The YouTube Paradox

Brand Content, Social Media

4 Jun, 2019

Created in 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim, you can only know their invention. The idea? Initially a dating site based on video. But the idea will be simplified, making it much more lucrative. YouTube will ultimately aim to make video publishing and distribution accessible to the widest possible audience through the Internet.

visu3 The YouTube Paradox

14 years ago, Jawed Karim’s video at San Diego Zoo in front of an elephant (the first on YouTube) was a feat! Today, this social network is making you dizzy!


At the dawn of its 20th anniversary, YouTube is:
– the second largest social network in the world with nearly 1.9 billion active registered users. A jump of 300 million users in 1 year!
– it is also the social network where users are most attentive: these users spend an average of 1 hour a day there and watch almost all the videos launched
– it’s also records with the “Despacito” clip that passes the 5 billion view mark (which is equivalent to more than 2 views per user) or the 40 million viewers simultaneously watching Beyoncé’s live show in Coachella (more than the entire Canadian population).

To satisfy all these people, the figures are also dizzying: 400 hours of videos are published in one minute. In terms of number of years, that’s more than 68 years of videos published in 24 hours! One life is not enough to watch everything!

 The YouTube Paradox

But who is this compulsive upload content creator who transforms the net into a TV channel and where you will always find a program to watch?

With regard to platforms like Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat, we would tend to bet on a music star or a brand… and yet!

In the top 100 most watched channels in France, only 3 brands appear: Lego, Disney and Ubisoft! The situation is even more edifying at the global level: no international brand appears in the Top 50!

The other 97%? They are the Squezzie, TiboInshape, Andy or EnjoyPhoenix. These unknown people propelled to the rank of stars in just a few years thanks to YouTube and culminating in almost 13 million subscribers and more than 2 billion views for Cyprien alone!

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This is the paradox of YouTube in the social media galaxy: a platform where a tiny number of brands have made their place alongside the stars of the network. This is a far cry from a Facebook where this feeling of presence is almost reversed… but why?

To answer, you have to understand what makes YouTubers so successful…

#1 Proximity

Because of the personification of its channel, YouTuber is inherently closer to users than a brand or entity not embodied by a real person.

This makes it possible to generate more interactions with the community and, consequently, to know it: being on YouTube means creating content but also knowing how to listen to your audience.

#2 Knowledge

This is one of the major differences with social networks such as Facebook or Instagram: 50% of users who come to YouTube know exactly what they are looking for and/or why they are connected to it.

Beyond specializing, it is necessary to become an expert on a subject and to have the information, tips or explanation that others do not have. A real work of monitoring and social listening is therefore necessary, both on its field and in its community. The objective is to detect and anticipate the subjects to be treated tomorrow or simply to rectify the treatment of its subjects.

#3 The sense of community

When you share a passion, knowledge or hobby, it necessarily builds relationships… YouTube is therefore more than just a chain of videos. The activity is not only in the player: it is also below, in the comments and on the other channels of the network. Both YouTubers and Internet users interact with each other, answer each other, exchange visibility and so on.

What about the brands?

Today, the vast majority of brand accounts use YouTube to host their commercials or videos summarizing their activations, events and corporate events, or even web series / internal reports. They ensure a simple presence rather than a real strategic approach to social media and editorial animation.

Advertising investment through YouTube’s advertising network as well as product influence and placement are the preferred means by brands.

However, some of them have managed to solve the editorial equation of their Youtube channel.

Apple: How To

The company could have stupidly put its famous keynotes online.

Yes, we find his keynotes but also all the advertising spots of the apple brand, his manifestos as well as many micro-videos tips products ranging from 16 to 30 seconds. Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad Pro… everything goes! Apple redirects all “How to” requests on its products to its own space, rather than to a third party channel. For example, do you know how to drive without being distracted by the iPhone? The answer here:

visu1 The YouTube Paradox

LEGO: the Youtuber

If there is one brand that masters YouTube, it’s Lego! The small bricks were directly inspired by YouTubers in the subjects covered but also in the treatment of them. Interviews with engineers, unboxing, invitations from Lego influencers… the channel offers by far the most complete program. And everyone is there, the Lego fan, big or small! Children find Lego mini-episodes of their favorite set, when adults watch XXL sets being edited or unpacked. A winning strategy for Lego, which is one of the most popular brands on Youtube:

visu2 The YouTube Paradox

Google: the beautiful stories

At Google, employees are encouraged to use 20% of their working time to develop independent ideas. The YouTube channel of the web giant was therefore all found for Nat & Lo who started by highlighting hidden features of the platform. Google will thus diversify its content away from its core business through mini video series, on real stories where Google products have had their role to play in addition to traditional advertising and promotional videos:

visu5 The YouTube Paradox

Hasbro: the children’s TV channel

The first parent who never left his child in front of a smartphone with YouTube should lift a finger… Yeah, that’s what we thought! And Hasbro understood that very well! The toy brand has transformed its YouTube channel into a real children’s TV channel: very few “product” or “advertising” videos but mini-cartoon episodes, with a strong promise: a video every day and sometimes in several languages to discover here:

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On a platform where the user arrives with a very precise search, difficult for brands to make a place for themselves in the jungle of content that is YouTube.

Because yes… the number of searches to find the advertising of a brand remains minimal compared to the rest of the requests. Providing a corporate presence may be effective for Google, but it is not on YouTube.

We must go further, be constantly listening to users, to their needs by knowing but above all by anticipating their future research. Whether they are customers or not. This is perhaps one of the most complex aspects of the YouTube Paradox for brands: identifying and anticipating a subject on which the brand is legitimate and producing it (sometimes) quickly while ensuring its quality.

The Good Life
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