We continually see brands using YouTube as a dumping ground for content, thinking about it more as a video hosting solution instead of the two things it is amazing for: a search engine and a social platform to build community.
We centered a lot of the work our New York video production team has been doing around these opportunities, to reframe the way companies are using the platform and help them create a YouTube strategy that builds long-term brand equity.
As avid consumers of social media and through numerous influencer collaborations, we knew that YouTube presented a huge opportunity. Still, we hadn’t been tasked with owning a brand’s YouTube strategy and production soup to nuts.
This changed in 2017 with Under Armour. We had the privilege of helping to define the strategy for Under Armour on social, in addition to their basketball sub-category. For both, we were confident that YouTube would serve as a key platform. We strategized to program their YouTube channels like how a TV network fills its lineup: create a bunch of pilot shows, test them and see which stick. Under Armour bought into this strategy and together, we developed a number of hits, like Shoot Your Shot, a weekly basketball show where celebrities try to hit tough shots while answering tougher questions.
This is where having a New York video production team proved crucial. Programming like a TV network sounds adventurous and freewheeling … until you get down into the logistics of bringing so many programs to life. Our team was able to provide shot lists, coordinate talent, lock down shooting locations, and fabricate props to bring an array of different visions into tangible existence.
Then, another huge opportunity emerged. Netflix approached us about helping them rework their YouTube strategy. Similar to many brands, they had been thinking of YouTube as a great place to host trailers, promo content, etc., but knew if they created the right strategy, they could quickly build up their subscribers and own a bigger slice of the social conversation pie.
Taking many of our learnings from the work we did with Under Armour, we looked at how Netflix could take the amazing content they are already producing and repackage it in a way that YouTube audiences would love. This led to many formats that are native to the YouTube platform like supercuts, Yule Log videos, and countdowns. We were able to zero in on what worked, refining our approach until we had a well-oiled machine, capable of pumping out multiple videos per week. The views poured in fast: hundreds of thousands accumulating into millions.
All those eyes were a great start, but it was the consistent production schedule nailed down by our post production team that truly guided Netflix to a massive uptick in subscriber growth. From there, we’ve been able to continue pushing their strategy forward, gradually dominating as much social conversation and space as possible. See the Netflix YouTube Strategy case study.
As we continue to work with brands helping them shape their YouTube strategies, there are a number of learnings our producers have helped uncover that help make a rollout successful.
1. Experiment with your programming
Program diverse content and nail down the production specifics behind each idea. Producers can often think up a way to execute a certain look or style while working within the constraints of a budget, making more experiments possible.
2. Align on a repeatable production schedule
Frequency and consistency are key, and those are almost impossible to pull off without the steady guidance of a production team. Whatever your budget, make sure producers ensure you can hit a daily/weekly/monthly posting schedule that will build a consistent YouTube audience.
3. Longer is better
It sounds counter-intuitive, but we’ve discovered YouTube audiences actually crave more longform content. However, it’s easy to botch this without a strong rapport between your director and a production team. Working together, they can help nail down the essential narrative beats and ensure all of them are captured on shoot day.
3. Create buzz with paid pre-roll
YouTube ads can be a great way to kickstart your channel’s momentum. This is another challenge best handled by a production team. If there needs to be multiple cuts from the same shoot (say, a 15 second pre-roll), a producer will make sure assets for both pieces are locked in the can, so an editor doesn’t have to bail you out (and charge you a premium).