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10 YouTube Videos That Shaped Brand Communications


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YouTube just turned six years old.

Its growth has influenced a series of profound changes in the way business and brands communicate online.

Here is SMI’s opinionated take on 10 YouTube Videos that have telegraphed those changes.

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10 YouTube Videos That Shaped Brand Communications

  1. 1. 10 YouTube Videos That Changed Business May 27, 2011
  2. 2. YouTube just turned six years old. Its growth has influenced a series of profound changes in the way business and brands communicate online. Here is SMI’s opinionated take on 10 YouTube Videos that have telegraphed those changes. YouTube at 6
  3. 3. How it all began – “Me at the Zoo” The first video on YouTube was uploaded at 8:27PM on Saturday April 23rd, 2005 by one of the site's co-founders. It's only 19 seconds long and hardly portended the shoot-cut-and publish revolution it would inspire but today it is a piece of online history.
  4. 4. I want my MT...YT It took the music industry a while to catch on to the power of YouTube (like that should surprise anyone). However by 2008, the labels were beginning to grasp that people like watching music videos online and Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend proved the point with 103 million page views. Today, music videos dominate YouTube's most-watched lists with Eminem, Rhianna and, of course, Justin Bieber ruling the roost. The boy wonder's Baby, now clocking over half a billion views, suggests there might yet be a sustainable business model for both the music industry and YouTube.
  5. 5. The longevity of content - Evolution of Dance It's often said that all content has a half-life on the Internet - it never disappears and, indeed, often can experience a rebirth of interest. If you're a major brand with cringeworthy homemade content then that's not a good thing. However, if you're a smart academic and storyteller like Mike Wesch (Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us) or a performer/comedian with a funny routine like Judson Laipply, the incremental engagement YouTube offers can keep one smart piece of content in the public eye far longer than any major brand campaign.
  6. 6. A new brand statement Singing and dancing flashmobs, rollerblading babies, homepage takeovers, create your own video ad. There isn't a creative agency trick in the book that hasn't been employed by brands to grab and retain the attention of social media audiences. Indeed, YouTube is one of the few social media platforms where overt brand placement and advertising seems to have been embraced by the community rather than alienating it. It's a touch ironic then that one of YouTube's first product placement videos was also one of the most subtle. Take a few minutes to revisit Where the Hell is Matt? and note the Stride Gum promo quietly added at the end.
  7. 7. The video game industry's best friend? Gamers have long enjoyed sharing their high scores and next level tips on blogs and message boards. YouTube provided the platform not just to tell but to show how good they were. Likewise video game makers seized the chance to promote their new releases on the platform via elaborate animated trailers as gaming achieved a cultural clout once reserved for the movie industry, as this 8 bit trip homage suggests. Perhaps its fitting then that the first 10 mini clips of Angry Birds , first a game and now a growing multi-media empire, have been viewed nearly 100 million times.
  8. 8. The end and beginning of political campaigns as we know them It’s part of political folklore that the success of the 2008 Obama presidential campaign was due to its social media community mobilization. In fact the Obama election social media case study has been used so many times by consultants and planners to justify more social media brand campaigns that it always makes you glad we’re entering a new campaigning cycle (almost). But amid the the glorification of the grassroots mobilization through Facebook, we shouldn’t forget the Obama Girl “ Crush on Obama ” YouTube video that jump-started huge social media interest in the candidate. Of course, after the countless copycat and reply videos Obama Girl spawned, we’re not in a rush to see this campaigning trend repeated.
  9. 9. The video that changed digital activism It’s impossible to make the case that a single video, aired on YouTube, changed corporate culture at one of the world’s largest companies. But in creating the Dove Onslaughter video back in 2007, Greenpeace certainly gave a very strong nudge to Unilever that, as the world’s largest purchaser of palm oil, the company had a responsibility to ensure its supply chain was not destroying wildlife and forest habitat. Not only did the Dove campaign provide Greenpeace with a social media playbook for increasingly high-profile campaigns against a host of multinationals, but, today, Unilever has put in process a commitment to sustainability that could prove to be a blueprint for all other major corporations. If a You Tube video, now with nearly 1.5 million views, played a part in that transformation then that would be notable indeed.
  10. 10. When YouTube makes the penny drop for companies Over the past six years there have been myriad examples of brands that have been shocked and caught off-guard by guerrilla social media content. Yet for every social media disaster there also have been plenty of pointers to social media’s huge potential in harnessing brand loyalty. Nowadays most major brands are trying to cultivate community through their own content but it was accidental viral hits like the Big Mac Rap (released in 2006) that showed brands that losing control of the message wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  11. 11. Thanks for the “meme”ories Richard Dawkins may have coined the term “meme” back in 1976 and that Dancing Baby may have made it onto Ally McBeal in the 1990s but it took the social media revolution and the visualization of YouTube to give the cultural pass and replicate trend a real creative outlet. How else to explain thousands upon thousands of LOL cat videos, children doing the strangest things and Rick Rollin? We bet when “ Charlie Bit My Finger ” hit 300 million views most media pros didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
  12. 12. Stars of the other small screen The short life of YouTube has produced a large number of homegrown and, in the case of agoraphobic pop singer Jemma Pixie Hixon , stay-at-home video stars. Today, 15 minutes of fame may only take a few minutes to upload, just as YouTube pundit, Phillip DeFranco, make up tipster Michelle Phan (68 million channel views), and, of course both derided and applauded pop wannabe Rebecca Black. Many big brands have capitalised on this virtual success but it’s the smaller brands who have seized the medium to tell their own stories that point to the true value of social media storytelling. For pure YouTube chutzpah in showing just what creating your own narrative can achieve, it’s difficult to beat Blendtec’s Will It Blend series.
  13. 13. <ul><li>Social Media Influence provides insight and intelligence for companies on the ways social media is reshaping business. </li></ul><ul><li>It comprises: </li></ul><ul><li> Online Intelligence Site </li></ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul><ul><li>The Social Media Influence conference </li></ul><ul><li>SMI Special Reports </li></ul><ul><li>Contacts: </li></ul><ul><li>Editorial: ed [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Sponsorship: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Training: [email_address] </li></ul>About Social Media Influence