Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A mum's eye view of YouTube

Eighteen months ago we launched Mums Eye View into the world of YouTube.

It's fair to say we took our time working out how Asda could be more relevant on one of the world's largest social networks.

In fact we'd spent nearly nine years hiding hours of videos on our own Asda channel which had very few subscribers and a similarly low number of viewers.

The conundrum we faced was more than one quarter of our own customers, some four to five million people, told us they visited YouTube every day.

After Facebook it was the most popular social media site for Asda shoppers.

It was also at a time when short form video was exploding across Vine and Instagram. And Facebook was indicating it too was serious about video.

Now, it should go without saying, people follow people on social networks.

Much as brands like Asda like to think it is all about us, actually it is the stories we are part of that truly resonate.

And no more so than if it is one of your close friends telling it, or someone you have an intimate relationship with.

Clearly word of mouth is not a new phenomenon, but in spite of our own relative success getting it right on Facebook, we were struggling to get it right when it came to YouTube.

The lightbulb first flickered when we considered an important question.

As a brand on YouTube should we create video content ourselves, or curate other people's. It puzzled me for weeks if not months trying to figure it out.

A pivot point

Then around two and a bit years ago, thanks to a session at YouTube, we were introduced to an agency called Gleam Futures.

At the time Gleam were based in the basement of another agency's office near Covent Garden.

The meeting was significant and immediately helped change the course of our approach to YouTube entirely.

Gleam, in their own words describe themselves as an agency that 'manages social talent'. They describe social talent as 'individuals who have built considerable audience & influence on social media channels'.

They only manage quality talent who are among the top social creators in the world, dedicated and passionate individuals who are extremely professional in my experience.

Back then I don't mind admitting I had never even heard of Zoella, or Tanya Burr or the SacconneJolys.

Now they are household names, regularly featuring in the weekly glossy magazines, or on ITV's Real Stories, or on Celebrity Great British Bake Off.

Even my nine year old knows who they all are.

Yet, most brands are still at a loss when it comes to harnessing 'social talent', nor do many even recognise how talented vloggers really are. You often hear people bemoan these kids simply videoing themselves on their phones in their bedrooms. Have they even got any qualifications?

Our approach since meeting Gleam has been dramatically different.

We've confidently handed over editorial control to a small number of hugely influential vloggers.

We've resisted the urge to be in the room with them, instead simply providing a simple brief, then letting them do what they do best.

As a result we now know when and how our brand should feature in a YouTube video if at all.

So anyway, here we are two years on, 18 months after launching Mums Eye View, more than nine and a half million views under our belt, and 180,000 subscribers.

According to Social Bakers if Mums Eye View were listed as a retail brand (we are listed in the entertainment category) we'd be in the top ten in the UK based on the numbers of views we've had to date, and number two for total subscribers.

Our latest five-part baking series has notched up just shy of a million views on its own in under six weeks, added 25,000 subscribers in the process, with a click through rate of more than three per cent, but peaking at six per cent on the Monster Jazzies video.

If you search 'baking' on YouTube, two of the top four results are baking videos from our channel. Staggering SEO, considering we've not spent anything on promoting that content.

It feels like we're now approaching a tipping point.

We can now help harness new up and coming talent, giving them access to our 180,000 subscribers on our channel.

But also, we can now open up the channel for relevant brands to get on board and participate too.

That last bit is proving easier to say than do however.

I still find it staggering how entrenched most marketeers are in creating video content that no-one ever sees.

I won't be mean and name them, but there is one at the moment that is paying for a minor celebrity to host a series on their channel alongside a vlogger.

The content is fine. But that's not the point. With no subscribers and therefore no option but to pay for views the engagement is non existent.

Anyway, that's the next challenge I guess. Helping brands integrate with Gleam's social talent in a way that meets their marketing goals, but respects the medium and the content creators.

Watch this space.