YouTube is at the forefront of platforms for video bloggers (vloggers or “kids sitting in their rooms talking”) and the epicentre of much sought-after viral videos. It is home to curated content from partners that include the BBC, Channel 4, HBO, countless music labels and many others.
With all that in mind, can any traditional broadcaster afford to ignore YouTube? What kind of content works best and is likely to be successful on YouTube?
To answer these questions Jane Clancey is joined in the studio by Jamie Dolling from Google, who own YouTube, and the BBC’s Oran Soffair who adapts and publishes BBC content on YouTube.
Creating YouTube channels
Jack Harries, Richard Herd and Chris Howard share the golden rules of creating a successful, factual YouTube channel.
Long gone are the days when YouTube was just babies, cats and people falling over. Brands, broadcasters and native YouTubers are embracing the platform like never before - resulting in a wave of high production-value, short-form, factual content aimed at a new breed of audience – active, vocal and loyal.
Jack, Chris and Richard share their views on producing short-format content and gaining and engaging subscribers. They discuss how to make the best use of features such as annotations and playlisting, how to use analytics and discuss their favourite camera equipment. With a background in television production, Chris and Richard also talk about what they had to learn, or rather unlearn, in order to engage a YouTube audience.
The panel highlight the importance of the YouTube community and explain how collaborations with the likes of ZeFrank, Wheezy Waiter, Tyler Oakley, Red Bull, Epic Meal Time and DanisNotonFire have been vital to establishing their channels online.
Jack Harries is the creator of JacksGap. Back in 2011 he set up the channel to document his gap year for friends and family. Two years later he, along with twin brother Finn, is one of the UK's leading vloggers with over 1.9 million subscribers. His YouTube recommendations are Troye Sivan and Sorted Food.
Richard Herd is the producer and channel manager of Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube, offering up in Jamie’s own words "food shows with attitude". Richard’s career credits include Gordon Ramsay’s F Word, The Naked Chef and Big Brother. His YouTube recommendations are My Virgin Kitchen and Epic Meal Time.
Chris Howard is the series producer of natural history channel Earth Unplugged, BBC Worldwide’s first original content production for YouTube. Previously Chris has worked on Planet Earth Live and David Attenborough’s Flying Monsters. His YouTube recommendation is Vsauce.
Think who the audience for your content is likely to be. If your video has, say, a car and a dog in it, then make sure you’ve built a relationship with car enthusiasts and dog lovers prior to release. Find out who runs the forums and popular social media accounts in these communities, and target them.
Interact with your audience, and get out there using social media to find what people like or dislike about your content. Once your audience gets to know you as a brand, you won’t need to approach them so much - they’ll already be waiting for your next piece of content.
No one can predict exactly what will go viral. Although short videos are definitely the most popular, you can’t make people share if they don’t want to. The internet moves on quickly and 24 hours can be long enough to realise an idea isn’t taking off.
A good viral director also considers the online conversations - comments, blog posts, Tweets and mentions - to see if a video has genuinely inspired an audience, or is just getting a lot of incentivised clicks.
Figure out what you’re good at and stick to it. Viral videos aren’t necessarily the place to try lots of different things, unless you’re already a very experienced and confident director.
Rather than offering to work for free for someone else just to get production or directing experience, make your own videos using whatever means you have at your disposal. Having a decent viral video published on the web, even one recorded on a camera phone, will be very important to potential employers.
Our guests also recommended the work of Ben Wheatley; Thomas 'TomSka' Ridgewell; and the Rob Madin characters C-Bomb and Brett Domino.
Jon Aird is a producer for BBC Comedy. The BBC Comedy YouTube channel has had over 31 million views and achieved record views with the One Ronnie Blackberry Sketch.
Stuart Fryer is an ad director working at Toast TV, and made his name from the lawsuit-inducing VW Suicide bomber spoof video which attracted millions of views.
Matt Smith just wanted to make "crazy little videos that go bonkers on the internet", so he co-founded The Viral Factory agency which does exactly that for clients. To date TVF have generated over 1.5 billion views and won over 50 industry awards.