My dance teacher Jasmine Meakin is a YouTube sensation. As of yesterday, her YouTube channel "Mega Jam" had 1,293,103 subscribers. To put this in context, Australia’s "Golden Lady" Delta Goodrem only has 38k subscribers; social media giant Facebook has only 269k subscribers; 491k for BMW and 519k for BBC News.
Jasmine is based in Brisbane, Australia. Her choreography is world-renowned -- thanks to her large and ever-growing YouTube following. The first video she uploaded to YouTube was five years ago. I remember introducing her to my dance crew in 2013 and mentioned her half a million followers at the time. Now the tally has almost reached 1.3m.
What’s her secret? Is there a winning formula to make your YouTube channel the next big thing? As marketers, we are often asked to comment on how to make things go viral - it’s one of those questions that we find challenging to address precisely. My friends working in creative studios can tell you how often they hear from their clients that the only objective for a video job is to "make it go viral."
Based on what I’ve learned from Jasmine (not only dance!), research and observations on successful examples on videos and YouTube, here is a collection of three key factors that will help you create your own legend on YouTube.
1. Leverage on what’s trending
The best thing about Jasmine’s videos is that the songs she uses are always on trend upon release. When a music track becomes a worldwide hit, Jasmine’s choreography often follows within days or weeks. Catching the trend helps increase the visibility of videos as Google finds it relevant and therefore indexes it every time a user searches for the trend.
Identify the trending thing that offers the opportunity for your product to shine. It could be a blockbuster movie just released or a seasonal topic. Michelle Phan, as the most popular makeup artist on YouTube is a master of this. Make sure you check out her channel to see how she takes advantage of trends.
The key is to act fast AND create content of high quality. There are many dance choreos for trending song tracks, but none of them are as successful as Jasmine on YouTube.
2. Be viral and stay viral
Getting viral should not be just a flame out of a one-time effort. As business owners and marketers, we should aim high and strive for the viral factor in every piece of work we put out there. Ultimately, it is the sustainability of the viral factor that will get us loyal supporters.
Digital audiences are fickle. YouTube is an entertainment hub that offers way too many distractions for them. The truth is there is zero degree of loyalty for a YouTube channel if it’s not consistently feeding high quality content to subscribers. They might stay following you for some time, but their attention to your content in the news feed will reduce over time if you don’t improve immediately and get their attention back. It is a matter of time before they are completely checked out. Zombie followers are of no use to you.
Viral factor can be learned and replicated. It doesn’t have to a novelty, but it definitely needs to get the audiences emotionally involved, whether it’s amusement, excitement or jealousy. Always keep your brand image in mind when designing the viral factor - is the video going to generate the desired brand association for me? "No publicity is bad publicity" days are not over but I’m not a fan.
3. Get inspired by your audiences
"Treat comments as sources of inspiration - not sources of frustration." is a great tip from Tara Levy, Managing Director at Google NYC. Many brands choose to disable YouTube comments just so they don’t have to deal with negative reviews. It’s a missed opportunity as there are many ways to get inspired by your video viewers through comments. Some musicians produce song covers based on follower nominations in comments. The Old Spice YouTube channel created video responses to selected comments after their initial "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" video was posted - these 183 following videos went viral too.
You might ask me - If I’m just running a bakery shop, what’s the point of becoming a YouTube legend? If you have read to this point, I think you have the answers. With the creative format of video and an interactive platform such as YouTube, anything can become the next big thing with a clever design.