Thought Leadership

No matter who you are or what market you focus on, there are fans and communities on YouTube crucial to your marketing success. Fan created and uploaded videos dominate the platform, both in views and in engagement, for nearly any brand on YouTube. The result: every brand has fans and influencers that they can embrace on YouTube – the key is to understand how to find them and how to define them and their communities in order to harness their power as they are only getting stronger and more influential.

Expand Your Relevancy

I recently sat down with a senior marketer at a financial services company, and I told them about the power of the fans on YouTube. This executive complimented me on my pitch, but politely said, “Thanks Jason, but we don’t have any fans.” For them, the concept of engaging fans was obvious for brands like Coke, Disney, or even Swiffer (ever see the Swiffer dance videos?). But, for a brand that likely has few fan created videos talking directly about them, such as a bank or insurance agency, the notion that these brands should engage fans on YouTube was foreign to them.

Then, as we continued to talk, I brought up their partnerships with musicians and charities. These partnerships were designed to foster brand identity and help them reach new audiences – the audiences they wanted to have as customers. We also talked about the financial service company’s goals, ideals, and even unique life moments that they wanted to be associated with. Once we started looking for these different layers of fans on YouTube, we found tens of thousands of videos created and uploaded by fans that mattered to this company’s marketing strategies and customer segments. Moreover, when you add in the millions and millions of fans that watch and engage with those videos, the relevant audience on YouTube becomes massive. The key was focusing not just on direct fans of their brand, but rather, on any audience that they cared about and wanted to get in front of.

Sophisticated Targeting, With the Scale to Make it Count

If this kind of fan targeting can work for a financial services company, imagine how easy it becomes for a brand like Adidas. Instead of just focusing on videos about Adidas, and the tens of millions of fans watching those videos, Adidas could focus on videos about Messi (their spokesperson), on Nike (their competitor), shoe unboxings (a unique video genre), sneakerheads (a culture of sneaker enthusiasts), the World Cup (a major event they sponsor), or even down to videos about AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) if they desired in order to reach youth soccer in America.

Using ZEFR’s search tech, we looked into some of these different layers of fans on YouTube, and we found hundreds of thousands of videos, and millions of associated views, for Adidas to target:

World Cup

YouTube videos about the World Cup: 228,263

These nearly 230K videos, covering all World Cup related content from over the years, account for a staggering 3,698,758,029 views. And, if you look just at this year’s tournament, there’s been over 80,000 videos uploaded already from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with that number growing every day.


Beyond the World Cup set of videos, Adidas can focus on videos surrounding their superstar spokesman, Lionel Messi.

YouTube videos about Lionel Messi: 74,596
Once you add up the total view counts for all those magic Messi moments, you end up with 3,372,374,322 total views.


Shoe Unboxings

Lastly, we looked into the fan community known as Sneakerheads, along with one of their most common video styles, shoe unboxings:

YouTube videos about Shoe Unboxings: 19,971

Here is a video from one of our favorite Sneakerheads, and one of Adidas’ top influencers that they can partner with, YoAntyKicks:

In the end, when Adidas takes into account these three different ways of targeting fans on YouTube, including both the videos and the fans watching those videos, they now have almost 325K videos to target, with over 7 billion views to potentially get in front of.

Ultimately, this approach to targeting reveals that advertising on YouTube can become a highly sophisticated and scalable way to target exactly who you want to reach at the video level, something that we at ZEFR focus on and continue to perfect. Who you want to reach includes fans and influencers of whatever you want to be associated with, be that other brands, people, cultures, causes, or feelings.

YouTube has built a sophisticated platform for expression. As a result, there is a clear opportunity to put brands right at the intersection of culture and authenticity that YouTubers are creating, commenting on, viewing, and sharing every day around the world. Fans, of every kind, have populated it with the content they like to make and watch.

YouTube is Ready and Waiting for You

The payoff is big. YouTube is massive – 5x the size of Twitter. YouTube videos live not just on its own platform, but on others – i.e. Facebook, Tumblr, TV, mobile, etc. Video is compelling. It is the future of social, and it is the future of targeted advertising.

Most importantly, fans on YouTube will continue to define your brand with or without you, and their authentic approach becomes more valuable, trusted and expected each and every day. It’s an exciting time for all, but only if you choose to embrace it and act on it.


