Grabbing consumer attention is hard. "How-to" content can help

Chris Moore-Broyles, LaToya Moore-Broyles August 2018 Video, Consumer Insights

The YouTube creators behind immensely popular channel MyFroggyStuff offer three tips on making the kind of “how-to” video content that can break through the clutter and engage viewers.

In a world of content overload, it can be difficult standing out from the crowd and capturing people’s attention. But we think that we’ve found a way to break through the noise: how-to videos.

We’re not just saying that because, as creators, this is where we’ve carved out our niche, generating over a billion views with doll-crafting tutorials at our main channel, MyFroggyStuff. No, there’s actual research that supports this. How-to videos earn the most attention of any content category on YouTube. 1

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It makes sense. After all, the most engaging content answers a need, and what does a better job than a video that teaches someone how to do something that they’re eager to learn? But that doesn’t mean the how-to format is easy to pull off, especially for brands. Here are three lessons that we have learned that marketers can apply to their own how-to video strategies.

Find your differentiating factor

One of the first things that all marketers learn is the importance of differentiation. What is it about the product that you’re trying to sell or the service that you’re offering that makes it different from the competition?

That same exercise – working out what need you can fulfil better than anyone else – is the most important part of a how-to video plan. Sure, how-to videos are incredibly popular. In fact, they’re one of the main reasons that people turn to YouTube, according to recent research. But that means there are a lot of them, so competition for attention is fierce.

From day one, our strategy in building our channel has been simple: Don’t try to be good at everything, just concentrate on being great at one thing. The one thing that we’re good at is doll-crafting, which is where we’ve focused all our energy. That’s why almost a decade after launching our channel, people still come to watch our crafting videos in the millions.

Think about the main reason that customers turn to your brand. The answer to that question is a good starting point when deciding where to focus your how-to video efforts.

Resist your perfectionist tendencies

Capturing and holding on to people’s attention when there are so many other things that they could be watching or reading means sticking to a pretty regular publishing schedule. Working at such a fast pace means doing something many creatives struggle with: accepting that not everything that you put out will be perfect.

You have to move your audience, to create a bond with them, if you’re going to grab their attention.

We’ve got over 2,000 videos and there are many that we wish we could redo. But it was only by getting them out into the world that we were able to learn what was working and what wasn’t. Luckily, the first step – sticking to the one thing that you’re great at – gives you more space to constantly refine your approach, and sometimes a lack of perfection can actually seem a bit more authentic to viewers.

Get your audience involved

The key metric that we’re always focused on is not views or subscribers – it’s engagement. You have to move your audience, to create a bond with them, if you’re going to grab their attention, at least in the long run. A great way of doing this is to get them involved, and how-to is the perfect format for this.

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Every Friday, we do a YouTube Live with our fans, giving them the chance to ask in real time how to do something. These videos send our engagement metrics through the roof. One weekly live video generates more comments – as many as 15,000 – than all the other videos from the week combined. Connecting with your audience in this way can also help you understand what they’d like to learn more of, so it’s a great source of ideas for future content.

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