Before making videos, create a content plan to ensure that your content both meets your brand’s goals and engages your intended audience. Our five guiding principles will then help you define your content marketing specifically on YouTube using simple questions.
Key Steps to Build Your Content Plan
While this playbook deals specifically with branded content creation and distribution on YouTube, your YouTube content should be part of a broader branded content plan that's not limited to video or even to digital. A content plan allows you to define the role your branded content will play in your overall brand strategy.
While there can be different frameworks, we tried to summarize here the key questions and steps to build your content strategy and plan as a subset of your brand strategy.
Define the Core Content Strategy
First, define a strategically relevant and powerful content territory for your brand. This should lie at the intersection of your audience's passion points and your brand value proposition. What unique content can your brand bring to your consumers to earn their loyalty? For example, as a brand American Express offers its members access to unique services. Its UNSTAGED concert series extends this brand proposition in a credible way by offering consumers who are passionate about music privileged access to unique concerts with top artists staged by famous film directors.
Depending on your brand's identity, you'll find different ways to pique your audience's interest and make them care about your content. We've identified three main ways to add value:
- INSPIRE the audience with emotional and relatable stories
- EDUCATE the audience with useful information
- ENTERTAIN the audience by surprising them, making them laugh or sharing spectacular content
Choosing how you'll engage your audience will help you define your core message and tone.
Define the Content Creation Strategy
As you define your content creation strategy, decide first how to generate the content and then how to structure it.
For content generation, a brand can choose between three possibilities: the brand's own creation, creation in collaboration or the curation of existing content.
As regards content creation, we propose structuring three complimentary types of content in the following framework: help, hub and hero content.
- Help content: What is your audience actively searching for regarding your brand or industry? What can serve as your 365-day-relevant, always-on, content programming? E.g. product tutorials, how-to content, customer service, etc.
- Hub content: The content you develop on a regular basis to give a fresh perspective on your target's passion points. (E.g. verticalized content about a product line.) This is often staggered throughout the year.
- Hero content: What content do you want to PUSH to a big, broad audience? What would be your Super Bowl moment? A brand may have only a few hero moments in a year, such as product launch events or industry tent-poles.
Define the Content Distribution Strategy
Let's define how to distribute and activate the content for consumers.
You'll need a central place to store and organize your content to ensure that it's accessible to your audience anywhere, anytime. Consider using a YouTube channel linked to your other properties as your content hub. For more details, refer to Optimize Your Content.
An editorial calendar will help you ensure your brand's consistent presence throughout the year and align content programming with your marketing calendar. Consider a three-tiered calendar that includes:
- Permanent help content;
- Hub content aligned with targeted marketing campaigns staggered throughout the year; and
- Hero content corresponding to the biggest yearly tent-pole events.
Given the abundance of content on YouTube, it's key to not only produce great content but also to ensure it'll reach your desired audience with a solid activation and promotion strategy. The right activation strategy depends on the content type. Hero content should be activated by a massive promotional campaign across multiple channels. Hub content calls for more targeted activation. See Promote Your Content and Amplify With Social.
You know how to reach your audience, but you need to translate your approach so it works on YouTube. These five guiding principles will help you better understand your audience's behavior on YouTube so you can make excellent videos that speak to your target.
1. Know what problem you're trying to solve
Define your brand's priority objectives on YouTube. What role do you want your videos to play in the marketing mix?
Will users be able to recall and recognize my brand, product or service after watching the video?
Will users consider purchasing my product or service after watching this video?
Driving online or offline sales
Will users be more likely to visit my website or store or purchase my product after watching this video?
Will users be more likely to recommend my brand, product or service after watching this video?
2. Know who you are trying to reach
You know your core audience and your target demographic; now you need to investigate exactly how they behave on YouTube. What videos do they watch? How active are they on social networks? How do they use their mobile devices?
Google has several tools to help you research and better understand your audience, including:
- YouTube Trends Dashboard (See what your target demo is watching.)
- Our Mobile Planet (Understand your demo's mobile behavior.)
- Think With Google (Consumer trends, marketing insights and industry research.)
3. Know your brand on YouTube
What does your brand stand for with your target demo on YouTube? What do they know about your brand? Do they know what you do or make? YouTube Analytics can help you see how your content is currently resonating (or not) with your target demo.
4. Know the competition
Spend some time looking at what your top competitors are doing with their online video content. Visit their YouTube channels and see what's performed well for them, and look at what they're up to across the entire digital ecosystem. What are they doing successfully? Where are there opportunities for your brand?
5. Know what success looks like
Now that you're on the path to making great branded videos, how are you thinking about success? Is success about views? User engagement?
Imagine that you produced the video creative or video brand channel of your dreams. What does the PR headline announcing your tremendous success say? Try writing out your PR headline in one or two sentences.
Once you've determined what success looks like, you'll need to track related metrics before, during and after the video release to see if it moved the needle. See Measure Your Results for examples of key metrics.
Tip: Search YouTube for keywords related to your products or services. Which videos are most associated with your category? Is your competition present in the top results?
- Use the key steps and questions discussed in this section to build your content plan as subset of your Brand strategy.
- Prioritize your brand’s objectives: awareness, consideration, online or offline sales, or loyalty.
- Add video-related details to the audience persona for your target audience on YouTube. What do they watch? What do they like?
- Research your competition: What opportunities are they missing on YouTube?
- Decide what success looks like: What do you want to achieve with this video campaign? Set the proper metrics for your efforts.