With over 22 million subscribers – only bested by YouTube category channels for ‘music’ and ‘popular on YouTube – Worldwide’ – there’s no arguing that this is what ultimate YouTube success looks like.
After viewing some of PewDiePie’s content, however, you might be left wondering how this 24-year-old Swede could possibly be so successful.
He employs a simple and repetitive format – video game footage with commentary.
His production quality is okay, but feels very homemade.
Commentary is frequently disjointed and juvenile.
And – as respectfully as possible – there just doesn’t seem to be much to point to when trying to figure out why exactly it is that this channel has 22 million subscribers.
BUT… it’s clear that whatever it is that PewDiePie is doing is seriously working, and when you try to dissect what he’s doing, there are some smarts and strategy mixed in with all of the ridiculousness of this channel.
Some of these things can serve as great lessons or reminders to social media and content marketers. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Prolific creation of valuable content
At the time of writing this post, PewDiePie had published 1,655 videos, and after spending a bit of time perusing his channel, it appears as though he publishes virtually every day, and sometimes several times per day.
There’s certainly no shortage of content.
This is an area that many businesses, brands and agencies have a very difficult time keeping up with. There are very few examples of branded channels that are pumping out great video content every day, let alone every week or every month, for any length of time.
If you are going to build a significant audience of loyal viewers that subscribe to be notified of new content, you need to be creating new quality content regularly enough, and consistently enough, to satiate the viewing needs of your targeted audience.
Build an army of loyalists
PewDiePie has built an army of loyal viewers, commenters, and general supporters. He nurtures this behaviour by listening to his audience, addressing them in his videos, taking their recommendations into consideration, regularly thanking them for their loyalty, giving them opportunity to interact and engage more deeply through his store and other social media accounts, and much more.
It’s critical to be in tune with your audience. Just like any social media network, YouTube shouldn’t be viewed solely as a broadcast platform. You should know who your audience is, listen to them, provide tremendous value, and find ways to interact and engage with them.
Create and sustain a meaningful dialogue
I know that I’ve already touched on this, but PewDiePie regularly references comments that his audience has left, and notes them as having influenced the content of his videos. If they give him a tip or trick to try, he’ll try it. If they ask him to do more or less of something in particular, he’ll do it. He even has a series of videos dedicated to doing exactly what his audience asks; no matter how ridiculous, including taping salad to his face (yes, he did that).
Creating a dialogue with your audience is key; this is social media after all. If you don’t dedicate time listening to your audience, you can’t expect them to dedicate time listening to you. And if you don’t work to build relationships with the people watching your videos, and take their input into account, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to develop a legion of loyal followers.
You know there’s a horseshoe involved somewhere here
Let’s face it, PewDiePie has been incredibly lucky. Sure, he’s done things to create some luck for himself, but to date, this level of success is unprecedented and that requires a few horseshoes.
The main point here is to not despair if your efforts don’t result in attracting millions of subscribers in your first months of dedicating time and resources to building a YouTube channel.
Success needs to be relative, and you should measure yours following the thoughtful creation of achievable goals, objectives and KPIs. If you’re working your butt off and trending positively, then you’re probably in good shape. Also, for businesses on social media, success shouldn’t necessarily be measured by how many people you’re able to engage; it should be more about engaging the rightpeople.
When it comes to engaging on YouTube, many businesses and brands seem to overlook the practices that have yielded great results on other social media platforms.
PewDiePie reminds us that similar to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other social media platform on which your business is active, it’s important to be dedicated to creating quality content on an ongoing basis, nurture sustained loyalty, and find opportunities to listen and interact with your audience.
How have you found success for your business on YouTube?
Which brands do you think are doing a great job engaging an audience on YouTube?
What specifically do you think has led to PewDiePie’s great YouTube success?
As always, it would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial