Video Creators Are The New Online Publishers
By Carlos Pacheco, CMO + Partner.
Ashkan Karbasfrooshan is the CEO of WatchMojo, one of the largest independent YouTube channel networks in Canada and the world. He recently posted a question on his LinkedIn by sharing the latest WatchMojo reach figures on YouTube.
"Say you ran a media biz with a global reach of 25 million subscribers & 100 million unique viewers across the world… with a team of 100+ creatives (researchers, writers, videographers, editors, etc.) - how would you chart the next ten years of the biz. Go."
I'm not a creator (trust me I've tried), but as someone who's managed and built a hundred YouTube channels as well as a dozen YouTube Content Managers over the last seven years, I have a perspective, and Ash's question encouraged me to share my thoughts.
Lesson #1: Focus on watch-time and engagement, not views
Watch time has been YouTube's key ranking metric for four years now. Attention is key to 'winning' online, and watch-time is a metric that is still being dismissed or not addressed by most publishers. This is likely because many media companies don't want to publicly show how little time audiences are spending on individual videos or posts.
Notice how Facebook touts views publicly but not watch time/minutes watched?
Every social platform wants to be the 'next TV,' and over time, views will decline as a dominant metric, giving way to attention or watch time. Making sure your viewers are watching your content is going to be essential.
Lesson #2: Stop furnishing someone else's mansion
Focusing on brand building/awareness tactics across multiple partner distributors (aka social platforms) needs to be part of your strategy. New platforms need attention at first but quickly scale back the free reach and audiences once they have it.
We've seen what happens when you depend on someone else's app or site for traffic. Increasing your focus and support on owned platforms (websites, newsletters, apps) needs to be a priority for every online creator or content brand. BuzzFeed is a great example of a brand that used social’s reach to build awareness and make money but we’re seeing signs with recent cutbacks that a more owned platform approach is needed.
Lesson #3: Use your audience to build something bigger
What is your ultimate goal? Why are you creating content? Popularity isn’t an end goal. Use this attention to build something that grows beyond “social media influencer.” Tara's work with Truly Social is the example I show all creators I advise. Currently, her YouTube channel has less than 10k subscribers but in two years it has opened the doors to working with a dozen clients and helped build an agency that now employs over 10 people. Many publishers like BuzzFeed used social to build their reach.
You may have heard the saying, “If it’s free, YOU’RE the product.” Free social platforms cater to creators because they build their business. But if you keep that in mind, you can use this to your advantage and utilize these platforms to grow YOUR business, too.
Lesson #4: Don’t dismiss the influence of social content on an older audience
New social apps/sites do an excellent job of grabbing young people’s attention, which is a crucial demographic. That said, the web is getting older and savvier. Providing content on social platforms for educated/older/high-income audience is something that should be a priority.
Lesson #5: Think globally
The US market accounts for only 20 percent of YouTube’s online audience. The English-speaking web is not the largest market. Creating content beyond English-speaking audiences is key to growing your global footprint. At Gags, I had set up multi-language channels like Las Mejores Bromas (Just for Laughs Gags translated in Spanish). Meanwhile, WatchMojo’s Spanish channel is catching up to the main channel in subscriber growth.
Creating non-English content is still something many content creators/owners/distributors are not doing. Latin American YouTubers like Yuya are blowing up right now, but you don't hear about it in the US.
…and finally, the best kept NON-secret is…
Lesson #6: Consistency consistency consistency
Consistency is critical no matter the algorithm changes or new platform rules. It’s something YouTube and audience growth expert Matt Gielen keeps saying (literally practicing what he preaches): consistency has proven to be the winner in making sure your audience keeps growing and continues to watch.
Being consistent differentiates you from the brands/producers that use campaign/seasonal analog TV thinking. It helps you stay top of mind, allows you to test new ideas and gives you the insights to learn what your audience wants.
All of these strategies aren’t just the reason why online audiences trust creators more than media publishers. They're the best way to make sure your online brand builds a dedicated following should be part of your current content plans and tactics for years to come.
- - -
Carlos Pacheco, CMO at Truly Social Inc - where we work with clients on helping them with content strategies to develop their online voice.
Listen to The Truly Social Podcast is where my partner/wife, Tara Hunt, and I do a deeper dive on subjects around community building, marketing and content.