With more than 100,000 hours of content being uploaded to YouTube every day, it’s no secret that the competition is fierce for brands trying to get views and engagement for their videos. Many brands have tried creating an audience for their videos through TV buys, hoping that they’ll have an easier time breaking through the clutter. Others have redirected budget away from display banners in favor of native ads and sponsored stories, hoping for higher-click through rates and engagement. But are these the best strategies or the smartest investments? Is there a better (and proven) way to help a video maximize earned media and give it a real chance to “go viral?” Surprisingly, the answer is yes -- and focusing on YouTube is the key.
With more than 800 million unique users per month, YouTube is, and should be respected as, the gold standard for video on the Web. YouTube also delivers valuable organic search benefits like search relevance and permanent placement on the #2 search engine online. And with 100 million people taking a social action (likes, shares, comments, etc.) on YouTube every week, investing in the work to build an engaged community will reap greater benefits for brands over time. YouTube is the most important place for brand videos – especially when considering the enormous value of trending.
Trending, or becoming the most popular video in a category, provides the most immediate and valuable benefit for a brand investing in YouTube. When a video makes it to a “most popular” list in any given category (on the website and/or mobile), it is exposed to millions of people, for free, over a two- to three-day period -- and from there, it also has the opportunity to trend for several weeks. By “being on stage,” a trending video can generate significant organic/earned views and have a real chance to “go viral.”
Trending also increases social engagement (e.g., sharing across other networks like Facebook and Twitter) and it offers unexpected PR opportunities by exposing the video to national media outlets like “Good Morning America” and “Ellen” that regularly report on YouTube’s trending charts. Finally, as some successful brands already know, trending on YouTube provides a great litmus test for the quality of the creative. If a video tests well on YouTube, measured by organic views, sharing, engagement, etc., the brand can take the concept/creative and expand it to TV, for example. We call this “platforming up to broadcast.” So in essence, YouTube can also serve as a multi–million-person focus group.
But the harsh reality is that with the vast sea of content on YouTube and the intense competition from popular celebrities and channels, brand videos only have about an .03% chance of seeing their video trendon its own. The good news is that there are a few proven steps brands can take to level the playing field and achieve success on YouTube:
1. One key element to trending is generating a lot of engaged views in a short period of time. The window for trending is very small -- if you miss that chance in the first week, it’s not likely you’ll be able to recreate it. However, this is easier said than done!
2. Make sure to focus on targeted viewers with high video completion rate. When generating the initial views to help a video trend, you want those views to be meaningful and relevant, i.e., focused on the right demographics.
3. Don’t go it alone -- try partnering with a reputable video marketing platform.
Remember, trending significantly lowers the effective cost per view (eCPV) for a campaign. The goal here is to maximize the ratio of organic/free views to guaranteed/paid views
In addition to looking at trending as a strategy, brands also need to invest in their own YouTube channels. Competition from YouTube celebrities poses the biggest challenge to brand videos. When you consider that the top 100 YouTube celebrities and channel networks have a combined 160 million subscribers that perpetuate their popularity, brands have virtually no chance of trending organically on their own.
As more brands clamor for attention on the world’s most visited online video destination, achieving popularity and standing out in a vast sea of content has never been more important.