I need to make a confession, YouTube for me has always been the occasional website that I visit when I am looking for a specific video I want to watch. Most of the time it was music related, but I was never one to spend hours and hours just in-taking the millions of uploaded videos available to the world. I know people who will start in the suggested videos and keep clicking and keep watching all kind of stuff on YouTube. Even more of a confession, despite being a marketing student, before this week I had never gone into any of the million of brand channels and tried to understand how it is that corporations are using YouTube nowadays. What a shock it was to learn what I was missing out on. I am personally very interested in branding and brand management and YouTube is just the avenue for doing precisely that. Brand channels allow brands to create a community and manage it in a very efficient and effective way, without the whole thing feeling overtly calculated or planned out by the corporations.
But let’s start with figures.
As impressive as all these figures are, there was one thing that kept popping in my mind as I watched the video… having a presence in YouTube does not immediately translate into being in touch with customers. The competition for viewing is high, it actually is gigantic. Being in YouTube for a brand does not mean a breakthrough away the clutter found in traditional media. If anything YouTube is as cluttered as any other marketing, specifically advertising, venue out there. This is only accelerated by the fact that the more products (including people, places, ideas, etc) use YouTube as a launching or advertising platform, the more having a YouTube channel becomes part of the norm and does not set you apart.
A VOICE FOR BRANDS
Ragan.com discusses how companies have managed to make the most out of YouTube, not by using their channels to advertise, but rather to “story-tell”. Tell stories about the brand, the brand values, the people who make the corporation what it is and in general create an experience that can be associated with the brand, without having people feel like the videos uploaded are spam. The article talks about how new job posts are created for people to manage this story-telling and how corporations are willing to spend a hefty amount of their marketing budget (up to half a million US$) on turning their YouTube channel into a communication tool.
Looking through the various brand channels out there, one of the ones I enjoyed the most was Starbucks. From visually appealing advertising
to sharing the stories of those who have been in contact or have come in contact with the coffee shop chain
Starbucks has managed to create an emotional experience for the visitor of their YouTube Channel, not only for the Starbucks coffee consumer. The videos uploaded on the Starbucks channel has lead me to create a strong, positive positioning for the brand in my head. Job well done, if you ask me. I highly recommend watching the many videos uploaded. They are moving, fun, creative and interesting.
THE KEY TO SUCCESS
Using YouTube as a successful marketing tool depends on a combination of various tactics. The Social Media Examiner puts it down to 8 tricks that ensures success, and while I agree with some of them like creating compelling videos and branding your own channel, I think the real success comes from videos going viral. Viral videos allow people to pass on your marketing message and sometimes brand awareness can be created by a viral video that catches people’s attention. Even more promising than brand awareness alone, a viral video can lead to a specific message becoming part of the collective subconscious of those millions of people who are on YouTube. And the ultimate dream for a marketer will be to use YouTube as an effective tool for a call to action. This week, corporations and marketers everywhere can learn a lesson on how to make this happen from one man who has a big dream, a moving video and desire for his message to spread. KONY 2012 really shows how social media in general can be used to change the world, with the use of a video.