I’m very grateful to the great #BeamishEra vlogger Lewis Bostock for enlightening me about why companies get it so wrong on YouTube: ‘they think it’s TV’.
If you want your YouTube account to get way less boring, the first thing you need to figure out is that it’s not TV. Most companies will get a videographer to go and produce a little customer story, edit it all up in FinalCut Pro, put it through some sign offs, and then publish the final result to YouTube. The content is usually stale (weeks or months old), scripted and broadcast. There is no interaction and the features of YouTube that make it so powerful for audience building aren’t used. All you’re doing is dropping a TV ad on a video site.
Compare that to some of the current masters of YouTube audience building like Tyler Oakley, Zoella, or one of of my current favourites, Sprinkle of Glitter Louise.
I recently introduced my Mum to Louise and Zoe. She’s 65, doesn’t use YouTube and has no idea what a ‘social media’ is. I gave her the laptop and hit the Play button. Half an hour later, I came back and she was still sitting there chattering out loud like a budgie to Louise and Zoe about their clothes and makeup purchases as the playlist ran through. She had figured out how to press the ‘Skip Ad’ button for the very nicely crafted 30 second Beiersdorf AG Nivea Body Wash pre-roll ads-she didn’t want to watch those-but was more than happy to sit for 30 minutes and hear two young British women talk about health and beauty products.
They were talking to her. In most of the videos, Louise and Zoe had purchased some products (clothes, shoes, makeup) from mainstream retail stores and they had come home and were showing what they had bought. It’s a very common social routine and my Mum immediately understood what was going on and joined in accordingly with ‘oh that nail polish is a nice colour’ and ‘yes I like the handbags with small inside pockets too’ and ‘I never know whether to get dark brown or black mascara either’. The content was relatable and because they were having fun digging through their shopping bags and commenting on everything, my Mum wanted to join in and have a comment too.
The second thing the new generation of bloggers are doing very well which we didn’t see so much in the #beamishera of vloggers and we don’t see at all on company YouTube accounts is the unashamed use of call to actions.
As I mentioned, my Mum doesn’t use social media so she doesn’t really get what comments and shares and subscribes are. So she couldn’t work out why they kept asking her to press things at the end of the videos. I explained to her that it helps Louise and Zoe make money- they do this stuff for a job. That was bit mind blowing for my Mum so I had to give her a crash course in the online content eco-system but the point is, she was more than happy to do what she was told and click the buttons to help them-she liked Louise and Zoe.
Companies serve up client story videos and everyone smiles at the end and it fades to black, or worse still, a screen jumps up with a URL to go back to the company’s main homepage. Boring plus.
Watch what people like Tyler Oakley do. He asks/tells you to subscribe and like his videos ‘so that I can keep doing this’ and invites you to watch another video of his, reply to a question he asked in the comments, come and see him at a live event: he’s very blatant about what he wants you to do. Companies can do the same. Blatantly ask your audience to like your videos. Ask them to support your software by signing up for a free trial account ‘so you can keep doing this’. Ask them to add their YouTube channels in the comments so you can subscribe and support their projects. Make playlists so people like my Mum will sit there and keep watching your videos.
It’s easy to get intimidated looking at the views and subscribes of some of the successful YouTubers. Don’t let that put you off but do look at the tactics they use and step away from boring, TV-centric videos by simply talking to people and inviting them into your channel. A handful of authentic customer interactions is worth a lot more than a hipster-crafted brand extravaganza that nobody cares about. YouTube isn't TV so try and break that mindset and you'll get far more engagement with your content.
Photos from the #BeamishEra New Zealand YouTube Gathering 2009