3 Digital Marketing Tips from YouTube’s Biggest Stars
Ah, YouTube — that venerable bastion of cat videos and fail compilations. A place where you can learn how to play Oasis’ hit song “Wonderwall” (on ukulele, no less!) and watch Neil DeGrasse Tyson discuss supermassive black holes. Readers, we are truly living in the future. Come to think of it, the fact that you are even reading this instead of simply watching a clip of me saying these words is becoming a bit of a rarity in its own right. Put down your pitchforks and torches, though — I’m not here to announce the end of the written word. I just think that advertisers can learn a lot about branding and digital marketing from YouTube’s biggest success stories, especially with media consumption steadily moving from the living room to the laptop.
Who Is Felix Kjellberg?
If YouTube was a country, Felix Kjellberg would be king and court jester. The young, Swedish YouTuber is beloved by millions worldwide for his commentary on video games and goofball humor, but don’t let the levity of his content fool you. Felix, known on his channel as “PewDiePie,” is clearly a shrewd businessman and master of self-marketing. In fact, the 25-year-old has become, arguably, the biggest name on YouTube, grossing millions of dollars a year with over 34 million subscribers. But what can a twenty-something millionaire Swede and his fellow successful YouTubers teach us about digital marketing? Quite a bit, actually.
1. Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience may be the single most important step to creating effective content and building a fan base in anything you produce. Felix’s channel is not for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be. Content is crafted specifically for his teen and young adult fan base, dominating the demographic. If you want to effectively craft copy or create content for your business, you can’t go in with a scattershot approach and expect to find much success. If you don’t know who your audience is, chances are they won’t know who you are either. Direction is key to crafting an effective digital marketing plan and your business’s creative roadmap is highly influenced by who your targeted audience is.
2. Listen To Your Fans and Critics Alike
Anyone who’s been on the Internet for more than, oh let’s say five minutes, knows it can be a cruel and highly-critical venue. Much like any producer of creative content, even the most successful YouTubers face criticism — both constructive and not. Though it’s far easier to throw out the fair critics with the malicious, an experienced creative knows that sometimes criticism is the only road to growth. In the case of YouTubers, many look at analytics such as downvotes and views when assessing how successful their work is. On a more visceral level (and perhaps more applicable to other businesses), many simply head to the comments section to dissect exactly what their fans thoughts are on any given piece of content.
Social media, for better or worse, is a fantastic litmus test for most businesses and can offer your company many of the aforementioned “comments section” feedback and analytics. Many make the critical mistake of simply ignoring their brand’s detractors. Since social media is, by and large, meant to be a conversational channel, wishing a negative comment away through inaction or (gasp) deleting said comment will only highlight an unwillingness to accept criticism or lack of sympathy, whether that criticism is founded or not. It’s also important to reach out to those with positive things to say, commenting with thanks in order to let them know your brand is listening.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of Change
If a YouTuber’s fans don’t like the content, the video has received fewer views, or the audience makes suggestions for improvement, a change must happen to keep the channel afloat and growing in popularity. You must be willing to change strategy if your current plan is proving ineffective. These principles are no different for your brand’s digital marketing plan. If you see that certain approaches are garnering less engagement than you would like, try a different approach. Change it up, try different channels of marketing, reach your audience in different ways. Just because one thing didn’t work doesn’t mean they all won’t.
Take It From the YouTubers…
A commonality among some top YouTubers is their fan base cultivation. They are often able to preserve their community through knowing and nurturing their audience, crafting a strategy with them in mind, all while taking constructive criticism in the hopes of producing a better product or service. These are all factors to consider in your business’s advertising efforts — yes, even if you’re not in the business of filming yourself playing video games on the Internet.
Statler and Waldorf image courtesy of Brett Kiger