20 May 2016
Do This Yourself: Why Branded DIY Videos Are Still a Big Opportunity
Robbie Ludvigsen, Digital Operations Manager

Kenya’s Julius Yego will be vying for the gold this summer in Rio. Yego’s event, the javelin, is a rare specialty for athletes from that country. His learning method is also unique.

As Yego told The Washington Post last year, “I do not have a coach, my motivation comes from within. Training without a coach is not an easy thing.” What Yego does have that athletes years ago didn’t is access to YouTube. Watching YouTube “really paid off for me,” he said.

While that’s an extreme example, online videos have presented a whole new way to learn. A British teen got a job earning £30,000 (about $42,000) by teaching himself programming via YouTube. Moise Verneau, the creator of the successful web series “Money & Violence,” taught himself sound mixing, editing and color correction via YouTube tutorials as well.

Stories like this illustrate what a game-changing resource online video is. But even if you’re not bent on self-invention, online video can be helpful to get through your everyday life. A 2014 survey by the U.K.’s Towergate Insurance found that 28% of respondents turn to YouTube to get home renovation help. Surprisingly, few marketers have attempted to get ahead of this trend. As more consumers turn to online video for tutorial help, though, brands have a shot at reaching a new audience in a new way.

Who’s Doing It

Not every brand has ignored the potential of DIY videos. Home improvement chains Lowe’s and The Home Depot have been churning out videos for years that outline how to do everything from install tile in the bathroom floor to lay the foundation for a patio walkway. Lowe’s was also quick to see the potential of Vines, rolling out “Fix in 6” (as in seconds) Vines in 2014.

You don’t have to be a home improvement chain to jump on the trend. Philadelphia Cream Cheese also hosts videos that walk viewers through the process of making stuffed mushrooms, salted caramel cheesecake minis and marble brownies, among other treats. Maybelline, perhaps under pressure from YouTube stars like Michelle Phan, offers DIY videos for metallic chic eye makeup and how to take the best selfie, among other topics. Sensing an opportunity, BuzzFeed launched Nifty this year, a sub-channel devoted to “money-saving hacks and DIYs for upgrading your home.”

Other media companies, including Vox, Mashable and Business Insider, have found that explanatory videos on topics in the news, like the elections or ISIS, or even random topics (like How did pink become a girly color?) can be YouTube gold.

Who’s Not Doing It

It’s been well over a decade since brands learned that online search was a very big deal. In 2016, a marketer that hasn’t purchased all the possible terms related to searches for her product should be charged with malpractice. What’s odd however is that those same brands have given little thought to how people search for videos. For example, if you search “What to do about a stuffy nose,” you’ll see this segment from Prevention Magazine and this rather odd DIY video. What you won’t see are videos from brands that peddle nasal sprays.

Similarly, if you google “how to floss your teeth,” you’ll see this tutorial from Howcast, but zip from toothpaste brands. If you search “how to get gum out of your hair,” there’s nothing from WD-40.

This is an unexploited opportunity that may soon be capitalized on by someone else, perhaps BuzzFeed. Before that happens, here are a few tips for creating DIY videos:

Make them short

As Melissa Bell, Vox’s executive editor, explained, “Some people only have a minute in line at Starbucks to learn about Ferguson [Missouri]. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to provide that information to them, and explanatory video is one effective way to do that.” Vox’s “Vox Explains” videos usually run two to four minutes.

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