How Brands can use Creator LoyaltyJune 25th, 2021 by Socially Powerful
Brands hoping to build long-standing relationships with online audiences have spent a hefty chunk of time and resources researching what keeps audiences coming back for more. With video content being more popular with online audiences than ever before, it’s important that brands understand what keeps audiences coming back time and time again so they can map out an optimised video content strategy. Viewer loyalty has important implications for long-term growth and success.
Digital consumption behaviours are constantly evolving and transforming traditional advertising approaches. The latest shift emerging in video content is that YouTube has begun eating into TV ad revenues as TV screens become the preferred consumption surface for video content.
Alphabet, YouTube’s parent company, revealed that its Q1 2021 brought in $6 billion in ad revenue, up 49% from the previous year. This huge revenue puts YouTube as a digital video rival to Netflix in annual earnings. This figure also suggests that YouTube is reaching beyond the digital realm as people watch YouTube content on their home televisions.
A reason for this is that younger audiences have become accustomed to TV viewing, meaning YouTube is eclipsing traditional TV channels. While this isn’t great for traditional TV advertising, it presents new opportunities to advertisers to reach increasingly important audiences through more affordable channels.
The shift to favour YouTube is reflective of the evolving consumer landscape and how people are engaging with video content. Younger audiences are moving away from traditional TV towards connected, on-demand viewing.
So, with consumers changing their video-watching habits, how can brands increase their viewer loyalty?
What can brands learn from creator loyalty?
Creator loyalty can be beneficial to brands for different reasons. Not only can brands utilise a creator’s loyal audience for influencer marketing strategies, but brands can learn from how creators interact, engage and entertain their audiences in order to create a loyal community.
In a study by Tubular Labs, the video analytics company measured return viewership on the top 100 YouTube channels over a range of categories, based on the number of viewers who watched consecutively for January and February 2021 for a 30-second quality threshold. This provided an overview of return viewership and which industry and content genres saw most creator loyalty and ongoing engagement.
The research found that gaming viewers were the most loyal fanbase on YouTube; more than 50% regularly return to their favourite channels. Gaming was followed by “People & Blogs” with a 24% return rate, and “Entertainment” and “Sports” with a 15% and 14% viewer return rate. The genres with the lowest (and below average) loyalty rates are “Travel”, “Home & DIY” and “Animal & Pets”.
The top performing genres for loyal viewership all provide entertainment-style content, while the lower performing genres are better suited for one-off viewing. While in content genres such as Pets, we may see videos with high view rates, it isn’t necessarily content users will want to watch every day or week. Gaming, People & Blogs, Entertainment and Sports all provide video content that consumers can’t do without. This is worth considering this when creating a video content approach as it gives an understanding of where YouTube viewers are looking to engage regularly and the types of creator genres that are best at building communities.
While genres in general display different loyalty levels, top creators within genres show significantly higher loyalty levels in most genres. Within Gaming, popular streamer SSSniperWolf has a loyalty return rate that’s 102% higher than average.
Contributing to SSSniperWolf’s success is her ability to create an emotional connection with her audience. Going beyond her typical genre of gaming, she creates content surrounding gaming (e.g. discussing the issues female gamers regularly experience in the notoriously sexist sector) and other reaction videos where she talks directly to her viewers. Through this direct and transparent communication with her audience, she has created a loyal fanbase that is highly engaged.
Creators within the entertainment-style content genres will typically see more returning viewers than genres that are better suited to one-off viewing. Viewers come back to these creators for their personalities and the perceived connection; this connection is hard to gain for viewers who are casually searching for one-off travel ideas.
However, creators within genres with lower return loyalty can still receive a high level of views and return loyalty, as seen with The Dodo. The Dodo creates high-quality and consistent content that attracts loyal viewers. Following a consistent format for its videos, The Dodo gives its viewers structure that helps them decide if they’ll be interested in the video. It creates content at a similar length (between 3 to 5 minutes), so viewers always know what to expect. This reliable formula keeps viewers coming back for more content.
An important discovery from the study is that influencers, on average, have a loyalty rate 17% higher than brands and media companies. Having analysed the top 1000 influencers and top 1000 media channels, Tubular Labs found that influencers were better at getting audiences to tune in on a regular basis by creating a loyal following that can be monetized and engaged with.
Consumers are more willing to connect with a real person over a faceless brand, which the study confirmed. Influencers are more personable and direct than brands, which allows people to create an emotional connection that keeps them coming back.
What are the benefits from increasing loyalty?
Brands should be focusing on increasing their video return loyalty to optimise video content efforts and investment. Brands should strive for loyal followers to see the benefits of low-cost retention, audience advocacy, and an audience-informed content strategy.
Continually reaching out to new viewers is difficult and expensive. Focusing on retaining current viewers and making them loyal means brands will be able to reduce the amount they spend on new video content. Keeping current viewers happy and loyal also means they are more likely to recommend your channel and brand to others, ultimately increasing your reach to new audiences.
A more loyal audience will be very willing to share their feedback on your content. For free, they will share what they want to see from your brand’s video content, meaning you know what your brand needs to deliver. This will further confirm the cycle of loyalty.
Steps to take to increase viewer loyalty
In order to achieve a loyal viewer base that continually returns to view content, brands need to be providing entertaining content that viewers cannot do without or find elsewhere. This means creating content that isn’t created for a one-off purpose. Viewers want to be entertained on-demand, so by providing this content, brands will be able to build a loyal fanbase.
Brands also need to develop an emotional connection with their viewers. By going a step further when connecting with an audience, brands can create a bond that keeps viewers consistently coming back for more. This can be achieved by discussing meaningful topics that relate to a brands industry but provide more value and insight to viewers.
While providing a variety of content and emotion will add value to viewer experience, brands should be consistent in the format and quality of videos they create. Viewers will stay loyal if they like the content format and know what to expect.
Nowadays, consumers are much more willing to connect to a person over a brand. This means brands need to find a way to personify their brands so consumers feel like they have something to connect with. This could be through using an employee as the face of a brand, using brand ambassadors or by creating content that directly shows a brand’s values and personality. This gives audiences something to resonate with.
Brands need to listen to their audience. The best feedback will come from already loyal viewers. They can tell you exactly what they want to see from your brand, so you have an expectation to benchmark your content against. By meeting these expectations, you will be able to increase viewer loyalty.
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