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YouTube is so big for brands. Nearly 56 of the world’s top 100 brands have 10 YouTube channels or even more. 99% of all top brands do YouTube marketing. Yet a majority of these brands fail to reach the 2 billion people that watch YouTube every month. Almost 50% of the content produced by the Top 100 global brands has less than 1k views! This is because they pay more attention to video production or ads. And less on video marketing powered by a proper strategy. So let’s take a look at the groundwork. An ideal global YouTube channel strategy takes into account two things:
In this blog, I’ll elaborate on the YouTube strategies that big global brands follow regarding languages and help you decide which one is best for your brand.
First, let’s understand the content marketing approaches that big global brands are following. Video content on YouTube should follow the same principles as all other types of branded content – no matter if it’s on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media channel.
Global brands here follow two different approaches: a centralised and decentralised content marketing approach.
First, how different languages are managed, and second, who is the content strategy head: the corporate headquarters or rather the local marketing managers.
A centralised approach toward YouTube features these main characteristics:
This way it’s easy to make videos. The corporate headquarters is in charge and publishes them on one main YouTube channel. People around the globe can turn to this channel or search its video content when searching in English.
With English as your language on the channel, you reach a global community of over two billion people who speak or understand English – at least as a second language. In this way, you save your time on translating video content which costs a lot of money.
Following the centralised approach, you can adopt between two different setups.
The first setup features only one English-language channel. This will be your main brand hub. The second setup also features an English language brand hub, yet this main brand hub gets supported by supplementary English channels.
Let’s explain the setup with the one channel first since it’s the easiest to understand.
This setup is widely used by global entertainment brands or companies having a startup background. Brands that follow this strategy are for instance Canva, Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Nobel Prize, Airbnb global sports associations like Olympic Games, ATP and FIFA, or the cosmetics brand Dr. Squatch, which is known for its funny (and utmost successful) YouTube ads. With their YouTube videos, all these brands reach a global audience right from the start. And they achieve the greatest common multiple with the least possible effort.
Some of these brands probably chose this One Size fits all strategy because, in the start, they didn’t even have regional subsidiaries in different countries supporting clients in different languages. They just needed to start small. Although also established companies sometimes feature one English channel only: like Lavazza or Swiss bank Julius Baer. And they do have offices all across the world.
So what are the benefits of this one-channel strategy:
The cons of the one-channel strategy are that your content isn’t understood by each and everybody. English-only channels may turn off users who don’t understand English. YouTube’s translation tools help with this. But they aren’t precise, so not reliable. Your video’s voice-over remains in English – even if CC, title, and description can be translated. Also, you can’t adapt to cultural differences and differences in content activity (e.g. different types of products might attract different types of clients who might again need different content).
To better address the above-mentioned need of delivering different types of customers different types of content, you can add supplementary channels to your main YouTube channel.
These additional YouTube channels can be tailored to a specific audience – one YouTube channel for each target group. Or customise to company divisions, i.e. one YouTube channel for each division or product.
The best example is Red Bull, the energy drink brand. Red Bull has the biggest YouTube brand channel in the world with around 10 million subscribers from all around the globe. The channel grew this strong mainly with YouTube videos on extreme sports. Yet Red Bull knows that the interests of its target audience are so diverse. That’s why they made dedicated channels for bike fans, motorsports, skateboarding, winter sports but also dance. and gaming. Each of them features massive subscriber counts and follows a content strategy that’s specifically made according to the interests of the targeted audience.
Pros of this YouTube channel setup is that it’s tailored to the interests of different targeted groups.
However, there are certain Cons of this strategy as well:
So much for the 2 ways to reach a global audience with a centralised approach – handles by the headquarters. With the English language only. But of course, there’s also another approach: a decentralised strategy for your global YouTube channel. And this way you go for multiple languages.
In this approach, both the headquarters and local marketing managers work together to make content. To make this setup work you need guidance, trust, and support from your headquarters and the market knowledge from the entire marketing departments in the different states or even countries your company is operating in.
This market knowledge mainly refers to unique cultural characteristics, language specifics, or other market needs that are typical for the region. The high prioritization of local markets can also be seen in the YouTube channel setup: the brand hub channel, which is also held in English, gets accompanied and supported by a wide range of YouTube channels that are run in the language of the region or local market.
Let’s explain the core characteristics of this Think Global. Act Local setup:
The supporting channels aren’t focused on target groups. That’s important to mention. So this setup is not user-centred but rather reflects the internal architecture of the organisation. With all its disadvantages. This approach often gets used by brands that want to reach a global audience yet also want to take into account regional differences.
Find below a list of big FMCG and B2B brands that fall into this category.
Examples include Apple, Samsung, IKEA, cosmetics giant L’Oréal,Coca-Cola, Allianz, Paypal, Starbucks automotive brands like Mercedes-Benz or Toyota, B2B brands like Siemens, or the entertainment brand Star Wars.
Video production is mostly done at both headquarters corporate and country levels. The headquarters creates videos, mostly on generic topics that are relevant to a global audience.
These videos then get published on the main YouTube channel, the global brand hub. But some videos coming from headquarters might also get translated and published on the supporting country channels. This is mostly true for product videos that get launched across the globe. So, for instance, if Apple or Samsung launch new devices, the original English video gets translated into German, Japanese, Spanish, etc. And then it’s published on the language-specific YouTube Channels.
Dutch bank ING is a good example of decentralised approach. The English brand hub features financial results and the overall strategy. Local markets run their own YouTube channel – mostly powered by ads.
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of this decentralised approach. The Pros are:
Yet there are also disadvantages. And they are severe: