At first blush, you wouldn’t think there is a lot of overlap between a corporate recruiting video and a YouTube makeup tutorial with 10 million views.
But that would be the wrong way to approach video altogether. Actually, some of those YouTube makeup experts are among the best in the business at connecting a message with the right audience — and a few have the seven-figure incomes to prove it.
Below are four strategies that make some of YouTube’s stars so successful. We’ve included tips and examples to show how you can use those stars’ strategies to create better corporate videos.
Tell Stories and Be Engaging
“Storytelling” and “engagement” aren’t empty buzzwords.
We’ve created a digital world that empowers our audiences, which means any tone-deaf attempts to broadcast a company message will fall completely flat. A good video must capture its audience’s attention — if not, someone else’s video will.
The best way to capture that attention is to tell a compelling story and to engage the viewer on his or her own emotional level. So, after you understand what message you want your video to get across, you have to figure out how to connect that message with something your audience feels is relevant. Sometimes that can be done through humor, and sometimes that requires a little more empathy.
“As you plan your video, consider which stories you have to tell and which ones are the strongest,” the team at video production company Vertex Media writes.
“Testimonials from clients in exciting or interesting industries will be better than those in more conventional ones. Looking to recruit? Employees who are confident speakers and big company advocates will do better on camera than those who prefer to work quietly.
“Concerned your skills don’t apply to a ‘how to’? If you’re in a niche industry, find a way to connect your skill to day to day problems or topics, an accountant can explain basic tax terms or ways to organize financial data. Talk to your team and think about how you can turn your company’s experience and experiences into interesting consumer experiences through video.”
That last line is key: A video ultimately creates an experience, and an experience that resonates with people will find an audience. This is precisely how YouTube stars are made.
To be fair, many of YouTube’s biggest stars built their followings through sketch comedy, making music, or rambling incoherently while playing video games. Most of what makes those channels work doesn’t apply to corporate video.
However, sometimes a video emerges from that world that crosses any and all boundaries. That’s the case with the video below from YouTube star Jenn McAllister, who has been posting videos on her JennXPenn channel since 2009. McAllister’s videos range from pure humor to personal stories of her own life — and that’s where much of her audience engagement comes from, as she pretty much documented her teenage years online. In return, she’s found millions of viewers with whom her stories resonate.
Her “Letter to my Younger Self” video, below, from early 2015 has received nearly 2 million views to date as a result:
Just remember that you cannot fake emotion — human beings are too good at recognizing the difference between authentic and forced feelings.
Bringing authentic feeling to a recruiting video or a whiteboard explainer is easier said than done, however. In corporate video, the facts and other bits of information that need to be squeezed into a condensed piece of content can leave little room for much else.
“Many companies put emphasis on the conveyance of information in their videos, but forget that the conveyance of personality is just as important,” videographer Ian Harrington tells AllBusiness. “Consumers want to connect and relate to your brand. Share what you believe in as a leader, and not just what your company does.
“Consumers crave a certain level of transparency in the businesses they interact with. Divulging some personal information about yourself can help consumers make an invaluable connection to your company.”
Tod Plotkin, who runs a corporate video production agency in Washington, DC, has a nice tip for executives to inject a little personality into their videos: Don’t be afraid to go off-script.
“This is your business, and the executive should be able to talk about the company off-the-cuff,” Plotkin tells PR News.
Whether you are a small business with a proportionally small audience or a world-famous musician with millions of fans, one of the best ways to connect with your audience is to pull back the curtain on whatever it is you do.
Below is a video from violinist Lindsey Stirling, who has built a successful career largely through her YouTube following. Her 2014 earnings were reportedly $6 million — that’s how powerful of a platform YouTube can be when you know how to give your audience members what they want.
And what they want to see is real people. Here is a video Stirling’s team shot of her band members doing her makeup before a show. It’s goofy, it’s well-done, and it gives her audience a glimpse into her world beyond the veneer of stage shows and music videos.
Promote, Promote, Promote
YouTube stars understand that finding an audience requires much more than uploading a video and praying someone sees it. Here are some video promotion best practices you can apply immediately to your company’s own work.
Optimize Your Videos For Search
Once your corporate video has gone through post-production and is ready to be shared with the world, the first thing you should do is post it to Vimeo and YouTube. YouTube is especially important because it is the second-largest search engine in the world, and search traffic translates into some of the most engaged, interested viewers for any video.
First, take advantage of the fact that Vimeo and YouTube give you the option to customize and brand your profile, Edward George at UK video production company Video My Business says. He recommends taking a moment to ensure your company’s logos and messages are prominent on those profiles.
Then, take the time to optimize your videos with keywords, which is how search engines find content. “With just a few minutes spent entering keywords relating to your promotional video, you can extend your reach hugely by providing YouTube with a clearer idea as to which keyword phrases your video is applicable to,” George says.
“Try to incorporate keyword phrases that are relevant to your channel and/or the video you are uploading. The Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a great free tool for getting some initial keyword ideas, and an insight into what people are searching for. You can also use a tool like http://keywordtool.io/youtube to get keyword ideas specific to YouTube.”
Finally, you’ll want to make sure the biggest search engine of all, Google, can find your video. Digital Marketer Ryan Stewart has an excellent step-by-step tutorial for ranking videos in Google that you should bookmark and work through each time you post a video.
Collaborate and Cross-Promote
Collaboration is perhaps the single most powerful way to get your video in front of a whole new audience. Rappers have been collaborating and cross-promoting since the 1980s, and some of YouTube’s most visible personalities have adopted this model.
“When you collaborate with another YouTuber who creates video content that’s related to your own, you instantly expose your channel to their entire audience,” the team at Vlog Nation writes. “At the same time, they get exposure to your audience, too, and you both win by increasing your audiences.”
Vlog Nation pitches its tips to people who want to become YouTube stars themselves, but the wisdom applies to corporate video, as well. Below is a perfect example of cross-promotion in action. This is a branded piece of digital video by both fashion retailer Oasis and shoe company Keds.
If there are other companies whose business and whose audiences complement your own, reach out and propose a joint video. It’s a win-win.
Share Something Useful
This digital world we’ve created has also revolutionized buying cycles, again to the empowerment of audiences and customers.
If your company sold a technical product or service a generation ago, you relied on salespeople to educate buyers on the product. Today, those buyers are able to do their own research free of any sales tactics.
That means you need to get truly helpful video content in front of your potential customers early on in the buying cycle. Jennifer Pepper at Vidyard recommends creating a whole video library to complement your company’s inbound sales funnel.
“You need a helpful video library in place for the customer research phase because it’s your opportunity to showcase expertise,” she writes. “A video library lets you carefully present content you’ve mapped to the buying cycle and control the content journey that your leads navigate through.”
So, how do you make standout how-to and tutorial videos? By adding your own unique twist, Uscreen‘s Sarah M writes: “Anyone can learn how to boil eggs, but does everyone learn to boil eggs from farm-raised chickens? See where we’re taking this? Make your brand stand out by offering something completely unique on something that’s been done countless times before.”
If you really want to see the power and the potential reach of a good how-to video, simply search “makeup tutorial” on YouTube. Millions of people search YouTube every month to find simple and useful beauty tips. And the people who can deliver those tips well amass huge followings.
A great example of this is Ingrid Nilsen, who has nearly 4 million YouTube subscribers. Nilsen has been sharing lifestyle tips and tutorials for more than six years on YouTube, and her recipe for success is pretty simple: Be personable, teach something useful, and don’t overthink it.
The video below, a tutorial on fall makeup tips, just features her face, an out-of-focus background, and the makeup she’s trying out. It’s really that easy.