6 Lessons In Launching a Branded YouTube Channel

February 11, 2013

6 lessons in launching a branded YouTube channel

By: Michael Estrin, reposted from http://ow.ly/hBbvO

Everywhere you turn it’s hard to escape the idea these days that brands are becoming publishers. Or at least, it’s hard to escape the idea that brands are trying to become publishers.

Only time will tell whether this is a new paradigm or a passing trend. But whether we’re talking about Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, or even a plain vanilla website — how old fashioned! — the conversation has shifted toward a heavy emphasis on content that brands either produce or curate and then distribute on their very own platform, bypassing a media intermediary.

The idea, in a nutshell, is that brands of all categories must adapt to the new publishing model and morph into something akin to their entertainment cousins if they are to survive and thrive in a media environment where it gets harder everyday to capture a consumer’s attention. Brands that had their own YouTube channels were viewed as cutting edge 18 months ago — or maybe even a little beyond the cutting edge. Today, few people ask whether a brand should have a YouTube channel. Instead, the question is, what should a brand do with its YouTube channel?

While that’s ultimately a question for each brand (and the agencies that handle their business) to answer, there are several larger questions brands should be asking about their YouTube channels. After all, a handful of brands are clearly engaging as if they’ve been in the content business for years, but many more are quite obviously stuck in neutral. So to help your brand take a look at its YouTube channel with fresh eyes, I’ve asked several agencies to share what they believe are some of the fundamental concerns to focus on when planning a YouTube channel.

Start with the basics

In a lot of ways, there’s nothing quite like YouTube. But from a marketing perspective, it’s important to approach YouTube as you would any other campaign, explains John Montgomery, CEO of Threshold.

Montgomery advocates approaching the idea of a branded YouTube channel with the following fundamental questions: “Who is your target audience, and what types of content do they seek out? What does your brand stand for, and what content is a natural extension of your brand’s DNA? What are your overall marketing goals, and what do you hope a YouTube strategy will accomplish for you?”

Often times, the answers to these questions will dictate strategy. But just as important, they can help focus your team around a larger question: Should we have a YouTube channel?

That question may seem like heresy in a world where it’s now assumed that all brands are — or should be — content producers, but the truth is a little more nuanced, and what works for one brand may not work for another. Or, put another way: It may be true that all brands need to think like publishers, but not all publishers produce the same material on the same platforms.

“With the various types of content that you can produce, and that are invariably popular on YouTube (short-form humor, episodic webisodes, TV ads, DIY videos, product tutorials, kitties doing pretty much anything, etc.), it is key to establish a long-term plan for the type of voice, tone, and purpose that your brand will commit to,” Montgomery says. “Purpose is one of the most important filters, because you will need to decide if you are trying to entertain, inform, educate, or inspire your budding audience.”

Have a strategy, make a plan

It may sound surprising, but many brands still use their YouTube channel as a holding place for repurposed television spots and one-off videos that may or may not have earned the brand much attention. But while it’s nice to see the brands on YouTube, Christopher Kingsley, CEO of 42, says brands need to do more than just put their content on YouTube.

“Individual or one-off videos produced for YouTube can be great, but having a comprehensive content strategy that covers how YouTube…


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