With over 22 million subscribers – only bested by YouTube category channels for ‘music’ and ‘popular on YouTube – Worldwide’ – there’s no arguing that this is what ultimate YouTube success looks like.
After viewing some of PewDiePie’s content, however, you might be left wondering how this 24-year-old Swede could possibly be so successful.
He employs a simple and repetitive format – video game footage with commentary.
His production quality is okay, but feels very homemade.
Commentary is frequently disjointed and juvenile.
And – as respectfully as possible – there just doesn’t seem to be much to point to when trying to figure out why exactly it is that this channel has 22 million subscribers.
BUT… it’s clear that whatever it is that PewDiePie is doing is seriously working, and when you try to dissect what he’s doing, there are some smarts and strategy mixed in with all of the ridiculousness of this channel.
Some of these things can serve as great lessons or reminders to social media and content marketers. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Prolific creation of valuable content
At the time of writing this post, PewDiePie had published 1,655 videos, and after spending a bit of time perusing his channel, it appears as though he publishes virtually every day, and sometimes several times per day.
There’s certainly no shortage of content.
This is an area that many businesses, brands and agencies have a very difficult time keeping up with. There are very few examples of branded channels that are pumping out great video content every day, let alone every week or every month, for any length of time.
If you are going to build a significant audience of loyal viewers that subscribe to be notified of new content, you need to be creating new quality content regularly enough, and consistently enough, to satiate the viewing needs of your targeted audience.
Build an army of loyalists
PewDiePie has built an army of loyal viewers, commenters, and general supporters. He nurtures this behaviour by listening to his audience, addressing them in his videos, taking their recommendations into consideration, regularly thanking them for their loyalty, giving them opportunity to interact and engage more deeply through his store and other social media accounts, and much more.
It’s critical to be in tune with your audience. Just like any social media network, YouTube shouldn’t be viewed solely as a broadcast platform. You should know who your audience is, listen to them, provide tremendous value, and find ways to interact and engage with them.
Create and sustain a meaningful dialogue
I know that I’ve already touched on this, but PewDiePie regularly references comments that his audience has left, and notes them as having influenced the content of his videos. If they give him a tip or trick to try, he’ll try it. If they ask him to do more or less of something in particular, he’ll do it. He even has a series of videos dedicated to doing exactly what his audience asks; no matter how ridiculous, including taping salad to his face (yes, he did that).
Creating a dialogue with your audience is key; this is social media after all. If you don’t dedicate time listening to your audience, you can’t expect them to dedicate time listening to you. And if you don’t work to build relationships with the people watching your videos, and take their input into account, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to develop a legion of loyal followers.
You know there’s a horseshoe involved somewhere here
Let’s face it, PewDiePie has been incredibly lucky. Sure, he’s done things to create some luck for himself, but to date, this level of success is unprecedented and that requires a few horseshoes.
The main point here is to not despair if your efforts don’t result in attracting millions of subscribers in your first months of dedicating time and resources to building a YouTube channel.
Success needs to be relative, and you should measure yours following the thoughtful creation of achievable goals, objectives and KPIs. If you’re working your butt off and trending positively, then you’re probably in good shape. Also, for businesses on social media, success shouldn’t necessarily be measured by how many people you’re able to engage; it should be more about engaging the right people.
When it comes to engaging on YouTube, many businesses and brands seem to overlook the practices that have yielded great results on other social media platforms.
PewDiePie reminds us that similar to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other social media platform on which your business is active, it’s important to be dedicated to creating quality content on an ongoing basis, nurture sustained loyalty, and find opportunities to listen and interact with your audience.
How have you found success for your business on YouTube?
Which brands do you think are doing a great job engaging an audience on YouTube?
What specifically do you think has led to PewDiePie’s great YouTube success?
As always, it would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Remember the early days of YouTube and the first viral videos you saw on the platform? Do you remember how amazing you thought that was? That anyone could create a video, upload it to YouTube, and have it be viewed millions of times?
Do you remember thinking things like that?
I’m sure you do.
You know what I did after being amazed at the power of YouTube and viral videos? I recommended to a Client that we upload a video, so it too could achieve stratospheric levels of success online.
But that didn’t happen.
Sure, we uploaded what we thought was going to be a great video on YouTube, but man did it tank. I don’t remember how many views it received, but it sure didn’t classify as ‘viral’. I don’t even think you could classify it as being a blip, or hiccup.
It tanked because creating a viral video (I dislike many use cases of that term by the way… people don’t create viral videos, they create videos that go viral – I digress) isn’t that simple. For most of us, and the businesses and brands that we work for or with, creating content that goes viral requires an amazing idea, top-tier execution, serious investment, an awesome content promotion and distribution plan, remarkable luck, or some combination of the aforementioned factors.
I’m recounting the early days of being amazed by viral videos because I feel that in a sense history is repeating itself, this time with real-time marketing.
Last year, Oreo crafted an amazing tweet in real-time in response to a high-profile happening at a high-profile sporting event. You know the one I’m talking about.
