Recently, we discussed the vast opportunity advertisers can find on YouTube, and ways you can reach the diverse audience that uses the platform.
Today, we’ll get a little more specific and discuss how brands can learn from the educational content on YouTube, and then incorporate that new knowledge into ad campaigns on a platform that’s ripe for this sort of approach.
YouTube Cultivates a Culture of Learning
As of May 2017, according to Think with Google data, users spend four times as many hours watching educational videos as they do animal videos on YouTube. In fact, learning is one of the top three reasons people come to the video site.
In support of this, YouTube names four values of its mission to drive learning, and these values happen to align with those of a successful classroom:
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom of opportunity
- Freedom to belong
- Freedom of information
It makes sense, then, that users watch 500 million learning-related YouTube videos every day, and share 1 million of them. They’re using a collection that’s bigger than the Library of Congress, and more than half of which is uploaded from outside the United States (see previous link).
YouTube has become a valid educational resource – how can advertisers fit into this landscape?
3 Things Brands Can Learn from YouTube’s Educational Content Publishers
For brands and advertisers, understanding how people use YouTube in an educational context can lead to better engagement in this space. Three aspects of the approach are at the core of advertising success (see previous link).
You have to start with something people actually want to watch, and show at the outset that you will be entertaining while you educate.
For example, one teacher on YouTube used a popular song to teach students about the Civil War, and a gaming creator used Minecraft themes to set a stage for learning experiences.
Even if you’re not advertising in a specifically educational environment, incorporating educational techniques can work. Think with Google points out that entertainers often make great educators.
2. Specific Skill-Building
With all of the information available on the internet, people search for specific topics and expect specific answers.
On YouTube, users frequently search information on skill-building, entrepreneurship and small business for the purpose of enhancing their professional lives. Such niche topics actually get more traffic on the site than broad topics, as shown below.
For example, if you’re going to talk about nailing an interview, discuss interviewing for a specific position. Find out the questions people ask with tools like Google Trends and partner with other trusted YouTube resources.
3. Consistent Formatting
Great educational video publishers on YouTube pick a format that works and stick to it. A familiar look and feel is important to viewers and helps to establish the brand (along with regularly scheduled uploading).
When you’re creating educational content, select from formats including:
- Teach-along, featuring expert hosts speaking into the camera
- Learn-along, featuring learner hosts learning along with the audience
You could also try illustrations, animations, songs and listicles.
Start Using Educational Techniques in Your YouTube Branding
To help you get started, we’ll summarize some tips from YouTube’s own case studies on creating enriching content.
As an advertiser hoping to use learning techniques in your branding, remember to differentiate between academic topics and educational content. You don’t have to be heavily academic to teach effectively. Stick to things your brand is passionate about, and range within that from academic to practical knowledge (while remembering to keep your voice consistent).
Finding Your Voice and Format
Finding your voice is the place to start. If you have an existing online presence, don’t stray too far from your style, content and tone. However, allow yourself to try new things inspired by your own passions and interests.
Select the format that fits your voice, whether that’s teach-along, learn-along or something else. If you’re offering a high level of knowledge, teach-along is ideal since you likely have experts on hand. Learn-along doesn’t require you to be an expert, but rather to document a learning journey.
To Create a New Channel or Not?
There’s no one right answer to this. Consider how your current channel’s audience might react, if they’ll be receptive or if you need to create a new audience with a new channel. Will you produce enough content to populate two channels (perhaps one is collaborative and the other isn’t)? Further, do you have the time/energy to maintain more than one channel?
If you’re presenting something as educational, even if it’s in a casual format, you must be credible in your facts and claims. Use multiple sources such as peer-reviewed journals and reputable publications. You’ll likely end up spending more time on research than editing.
Fun Up Front, Professional Backstage
As mentioned, you must lead with entertainment if viewers are going to stick around. However, to pull this off consistently, you should plan ahead with an ongoing balance of fun content and more complex information.
Part of doing this is scripting everything, yet keeping a somewhat improvised feel in the presentation itself. Keep it snappy by bolstering main points with illustrations, animation, sound effects and music.
People love to learn things, and your brand can increase its value by being a reliable source of information that’s relevant to your audience. Incorporate some of these expert tips, and become a trusted YouTube presence while you advertise.