials there” since using YouTube as a digital repository is relatively easy.
Such material may not actually support the goals of the YouTube content strategy, though. The content posted needs to be relevant to the audience on that channel, speaking to them and spurring them to take action.
Tip: Uncover the unique value proposition your brand has to offer and communicate that through all videos in a relevant manner YouTube audiences want to be communicated to.
What Audience Are We Reaching?
Creating that relevant material involves finding the intersection of what key messages need to be communicated and what the target audience already finds interesting. Researching what people are searching for, and watching will help uncover insights into what to create and share yourself.
Those people – and their behaviors – may be very different than they are on other platforms. That’s part of the reason it’s essential to create unique content for YouTube instead of repurposing previously-produced videos.
Also vital is understanding where YouTube falls in the customer journey. Most frequently it’s toward the top of the funnel, so content that builds awareness, sparks interest and fosters loyalty in the audience often works well.
Tip: Build KPIs into the strategy that is unique to YouTube, not holdovers from other platforms or campaigns.
How Are We Engaging?
YouTube has always allowed viewers to leave comments on videos, though the extent to which brand publishers have followed or participated in those conversations has varied depending on what their goals were and what material has been posted.
Recently the site added Community features for creators and publishers to interact with the audience more creative ways. Creators can publish blog posts, add GIFs of key moments from the video and more to promote new videos, respond to fans and otherwise be part of a two-way dialogue.
How Are We Promoting?
It’s not enough to hit “Publish” and hope for the best. New videos should be shared on other owned social network channels, added to blog posts and shared with internal staff to make sure everyone has seen them.
Boosting the organic reach of the video with paid promotion on YouTube or elsewhere may help prime the pump by exposing it to a new audience. Many brands find paid YouTube ads to help them build followers and increase video views, so consider adding that as a part of the budget.
If your budget isn’t high enough to justify a media buy, consider more creative ways to build awareness like collaborating with other creators.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to use some of your media budgets to promote videos for your channel– especially videos that are performing well organically.
What Defines Success?
– Adding YouTube to a branded content program means committing to the audience. It also means committing to measuring how content is or isn’t working and making adjustments as needed. Doing so requires measuring relevant metrics.
– Platform metrics such as view total, view length, subscriber growth, etc are important and tell you how well the content is reaching the audience.
– Audience actions such as click-through rates, purchases and others are still good to measure but are secondary as YouTube is more about brand building than direct ROI.
Tip: Focus on YouTube metrics like views, engagement, and subscriber growth for KPIs. If that’s not enough, consider building audience surveys to get a more definite gauge of how brand loyalty and affinity change over time.
Bonus: Additional Content Strategy Tips
Having a YouTube-specific strategy in place is essential to making a branded content program there successful. It’s important to remember a few things that can make worlds of difference in how that strategy is received by audiences both internal and external:
– Stop thinking like a marketer: While brand messages are important, if you don’t produce videos that are interesting, amusing and unique the audience won’t pay attention. Play to the medium and create content that is being consumed on YouTube (hit, they’re not sketches or TV ads). Bringing in a youtube content agency or consultant to help develop creative material is recommended.
– Develop Video ‘Formats’: Getting a video to catch on to the extent it takes on a life of its own takes work. With each video, you develop to make sure they can be iterative beyond the first video you make. By creating formattable videos you can build an audience and get viewers a reason to revisit the channel and come back on a consistent bases
– Keep up on best practices: YouTube, like other social platforms, is always adding and changing features and formats. Audience preferences are also constantly shifting. Stay informed on what’s new and current and adjust strategy and tactics accordingly from info cards, thumbnails, tags, uploading, and more.
–Analyze every video and utilize every tool YouTube offers: Take posting your content on YouTube seriously and evaluate when is the best time to go live with a video, a/b test thumbnails and how effective they are, analyze where and when you integrate info cards, call to actions to subscribe, etc. All of these can and should be optimized to create a high level of engagement.
–Create a cadence to your content: Once you start creating some formats that are resonating with audiences be sure to upload new episodes at a consistent date and time so audiences know when to come back for more of the videos they love. Don’t be afraid to promote the cadence on your channel on your community tab, video page header, or info section.
Tip: Engagement begets engagement, so time invested in responding to comments now will pay off in the future.