It caught us all off guard. Real-time marketing wasn’t new, but we didn’t have such an amazing singular example of what real-time marketing was capable of, and the attention it could garner.
That tweet went on to earn major attention for the brand, win huge awards for the agency responsible, and inspired numerous agencies to try to replicate some of that success for their Clients this year.
But this year there was no ‘Oreo – You can still dunk in the dark’ tweet.
Oreo nailed it last year, and while it wasn’t hard to decipher the formula for why it was such an amazing success, many businesses, brands and agencies ignored that it represented a magical moment when all of the right pieces fell into place.
This isn’t to take anything away from the tweet, or the smarts, strategy and planning that made it possible, but you just can’t replicate that kind of magic, which is probably why Oreo and their agency 360i kept quiet this year. They were smart enough to understand the amazing circumstances surrounding their own success.
But all of this isn’t to say that the pinnacle of real-time marketing was reached last year, or that it’s a waste of time to pursue marketing efforts in real-time; quite the contrary.
Real-time marketing is here, and it has been here, to stay. There is huge opportunity for businesses and brands to interact with their audiences in real-time.
Businesses and brands, however, shouldn’t one day per year get a ‘real-time war room’ together and hope for some serendipitous opportunity to present itself, or worse, shoehorn their message into a less than memorable moment.
What we need to be doing is build strategies that are inclusive of real-time tactics. Long-term approaches and processes are needed to allow businesses and brands to seize opportunities when they arise, find ways to provide value in real-time, and generally be more organized on an ongoing basis for real-time marketing activity.
Similar to how I’m sure many of us published our first video to YouTube thinking it was going to be the next viral sensation, and later realized that there is much more to it than that, we need to take a step back and think smarter about real-time marketing on social media, and stop stepping up to the plate once per year for one big swing.
Do you have real-time marketing built into your social media strategy?
How do you provide value to your audience in real-time?
What do you think the future of real-time marketing has in store?
It would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
In effort to shed some light on how Twitter can help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Twitter engaged Market Probe International to conduct research in hopes of proving how their platform can lead to real business results.
Some interesting findings emerged that – surprise, surprise – demonstrate that Twitter can indeed have a positive impact for SMBs.
So, following is a compilation of the resulting stats (because we all love stats, right?) and a few ideas for how you might consider acting on this information to supercharge the value of your Twitter followers:
74 percent of people who follow small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) follow to get updates on future products
Find compelling ways to not just blast your audience with new product or service announcements, but involve them in the journey that results in the launch of a product or service. If you sell high-interest products or services, your audience will surely be thrilled with behind the scenes previews, ability to influence product development, teases about announcements, and anything that builds anticipation and contributes to a compelling story.
47 percent of people who follow brands are more likely to visit the company’s website
Makes sense. By following your brand on Twitter, a person has demonstrated at least some level of interest in your business, which may then drive them to visit your website. Make this easy for them by including a URL to your website in your profile.
Also, ensure that your website isn’t a giant letdown when they get there by providing the types of content your audience is likely to be looking for, and that it is set up to convert that traffic and interest into sales, store visits, emails, phone calls, or whatever a meaningful conversion is to your business.
70 percent of SMB followers retweet because they like the SMB’s content
Provide tremendous value. Before publishing anything on Twitter – or any social media network for that matter – ensure that your content provides value to your targeted audience. If it does, proceed. If it doesn’t, then don’t publish it. Monitor, measure and optimize your content on an ongoing basis to ensure the value you are offering is high, and in line with, or surpasses, consumer expectations.
There is a 30 percent lift in recommendations of an SMB after following or interacting with them on Twitter
Online and social media recommendations and reviews are hugely influential to people making purchase decisions. Doing anything and everything possible to bolster the number of recommendations and positive reviews your business receives is monumentally important to driving sales.
86 percent of users are more likely to visit a business after it has been recommended by a friend
This is just further proof of the importance of earning positive reviews and recommendations. It doesn’t get much better than driving foot traffic to your business from social media (unless of course you’re set up to handle ecommerce). You can’t ask for much more than this, so be sure to invest time to figure out how you’re going to get more reviews, and increase the number of people recommending your business on Twitter and other social media platforms. It’ll pay dividends.
72 percent of followers are more likely to make a future purchase
A follower is only a follower so long as they’re following your business or brand (follow what I’m saying?). Goofy, I know, but the point is that there is value in building and sustaining loyalty on social media, so be sure that you’re publishing nothing but awesome content, and having meaningful interactions with your audience. Keep them just as excited (or more!) about your business into the future as they were the day they decided to bestow their allegiance via a ‘follow’ to you.
84 percent of people who follow/interact with SMBs mention an SMB to share a positive experience
Take every opportunity to provide positive experiences for your customers, and don’t overlook anything. Every time you interact with them be it on social media, on your website, in your store, over the phone, unboxing your product, with your service reps, or sending them an invoice, find ways to make the experience a positive one.
