YouTube’s Guide to Breaking The Social Media Code (from SMLA)

Last month I covered Social Media Week L.A., a conference on all things social media marketing, public relations and “content”. The full collection of stories I wrote can be found here.

Below, I’ve included one of the more interesting pieces from the heads of social at YouTube:

In “LOL Watch This!” Victor Piniero, SVP of Social Media at Big Spaceship and Claire Stapleton, Social Media manager shared their guide to breaking the rules of social media.

Here is how they say “best practices, schmest schmractices”:

1. There’s No Such Thing as Free Advertising

Piniero started this point with an example of a viral video from Snowmageddon last winter in which a YoutTube curator snowboards through the streets of New York City. The curator is wearing a YouTube Letterman jacket — free right? Wrong.

Those Letterman Jackets were given to vloggers and content creators at YouTube to recognize their reach. It ended up costing to buy the Letterman Jackets, but they end up as “free” advertising when they’re featured in videos or when vloggers post photos in them on Instagram.

“New algorithms (in social media) don’t make social media a ‘pay to play’ area where marketing is just ads.” Piniero said. “We try to make things feel like they’re flowing from the culture of YouTube.”

2. Keep Things In Real Time

“Internet culture is moving faster than ever,” Stapleton said. “Chewbacca mom was only out there for a day and then she was on Ellen and starring on shows.”

Stapelton explained that the nature of internet culture’s speed means it’s important to post several times a day.

“We’re posting 15+ times a day, watching for what’s trending and curating posts within a few hours of news or viral video breaking.”

She says that despite how quickly things move online, YouTube also focuses on the slow culture, looking at “the internet culture, fandom culture, and pop culture” to see where YouTube lies in the middle and try to gauge the future as well.

3. Don’t Be Thirsty

The term “thirsty” as Stapleton explained is “the word of the year to describe brands that are desperate to relate to kids.” She points out brands that try too hard to use teen slang such as “bae” and “on fleek” to catch kids.

It’s okay to be thirsty, Stapleton said, but you should be careful about how you do that.

“It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to be a part of the cultural situation, but we try not to jump on trends, just because they’re trends. We look for the youtube angle and try to share that with our community in an earnest way,” she said.

4. Data Gives Great Insights

Piniero shared that Youtube is constantly analyzing data and queries — but the company has it’s own philosophy on how to best use that data.

“The key to us is combining data with Voltron… “Piniero joked referring to the 80’s cartoon robot operated by multiple people.

“What I mean by that,” he added, “is we have a really tight knit team that understands the different meanings of all of that data.”

YouTube employees have a daily newsletter to review trending issues and a YouTube’s content from the last 24 hours to evaluate, bounce around ideas and start thinking about the next 24 hours.

5. Be Consistent

In this part of the conversation, Stapleton explained that YouTube closely follows how it is perceived and works to maintain that on its social media platforms. It’s important not to suddenly change game plans.

6. You Need a Huge Following to Have an Impact

“If you get it right, social content doesn’t compete with advertising,” Piniero said quoting an internet celebrity. “It competes with popular culture. That’s the thing we’re trying to win in this war.”

7. Focus on a Few Social Platforms

YouTube, Stapleton said, uses it’s different social platforms for different messages. Choosing a focus for each, she said, is important to curating the right content.

“We’re not that concerned with trying new things,” she said. “Instagram for example is new for us and we’re doing something we wouldn’t do on Twitter, but we made it more of a behind the scenes of Youtube. We’re using each platform as a different part of our editorial.”

This event took place at Social Media Week in Los Angeles. Sign up for SMW Insider to access the full video of this event and 50+ other #SMWLA sessions.

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