YouTube Stars School Advertisers on Authenticity

Brands and advertisers hoping to be handed a formula for viral video success at the YouTube Pulse event in Toronto last week left empty handed but full of inspiration. Jam packed with live and on-screen performances from some of YouTube’s biggest stars, the message to the audience was crystal clear: be authentic!

Authenticity wasn’t exactly on the agenda nor was it something that was explicitly talked about by the lineup of speakers, but it was an underlying theme evident whenever a popular YouTube video was played. And it couldn’t help but be felt by the audience when some of the most successful YouTube content creators took the stage for some pretty amazing live performances.

YouTube Partner CDZA (Collective Cadenza) was the first to take the stage, treating us with a live performance of one of their musical video experiments – playing live to a YouTube playlist. The group of musicians from New York launched their YouTube channel in 2012 and continue to see most of their weekly video releases reach well over one million views each. One of their more popular videos, Fresh Prince: Google Translated, has topped 2.3 million views since its release in January of this year.

The highlight of the event was most definitely self-taught hip hop and dubstep street dancer, Marquese Scott aka Nonstop, who blew the crowd away with a live dance routine. Scott set social media on fire in 2011 with his dubstep dance video to Butch Clancy’s remix of Pumped Up Kicks which has amassed over 90 million views to date. Scott has over half a million subscribers and his videos continue to gain in the millions of views two years later.

CDZA and Scott, like others Google featured at the Pulse event, had one thing in common – they create content out of the sheer desire to perform and are driven by their passion to share this content with the world and chose YouTube to do this.

It’s when brands tap into this passion and authenticity that they find the most success with YouTube. The Google team did a great job of showing how effective branded content can be when advertisers add a dose of this passion for content creation into the mix.

It’s no surprise that many of the successful content creators on YouTube find themselves in commercials or branded YouTube videos. Marquese Scott has partnered with the likes of Peugeot, Coke and Roomba with similar success in views compared to his organic content.

Closer to home, French Canadian director and YouTube phoneom, Patrick Bovin, whose stop-motion animation videos and cheeky pop culture remixing have been viewed over 200 million times, has been tapped by big brands like Lego, LG, Google and Nike. Patrick recently worked with Ford Canada to create Ford Escape – Zombies which has generated over 300,000 views since its release.

There might not be a formula to follow to make your video viral but the secret ingredient is not so secret after all, it’s just extremely difficult to manufacture. Luckily for brands, hitching a ride on those that are doing this right is a working alternative.