Putting the You back into YouTube

Last week YouTube celebrated its 10thbirthday, but how has the channel evolved? And are there any genuineopportunities left for the PR industry?

As a product of the ‘YouTube Generation’, and having grown-up a close friend of one the original e-celebs and YouTube partners, ‘MemeMolly’, it’s a social media I really rode the wave of as a teenager. But I still remember YouTube’s original premise, when it was about “Broadcast[ing] Yourself” – a slogan they dropped in 2012. Now, having morphed into a beast of global brands, music videos and big production pieces – can middle sized brands have their voices heard? Or does ‘BrandTube’ now require big bucks?

A study by Pixability showed the top 100 Global Brands published a total of 258,000 videos across 1,378 YouTube channels in 2013, and are expected to publish over one million pieces of new video content between them this year. Content marketing of this scale on owned channels supported by huge paid-for amplification campaigns can only really be afforded by the ‘Goliaths’. However, there are some advantages of being a ‘David’ on YouTube. Here are a few thought starters:

  • Plasticity – video content is constantly being revolutionised; from the popularity of individual vloggers; to styles of super-produced content there is always a trend and nobody knows a trend better than a PR. If your brand is capturing the mood of the nation, there’s no need for big budgets – just a little patience and a keen creative.
  • Authenticity – EARNED brand mentions on YouTube by targeting the right kind of influencers is the Holy Grail. For example, more than any other form of media, people trust a vlogger. This authenticity, however, should be complimented and not taken advantage of – a price Oreo paid at the tail end of last year when they didn’t clarify paid-for activity with some famous UK vloggers. . It is, however, possible to be authentic on your own channel – just understand exactly what you’re trying to say/show and don’t waiver and certainly don’t sell out.
  • Social Support – 150 years’ worth of YouTube content is watched through Facebook every day. A PR and/or digital agency that can provide the right digital structure and strategy for this earned amplification will drive truly effective scale.
  • Cross-fertilisation – when budgets get squeezed or timings are tight, don’t scrimp on the tagging. YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine; use it to your advantage. Even the smallest brands can be found with intelligent tagging – a five minute job to ensure your content is found.
  • Over the last ten years YouTube has evolved into a global Goliath used by other global Goliaths. But there’s no need to be intimidated, with intelligent thought-out strategy and quality content that people care about, every brand can compete. For the consumer, YouTube is no longer about ‘Broadcast[ing] Yourself’; it’s about finding content that’s right for yourself – something every brand can take advantage of.

What’s more, software updates in 2014 now mean that a video can register nine quintillion views – piece of cake.

Anna Spooner 

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