61 percent of people follow to interact with SMBs to share ideas and provide feedback
People don’t tend to share ideas because they don’t like the ideas they’re sharing. They share ideas because they see value in their possible implementation. So, take your audience’s ideas seriously, because who knows, maybe there’s a nugget of gold in there.
Also, feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, is a sign of connectedness to your business. People don’t provide feedback because they don’t give a damn about your business; they do it because they do. Take advantage of this and ensure that you build on this connectedness and parlay it into advocacy and evangelism by demonstrating that you’re truly listening.
While we do need to be wary about the precision of these stats – they are from a Twitter-commissioned research study after all – there are some interesting nuggets here. Not only do these stats work to demonstrate the rough value of a Twitter follower, but they can be more broadly applied to support the value of engaging a targeted audience on social media, which is great.
What, if any, of these stats do you find to be most interesting? Why?
Have you seen any direct correlation between social media marketing and your SMB’s success?
What role does Twitter play in your social media strategy?
It would be fantastic to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on – you guessed it! – Twitter @RGBSocial
Setting goals and objectives to guide your social media marketing activity is critical to ensure that your efforts are making a meaningful and positive impact on your business.
Without well-defined goals and objectives, there is no way to determine what success looks like, no way to measure success, and no way to optimize. In short, without established goals and objectives, you’re completely flying blind.
Of course, there’s more to success than just setting goals and forgetting about them. Be sure to execute in such a way that will address your goals and objectives, track performance against those goals, and finally, optimize to ensure you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your efforts.
Establishing goals and objectives
Without first establishing goals and objectives there is roughly a 0 percent chance that your social media and content marketing efforts will be successful. Without goals, there is nothing dictating your actions, nothing ensuring you will be working toward anything meaningful, and nothing that will allow you to determine if what you’ve done is in fact a success. Set goals – short term and long term – and don’t be afraid to push yourself to achieve great things.
Use the goals and objectives you’ve established as a compass to guide your audience facing execution of your social media strategy. If the executional components of your social media strategy don’t create a strong value proposition for your audience, you will want to reconsider why or how you are using social media and content marketing.
Tracking and reporting
Be disciplined when tracking the effect of your social media and content marketing efforts against your goals and objectives. This will enable you to chart performance, measure effectiveness, demonstrate progress, observe trends, track momentum, and inform key stakeholders. Additionally, it will allow you to more confidently optimize and refine efforts moving forward.
The dynamic nature of social media, technology, your audience’s tastes and preferences, your business, competition and category will all require that you adapt your social media strategy to address the inevitability of change. Also, opportunities will undoubtedly be identified in the future to do things more effectively. All of this means that your social media and content marketing goals and objectives should be equally as malleable to account for these changes.
Now is a perfect time to create, review, or optimize your social media and content marketing goals and objectives.
Having focus on where you want to be is critical to achieving success. For this reason, it’s imperative that you have goals and objectives, and that reviewing, measuring and optimizing against them is part of your regular social media and content marketing regimen.
What goals do you have for the year ahead?
Have you ever had great success achieving lofty goals?
Do you think there is such thing as setting your sights too high?
How do goals and objectives help you to keep focus?
It would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
For a medium that is supposed to be intrinsically social, much time can be spent on social media without having meaningful conversations.
This is particularly so for businesses and brands, where many use social media platforms not necessarily to be social, but to broadcast their message.
While you certainly can publish great content, sit back and wait for your audience to spark a conversation with you, there are several methods that can be employed to more proactively initiate a conversation on social media.
1 – Leave a comment
As a business or brand, there is no reason why you can’t get involved in relevant social media communities outside of your own. Try to figure out where else your audience is spending time on the social web and get involved in those communities by leaving valuable comments and contributions.
2 – Answer a question
The openness of platforms, such as Twitter, enables you to conduct searches based on keywords, hashtags, geography, and more. Spend some time helping people by answering their questions that are relevant to your business or category.
3 – Participate in a chat
Similar to the above, find an organized chat that is relevant to your business or brand, and get involved.
4 – Pose a question
I know this is pretty 101, but make it easy for people to comment on your content by posing questions that require varying levels of thoughtfulness. This will not only encourage trepidatious commenters to socially engage with your content, but will also give more thoughtful and dedicated comments something to sink their teeth into.
5 – Create conversation-worthy content
Conversations naturally occur around certain topics depending on various trends, recent events, pop-culture, and more. If relevant to your business or brand, consider creating content that is related to topics that have a great deal of naturally occurring conversation happening about them already.
6 – Be persistent, learn and optimize
I recognize it may sound odd to think about persistence, learning and optimization as being key to initiating conversation, but the reality is that your audience has many options about where and with whom, they have conversations online. So, if your tactics to spur sociability aren’t immediately successful, try different techniques, be persistent, and continue to optimize your efforts.
How do you initiate conversations on social media?
Is sociability a core pillar of your social media strategy?
How have you been successful at initiating conversations online?
It would be awesome to chat with you more about this either in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial