At ZEFR, we’ve built a business out of understanding that fans are not pirates, they’re partners. Before we came along, fan uploads of copyrighted content would swiftly get a takedown. By managing virtually every major media company’s digital rights on YouTube, ZEFR has pioneered a revolution, helping studios to recognize that fans are a resource and a boon to business (quite the opposite of a threat). With over 95 percent of all premium content generating from fans, the takedown approach is not only unfeasible, it’s counterproductive, and bad for business. Fans are, after all, fans. They are enthusiastic and energetic and a force to be taken seriously not silenced.
After this revelation was understood by the studios partnered with ZEFR, and new strategies were adopted by our media clients, we began to wonder whether that same trend held for brands. Lo and behold, as we began working with more and more brands, we kept seeing the same trends. For every “official” upload from a brand, nearly ten more were fan-generated.
We published some early research about these trends and have since added a larger sample size, including an increased spectrum of brands, both large and small, while also taking into account the specific products themselves.
The results of ZEFR’s latest research takes a random sampling of 75 brands, representing everything from a major organic grocery store, to airlines, home decor retailers, casinos, and companies selling sneakers, musical instruments, beer, fast food, denim, and toys. Within this sampling we also included companies as small as an independently owned athletic wear company to the largest big box retailer in the country.
Across this wide spectrum, ZEFR found that 86 percent of all branded content views on YouTube come from videos uploaded by fans. We also found that the bigger the brand’s presence on YouTube, the more that presence is contingent upon fan uploads.
The exact revelation that forced the major studios to restructure their relationship with fans re-uploading copyrighted content is one that now faces the largest (and smallest) brands in the world. Find your fans. Foster meaningful relationships with them. Engage with and integrate their enthusiasm into your overall strategy, or risk falling behind every competitor that already understands the unlimited power of fandom.
ZEFR has written a trio of eBooks, providing a more comprehensive analysis of this dynamic between fans and brands, available as a free download. In “Anatomy of a Fan” you will learn about the fans themselves—where they are, what they do, and what drives them to create video content. In “Beyond Reviews,” the ZEFR research team uncovers data and provides insights into the most effective video styles that influence shoppers. For our third eBook, ZEFR spoke with some of the biggest industry insiders about YouTubers’ experiences working with brands. The result, “Guide to Brand Integration on YouTube,” is an invaluable resource for brands seeking to work and make deals with influencers to reach the broadest audience possible.
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