What YouTubers can teach us about marketing strategy

youtubers and marketing strategy

Do you watch YouTube often? Fails of the Week? Gamer videos? Or even just searching for funny cat antics? If this means nothing to you, you need to start paying attention to some of these major consumer influencers. 

YouTubers are the new celebrities, and although you may disagree with how some of them can have become so successful off the back of their weekly videos, you cannot argue with the figures. There was some controversy last month when people were outraged to learn that the number one YouTube star with the highest number of subscribers at over 37.7 million, earnt $7.4 million in 2014.

People seemed to be far more obsessed with how much PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg) earnt than with watching his actual videos. Aside from the fact that he does a huge amount for charity, people who had never even heard of him started joining the hordes of people on Twitter queuing up to message him about what a disgrace it is that people like him can earn so much.

Of course, in true YouTuber style, he responded with a video which highlighted some of his favourite haters and his response to them. What he made clear was that YouTube was not about money for him; when he first started his channel five years ago, he had dropped out of University and took a job at a hotdog stand to earn money just to survive. Did he feel sorry for himself? No, because he was making videos at the same time, loving every minute and finally realising his passion.

People who question the amount of money someone like PewDiePie earns needs to look at how and why people love his videos. Well, why? Because people love to laugh; PewDiePie has accrued a huge following simply by being weird and funny – traits which speak to an incredibly large number of the people populating YouTube. How? Because with over nine billion views, each of those open to just one advert equates to a huge return at a tiny percentage. 

You might be thinking that an average company could never produce this amount of money from YouTube, and you’d be right, unless you hit the jackpot with a viral ad. However, there are some key pointers to take from people like PewDiePie that can vastly improve your social media strategy and your overall marketing efforts.

1) Target Market  

YouTubers love what they do. This is the secret to their success. To be a YouTube star might seem like it’s just a lot of talking to a camera – that can’t be that hard, right? Wrong. It involves a hell of a lot of your own time, particularly in the beginning when you’re balancing work too to produce those videos on a regular basis. Not just to film them, but to cut, edit, upload, market, engage with followers and so on. Make no mistake, it is just like being a sidepreneur. 

It's because of this that they really know their target market. They love what they do and it is obvious in every video, so they appeal directly to their audience: themselves. They appeal to people like them, those who find the same things funny, irritating or insightful. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a gamer or a motivational speaker, if you show passion, people will see it and respond to it.

So, how can you do the same? Put the same kind of passion into your own strategy. Do you love what you do? Can everyone looking at your site, your social media, your advertising see that? And do you listen to that target audience? YouTubers are genuinely interested in what their fans want, and will often respond to comments or requests. People of the content marketing world always talk about how you need to target your copy and make sure that it is what the reader wants to see – you cannot get any better market research than the comments people leave for you! 

2) Social media personality 

Speaking of comments, how often do you engage on social media? Again, YouTubing is a full-time job in itself, so when you add social media to the mix (forgetting for the moment that YouTube IS a form of social media) it becomes a 24/7 job – another reason why their love for what they do is so important. You have to make sure that the team who runs your social media strategy is passionate about your business and in helping you to grow that business. To them, social media is second-nature to them anyway, and so becomes naturally intertwined with everything they produce – so should this be the case for you. 

You need to engage with people at every touchpoint, but go beyond providing just posts of products or using Twitter for customer service. YouTubers hold Q&As on Twitter for example, so that their fans can get to know them and have a one-on-one with them, so the omni-channel concept isn’t something they think about, it is something they do instinctively. 

They also understand that marketing needs to have personality. Take PewDiePie as an example; he doesn’t just have a YouTube channel and accounts that post when new videos go up. His Instagram account has 4.9 million followers, and it doesn’t just post screenshots of his latest videos. It has pictures of his pets, his house, his travels, what he’s working on – all of these elements show a side that isn’t captured in his videos and that is what people like. 

They like to have differences across touchpoints, they like to feel as though they know them and that they are someone they can relate to. It also gives them the opportunity to show behind-the-scenes of things they’re working on so that they can get their fans excited about developments and eager to return daily to their channel for updates. 

3) They don’t stray from the formula

Most importantly of all, YouTubers don’t stray from the formula that made them popular. They don’t try and be all things to all people. Of course they will try new things and go down different avenues, as the success gives them the ability to try out other passions – much like any businesses that wants to expand as they experience growth – but they never stray from what their original audience wanted, and they don’t turn their back on them.

It can sometimes be easy in eCommerce to stray too far from what your consumer wants when trying to please too many parties or venture into new markets. This can be detrimental to your long-term success if you don’t research these moves beforehand, but if you make sure that you retain those levels of engagement, passion and connectivity with your “subscribers”, you will find that they won’t turn their back on you either.

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