Passion is definitely a common denominator for online video creators. They concentrate on their creations first, then, much later, think about the business side of what they are doing. Whether they live off their YouTube activities or not, YouTubers are driven by a contagious passion that explains their perseverance and their impressive (and fast growing) number overall.
Assembled here are the ideas – gathered at Buffer Festival Industry Day last month – I believe better describe the nature of the YouTube culture and of its new breed of superstars.
The general discourse about YouTube success is moving away from «viral» towards long-term commitment
« Viral » as an online content strategy is slowly but surely disappearing to the benefit of long-term commitment, consistency in the approach from one video to another, and maintaining an ongoing conversation with fans. Led by the youtubers, the shift from the « hit mentality » towards a slower but more solid audience growth approach is now getting to brands that create content for YouTube as well (or at least, getting to some of these brands).
YouTube is not a one-hit business; sure, massive hits happen on the platform all the time, but the business of YouTube is all about growing an audience over time. Very rarely does success come overnight; today’s more successful YouTubers have been posting videos and nurturing their audience for years.
« I don’t approach brands. I start talking about them until they notice. » Corey Vidal
In the YouTube world, integrity and authenticity are key values; the majority of the successful youtubers don’t play a role, they act as themselves on camera. They are transparent with their audience; if they integrate a brand or get an ad deal, they will say it right away. Most of them tend to only accept to associate with a brand if it makes sense for them and for their audience and if they genuinely love the brand.
As Corey Vidal puts it, « I’ve realised that my online personality is focused on a few things I really like or that are important to me; the facts that I am Canadian, a huge Star Wars fan and that I have an infinite love for chocolate milk seem to always come up naturally in my videos. » Vidal mentions from time to time, brands he likes and that are associated with these aforementioned interests and sometimes, brands reach out. In the last year alone, he’s made deals with Tim Hortons and RW & Co, two Canadian brands he mentioned liking in his videos.
The concept of ‘selling out’ seems inexistent on YouTube; brand integration or partnerships with brands is not only accepted, but considered as a gage of success.
The YouTube universe is expanding outside of YouTube, led by its creators. Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Tumblr; name it, they’re on it
Youtubers are using many other platforms to interact with their fans and build their audience. The golden rule: from platform to platform, keep the same authentic personality but adapt the content. There are different ways to create for every platform. For example, Travel vlogger Nadine Sikora posts her main vlogs on YouTube, will use Pinterest to share various travel pictures and turns to Snapchat for more personal content pieces.
Using multiple platforms (and multiple formats) allows creators to be in constant contact with their audience. For youtubers who post videos once or twice a week, other platforms offer them the possibility to reach their fans in less demanding ways (as a lot of hours can go into the creation of a single YouTube video). In the words of PJ Liguori: « You don’t just live on YouTube; you live on Twitter as well so that fans know that you’re alive! »
What can a new creator do to be the signal in the noise? Find a niche and dominate it!
Contrary to what many thought initially, the web might not be mass media after all. Success on YouTube is all about taping into a niche and address specific interests. Since there are no geographical restrictions whatsoever, a niche might represent 100 000, 500 000, 1 000 000 interested people in the world. That’s a lot! Whether it’s by focusing on inspiring travel adventures, epic fried food creations or a particular Star Wars fanaticism (see video below), the key for creators is to find something they are genuinely passionate about, as specific as it might be, and concentrate on developing within that niche. Audience will find their way to creators, and potential brand partners will come to them as well.
This article was initially published on CMF Trends, and is republished here as part of a MIPBlog – CMF Trends editorial partnership. More to come soon!