This weekend, over 4 thousand YouTube content creators and fans descended into Orlando, Florida for the annual Playlist Live conference. Hosted at the elegant Caribe Royale Resort, the conference is a hub for new ideas and business relationships. Yesterday, hundreds of industry folk came together for the “Business Day” track of the conference, where personalities, brands, networks and media companies gathered to discuss the direction of the industry. Throughout all the panels, there were a few key themes that emerged:
YouTube content is moving from short-form to long-form
At a panel called “Going Long, YouTubers Making Feature Films,” Dan Dobi (Director of “Please Subscribe”) said, “Long-form content on YouTube will be the next big thing.” YouTube has traditionally been a place where users consume short bursts of highly engaging content, so it has been a challenge for content creators to get traction for videos longer than a few minutes in length. But with many people believing that YouTube will someday replace TV, the goal may be closer in reach than we think. The panel also went over some of the challenges of this move to long-form content, one of which is the bureaucracies in some of YouTube’s programs, such as the new YouTube rental program. If YouTube can find a way to ensure the smooth transition to emerging long-form content and create tools to help content creators monetize them, then a slew of new opportunities will be made available.
It’s more than just a numbers game; engagement is king
One of the many common questions you will hear at Playlist amongst YouTubers is “how many subscribers do you have?” At a panel moderated by Nate Olson of Frederator, a few content creators chimed in on the topic. Jess Lizama (Exoticjess on YouTube) mentioned that sometimes you need to look beyond the numbers to gauge the “pull” a YouTuber may have; having a million subscribers doesn’t mean anything if none of them will buy anything from you. One of the key takeaways from the panel was the recommendation to keep fans continually engaged by making them feel like they’re a part of creators’ daily routine. Whether it’s through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, content creators must keep their fans continually engaged or they may become relevant in a world faced with content overload.
Consistency is important to keep fans coming back
Being consistent is important — not only with the release date, but with the actual content itself. In the “Wonderly Way: Women” on YouTube panel, Karen Kavett (Karen on YouTube) mentioned that it is important to have ongoing and consistent themes in videos to create a brand around the channel. If executed properly, the outcome is a brand which has the strength to transcend across different types of content, and even encourages other channels to parody your content. YouTube comedian Josh Rimer (Joshrimer on YouTube) also highlighted the importance of having a consistent intro (“Hi, I’m so and so”) in videos to give fans a sense of belonging to your brand and content.
Leverage social platforms to their fullest, even if it means to sometimes pay
In a panel at the end of the day called “Social Media Metrics – Finding the Key to Engagement,” there was a debate between whether or not content creators should pay to have their posts promoted on social platforms like Facebook. The conversation naturally split off into two groups of people with different opinions: YouTubers (Adoriandeck, Ryanabe, Exoticjess and Chestersee) versus social media gurus Mazy and Matt from Tracks.by. Interestingly, Mazy, who grew Lil Wayne’s Facebook likes from 2 million to now over 43 million, said that sometimes it makes sense to promote posts that have very engaging content. He referenced his own personal Facebook page to highlight the potential upside of promoting posts that have uptick potential. Although there is no right answer, the conclusion was “it depends.” Given Facebook’s recent changes in the way it displays who sees a brand’s page posts, the decision to pay for a post will ultimately depend on a bit of experimentation.
About the author: Derrick Fung is the co-founder and CEO of Tunezy – a website where fans can gain access to exclusive experiences with their favourite YouTubers. Derrick is a top 20 under 30 entrepreneur named by Profit Magazine and a former investment banker.