There is no doubt that having a video go viral is great for everyone involved. It is a fantastic way to make a splash online and bring attention to your company. However, it doesn’t need to the be the goal when developing and creating video content. YouTube is the second-largest search engine (second only to Google), so while a viral video is ideal, there’s also a lot of opportunity to reach a specific audience through long term, specifically curated content.
This has to do with the way that YouTube’s algorithm has changed in recent years. It’s now much easier to reach an audience tailored to your area of expertise, rather than hoping that one video gets popular enough to draw the right attention to your company’s channel. But how does that work, you might ask. The short answer? Internet sorcery. The longer answer? Well…
Once upon a time, clicks were the golden ticket into YouTube fame. Having a lot of clicks meant that your video was going to be suggested to viewers, regardless of their viewing history or the content they were currently viewing. Going viral was one of the best ways to reach an actual audience.
However, YouTube’s new algorithm uses collaborative filtering, a process that suggests content based on a person’s viewing history and interest in specific content. So, while having a viral video might rocket you onto YouTube’s front page, your video can now reach your desired audience even if it doesn’t have a crazy impressive amount of clicks and views. In fact, you’re much more likely to have your video show up in someone’s suggestions if you’re creating content that is customized to the audience you want to to reach, because if they’re already watching and responding positively to videos with content similar to yours, then they’ll probably be interested in yours, too (says the robot sorcerer inside of YouTube).
A video that features a lemur making a sick dunk while on the shoulders of your head of accounts sounds super fun, right?. Of course it does. Have you ever seen a lemur? They’re adorable, and I bet they’re even more adorable while holding a basketball atop someone’s shoulders. But before you start googling “lemur rental in my area”, consider what your end goal is. We’ve already established that clicks don’t mean much on YouTube anymore, which also means that making a weird video solely in the hopes that it will go viral is an even bigger risk than it used to be.
But even if it did get hugely popular, laugh clicks don’t necessarily turn into business clicks. How many clients are going to be created out of those views? It’s easy to look at the zany videos of other companies and say, “I want that”, but consider that a lot of those companies are selling directly to consumers. They make products that practically everyone uses. How many of your laugh clicks are going to be from people in your industry who are interested in doing business with you? Probably not many, but you still spent a pretty penny on that lemur.
On the other hand, 100 views might not seem impressive, but if those 100 views are from people within in your industry then that’s potentially great return for you, especially if a portion of those views are from people with purchasing power.
I’ve pointed out that your video doesn’t have to be flush with clicks to be promoted, but have I mentioned that it doesn’t have to be brand new either? No? Well, it doesn’t. These days, only a small portion of views come within the first 24 hours. It can take a month or two before your video starts to take off and get more views.
We run a series of videos called Manufacturing Legacy that tell a different story in each video, and we’ve been doing this series for a couple of years. Our most popular video about Sakai Knives clocks in somewhere around 40,000 views, but that didn’t happen right away. This video went up June 2016, and we still receive new comments from people who are just now discovering it.
A lot of people have the idea that to break into the scene on YouTube that you need to create something that becomes popular right away, because otherwise it will get lost in the vast depths of the site, but that’s no longer true. This is great for a company’s ability to utilize video as another area in which they can have a strong online presence that helps expand their business.
As I just mentioned, our Sakai Knives video is part of a larger series. It has the highest number of views in the series by far, but it helps the other installments get views as well. When people enjoy the Sakai video, they’re more likely to continue watching other videos in the series. You might be used to focusing on social media platforms such as Facebook, where engagement is largely judged by likes, shares and clicks. But when it comes to content on YouTube, engagement is largely measured by how many people watch your video all the way through. You want at least half of the people who start your video to watch until the end, and this is easier to achieve if you have a clear vision of who your content is for.
Is your content meant to be educational? Great, then feel free to make the videos a little bit longer. People are more likely to watch it all the way through when they’re trying to learn something. But if your goal is simply to engage your audience while developing a larger sense of brand awareness, then try to keep it a little more simple. All of the videos in our Manufacturing Legacy series tell a complete and engaging story, but they do it in only a few minutes. Sakai Knives, itself, is only three minutes long. Ask yourself how many times you’ve made it through a ten minute video when you weren’t trying to learn something. I’m going to guess that it probably doesn’t happen very often.
I know that I’ve taken a very firm “no lemur” stance (unless you have a therapy lemur you would like to let us borrow for the office), but don’t be afraid to have a little bit of fun once in awhile.
Most of the videos on our channel are manufacturing focused, but we don’t limit ourselves to only content of that nature. For example, we have two videos that feature possibly torturing our employees with taste testing both old Halloween candy and La Croix (hence the need for the therapy lemur). It is content purely produced to be fun and sweet (unlike La Croix).
Our La Croix video has the most views behind Sakai Knives. These videos say a little bit more about the people who work at our company, and they lend a little more personality to our channel. They also bring in views from people who might not specifically be watching content about manufacturing, but they do this without the pressure of making a viral video, because they’re a small addition to our content, rather than what we’re depending on to bring in viewers.