Marketers have embraced the idea that they are publishers and that video is a cornerstone of their communications. Now what?
Brands are producing more video content than ever before. The top 100 brands loaded 39 percent more videos to YouTube in 2016 versus 2015, according to Pixability. There is no playbook for what kind of videos brands should be creating though. The truth is that everyone is making it up as they go along, but some brands are better at making video than others. What can we learn from them? Plenty. But here are five-and-a-half strategies for producing state-of-the-art content
1. Act like a news organization. IBM's YouTube page includes lots of self-promotion, but the brand also covers newsworthy topics tangentially related to its business. For instance, one series of videos profiles the real-life inspiration for the movie "Hidden Figures." Another looks at how artificial intelligence could impact mental health.
2. Showcase a lifestyle. Red Bull and GoPro are both proponents of extreme sports and viewers spend hours on their YouTube channels watching clips featuring death-defying stunts. This Red Bull video, for example, features street skating in Brazil and culminates with shots of skateboarders riding a metal railing into the sea. And GoPro, of course, built its brand with first-person videos of surfers navigating 8-foot waves and cyclists riding on paper-thin trails on mountaintops.
3. Highlight a philosophy. Patagonia could have gone the extreme sports route too, but the brand is really about sustainability and global consciousness. One video, for instance, showcases the Bears Ears National Monument and is part of a larger campaign aimed at protecting Southeastern Utah. The brand makes a point of telling consumers not to buy too many products and to repair old Patagonia gear instead of replacing it. Patagonia's "Worn Wear" series, which shows how climbers and other athletes repair and maintain their Patagonia clothes, is on point with the brand philosophy.
4. Be funny. Some brands seek to do little else than entertain. Orabrush parodies everything from Apple announcements to movie trailers in videos that take elements of each to promote a brush used to clean your tongue. Geico also takes a comedic approach. The insurance company's YouTube page features its (very funny) ads, including the "Raccookin'" series featuring Pepperoni Garbage Bread and other disgusting recipes from a raccoon.
5. Be helpful. Some brands, like Home Depot and Lowe's, naturally lend themselves to DIY videos. You don't have to talk about home improvement though. Six Pack Shortcuts features videos about getting in shape. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Philadelphia Cream Cheese's YouTube channel features demonstrations of recipes (sans raccoons) and Maybelline's features tutorials on how to apply makeup.
5½. Get political. I'm making this only half a point because this won't work for every brand. In fact, it's possible it won't work for most brands. Some 67 percent of Americans think brands shouldn't comment on politics, according to a recent survey from Civic Science. Yet brands that ignore politics and big issues—particularly those that base their positioning on issues like the environment or free speech—risk looking out of touch by avoiding the subject.
Of course, there are other approaches as well. A brand may want to mix elements of all of these. The challenge is to do so and tie in with a brand message and positioning.
Take Pepsi. Even before its latest controversial Kendall Jenner ad, Pepsi seemed to be adrift. The brand's YouTube channel features a grab bag of videos on its page that range from funny (the Uncle Drew ads, which feature the geriatric character played by NBA star Kyrie Irving) to inspirational (The Sound Drop interviews with musicians) to historical (a look at 1893, the year Pepsi was invented) that may make you wonder what the brand stands for. That dissonance underscores the fact that while brands may be publishers, they are brands first. If you put out too much content that's not tying back to your brand's positioning then it is counterproductive.
—Yan Moukoury is the advertising director of GlassView Media.