KSI vs Logan Paul – is corporate comms late to the YouTube party?
When news reported two social media celebrities settled a dispute with a highly lucrative boxing bout broadcast via a pay-per-view stream on YouTube last week, I must admit I’d never heard of them. The failure to have these guys on my radar probably tells you more about my age and YouTube channel subscriptions than anything else.
That being said, I was not at all surprised to hear that two hugely popular, if not controversial, online personalities had taken their beef into the boxing ring. On reflection it makes sense, with profit from it reaching well over £150m, it’s an obvious step.
Listening to a programme on the radio over the weekend (ff to 6mins), you might have thought that this was all a complete joke. How dare these upstarts pack out Manchester Arena? They are not even real boxers! Who do these ‘YouTubers’ think they are? Don’t you know Strictly launches this week, now that’s real telly!
The same snobbery seemed to pervade most reports about the event, as if it was the upstart underbelly of popular culture, social media gone too far. We can take cute Snapchat filters, but actual commercial success by people famous for broadcasting from their bedrooms? That’s just crazy. Perhaps the sniffiness is a natural resistance to change, an innate defensiveness in the face of the disruptive medium. But since young people spend more time on Netflix than watching broadcast TV, streaming content rather than consuming it live is clearly now the norm.
Aside from re-evaluating my social media feeds, it did make me wonder whether the world of corporate comms ought to be investing more than we already do in video, and nurturing video stars, just as we might encourage the use of Twitter.
After all, Twitter is no longer growing, and has developed into a bubble where people shout their views at those who, for the most part, share the same opinions. YouTube (second only to Facebook for active user accounts) boasts– some 1,500 million users (excluding the vast number of non-account holding viewers ), and could be an under-appreciated channel for comms.
I have just started at a strategic comms agency, Fourtold, where we recently launched a three-part video series on behalf of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), where the director of public affairs (and former MasterChef contestant) Graeme Taylor interviews food producers whilst cooking a meal together in the style of a mainstream cookery-and-chat show.
What KSI and Logan Paul have shown, however, is that formats don’t have to mirror traditional broadcast TV. Vlogs, short-clips, documentary, and meme-style videos are all acceptable and can catapult you to stardom. The old corporate talking head, in the style of a news interview, speaking off into the middle distance, seems very anachronistic. We should be developing more varied and versatile types of video content which allows us to better leverage YouTube’s reach and scale. Or at least we need to be far better at promoting our content that we post on YT and drive people to it as well as use YT as a host. It won’t do your Google ranking any harm either, with the search engine prioritising its own content.
So, who in your business could be the next YouTube star? Perhaps they have a strong Twitter following that can be used as a leg up, on the way to being an established YouTuber. It can be a daunting prospect for the uninitiated, but will deliver great results when done correctly. If not, it can be a good exercise in learning what works or what doesn’t. I’ve run a number of channels for places I’ve worked, or for clients and each time the benefits of having a video presence are realised very quickly. The main issue is having the capacity, having the strategy in place, and executing it in the right way.
by Clem Silverman