Where brands are going wrong on YouTube

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Meet a few of the brands that have cracked the digital-video code

Out of the 5,000 most popular channels on YouTube, just 74 are brands. It’s a mind-blowing statistic, considering the video platform’s millions of daily users and the size of marketing budgets for international brands.

However, these 74 high-fliers often enjoy one new view every two seconds, their content liked and shared by legions of loyal fans. That begs the question: What are 4,926 brands doing wrong?

Brands need to consider the ways YouTube and its community works and engages. The power of YouTube as a platform needs to be leveraged to add value to users, whether through entertaining or educating. The reality, however, is many brands are still not getting this right. Only 50 percent of branded content achieves more than a 1,000 views. How should this be addressed?

Camera-maker GoPro’s channel sets the brand benchmark on YouTube and according to The Touchstorm Video Index is the fifth-biggest brand channel. GoPro has built up a base of 2.4 million subscribers through posting regular, compelling pieces of content. Each uses the product to capture the story and build emotional connection with potential new consumers.

U.K. department store John Lewis’ decision to launch its Christmas ad starring Monty the Penguin on social channels before TV garnered 7 million views in the first 24 hours. It reached nearly the same amount of viewers as a primetime TV slot, with the added value of higher user engagement through shares and comments.

All too often, brands produce content for YouTube that bears little resemblance to their established tone. Whether it’s producing a product-launch video or a lifestyle film aimed at different demographics, a brand must express its value consistently and authentically.

To generate a return on investment, brands need to think creatively if they want to craft engaging content that resonates with a global audience.

Some argue that creativity in the context of profit is somehow counter-intuitive to the creative process itself; we argue this is not the case. Ultimately, ROI is a business necessity and also drives growth and innovation.

One example of this is our recently launched campaign for British winter sports brand Head. ‘Race,’ the first of four short films, takes viewers inside the locker room to see the intimate pre-race routines of alpine ski racers Anna Fenninger and Askel Lund Svindal. Humanizing the story by showing these world-class athletes preparing to push their own limits helps inspire everyone to stretch their own personal goals. This authentic storytelling is at the heart of the campaign, which was created solely with an online audience in mind.

If you look at each of the top 74, we see them applying a similar methodology: The content is consistent, authentic, relevant and timely. It communicates a message that’s both engaging to its target audience and true to its brand values. It’s only with this creative strategy that brands will start to see success on this channel.

Ian Styles is executive creative director with DesignStudio

This article first appeared on The Wall.

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