In this article our Managing Director Evelyn Timson discusses how YouTube have been promoting their Help Hub Hero approach to video marketing for brands for some time now and how we find this framework helpful planning client work.
At its heart it’s simply a way of segmenting your branded video content across distribution channels to create a three-pronged video strategy. It takes the traditional high impact approach often used in so much TV advertising (hero content) and then adds two new dimensions that are specifically tailored for the YouTube age.
These other two strands are the hub and help elements of the strategy and are both designed to build upon the initial splash created by your hero content by drawing in an army of YouTube subscribers by creating regular evergreen content (help) and valuable promotional content that is constantly updated (hub).
Ultimately these three tiers of content should work together to inspire viewer loyalty as well as drive brand exposure at the top of the marketing funnel, by driving more traffic to your site and establishing your brand as the go-to place for informational as well as entertaining video content.
Going Native with YouTube
Creating the right type of content for each segment is about understanding what a YouTube audience wants to see. As YouTube’s own digital storytelling guide says, “for every brand or advertiser doing something on YouTube there’s a YouTuber doing it bigger and better.” Implementing successfully joined up help hub hero content therefore means knowing when to act like an advertiser and when to go native and act like a YouTuber.
The diagram below shows the help hub hero approach in action, with the red peaks representing the less frequent hero content, with the hub and help content more gradually driving interest over time. Notice how the hub content gets a lift every time a piece of hero content is released, benefiting from the exposure,
whilst the underlying help content just grows steadily with time. This is your subscriber base and by keeping them engaged with genuinely useful evergreen content they will remain loyal and possibly start to promote your brand to their friends and followers.
Let’s break the help hub hero approach down and explore each element in more detail:
Hero (aka GoBig content)
Hero content is designed to entertain and inspire through storytelling that delivers an emotional punch. These videos are likely to have the biggest production value and are released no more than a couple of times a year. The aim here is to turn heads and earn as much exposure as possible, whether or not it is from people who are interested in your brand.
Engagement levels with hero content will be finite after the initial peak of interest. The aim here is simply to make as big a splash as possible by producing viral content people will want to share.
Undoubtedly, one of the shining examples of incredible hero content of the last few years has to be Volvo’s Epic Splits video in which Jean Claude Van Damme performed the splits between two trucks reversing down an empty runway. Eighty million plus views in the 3 years since its release says it all. Incredibly watchable and entertaining and undeniably more about Van Damme’s awesome flexibility than Volvo’s Dynamic Steering (and yet both are being showcased here).
Hero content can also be released around tent pole events like product launches and for RedBull in 2012 this was the record-breaking supersonic freefall of Felix Baumgartner which garnered 39 million views and has helped RedBull continue to establish its reputation as the brand behind so many adrenaline sports.
Hub (aka Prime Prospect content)
The idea of hub content is to try to bring in regular viewers who will want to subscribe to your channel off the back of the exposure your hero content has given you. This is done by regularly scheduled content that is valuable and engaging.
Hub content is push content which means it needs to be marketed carefully to your prime prospects. This could mean creating content around things like product launches or big industry events but as long as the content is regularly updated and attracts new subscribers then it’s doing its job. Other content could include Q&A sessions or behind the scenes footage.
Hub content should always try to nurture genuine interest in your company and what you do through relevant content. We can all recall John Lewis’s Christmas commercial, which was the company’s seasonal hero moment, but pop over to the company’s Waitrose’s YouTube channel and you’ll find a huge archive of regularly updated hub content on everything food related, from baking to breakfasts. This has all been branded as ‘Waitrose TV’, further encouraging viewers to “subscribe – like – follow”.
Help (aka Hygiene content)
Help content is referred to as hygiene content by YouTube, but the aim of the game here is the same and that’s to create content that answers questions your potential customers might ask. Help content is evergreen content that is designed to last. It is often targeted at search results for popular questions from your target consumers and takes the form of guides and how to videos.
The best help content will avoid any overt marketing message entirely with the prime focus on engagement and answering some of the common questions your target audience are asking. The idea here is to encourage loyalty amongst your existing subscribers and steadily grow that subscriber base by creating useful content that positions your company as a source of information and insight.
Gillette’s series of guides to shaving are a brilliant example of a company using video to answer a question that probably gets asked quite a lot, whilst at the same time showcasing their razors without actually trying to sell them.
The Challenges of Working in Synch
The challenge with effectively rolling out help hub hero videos is fusing all of them together into one joined up cohesive video content strategy. This involves creating editorial calendars and distribution timelines that everyone in the creative processes can have access to. Easier said than done when you’re dealing with more than one department or agency, all of which will have their own way of doing things.
Data sharing is also crucial if you are to fully optimise your video campaigns at every level and this can naturally be hard at an interagency level. Putting data at the heart of your help content will allow everyone to have a clear understanding of what is doing well and what isn’t. This will enable tactical and strategic adjustments to be implemented more smoothly as you adjust and evolve your content strategy accordingly with time for everyone to prepare.
Engendering a culture where teams feel free to talk to each other instead of working in silos and agencies are happy to sit around the table with other agencies can be a challenge but it is crucial if you want to get it right.
Segmenting content as a way of understanding who it’s aimed at and what’s it’s meant to do is nothing new when it comes to content marketing. In fact magazines have been doing it since time immemorial (think of the front cover as the hero content, with regular features the hub and letters to the editor and guides the help).
Implementing the help hub hero approach across all your content marketing often means thinking more like a magazine editor and less like a marketer. This involves wearing many different hats, and flipping between them isn’t always easy when you’re juggling more than one agency or department involved in the process. Joined up thinking and shared editorial calendars are crucial if you’re to fully reap the benefits of this approach over the long term.
Evelyn Timson, 2nd June 2016