When we think about success on YouTube most people think almost exclusively of short form content. The site is nearly synonymous with short viral clips like “Charlie Bit My Finger” and with small self-contained sketch videos that clock in at less than five minutes in length. Even daily vloggers looking to cram a full day’s worth of footage into a single video would be well advised to keep it under ten minutes and that’s pushing it. How then did RocketJump’s Video Game High School, a long form web series with episodes 40 minutes in length, become one of the platform’s most successful? A new Google study aims to answer that question. We broke the report down to identify the secrets of RocketJump’s success.
Find Your Style Early– Five years ago it was a pre VGHS video called “Real Life Portal Gun” that first put RocketJump on the map. In just two minutes that video contains many of the features that would come to be seen as staples of RocketJump’s signature style. The video is a live action video game, grounded in gamer culture, with cutting edge special effects and a grounding sense of humor. All things that could easily describe RocketJump’s future flagship series.
Make Connections – Today, as YouTube has started breaking into the mainstream, it’s common place for YouTube stars to collaborate with Hollywood celebrities and mainstream entertainers. RocketJump was way ahead of this curve. As far back as 2011, Freddie Wong and his team were working with big names like director John Favreau and future comedy central stars Key and Peele.
Use YouTube’s Entire Toolkit – The report makes note of Wong’s early use of YouTube’s clickable end cards to build views and retain his audience. Clickthroughs on the end card on RocketJump’s “Real Life Mario Cart” are 10x the YouTube average. Creativity is only half the battle — using all of YouTube’s tools can be the difference between blowing up and petering out for emerging creators.
Turns Fans Into Supporters – Each successive season of VGHS has seen a huge jump in the number of fans donating to crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The increase in money raised isn’t just proportional to the increase in subscribers, RocketJump has successfully engaged a larger percentage of fans to donate each season by being responsive and building a fan community around the show.
Don’t Assume that What You’ve Already Done Is All Your Audience Wants – Prior to launching Video Game High School the average RocketJump video was less than two minutes in length. The conventional wisdom is that on YouTube, shorter is better. RocketJump turned that assumption on its head. Instead of fixating on the idea that fans expected what they had already seen, the RocketJump team correctly guessed that what fans really wanted wasn’t more of the same.
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