Sara Mattsson is creative lead and branding specialist for Creative Works at Google Northern Europe. She works closely with local brands and agencies to help them create better video campaigns.
If there’s one thing YouTube creators know and do well it’s building meaningful connections with their audiences. Whether it’s through regular posting, offering entertainment, or opening up about global issues — creators are able to trigger emotions and drive loyalty in a way that not many brands can.
So what can marketers learn from that? Having worked with creators myself, I can say that it boils down to creating content that your audience genuinely wants to engage with. It sounds easy, but in a world of choice overload you have to earn the attention of your audiences by being interesting, relevant, and authentic. This means listening to your audience and giving them what they want.
An audience-first marketing approach
Therese Lindgren, a Swedish creator whose channel currently counts over one million subscribers, started vlogging in 2013. Even after all these years, she regularly asks her followers for feedback whenever she changes her editing style or video format. She knows that her success is driven by her audience, so ensuring that they are happy with her content is a priority.
While this is not the only way to connect with people, it does show how important it is to make decisions based on audience insights. By creating content that people want to watch you can lead your own narrative in a way that is actually helpful to your customers.
In a world of choice overload, you have to earn the attention of your audiences by being relevant and authentic.
4 tips for winning YouTube content
1. Be authentic
Lean into YouTube culture and trends, but stay true to your brand. Consumers are savvy and see straight through content that doesn’t come across as natural. In this video, Dutch creator Juultje Tieleman explains why being honest and realistic is a key factor of her success.
A brand who is successfully doing this is Lego, whose channel was crowned the most popular brand channel after it hit 11 billion views in 2020. Featuring a wide range of engaging content that is highly relevant to its audience, including tips from Lego designers, DIY challenges, and original episodes of Lego Star Wars, Friends, and Ninjago, the channel consistently attracts tens of thousands of views.
2. Be consistent
When it comes to building a lasting connection with your audience, it really helps if they can rely on you. Post regular videos to keep them coming back, and create strong, sustainable content formats that you can build on over time. For example, one of the Netherlands’ most popular creators, Milan Knol, has been running his 'Reageren op' format for years. Literally meaning “respond to”, the popular series sees him and fellow YouTuber Don Kaaklijn react to all kinds of viral videos. Not only does this format allow for endless iterations, it also helps Milan stay relevant by continuously tapping into ongoing trends.
Finnish dairy producer Valio does this really well with their content series'Fight for joy', in which different Finnish creators are invited to try out fun and easy-to-follow recipes — including Valio products, of course.
3. Be analytical
Pay attention to the data. Use YouTube Analytics to stay on top of channel performance and analyse the metrics for each video to get a better understanding of your audience’s preferences. The audience retention report in YouTube Studio shows exactly which elements of a video work well based on top moments and spikes, but also indicates areas for improvement by highlighting dips. Observing both sides of the coin will help you understand the preferences of your audience so that you can better serve them in the future.
4. Be strategic
The quality of your content is important, but you can make a lot of additional impact by being strategic about the type of videos you produce. Creators often feature in each other’s videos, for example, because it helps them reach new audiences in a fun and organic way.
On their Swedish food channel Matkanalen, dairy brand Arla Foods shows that brands can do this too, featuring regular cook-offs as well as videos of influencers creating dishes from a ‘mystery box'. With the channel attracting between 400K and 600K monthly unique viewers and videos driving an average view time of 5.5 minutes, the strategy has really paid off for the brand.
Brands also have the opportunity to fund a whole content series, like Swedish camping store Camping Varuhuset did for YouTube couple Jocke & Jonna and their campervan renovation project. Or they can go a step further still by sponsoring a whole channel, like Intersport did for Swedish football channel Fotbollstuben.
Globally attracting over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, YouTube has undeniably become a key part of today’s consumer journey. But with over 500 hours worth of content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, brands need to think user-first in order to stand out. Successful creators have mastered this skill, showing brands that you don’t need a big budget or dedicated team to get started, as long as your content comes from a place of authenticity.