The one-two punch of online video and mobile has redrawn the media landscape and redefined how people consume content. Content creators, whether traditional media or YouTubers, are moving from a passive consumption model focused on the TV or desktop, to one where their fans are empowered to engage with them and with each other especially on mobile platforms. We’re shifting from a world of viewers to mobile communities of fans.
Let’s take a step back and look at how we got here.
In the B.D. (before digital) era, the focal point of content consumption was the physical water cooler. With limited media options, must-see TV such as Friends and Seinfeld connected colleagues in break-rooms and families around dinner tables with a commonality of content. The series finales of both sitcoms were cultural cornerstones for audiences worldwide.
That commonality of content no longer exists for millennials. Netflix, YouTube, and a multitude of online platforms compete for their attention. Instead of the TV, millennials are increasingly glued to their mobile devices – more than ¼ of millennials use mobile as their primary device for viewing content. Google recently announced that users are spending an average of 40+ minutes per session on YouTube Mobile and that more than half of the views on YouTube are coming from mobile devices. Many of our creator-partners are seeing that the majority of their viewership comes from mobile as well.
The balkanisation of content across channels and device platforms means that content creators can’t churn out linear content and assume that the eyeballs will be there and stay there. They are increasingly looking for ways to extend the conversations around their content and engender greater engagement beyond consumption. The social space previously occupied by the physical water cooler has evolved into a virtual one.
The virtual water cooler does not live in one space. It is decentralised and mobile – just like its patrons. The virtual water cooler isn’t tangible – it is built around the collective of fans who may be thousands of miles away from each other, but who share a common passion.
What do content creators need to do?
Creators need to focus on what we like to call, “symbiotic content”. In essence, it transcends single formats (videos, images etc.) and platforms (YouTube, Vine etc.) and bridges them together. Symbiotic content is founded on a three step cycle. First, our community app crowd-sources content and inspiration from a creator’s community. The distribution platform (e.g., YouTube) then repackages that content for distribution. Third, our community app enables follow-on conversation and content back in the creator’s community. This facilitates a virtuous cycle of engagement and re-engagement among our creators’ fanbase.
Content creation is now a constant feedback loop.
For example, The Young Turks, continuously asks fans through their community app for topics for their daily live shows. The live show then highlights the best commentary in the app. This then energizes follow-on discussion in their community app. To give another example, Ryan Higa leveraged his TeeHee app for his Mother’s Day and Father’s Day video campaigns – both videos reached 1 million views within 24 hours, faster than previous videos and the Mother’s Day video received 10 times the social engagement over previous posts on Facebook.
Symbiotic content enables creators and various content platforms to work hand-in-hand in building new audiences, while other approaches converge to zero-sum solutions – one’s success leads to the others’ failure.
Is your content strategy viable in this new world?