By our video editor, Will Watson

It’s no secret that YouTubers have been hot topic recently, with traditional news fighting this new media. For example, the Wall Street Journal going to ‘war’ with the infamous PewDiePie. However, even with this negative reporting and Disney dropping their partnership, PewDiePie’s subscriber count increased. So what’s the attraction, and why do flocks of people spend their time watching YouTube?

It’s no secret that I am one of the people who enjoy these content creators. So I can say first hand what draws me to it, and why I’ll often watch a YouTube video over more traditional media. In my mind, I break it down into a few categories, comedy, interaction, niche, and length/accessibility.

The comedy aspect is fairly self-explanatory, I think you’d struggle to find any top YouTube personalities that don’t draw on comedy, and when I took a look at the top 18 YouTube stars (UK Business insider), all of them draw upon this. It’s effectively the same as comedians. In that you may not like them all, but you’re certain to find something that you like.

Interaction on YouTube is one of it’s USPs. You’ll watch someone’s video, post a comment, and if you’re lucky enough then they might reply. Many YouTubers do ‘mail day’ where they’ll open packages sent by viewers. In addition, many gaming channels will show gameplay where they play with the public.

Whilst I may not go to YouTube if I’m looking for my daily news fix, there are some great channels that will include social commentary on niche topics. Including monetization on Youtube, or testing out the latest camera gear. These topics could never be covered with traditional media, because it’s too narrow an audience.

Finally I’ll talk about length and accessibility, as these both revolve around time. Whilst I’m sure everyone knows that online attention spans are short, and whilst the sitcom gave us a nice narrative in twenty minutes vs feature length film, you can now have your fulfilling episodic content at around ten minutes. This leads on to accessibility, we’re all busy, we all have plenty on our plate, but the idea of taking ten minutes to watch some interesting video doesn’t seem too bad for productivity, does it? Ten minutes a day to break things up and enjoy yourself is pretty reasonable, and I imagine fairly healthy for your sanity. The idea of taking an hour to go and watch the latest Game of Thrones seems over indulgent, and bite size videos fill that gap.

So how do you make it work for you? If you’re looking to target people who only have a quick ten minute break then there’s a few key points to follow.

Firstly interaction, make sure you respond to people, talk about the tweets people have sent you, interview someone over skype, make sure your viewers feel special. Secondly, find your niche, don’t just give overarching broad statements, people want to listen, you’ve just got to give them something good to listen to. Third, length, don’t go over 10 minutes, otherwise people will be unlikely to be able to justify it to themselves. Fourth, good editing, one shot of a talking head for ten minutes will switch everyone off. Cut to shots of what you’re referencing, add in some sound effects, keep the video alive for the whole ten minutes.

Finally, we mustn’t forget comedy. Comedy is the largest feature film section, it’s one of the largest television sectors, and it’s definitely the top YouTube sector. Even if you’re trying to do a business related vlog, a bit of comedy will be endearing and engaging, and stop the video from being too dry. One last point, no one likes bad audio, you can get a super cheap microphone for your phone, so you’ve got no excuse.

For more advice about finding an audience on YouTube, get in touch with the Skylark team.

James Feb 5th, 2018

About James Sampson

James is Creative Director at Skylark Media. He was assistant director for the likes of Casualty and Doctor Who, where he honed his knack for combining compelling storytelling with stunning visuals alongside production management. In his spare time he draws and paints, as well as storyboarding, editing and directing music videos for up-and-coming musicians.