Two-way interaction between brands and consumers continues to separate the Internet from other forms of media. It gives new meaning to the phrase “social butterfly.” Now more than ever, search marketers need to pay attention to the interaction and intersection between search and social.After last week’s visit to VidCon in Los Angeles I found a new perspective on the ways brands can reach consumers through YouTube. VidCon is not an official YouTube conference, but rather organized by YouTubers Hank Green and John Green.
Some YouTube stars and starlets garner more than $100,000 annually supporting brands through their channels. They hire lawyers to read contracts and find manufacturing facilities in China to merchandise products.
YouTube even created a Playbook with new strategies, tips, and optimization techniques. It outlines calls to action and metadata, as well as cross-promotion and collaboration.
Take Philip DeFranco, for example. He runs a pop culture YouTube news show that gets between 20 million and 35 million views monthly, and signs on three brands quarterly. This quarter’s sponsors include Netflix, State Farm Insurance, and Samsung. Recently he branched out to help others merchandise their brand. His advice for emerging YouTube stars: “Make cool shit and monetize later.”
Most YouTubers begin by supporting themselves with a day job. “We came home after a long day, made cool shit and hopefully it took off,” DeFranco said.
Five years into the biz of making YouTube content, DeFranco suggests that focusing on the community and the rest will fall into place eventually. Now he focuses more on merchandising because “there’s a much bigger profit than we had originally thought.” It’s a lot of hard work, however. Few know that better than Jeffrey Harman, who supports marketing for Orabrush, the first brand to actually go from marketing on YouTube to distribution in Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers.
Brands looking to connect with YouTube viewers might want to keep an eye out for budding video talent. Harman learned from working with Toby Turner (known in the YouTube community as a viral video guru) that the YouTube star included a fake promotion in all his videos from the start because his long-term business goals included a branded channel.
Tweak Footwear’s James Hotson runs a four-person company that relies mostly on consultants and a manufacturing facility in China to distribute about nine custom shoe designs yearly. The channel developed a marketing strategy called Free-Show Friday, encouraging fans to make videos uploaded to Facebook. The company sometimes uses the ideas when designing shoes. At the end of the week, the company rewards one lucky person who creates a video with a free pair of shoes.
The YouTube creators build a community atmosphere, which attracts viewers and brands. They share, enlighten and get others involved because they love the brand.