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Brand Spotlight

The “versus” or “vs” video is one of the 12 categories of UGC we identified as paramount for brands to understand in our “Beyond Reviews” eBook, which explores why and how YouTube has influenced the purchasing decisions of more than half of consumers. And, as a comparison between competing products, such as wearable fitness trackers, “vs” videos are especially influential.

As wearable tech continues to expand as a trend for gathering data about one’s movements, sleep, calories, etc., it can be challenging for potential consumers to really understand which device is best for them and their wrist. “Vs” videos are here to help.

The three biggest stakeholders in the activity tracker market are the Nike Fuelband, Jawbone UP, and FitBit models. On YouTube, thousands of users are comparing these products to one another, sometimes pitting all three against each other in a single video. We’ve curated some examples below.

“Vs” Videos: Judge for Yourself

First, an example from a more mainstream outlet/channel. CNET’s series called “Prizefight” pits devices up against each other in an amusing way. Here, the Fitbit Flex goes up agains the Jawbone Up:

Looking at the comments under the video, you’ll see viewers weighing in with their own thoughts:

Brands on YouTube - Fitness Tracker Comments 1

Brands on YouTube - Fitness Tracker Comments 2

Not all versus videos have that much of a flair for the dramatic, by the way. Some cover the features, interface, aesthetics and price in a simple, easy to follow format. Here’s a more recent video from WSJ that compares all three options:

Then, there’s the fitness channel getfitover40, which goes way more in depth on the functionality of the Jawbone and Fitbit bands with a 20+ minute video:

When prodded to do a video about the Nike Fuelband in the comments, this YouTuber responded as to why he had no interest:

Brands on YouTube: Fitness Tracker getfitover40 comments

Finally, lest we forget that YouTube is an international platform, check out this well produced Russian example:

Still working on a good translation, but for now it seems like Nike came out on top in this one… I think.

The Numbers: Who is Winning?

We ran some searches to measure the overall reach of the three competitors. When looking at these results, however, keep in mind this crucial point when it comes to “vs” videos on YouTube: just because you earned more views or videos doesn’t mean the video creators liked your product. As the videos and comments above illustrate, [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@ZEFRinc” suffix=”null”]it takes a close ear to follow the conversation and determine the real winner in the world of social listening for video.[/inlinetweet]

brands on youtube nike jawbone fitbit

brands on youtube nike jawbone fitbit

What do you think? Who has the best product? Which videos helped you decide? Let us know in the comments below.


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Cultural TrendsEvents

One of the first viral events of 2014 emerged this week after the final whistle of the NFC Championship game in Seattle. In case you missed it, here’s what pretty much everyone, football fan or otherwise, can’t seem to stop talking about:

Now, this particular video upload by user ROCKHEADSTUDIOS has almost 2 million views as of this writing, and nearly 3,000 comments. But, while those numbers alone may sound decent enough for a 30 second sound bite posted just three days ago, you can bet that the story on YouTube goes much deeper than just a single, high view count video. Whether it’s all the re-uploads, the remixes, the parodies, personal response videos, etc., the conversation just keeps building, and its impact goes farther and farther the closer you look.

So, we decided to run a search using ZEFR tech to get the full picture thus far:

Richard Sherman videos uploaded since Jan. 19: 2,348
Total Views: 13,681,072
Total Comments: 31,072

Thus, as indicated by that 13+ million views figure, it’s clear that the full depth of activity surrounding a viral event on YouTube isn’t always readily apparent from a basic search. If you’re only looking at the most watched videos, then you’re failing to capture the true level of engagement that is actually happening on the platform.

This engagement happens in various ways. As an example of the sorts of creativity waiting around every corner of YouTube, check out this masterful edit, which provides a perfect commentary on the importance of “context”:

Moreover, when looking at YouTube as a discovery engine for related content, the viral event itself can spill over onto other related videos and affect their performance in a huge way. Consider the timing of these two videos from Nike and Beats by Dre respectively, both featuring Richard Sherman to varying degrees and both uploaded on the same day of his now infamous interview:

The Beats by Dre video in particular is almost too perfect, and a quick look at the comments section says a lot about why the video has nearly 1.5 million views already:

youtube data youtube data

youtube data

youtube data

Certainly, many of the comments generated from this event have been less than exemplary of the kind of discourse you might wish to see in 2014, as plenty of commentators have discussed at length. Nevertheless, the YouTube comments will keep on coming, and the views generated from this viral event will continue to rise. And, ultimately, what matters is the ability to recognize the full scope of the conversation going on. Only then can you try to measure the impact and properly understand the implications.


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