VidCon is a 3-day conference for online video that brings fans, creators, and industry professionals together. The first event was held in 2010 with over 1,400 people in attendance. Fast forward to 2017 and this conference is the largest of its kind – with over 25,000 attendees.
This popularity is no coincidence–online video has grown rapidly over the past few years and will only continue this upward trend. YouTube alone has 1.5 billion logged-in users every month. There’s no avoiding the online world, so it’s vital for brands to understand the online ecosystem in order to cultivate successful content.
Here are some key takeaways from the event:
Authenticity is Not Optional
In this age of authenticity, brands must place high value on transparency. Consumers know when something isn’t genuine so exaggerations could hurt your brand image. Focus on what benefits your brand is providing consumers and what problems your brand is trying to solve instead of simply trying to sell a product. Think about how your product or service is truly different from that of competitors. Whatever aspect you choose to capitalize on, make sure it is both relevant and purposeful. As consumers’ distrust of advertising continues to rise, honest and authentic marketing efforts are becoming increasingly meaningful. This consumer need for brand authenticity is the driving force behind the increase and success of influencer marketing.
Creators are Now the Biggest Driver of Sales
Creators have notable influence over consumers, guiding their attention toward certain brands. By “creators” we mean people who create content, usually video content. Creators have the ability to connect with their audiences on a personal level because of their authenticity and relatability–they’re everyday people just like us. Consumers can more easily relate to these creators and can picture themselves in their shoes (often quite literally) more so than high-profile celebrities that lead lives that are everything but normal. Since authenticity is the driving factor in their success, brands need to give them the reigns rather than give them scripts. Brands should direct their focus toward pinpointing creators whom align with their values so when the creator vouches for the product, it’s because the creator actually uses it, rather than just being paid to say they do. Finding influencers to represent your brand should be about finding a person who (1) uses, or would use, your product, (2) has quality content, (3) creates content that aligns with your brand image, and (4) has an engaged audience. A more engaged audience is better than a larger one.
A Smaller Quality Audience is Better Than a Larger Less Engaged One
A larger audience will certainly yield more views of your video, but a more engaged audience is going to provide more valuable insight into the success of your video. This engagement includes likes, shares, favorites and other social actions such as comments and discussions. Thinking of people as individuals rather than just numbers will make it easier to treat them as such. For example, Philip DeFranco hosts a YouTube news show, and unlike the mainstream news’ audiences, Phil’s audience feels like a part of a community. Phil’s success can be attributed to his credibility as well as his persistent and genuine audience engagement. He listens to his audience and incorporates their feedback, and even dedicates a whole Friday show just for responding to comments. Other creators incorporate viewers into their shows by showcasing fan art or taking video suggestions. If you can create a community that people feel invested in, they’re more likely to turn into loyal customers and to trust you when you incorporate ads into your videos. Online communities help foster a sense of community and enable consumers and brands to create a mutual respect and trust of one another. Read more about online communities here.
Advertisements are Entering a New Era
The advertising industry has hit a stage in which it must adapt to the new internet culture. Viewers’ attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, so commercials are losing effectiveness. The majority of people have ad-blockers, making it even harder for the ads to reach their targeted audiences. Therefore, brands are being pressured to latch onto creators in order to incorporate advertising directly into their content. For example, a creator can start or end the video by saying “This video is sponsored by ____.” They can also directly endorse a product and speak to why they like it. With this new type of advertising, brands need to understand how to work with creators in order to make the collaboration effective–this means being comfortable having less control over what the creator says in order to maintain the creator’s authenticity.
Virtual Reality is Here to Stay
If you haven’t started testing with VR, don’t worry–it’s not going anywhere. VR is currently in its first stage of life (equivalent to the iPhone 1 in its lifespan). Stage 2 is estimated for mid-2018 through 2020, when the next generation of VR tech launches. Since new technology will be coming out soon, it would be wise to rent rather than invest in the expensive gear. VR is such a unique medium because the viewer is completely free from any distractions. They can’t pick up their phone or switch to Facebook–your virtual experience is the only thing they’re looking at, and with that comes some responsibility. You need to ensure that the experience is worth their time, and also doesn’t make them sick. Think of what the viewer will gain from viewing your content in this virtual reality world that they wouldn’t be able to gain from just watching your video online.
Viral Videos Shouldn’t be Your Focus, Episodic Content Should Be
Most of your brand’s marketing efforts should be focused on episodic content. It’s recommended that your brand implement bigger viral content no more than twice a year. The consistency in episodic content will allow your YouTube channel to create repeat viewers, rather than solely one-time viewers. It will also build up a community around your brand, as well as work in your brand’s favor with regard to the YouTube algorithm (which suggests uploading about 3x/week). Once you nail down a format for these videos, they can be easy to implement and replicate. Setting a schedule is encouraged so that viewers know when to tune back in. It’s also highly recommended to have a host for your videos in order to add authenticity and trust, although it can work without one (Check out the series Inside Chanel).
If you aren’t currently investing in video strategies, you should be. According to Jeremy Vest’s “7 Fundamentals to Maximize Selling with Video” presentation, it takes up to 20 times of brand exposure before a consumer will even consider making a purchase, and if video is in that 20 times, they will be more likely to purchase. With all the technology out there, there’s no excuse to not be experimenting with video. Brands are fighting for consumers’ attention left and right, so make sure your brand has an advantage with an effective and well-researched video strategy, along with an understanding of the target audience that will enable you to create content relevant to that demographic.